Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Singapore Cycle

Recently (22.10.2012 TO 25.10.2012) - MANY THANKS TO MY EMPLOYERS, my family and self were in Singapore, this trip was a revelation to us, it was enjoyable, inspiring and educative, perhaps more impact making, than my earlier Germany and Switzerland visits.  Why?
At the Jurong Bird Park 

Because of these reasons -

a) IN SINGAPORE: We see among other things, disciplined and hard working people, conforming to laws of the nation - in letter and spirit !
b) Seeing is believing!  One can actually perceive the beneficial impact of corruption-free governance, this in fact, is the need of the hour in India!  (If India was corruption-free, India would have been a-la Singapore years back.  The bright spot in India is however, currently, Gujarat which is making rapid and progressive strides through a consistent development agenda.  The ex Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. S M Krishna, had some years back, advocated the Singapore model of development for Bangalore, that was truly progressive thinking!).
c) Singapore is about understanding the principle of work ethic in action.
d) A visit to Singapore, is experiencing the Singapore cycle, first-hand! (see below, please read in clockwise direction)

The Singapore cycle (my ideation) is a result of my travel and reflection, Singapore is an innovative nation with adaptive people, constantly ideating, creating a process for implementation of the idea, revisiting the process frequently (for continuous improvement and innovation), hence, resulting in more no. of ideas.  Thus, there is a lot of WIP (work-in-progress).  People at Singapore are constantly working on new projects and at the same time, ensuring the current completed projects are running efficiently and effectively.

The Singapore cycle can be effectively harnessed in pharmaceutical business working too.  The essential element of Singapore cycle is: continuously, honestly and tirelessly ideate and improve.

Seeing from the point-of-view of the consumer.  Empathy is the most predominant element of the Singapore cycle.  The tourist and citizen oriented processes are truly empathetic.  There are flyers and pamphlets kept at strategic points.  Maps, announcements and trained people help the tourist and common citizens reach their destinations.  Empathetic sign boards help people travel with ease.  Such approaches are evident at shows, and other public places, including at shopping centres.  Truly, there are consumer - centred processes working in Singapore.

This situation is the same with pharmaceutical marketing, where customer-centric working needs to be balanced with the limitations of business plans and resources.

Importance of tangible physical evidence!  Singaporeans are master marketers!  They provide lot of take-away literatures - beautifully printed and persuasively informative.  These literatures strengthen word-of-mouth and will certainly ignite interest among those who view the literatures when taken back home.  This not only strengthens Singapore's brand equity, it also creates potential tourist customers!  Added to this, the affordable Singapore souvenir items (eg., Merlion penstands, Merlion key chains, Merlion fridge magnets etc) inevitably purchased as gifts for people back home, works to strengthen Singapore's tourism market.  These are positive 'silent salesman' material for Singapore tourism!

The impact of such tangible physical evidence items truly brings home to the pharma marketer, the importance of creating useful, persuasive and attractive leave-behind items for doctors and pharmacists, in pharmaceutical marketing.

The feel-good factor through humour, hi-tech and hi-touch:  These three Hs (Humour, Hi-Tech and Hi-Touch) are artfully balanced at the tourist attractions of Singapore.  These three Hs can be seen in action, at the tantalizing shows in Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari (Creatures of the night) or Songs of the waves (Sentosa island):

- there is hi-tech (intelligent application of technology for superior consumer experiences)
- there is also hi-touch (there are plenty of people smiling, greeting and guiding, offering help, encouraging empathetically and professionally, making all the technology experiences people-friendly)
- there is also a lot of humour!  The experiences at the shows and other tourist attractions are designed at each step to delight and make you smile!  Singapore keeps you in good humour!

Such a three H approach is truly required in pharmaceutical marketing too, this will help deliver highly engaging customer experiences.

Sea lions in a show (Ocean atrium, Sentosa island): an engaging customer experience
Innovative display of healthcare products at a super market

Marketing ought to have a consumer-centric attitude, and user-centred approach, Singapore has mastered this approach.

Singapore's story is also a story of class and discipline.  Medical Representatives and pharma marketing personnel are also required to have class and ensure disciplined working.  Singapore has achieved class & discipline through careful placement of negative and positive reinforcers.  Fines and penalties for errant behaviour is the norm, while positive behaviour is amply rewarded!!

Singapore is truly a Mecca for Indians, if corporates send their employees to Singapore, or any layman Indian visits Singapore, he or she will truly understand what discipline means.  You just have to let your people wander about Singapore, visiting the various attractions and allowing them to generally soak in the atmosphere of Singapore.  The vibrations of honesty, discipline and progressive nature in Singapore are infectious, these vibrations will be well absorbed by visitors.  The change experience offered by Singapore to visitors will be positive - benefiting individuals and corporates.  Singapore is truly a Mecca for Indians.

The spots we visited are truly memorable: night safari, Singapore Flyer (a giant wheel that provides a great view of Singapore), Cable car at Singapore Sentosa island, Ocean atrium with the captivating dolphin show, laser show (Songs of the waves), images of Singapore show, Universal studios, Singapore zoo, Singapore river ride, Jurong Bird Park and Mustafa centre (shopping centre with a walk at Little India).

Singapore largely offers positive, family - centric, value based, top class (not low class or crass) experiences to visitors.  This is congruent to corporate needs too.  The evening parties at Singapore river banks are a great hit among corporates.  Many companies host river side evening and dinner parties for networking and team working for their employees.  In years to come, it is possible that Singapore will be a hot destination for the general tourist and corporate tourist too.

Once again through this blogpost: I accord my thanks to my employers for this Singapore visit.  

I request blog readers to kindly scroll down and read other posts, do click on older posts as and when required.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Employee productivity

Organizational standing, destiny and results stand on one truth: EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY.  When organizational members are alligned to the purpose of the firm, involvement is high, and skills sets are good, employee productivity is optimal.  It is the task of managers & management to be productive and elicit productivity from their peers and reportees.

Several factors go in making the entire set of employees productive - right from purchase dept., admin., production, R & D, quality, sales and marketing, all need to be productive and ALLIGNED to the objectives and organizational mission for optimal productivity.  There is also a need for harmonius productivity, if the sales demand is higher than production department productivity, then again, there is disharmony in productivity.  Optimal productivity is the engine of organizational progress.

There are two vital elements that help generate optimal productivity: TRAINING and MIS (Management Information System).

a) Training: has the focus of eliciting and reinforcing designed behavioural patterns.  If a MR has to make 10 doctor calls, mere monitoring and pressuring him to make the doctor calls and deliver the required goods will just not do!  A MR has to be taught the necessary knowledge & skills, motivated and guided on how to use the marketing kit and tools (including the communication media viz., visual aid, CDs, tablet PCs, leave behind literatures etc).  Training is an ongoing activity, with milestones - no permanent end points!  With each training module or activity a set of predetermined goals are achieved, then new goals have to be charted and accordingly training schedules, formats and media created.

The same concept applies to training activities for other departmental functions.  Training needs have to be mapped out, and training modules accordingly created - as per the mapped needs, with help of external instructors as and when required.  For instance, with each national Govt. budget announcements of changes to rules regarding income tax, corporate tax, excise duty etc are made, and it would be interesting to offer training programs to target constituents about these new happenings, so that training creates involvement and updated smart employees to execute their job functions with panache.

A worker who gets trained periodically - in soft skills and safety intructions, or machine operations will gain personal satisfaction, motivation, job involvement and improved on-job functioning.  Training breaks the monotonous hum-drum and reinforces necessary behaviours, rejuvenates, helps in recall and recaptulation, creates new behaviours required for effective and efficient job functioning. 

Training engages employees to generate required behaviours and sharper skills.  Training also helps in broadcasting/sharing trainer and trainee wisdom, so that new trainees are encultured, motivated and empowered.

The ripple effect of training is helping make the organization smarter.  Such a firm can handle daily uncertainties and challenges better, and also proactively do forward planning for better organizational working.

b) MIS (including database): is a powerful system that maps employee activities, captures transactions, customer data and helps provide timely reports for productive decision making.  A powerful aspect of MIS is the ability to auto-generate or generate through manual intervention, FEEDBACKS to employees.  These feedbacks may be objective, informational or motivational.  MIS helps in measuring and providing feedback. 

For eg., imagine that primary sales of a MR is continuously tracked day-to-day by the MIS, and after 15th of each month, if the MIS system auto-generates daily feedbacks on the status of primary sales versus monthly target, either by sms or e-mail, this will certainly act as a prodding agent for improved direction of working of MR.

Eg.: on 16.10.2012, a MR receives a sms: "CONGRATS, YOU HAVE ACHIEVED 65% OF YOUR MONTHLY RUPEE VALUE BUDGET ie. Monthly Sales Target, however, offtake of Product X is just 30%, meet core doctors of Product X and improve prescrition flow for Product X, and book more orders for Product X from chemists (POB)". 

Such timely MIS based feedback messages will make the MR more productive.  Feedback is a powerful method to enhance productivity.  Absence of feedback will lull the MR or employee to a comfort zone, which will kill organizational dynamism.

MIS has an all encompassing sweep.  In R & D sector, MIS reports can prod R & D thinktank to help reduce costs of producing a product X, or help identify the key costly ingredients, thus help provide direction for value engineering - look for alternative ingredients that help reduce cost without changing product performance.

Similarly, inventory control systems that generate MIS reports in a proactive manner will help purchase in forward planning and placing orders for vital ingredients ( eg., of ingredients whose inventory is low to avoid production delays).

Hence, we observe, the two vital keys for employee productivity are - TRAINING and MIS (the data capturing and report generating systems for timely and fast feedbacks).

For optimal employee productivity, creation of a positive and magnetic organizational climate is necessary but not easy-to-do.  It requires a careful placement of negative and positive reinforcers, incentives for desirable results and behaviours, and subtle disincentives for undesirable behaviour and below par results.  A morale boosting, engaging and empowering way of company systems will definitely help boost employee productivity.

Communication systems (horizontal, down-the-line, zig-zag and down-top) are critical for building teams, since employees have to work in groups to achieve organizational outputs. 

Another key factor is carefully creating the TARGET - ACHIEVEMENT - ELATION - CELEBRATION cycle for all groups so that employees are positively engaged.  Helping each employee achieve personal success in company platforms is a very constructive approach for improving employee productivity.

It takes many factors, to boost employee productivity, of which, the two vital inputs for employee productivity (at every level) are TRAINING AND MIS.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances.