1/ I want to talk about the topic of "modern management doctrine", what is taught in business schools around the world.

Let's look at core tenets:

a) Metrics: you can only manage what you can measure

b) Specialize: focus on your core competence and outsource all the rest
2/ ... Management doctrines

c) Shareholder value: the sole purpose of a company is to increase shareholder value (this from Milton Friedman).

Now my take on these.

I often joke that a major purpose of my life is to refute Milton Friedman, who I actually admire as a person!
3/ First on "Metrics". This is probably the most pernicious modern management doctrine and has done so much to rob people of dignity and purpose at work, simply because who can be against measurement and metrics? Unscientific nuts?

Metrics are great for widgets, not people.
4/ I am a mathematically inclined software engineer and metrics are great for widgets. Metrics try to reduce people to widgets. That's why metrics don't work long term for people.

Here is a great book that details the case against metrics for people:

5/ Here is the basic problem with the second doctrine "Specialize": how does an organization develop a NEW core competence?

Toyota branched out from its core competence of textile looms to automobiles. Amazon branched out from ecommerce to AWS.

Zoho Corp has done that too.
6/ We used to have intense debates on "core competence" at Zoho and I rejected that doctrine and declared "Our business domain is whatever we take a deep interest in".

That's the only way an organization can evolve to add new competencies, by tinkering with new ideas.
7/ Finally, shareholder value. The social crisis in America traces its origins to this seductive and pernicious idea.

An organization is an organic entity that must remain rooted to people and communities. Untethered from roots, organizations become soulless and destructive.
8/ This idea of "shareholder value" is tied to the idea of "everything worthwhile about an organization is reflected in its financial valuation".

Philosophically it confuses the tail with the dog and "pointer to an object with the object itself" (sorry for that - programmer 😂)

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More from @svembu

21 Sep
1/ We have been very running a skills training program in one of our rural centers for the past 2 months, with the goal of hiring people who do well in it.

We have not required a college degree to enroll but most people who show up are people with degrees and no jobs.
2/ What is surprising is the number of fancy sounding degrees such as "MBA in HR" we see.

One person with that degree dropped out of training after 3 days because he said "I want a job relevant to my degree". He didn't even want to try.
3/ His mother - having spent her savings on the MBA in HR degree for her son - approached us again because she wants him to get a job and she cannot understand why he dropped out.

These degrees are doing active damage, not just waste time and money.
Read 4 tweets
12 Sep
1/ A few months ago, I started to informally tutor some village children because all schools were closed. Within a few days, my social-distanced open air class swelled from 3 kids to 25 and kids got unruly and I was struggling 😂 and realized how hard it is to be a teacher 🙏🙏
2/ I learned quickly that if there is just one kid who won't co-operate, the whole class would descend into chaos 😂

Fortunately one of my colleagues who is very interested in education and his wife, an experienced school teacher, came to my rescue and we got things organized.
3/ I was half fearing kids won't show up after the initial burst but they kept showing up!

The students now started to show serious interest and commitment, even the ones initially unruly.

Students and their parents came and requested that we make this a proper "school".
Read 11 tweets
12 Sep
India's NPA (bad debt) problem arose because India has run massive trade deficits which were funded with debt, very often dollar-denominated debt at the corporate sector.

We don't have the know-how to export to earn the dollars to pay back that debt. Trade policy ignored debt..
.. the NPA problem, contrary to Prof Panagariya's assertion is deep and structural and is directly linked to our persistent trade deficits.

We cannot fix our economy without fixing our trade policy (the absurdity of a massive labour surplus nation importing nail clippers) ..
.. alas Prof Panagariya demonstrates how economists obsess about GDP and essentially ignore debt.

The NPA problem is not a technical issue with bank or corporate balance sheets. It is a vital sign of structural problems with trade policy.

We have to get trade policy right..
Read 5 tweets
11 Sep
1/ One idea I would push hard among the industrial ecosystem is "Please invest in R and D, please create room for engineers and inventors to imagine and refine ideas, nurture R and D projects with patience, perseverance and endurance".

I will explain this in some depth.
2/ First my definition of R and D is far different from "what wins a Nobel prize". In the rural India context, figuring out how to make a humble nail clipper is an R and D project.

In the Zoho context, refining our meeting software is an involved R and D project (still on it!).
3/ All too often, we dismiss projects such as figuring out how to make a nail clipper as unworthy or unsexy. Yet it is precisely these projects that teach us the most and pave the way for figuring out (eventually) how to make robots. It is the crucial first step on the ladder.
Read 10 tweets
4 Sep
1/ There is this technocratic idea that Economics is a scientific discipline like Physics. Not true.

Subject to the "conservation law" that the world cannot consume what it has not produced yet, economic relationships arise from our personal, social, cultural and moral choices.
2/ A productive community can express a moral preference for an egalitarian ethos.

At Zoho, we express a moral preference for all of us having the same food and setting for everyone i.e, no special executive dining rooms.

No economic law dictates a "correct" course here.
3/ As I once joked, I made a choice to invest in designing an LTE modem vs buying a private jet! Again no economic law can dictate this choice.

Yet, these choices greatly influence economic outcomes and the overall well being of a community.
Read 7 tweets
22 Aug
1/ Prof Pettis discusses the growing rural pension crisis in China as the rural population ages rapidly due to both the one-child policy and the extensive rural to urban migration of youth. He proposes higher rural pensions as the solution.

What caught my eye was this video ...
2/ This unrelated video was embedded in the original story in the SCMP on the rural pension crisis in China.

What it shows is a Chinese software engineer moving to the country-side to start an organic farm and a commune.

That is a universal longing!
3/ To the extent that we need smartphones and Twitter - and we can agree they are very useful! - we need to build technology and broaden the know-how.

If people with know-how move to rural areas and spend their incomes there, we can raise the real income of rural workers and...
Read 6 tweets

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