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Published on January 1st, 2010 | by Saurabh Pandey


Bean bags don’t make a Google!

I am not an entrepreneur (so far!) or a CEO of an Indian Internet organisation, but I am an Indian who has worked for a few years in global and Indian internet companies and over the years have tried to fathom the gaps that have succeeded in disabling Indian companies to scale heights which they deserved as also tried to understand how Indian CEOs can make their companies fare really better and not just look better!

I guess the first day of 2010 is a good time to reflect and express on a few of those things.

2010 is the year when CEOs of Indian Internet companies need to ponder and re-think on whether whatever they have they been offering to their fellow Indians is worthwhile, and what ails them-

1.       Don’t pretend and don’t show off- Indian CEOs tread fast in acquiring and displaying bean bags, multi-gyms and play-stations in their offices thinking that these acquisitions will help them look like a Google or make them a Google-kind-of-a-company. And this doesn’t stop here- they also think that talent can be attracted and retained by flashing these acquisitions.

Bottom-line- Google is Google because of it’s culture-not because of the flashy acquisitions.


2.       Don’t be a Scrooge- If you have a play station and the works-for heaven’s sake let your employees use them. Let them have some fun with the stuff. I have seen these things rot, because there is invariably a feeling that if you are having fun then you are not working or not serious about work.

      3.   Can you create a fun element in your organisation-I don’t know why people are afraid of           having fun or creating opportunities for fun. CEOs need to create an environment where           employees enjoy their work and their workplace. My question to CEOs- why are you making it complex and difficult? Have fun and create fun. That’s the only way to create passion and involvement for your products and organisation.

      4.  How can you REALLY help your employees- Many CEOs hire the smartest people but then do not let them be. They would micro-manage, backseat drive, and try to show that they are smarter than their employees. My belief is that the CEOs can never be more knowledgeable than their employees and they don’t need to be. The CEOs need to help the employees by giving them a vision, a periodic feedback   and create an impactful image of the employees and the organisation in the outside world. If they can do these 3 odd things that will be a big favour on themselves and their organisations.

     5. Build a culture of trust and affinity- Culture is built from the top. Period. If people in a company are not cohesive, if there is a synergy issue in cross functions, if people work to show that they are working, if you cannot see the CEO eating lunch in the same cafeteria as the employees, if you find people avoid any interaction with the CEO , the CEO and his company are in trouble. The CEO has to himself create a culture top-down. The values have to be practiced and displayed first by the top management.

    6. Don’t copy- You would hardly notice world class Indian products/brands in the internet space.  Indian products infact have a tough time making a mark in India itself. What is our claim to fame- one more YouTube, one more Facebook, one more Netflix, one more LinkedIn? Are we thinking about solving the Indian challenges and problems or are we thinking about how to copy the international products fast and launch new features and products-just because a majority of Indians are new to internet. That’s not a recipe for success. In my earlier articles I have articulated how Japan, Korea and China have developed products with absolutely local business models and are fairly successful.

Indian CEOs are smart, have thought process, and are easily among the best brains in the world- My humble suggestion to them is to take it easy and to start having fun, because bean bags don’t make a Google!




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