Friday, December 16, 2016

Of Groupthink and Biscuits

It was yet another meeting in a 'star' hotel that prompted this post. The usual meetings punctuated by a tea break in the morning and a tea break in the evening with a lunch in between.

Leave the lunch and the meetings and the tea and the coffee and rooms aside.

What I have not been able to wrap my head around is why do hotels in this day and age of health consciousness offer 'cookies' that are just maida and sugar bombs? Why not offer healthier alternatives? Some carrot sticks and hummus? Or some wheat khakras? Or even just off the shelf crackers and biscuits that have no zero maida? There are quite a few healthier options available in the market, so what prevents them from trying out any of them? Peanuts?

Maybe, well, maybe, some customers insist that they will eat these maida biscuits, but surely, there are others who would perhaps, like a choice? But no. In the last 20 years, I have not seen a single hotel anywhere in the country buck this trend. Not the newer hotels named after colours, fruits, animals, vegetables. Not the older grand ones. Not the famous palatial ones. Not one single hotel has found it worth breaking this trend.Why?

Why is that so? Is it Groupthink? Or is it margins? Or is it because enough customers don't tell them that they hate these health hazards masquerading as cookies? Or because nobody really cares?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A story of 7 books

As part of preparing for an assignment, I decided to read a set of books across diverse businesses. The logic being, reading just one set of business or industry or country or timeframe gives a skewed perspective. But, if one has to get a larger perspective, it is better to look at it from an even larger perspective.

My initial idea was to pick a set of historical industries - the industries which were set up in India during independence. While I did read these books in the library, I found it difficult to get these books.

 I settled for a range of books across Indias traditional business community - Baniyas, Haldirams, Honda, Indias retail boom, Chinas ecom boom, Indias cooperative sector and a US company that made a name in sports. Many of them were start ups, while there were a couple which were far more established. Some stuck to their core competency, some had no core competency. Some found their core competence.

What was interesting that it all had common factors - quite obvious, one may think. But to think that across time, across culture, across countries, industry and business, there were such distinct common factors was an a-ha moment for me. I suppose we know this instinctively...

Maybe I will soon read a set of companies that failed and find answers exactly the opposite to this.

More on this soon...