Monday, May 29, 2006

Order the Chaos

Above is the Marketing Process model used by the Marketing Management course at ISB, and in almost every other college too. Much of the talk and thought in this subject can get quite haphazard, as our group found out during all the previous case studies. K kept telling us... 'Guys we need structure!', and we kept nudging those poor numbers, coaxing them to mate amongst themselves using whatever mathematical operator they deemed fit and churn out for us a magical strategy. We were reminded today, rather straight, by Prof. Raju that it makes sense to internalize this one meaningful diagram and structure all Marketing Strategy / Thinking (or Marketing Globe if you prefer) around this model. Right then... you Pregnant Path of Practice and Perception... (4P's iudn) in you go!

Backlog Backpack Flashback

Each tiny moment that goes by reminds me of the growing backlog. Oh yeah, there is that Accounting assignment to Finn'ish, Economics game theories to Vohra'ciously ingest and digest, and the Sales Case study, CLV/EVC and Brands valuation to guzzle by the Jag before tomorrow. Almost done but only almost... the exams are not so far away. Exams in ISB are never too far away. It's like the tight loop short racetrack of Monaco - Monte Carlo. Every 5 weeks we get the Loews hairpin-Portier corner combo in the term exams, and frequently tackle other bothersome manoeuvres too. Oh well, Kimi crashed out of the race today around 60th lap; sad as hell. What about our Lap 1 here in ISB?

What have I been up to? Managed to find time out to start teaching guitar to a little kid in campus. I have to balance teaching the important stuff with the fun stuff, cause kids lose interest quite easily. He learns real quick too - finished the easy-first-for-all 'papa kahte hain', moved on to 'chura liya', and can pick up tunes himself. Doing that over months on his own, though, has spoilt his technique. When I first saw him play, he was using the guitar as an Ektara, using just the left middle finger to fret every note jumping back and forth on one string. He's improved considerably now. My goal, I'll get him to Section C one day before he leaves (in July) and we'll play a song together after class.

In other news, I have decided to take a break in July and go catch up with the Bangalore Rectens. This term break though is going to be a 'reflecting' period, although I doubt I will be able to do much of that, considering there are several good people staying back and who knows we may end up going someplace close by or just alco-hauling our tired brains back to life. How I want to go biking and trekking for a whole weekend some place! Maybe I will... all of the 720 kms, what?

A couple quips in the previous class from Richard Waterman, the prof for Statistics (SMMD) part II who hails from Wharton:

- I abandoned the search for truth long time ago,
all I need now is a statistical approximation to reality.

- It's the most difficult to find a signal in stocks' financial data,
cause any signal is immediately traded away.

- It's easy to memorize how to use p-value... remember:
"When p is low, the null must go". And, don't remember:
"When p is low, with null I go".
Well, I shouldn't have told you the second one, should I?

What also came to my mind is something that mattered to me oh-so-much and still does, but I do not blame myself so much. Ek wo d-day tha, ek ye d-day hai. Will the veneer weather the heat from within and cold from outside well?

Monday, May 22, 2006


Had us in splits, did Prof Bob Stine... "We are genetically programmed to see patterns in random data. The gene that couldn't distinguish between bushes with a stealthy tiger and just bushes walked into the bushes... and never came back."
He of course went on to make statistical sense about how after the linear regression finishes relating the dependent (response) variable to the independent (predictor), what's left (the residual plot) may still have a pattern that only a human eye can discern, which then signals that the time's come for a data transformation. Greek? Not quite... when Bob teaches. Bye Bob! There's at least one guy in our section that you've really transformed... not me, S.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Morning after

The night is finally done and over with. The morning's here! 
The mid-term exams were a sail through for a select few, a torture for some and a mixed bag for most of us. SMMD (Stats) thankfully failed to live up to the dreaded bug-bear repo it had gotten itself, despite 'Hypothesis', 'Confidence Interval' and 'Scatterplot' figuring in routine ISB jokes. The fear of the unknown... of the region beyond +- two standard errors, had gripped the junta hard enough to forget them the agony of the Monopoly and perfect competition. Many of us ended up burning ourselves out mastering alpha, beta, sigma, mu, s, z, t, p, and other 'statistically significant' letters 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. That left MGEC (Economics) untouched till the night before the last, when we realized there's more to it than SS=DD and MR=MC. ISB made a killing by the photostats of the Krepps Eco problems. ~ 300 students, 100 copies each at 1 buck a copy, with the demand for them probs almost inelastic. Others and I realized a li'l late that doing due diligence towards Bob Stine (Stats) had left Amit's (Eco) concepts high and dry feet above the hair standing on end in desperation on our heads.
The exams proved what Murphy had begged the world to remember. An intuitive and solvable SMMD paper was followed by a Nani-yaad MGEC paper... which even with open books, notes, assignments, printouts, photostats and scribbled bits of loose paper, seemed impossible. I took credit in managing a couple sums. But... the final verdict was by the pessimists 'We don't need such hard exams... even Kellogg's and Wharton have easier ones!' Let's spare us some pain teachers, shall we?
and Literally...
Post the mid-term, I spent the night first at the SFA (Spouses) party... dance, drinks, biryani, then at S's exercising my rusty fingers on six dulled strings, then on the rocks near the Founders Class Lounge, where my music had its first audience at ISB, then at R's... tea and singing, then at A's watching half an hour each of three movies with a mix of half-asleep and wide-awake junta. It dawned on us eventually that the day had, well... dawned. A beautiful morning it was at Hyderabad. All of us set out for a walk, but sleep caught up on all, but me. Back home in a while, Back stroke in the pool, Backfill in the Dining Hall, and back again, finally all set to catch up on that mystery woman in my head for straight eight hours. 
K had a bad mishap with a dunking gone awry, but it's better now, till maybe later when we find out the extent of the damage - a head injury you see. We found K back from Apollo smarter already. Seriously, I was reminded of what could have gone wrong. Let's play safe now, shall we? Final verdict by the sane among the crowd... "Drunk and Dunk... Strict No No".
Good night world, I say, at 8 a.m. Let's sleep now... Shall I?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Not Board Well

It doesn't bode well for the Graduate Students' Board that the students be either cynical or over-zealous about the election procedure. A sane balanced voter mind, dispassionately weighing promise and popularity, substance and flair, will elect a sound responsible GSB President. Then some say there is indifference in balance, and lethargy in laissez faire. I foresee a washout now, a close fight then, and frequently something in between.

Ham honge kamyab, ham honge kamyab,
ham honge kamyab... but who'll win?
Man mein hai wish-wash, poora hai wish-wash,
ham honge kamyab... but who'll win?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The good, the bad and the wiggly

Talking about 360 degree feedback, or what I call a 'two pie' feedback - from 2π, where you are fed various proportions of Apple Pie Vs. Humble Pie by people who have been above you, under you or besides you... professionally that is.

So, ISB has this nice credit course called the Leadership Development Program which required us to have gotten a 2π feedback from 10; I struggled to coax 7 to fill in the online questionnaire. Now, many of us have slumbered through several soft-skills workshops at work and returned back to our forte, soft-ware complaining about the soft-headedness of the instructor. Our cynicism was therefore pardonable, as we approached the Group room where the instructor of the day was awaiting the 6 of us - a real hetero study-group we are... yes, as K observed of DD, really forthright... really straight.

Cutting the puns and cutting to the point, I got some good feedbacks... I got credibility, adaptability, responsibility and other sundry abilities. I got a few bad ones too. I can't break convention, lack structure, orgainzation and receptivity. Aah yes, I also forget quite a bit...

But what do I do with these not-so-straight ones:
- A tendency to move at so fast a pace that others find it difficult to keep up... to monopolize conversation at times. His points are very good, focussed and relevant; but his personality may result in quiter people not speaking up.
- There are times when he may not deal well with team inefficiency... simply because his productivity is so high.

Both look like biquadratic equations plotted on graph - wiggly snakes with inflections. I sure did manage to decode who exactly must have written them. Come to think of it, I actually know what they mean too. Thanks B... I'll fix it.

I've to work on three development areas: Time-management, Positive Mental Attitude and I forget the third... :-)

Monday, May 08, 2006


There sure is a lot of real stuff in this subject, Marketing Management. We learnt about the Customer Lifetime Value today, and creating/capturing/sustaining customer value. There is break-even volume, 4P, 5C, 6M...

However, there is a general growing feeling that Marketing is Globe / Gyan / Faff or whatever you choose to call a lot of arbitrary viewpoints derived from common knowhow but glossed by multi-syllabic verbology. How true is this? Is reading Kotler with near-zero retention going to be of no use?

Insights, perspectives, strategic thinking... though intertwined with the course learning, frequently seem to be left high and dry by us. "Yaar, all we need is the BEV, and then we can decide on the best alternative best on the required dollar sales." In addition to the case studies where we get to do extensive number crunching... wonder if we would have a study on a marketing campaign for a floundering business manufacturing, say, pimple care soap. Why don't we ever see and advert for such a product? Go design an ad series for the same ... etc. And only if we had more India-centric cases. Wouldn't we like to talk about the white revolution, how Amul drove the Operation Flood and proved itself the best and most profitable cooperative?

Naah ... MKTG != FAFF, provided we have the right perspective, but that's exactly what the course is going to provide us with - the realization and the perspective forming the parts of a Kekule snake - 'seized hold of its own tail'.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Class apart

Is it a good idea to stick to one's section or city or group or gang or whatever when partying or would one be better off trying to befriend the world? It's an old debate of knowing "a few good people" versus "a good lot people".

Flocking together... way back during engineering at RECT, we used to see this 'regional affinity' in a few from, say, Kerala and Bengal. Jokes a plenty about how one Bengali could sniff out and zero in on others in a crowd. Well, that was then... in ISB people have been in and seen different cities, enough to cosmopolitanize them to the right degree.

A couple seniors told us to go beyond section lines when making friends. I'd add city lines, SV lines, Quad lines ... and an easy one, gender lines.

It's been good here. The week long class, followed by a blast in Ahala, Taj Krishna (thanks to M for getting us free entry in there.) Sadly, we're back to student life, and the extraordinary prices in Ahala gave enough headroom for not more than one beer or one vodka each... but then there was enough legroom for all 100 ISB'ians to throw around limbs. Some of us did so gracefully, some tactfully, some steal-limelight-blow-me-up gorgeously... a few like me did it quite 'repetitively' ... cycling through the limited known movements that qualify as dance. Aah, only if dad sent me to the 'break dance' class in 8th standard instead of Guitar classes!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The story of the road

One great thing about ISB is the learning. Well another one is DVD library. Watched Pather Panchali over the last 2 days, scenes rending and warming the heart punctuated by chat, long talks, studies, food. Yes, it is a slow movie, and I didn't do it justice by not finishing it in one go, and by forwarding several times over mute scenes of Apu chasing Durga over the fields, Apu running home shout-singing 'Chithi, Chithi'... worst, I ran the famous scene at the end of a snake entering the forsaken house of Apu in 8x. I could have immersed myself better, yet on an even more dispassionate run through, I would've been hit. And, hit I am.

Harihar was a playwright by birth and with dreams, but poverty drove him to the city to earn for his family. After six months, he managed to eek out a living, but the home was no more. And the family that remained finally moved on... not in search of happiness, but just to survive.

Apu and Durga run out to the rain on news of baba's return. Durga gets drenched, lets her hair down and dances round and round... savouring every drop falling on her. But she is soon sitting under the tree with Apu, sneezing and chanting 'He Brushti, ghore jaa', trying to protect Apu more than herself with the shawl. The same rain that symbolised the welcome news of Harihar coming back to Sarbojaya, eventually caused the biggest grief to both. It's just a story, and a very common place one, but it's told at length and in detail in four faces of the Ray family (five, including Pishi - Chunnibala Devi). It's about life, and it's full of life... in a small Bengali village.

Monday, May 01, 2006


The 1st class of FADM - Financial Accounting in Decision Making is underway, and Mark Finn, our professor seems quite an able, informed, and genial teacher. Going to have a good time learning. Accounting to several engineers amongst us was quite a scary thing to begin with, what with a majority of us flunking the IA preparatory online test.
Couple of interesting tid-bits ...
- Terminlogy Confusion: Debtors are A/c receivables, Bank Loans is Borrowings, Turnover is Sales is Revenue, etc. And in India because of the mixed influence of commonwealth in the past and close US trade at present, we find alternative terms showing up sometimes in the same balance sheet!
- Witholding damaging company information from shareholders in financial statements is myopic, akin to treating a symptom rather than the disease. (Courtesy Tuhin, our good CP'er)
- The fundamental debate of Accounting is between Acquisition (Historical) Cost Accounting versus Market Value Accounting.
- Double entry book-keeping is probably one of the oldest things medieval man learnt to write, counting goats and sheep