Posts Tagged ‘HCL Technologies’

Skepticism, Cynicism, Transparency, Openness

May 19, 2012 2 comments

Much as reassurance is the antidote to insecurity, transparency and openness are the antidotes to skepticism and cynicism. Surgical strikes on cynics and skeptics only exacerbate the problem by creating a new batch of more deeply embedded bretheren who fly below the corpo radar. Because of their formless and distributive natures, ya can’t just “shout it out” or spray WD-40 on the stifling rust that keeps skepticism and cynicism firmly  in place.

The best large scale example I can cite for the trumping of skepticism/cynicism by courageous transparency/openness is the HCL Technologies transformation as told by CEO Vineet Nayar in his book “Employees First, Customers Second“. The HCL story is amazing because once unbridled skepticism and cynicism seep into the fabric of an org, it takes an act of god to clean the laundry. Mr. Nayar and crew must have consulted with god because they pulled it off at a huge company filled with the most hard core skeptics and cynics known to man – freakin’ engineers.

The fastest ways to bankruptcy are wine, women, gambling, and (cynical and skeptical) engineers. – Unknown

Fierce Transparency

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to figure out why I admire (I know, I know, they had a nasty security breach recently), Semco, and HCL Technologies so much. Since I have a burning need to understand “why“, I’ve concocted at least one reason: Tony Hsieh, Ricardo Semler, and Vineet Nayar ensure that fierce transparency is practiced within their companies and all their “initiatives” are rooted there.

Working in an environment without transparency is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like. – Vineet Nayar. Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Kindle Location 547). Kindle Edition.

Of course, I’m making up all this transparency stuff, but hey, it reinforces my weltanschauung (<- I had to look up the spelling a-freakin-gain!). That’s what humans do to give themselves comfort. No?

Cribs And Complaints

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar‘s “Employees First, Customers Second” is one of the most refreshing business books I’ve read in awhile. One of the bold measures the HCLT leadership team considered implementing to meet their goal of “increasing trust through transparency” was to put up an intranet web site called “U & I“. After weighing the pros and (considerable) cons, the HCLT leadership team decided to go for it. Sure enough, the naysayers (Vineet calls naysayers the “Yes, But“s) were right:

The U&I site was clogged with cribs and complaints, harangues and imprecations that the company was wrong about everything. The continents and questions came pouring in and would not stop. Most of what people said was true. Much of it hurt.

However, instead of placing draconian constraints on the type of inputs “allowed“, arbitrarily picking and choosing which questions to answer, or taking the site down, Vineet et al stuck with it and reaped the benefits of throwing themselves into the fire. Here’s one example of a tough question that triggered an insight in the leadership team:

“Why must we spend so much time doing tasks required by the enabling functions? Shouldn’t human resources be supporting me, so I can support customers better? They seem to have an inordinate amount of power, considering the value they add to the customer.”

This question suggested that organizational power should be proportionate to one’s ability to add value, rather than by one’s position on the pyramid. We found that the employees in the value zone were as accountable to finance, human resources, training and development, quality, administration, and other enabling functions as they were to their immediate managers. Although these functions were supposed to be supporting the employees in the value zone, the reality was sometimes different.

That question led to the formation of the Smart Service Desk (SSD), which helped the company improve its operations, morale, and financial performance.

So, how did the SSD work, you ask? It worked like this: SSD. Not like this:

The Value Zone

November 29, 2011 4 comments

Even though it’s been on my Kindle for a year, I just finished reading HCLT CEO Vineet Nayar‘s book, “Employees First, Customers Second“. It was low on my priority list because I already had read a slew of articles about the book when it was first released.

In EFCS, Vineet describes “the value zone” and “the so-called enabling functions” as follows:

So, how did Mr. Nayar “force” the superiors who dwell in the enabling functions to be accountable to the value-creators? He did it by effectively implementing the HCLT “Smart Service Desk” (SSD) – a twist on the typical problem management system employed by most companies to resolve customer issues. Here’s how it works:

  • Whenever an employee has a problem or needs information, he or she opens a ticket that is directed to the appropriate department for handling (including senior management and the CEO).
  • Each ticket has a deadline for resolution.
  • The system is transparent so that all could see the contents of the tickets and where they are in the process.
  • The employee who had opened the ticket is the one to determine whether the resolution is satisfactory, or if the issue has been resolved at all.

Shortly after placing the SSD into execution, people “were opening tickets at an average of thirty thousand per month (at a time when there was a total of about thirty thousand employees in the company)“. Vineet sums up the system’s success as follows:

People were embracing the system. It was a victory for honesty, transparency, and openness!

Blind, Ignorant, Deaf

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

In “The Thought Leader Interview“, HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar describes his shocking “Employees First, Customers Second” method of management to a pair of Strategy+Business magazine reporters. In keeping with my biased approach of culling only those quotes and passages that support my view of what the wildly successful company of the future looks like, I’ve assembled this self-serving list for your consideration:

Somebody said to me about the Employees First program, “Vineet, your competitors will copy this, and therefore, it will not be a differentiator.” My response was, “If our competitors can post the results of 360-degree evaluations, more power to them.

The moment the recession hit we went out to our employees and said, “We have a problem. We’re going to solve it together.” We had thousands of ideas coming in, and we implemented them. Most of them were operational: There were no new products, services, geographies, or contracts. But HCL grew 23 percent and increased global market share by 21 percent. Our employees felt they were a part of everything we were doing, because of our inclusive approach. Even if it may take a bit longer to arrive at decisions, this approach helps ensure that implementations are smooth and that initiatives are sustained after the initial hype.

We created a 360-degree process where anybody can give feedback to anybody, including to me. We post the results internally so that all employees can see them. Good or bad, we all learn from the results. It’s open, it’s transparent, and the impact is positive. We find that this practice is motivating people to change their behavior. They try harder.

We also looked for symbolic ways to be a model of openness. One thing I did was publicly dance in front of all my employees. This was to remove the halo that a CEO has around his head. Meaningful conversation happens after you have set the stage in this way, after you make clear that you are as open as anyone else — crazy but effective.

So I held an open house with a group of employees. “I’m feeling pretty bad,” I said. “Nobody is saying what is positive about our company. Do you think I’ve unlocked a genie that is spreading demotivation?” Their answer was interesting. They said it is good to wash dirty linen in public, in this case on the blog, because it builds trust. There are no rumors. We discuss everything openly and honestly. We don’t always have solutions to problems, but at least we expose them.

Whatever trust is left in command-and-control management structures has been deeply tested during the recession. I am told that in business in general, employee trust in management is at its lowest point ever.

Even though Mr. Nayar is a breath of fresh air, I’m not too optimistic that his ideas on effective corpo governance will spread like wildfire to a company near you. You see, Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco Inc., was Vineet Nayar twenty years before Vineet Nayar. Of course, since Mr. Semler’s version of participative management was also an all out assault on the draconian, patriarchical, system of management that pervades the globe today, he was ignored by mainstream business too.

Empowerment Examples

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Everyone’s heard of the worn and tired “employee empowerment” exhortation, but does anyone really walk the talk? Here are two specific and quantifiable empowerment examples from the same company. You be the judge.

Example 1 (via Gary Hamel: HCL’s Vineet Nayar on its ‘Management Makeover’ – Gary Hamel’s Management 2.0 – WSJ):

For example, our annual planning process for FY 2010 included a review of business plans for HCL customer accounts not only by top management but by 8,000 people throughout the organization. Under the program, dubbed My Blueprint, the plans were available on a portal where customer-facing employees, who would be charged with implementing those plans, could comment on them. This produced a flood of feedback and prompted the re-engineering of several plans.

Example 2 (via The world’s most modern management – In India):

Every employee rates their boss, their boss’ boss, and any three other company managers they choose, on 18 questions using a 1-5 scale. Such 360-degree evaluations are not uncommon, but at HCL all results are posted online for every employee to see.

Is This A CEO Talking?

September 12, 2010 1 comment

From Who’ll Catalyze Change: Us or Them? – Harvard Business Review, HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar says:

We at HCL have embraced a philosophy that’s based on an inversion of the management pyramid, with managers becoming as responsible to employees as employees are to managers.

Vineet’s joking, right? Nah, he’s fibbing to cover up the reality that he rules with a Stalinistic iron fist at HCL, no? This joker follows up with an even bigger whopper:

Too many people caution us about acting on instinct and conviction. But we must surround ourselves with employees that dare to try new things in new ways. They may not achieve perfect results, but if they focus on getting better each day with one more attempt, they will solve many problems that appear unsolvable.

Acting on “instinct and conviction” and not on objectively measured scientific “proof” (that really camouflages subjective, random, self-serving, opinion)? WTF? This Vineet dude needs to be cast out of the guild of management and “put in his place“, no?

I Found Another Gem

September 10, 2010 4 comments

Whoo hoo! I’ve stumbled upon another rare gem in a massive pile of ugly rocks. As the graphic below shows, I’ve added HCL Technologies to my list of favorite companies. Led by their visionary CEO, Vineet Nayar, HCL is one of the few models for successful companies of the future. Since the vast majority of corpo Executive Teams are stuck in the mechanistic Sloan/Taylor mindset of the 1900s with no intention of changing the way they manage, err, impose control, it’s always refreshing and exciting to discover a new game changer.

So, how do I decide whether a company is a cut above the rest? Via subjective evaluation of external observations, of course. Financial performance, which is of course important, is of secondary concern. Here’s my unscientific list of “research” methods:

* Read third party accounts of experience given by former and current non-management employees.
* Read, listen, and watch interviews with CEOs and executives.
* Scour publicly available mission statements, visions, core values and cultural descriptions for authenticity, lack of corpo jargon, and attention to detail.
* Stay away from glossy annual reports – which are all clones of each other.
* Ignore whatever the hand picked company spokesperson(s) say – propaganda city.

Of course, my methods aren’t perfect, but do you know of any better ones?

Where Is Point A?

September 8, 2010 4 comments

In the “Managing The Unmanageable” techonomy video discussion, HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar says something like: “If your people don’t know where point A is, then they won’t know how to get to point B“. Vineet said this in response to a question regarding the concern that the more transparent your company is, the more your competitors can copy you. Vineet, along with the other two 21st century CEOs on the panel stated that the benefits of transparency far out weigh the risks of “giving away the family jewels“.

Look at the figure below. On the left side, through transparency and continuous full disclosure, your people know where you are (point A) and your people know where you and they want to be in the future (point B). Thus, you and your people can figure out what problems need to be solved and what new actions need to be taken. On the right side of the figure, everyone knows where point B is, but nobody (except for maybe a “select few” high up in the CCH) knows where they’re starting from. Where the frig is point A?

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