5 essential meeting room filters

I feel meeting rooms have to be equipped with special filters to shorten meetings, make them meaningful and useful. I will start with the simple one and gradually build complex filters.

1. Clichés Filter: This filter will simply cut out all the clichés uttered in the room from the grand global database of clichés

2. If Only Filter: “If only, …simple past blah blah blah” is almost like visioning in hindsight with no possibility ever to change anything in the present, but can go on through the meeting and its next 4 occurences.

3. Me more me some more me Filter: Although can be avoided with a good time-keeper, there is an interesting instance of this filter under the name of “hide updates from this user without unfriending” feature on Facebook.

As we move from words to word collections to me me me, filters get complex as below

4. Plati Atti Servi tudes Filter: This is a seeded learning filter, inputs vary across organizations due to varying limits of acceptable platitudes and attitudes, and the number of people adopting servitude in a specific meeting. It operates on many principles like deepening organization hierarchy,  modes of operation range from total internal reflection of words (when speaker starts to meditate in the meeting room or usually sleeps off before completing the sentence), substitution of words with antonyms, thus disrupting any units of conveyable meaning.

5. Blame the Culture Filter: BTC filter operates on instances of not taking personal responsibility for failure and vaguely attributing to a figureless culture. Like “tudes” filter this is also a seeded learning filter. Performance of this filter varies based on initial org conditions, retirement age, hiring and firing volumes, country of origin among other variables.


SBI Think BIG, Think Global

This post is dated far back from 2007, when I entered into an open competition held within SBI. Most of the below strategies, I think was strongly influenced by the orange papers I was regularly reading then. Many of them still have the potential, some of them are no more relevant. Here it goes…

Think BIG, Think Global

Suggesting strategies with regard to core concerns of the Bank (SBI)

For Increase in market share

Adopting a diversified business, financial services model with support at micro level to include brokers, co-operative units, NBFCs, insurance companies and others A new set of distributors will always get a new set of customers, which in turn will help the Bank grow. As revenues from cities are saturating the Bank should tap new areas with product pushes. A very similar model is now being increasingly adopted by mutual fund houses for rural areas, which would be looking at the Bank for partnership. This can be emulated by the Bank to partner with other micro finance institutions.

Increasing overseas business banking support With the popular success of Antwerp branch supporting diamond businesses, which had a whopping $3.8 m for the first half this year compared to the $3.3 m for full last year, the Bank should focus on identifying key businesses where there is a requirement for financing Indian companies overseas. The appetite of Indian companies entering into various M&A activities in Europe and Latin America increasing, these are the next green pastures for the Bank.

Increasing core credit across Industry sectors specifically Power, Infrastructure and Roads. Total bank credit in infrastructure stood at only 20% at Rs. 108787 crores and the domestic banks serve only 7.5% of the total $320 bn requirement as pegged by the government. With strong lobbying and push for reinstatement of the tax sop under section 10(23)G existing growth in infrastructure exposure should be maintained even if it means to raise fund overseas.

Understanding specific needs of customer and equipping systems to service consistently through different delivery channels. With technology enablement it was possible for large private sector banks to reduce branch transactions from 90% in 2000 to less than 25% in 2006; this in turn translates into bigger available bandwidth for the Bank resources to concentrate on specific customer needs. Bulk of transactions currently happening over the counter in branches need to move to various delivery channels like ATMs, kiosks, internet, mobile phone and call center. It is critical to define consistent service levels across these channels.

Defining customizable work flows for varied needs across markets, sectors, regions at branch level. The key differentiator in today’s market to customer satisfaction and retention is primarily how quickly the system is responding to changing needs. At the branch level work flows should be flexible and customizable depending on factors like sector, region, or market it serves.

Driving new banking product ideas from customers. The input that a needy customer can give to the Bank regarding a new product or service is valuable and there needs to be an idea management system in place to collect, evaluate,  conduct feasibility analysis and due diligence.

Establishing wealth management for customers with strong branch loyalty with various banking and investment products. Wealth management for customers is a growing area in retail banking; it even goes to the level of managing bank accounts of next generation of customers who have a strong branch loyalty. This loyal customer base gives a ground for pushing innovative products and services.

Deployment of human resources with local knowledge for distribution of banking products and services. To speak the local language and knowing whom to talk to are key differentiators and Bank can do this by deploying local resources for distribution of products and services. The Bank can even partner with the India Post to further its reach and increase its customer base.


Global and Universal Problems

Dennis Meadows in his great lecture at Santa Fe makes the distinction of 2 kinds of problems

Type 1 Global Problems are those that affects everyone and needs concerted action from big players like nations, for any possibility of solving them. He puts nuclear proliferation, terrorism, oil depletion etc in this category.

Type 2 Universal Problems are those that affects everyone but can be solved by local action. He puts groundwater contamination, urban air pollution etc in this category.

My feeling is in organizations people tend to use existence of global problems as reasons to not take action on universal problems.

Global problems include the ever escaping top management approvals, blanket buy in for an initiative etc.

Some even predict the upcoming REVOLUTION as solution to global problems.

Innovation is all about being able to solve those universal problems with local solutions, without being bogged down by global problems.

And local solutions emerge only from safe-fail experiments.