LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Lack of Ethics Leads to Value Starvation
A new column by marketing whiz Walter Vieira
 
There was an article written recently by Jayanta Roy, in Speaking Tree, a supplement of the Times of India, Mumbai. This article really made me think back to my 50-year career in the corporate world, where I have seen that adherence to ethical principles really pays off in the long run, even in a country, which is globally labelled as being among the most corrupt. Some of the points in this article are reproduced below.
 
#In the 1960's, a family business managed to build a big turnover, marketing an excellent biscuit in the South of India. It was as popular as Parle or Britannia biscuits were, in the West or North India. Brooke Bond decided it would benefit greatly from putting tea and biscuits together and made a very good offer to K biscuits to buy them out. K had no succession plan. Their share value was very high. The owners were getting on in age. And the offer was not only fair but also, very attractive.

The K family thought about this offer for some time. They had no questions about the price in the offer. It was more than fair. But most of their distributors and salesmen had been with them for decades. They had helped to build the business and bring it to where it was now. They wanted to be fair to them. So, they put in a condition that the distributors will be continued for two years after the deal; and the salesmen will remain employed till they reach retirement age.

This was a burden BB did not want to carry. They already had their own large distribution chain. And they already had among the largest selling forces in the country!! Why would they want to add on some more??

BB said NO. And KB responded with a SORRY. The deal did not go through. Over a period of time, the news filtered down that the owners had turned down a great offer, because they wanted to protect their dealers and their loyal salesmen. Both groups subconsciously decided to work more and efficiently to ensure the success (greater success) of their masters (Principals). Sales and profits of KB grew wild beyond expectations - and a new chapter had begun!

Was it Ethics in Business? Was it Loyalty in Business? Was it both?
 
The Company and Its Customers
 
#Keith Roy, personnel director of Glaxo in 1964, asked Tellis, who worked in the purchase department, and was the president of the workers' union, to come to his office to discuss some issues, over a brief meeting. When Tellis came in, Roy was immersed in reading some papers, and had his feet resting on the top of his desk. He absently waved Tellis to a seat in front. Tellis sat, waited a while and then put his own feet on the table on his side of the desk. Roy looked up—but he was not annoyed. He apologised profusely for his own bad manners. Both laughed and put their feet on the ground—and the meeting got off to a good start!
 
The Company and Its Employees
 
# When Azim Premji of Wipro was reportedly told by a manager in Mumbai, that the customs officials wanted 'facilitation' for clearing a very large consignment of computer parts, which were urgently needed by the factory, Premji said NO. Nothing doing. The manager explained that there can then be a delay in clearing the consignment, and the company will have to pay a heavy demurrage charge, much more than the amount asked for. “Perhaps. I will pay demurrage even if is higher, but will not pay a bribe!”
Such examples set the culture of the organisation. They (Wipro) do things their way.
 
The Company and Government Authorities
 
# I once met a road building contractor who had built some of Mumbai’s best roads – with cement concrete. The roads lasted for decades without potholes, ensuring smooth rides and satisfaction all round. But quite soon he discovered he was getting no contracts. The powers that be, wanted roads that needed to be repaired every year—to hopefully earn a yearly kickback. But did he change? He did not, and culturally, he could not! He moved to another career where he did not have to make such compromises. 
 
Small Business Fighting Unprincipled Giants
 
#Sir Adrian Cadbury was caught in a fix. Kraft had acquired a majority stake in Cadburys and the founder family was now a minor partner, losing management control after four generations. Cadbury had provided employment to most of the people in the town for over a century. Sir Adrian had no resentment towards the new buyers. His only request was that Kraft should not move the facilities from the town, and render all those workers jobless, and perhaps later, homeless.  Kraft agreed initially. But, after a few years, they moved the manufacturing to Poland, because of lower costs and the pursuit of greater profit and shareholder value. 
 
Changing Managements and Changing Goals and Cultures
 
# Why did some large exporters of pharma products from India to US (among the largest being Ranbaxy) supply substandard or adulterated drugs, just because each batch is not tested by the FDA of US, and thinking they can get by?  The new book A Bottle Full of Lies exposes companies that were doing business of millions of dollars every year and for many years using misleading analytical reports and playing with the lives of thousands of patients.
 
Companies, which do not have any ethical concerns at all, whether to customers, to employees or to society
 
However, all is not lost! 
 
# When you see the way Costco in US is being run, with each employee smiling, wanting to help, and proudly wearing a badge with their name and the number of years at Costco 15 or 30, and the legend, ‘Proud to be at Costco’. 
 
Would you be cheated at Costco? Impossible. Since they have a policy that anything bought at Costco can be returned with full refund:  the chances are that they may themselves be cheated. But they make good profits and Wall Street are unhappy that they pay their employees more than required instead of making more profits and making shareholders happier!
 
# And it is the same with Starbucks, where even temporary workers are provided full medical insurance, from the day they join.  A great relief in a country like the USA where medical costs are unusually high. 
 
# And the Tata group in India, where Ratan Tata, the chairman, rose to the occasion after the terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai (a Tata enterprise) and volunteered to help out all those who were injured, and to take care of the families of all those who had died in that horrific attack. And he kept that promise. 
 
(Walter Vieira is a Certified Management Consultant; and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He has written 11 books – some of them best sellers – translated into Chinese and Indonesian and 3 books in collaboration with Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame. Mr Vieira has straddled the space between business and academia – and shares his vast experience with students and peers, to help make this a better world!)
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    COMMENTS

    manojkhare

    1 month ago

    Greed, arrogance and disdain for others - are potent ingredients.

    Being one of the most corrupt nations in the world does not stir the conscience of Indians to action . Rather we still talk proudly about how great we arr and will overtake the world once everyone far ahead of us has fallen down.

    Laughable if it weren't so tragic.

    peruvemba.ramachandran

    1 month ago

    A value is a value only when I see the value of the value as valuable to me. Swami DAYANANDA Saraswathi. (Today is his 5th Aradhaba day). There is a book by him Value of Values explaining the 20 qualities of a jnani from the 13th chapter of the Gita: as a requisite for attaining Self knowledge. Without values, individuals and corporates, and nations will bite dust ere long. Hospitals are looting in the name of Covid; without a thought of the Govind, the visvarupa Isvara, and we will see their downfall too soon.

    Internationalisation has brought down 'value'ation of corporate and civil ethics in india to chinese model:

    A 'value'_abled man is a fool in others eyes; but in him peace reigns: in spite of external troubles by value_less_ness in society and even in judiciary and civil servants and politicians.

    REPLY

    m.prabhu.shankar

    In Reply to peruvemba.ramachandran 1 month ago

    True True True

    m.prabhu.shankar

    1 month ago

    Excellent Excellent Excellent. Great Sense of positivity through this article especially during the current not so good times. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.

    kd.paranjpe

    1 month ago

    Sir, I don't think Ayn Rand ever promoted sheer venal greed. She advocated freedom from external influences by promoting rugged individualism; meaning relying on one's own talent, ambition, and determination to succeed at all costs. Her portrayals of her heroes shows that they held an unshakable belief in their principles and beliefs while doing business.
    Secondly, there is nothing wrong in making profits from business, there is efficiency, and effective operations as a result.
    However, everything is wrong in profiteering. There is hoarding, deception, disregard for the customer, cheating and falsehoods in its operations.

    REPLY

    kuldip46

    In Reply to kd.paranjpe 1 month ago

    https://bit.ly/2G2LuGi
    Greed is good: a guide to radical individualism | US news | The Guardian
    From the above -
    Throughout her writing life, she promoted the idea expressed in the book: "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars. Take your choice - there is no other."

    My Spiritual Master taught that greed is like fire. He preached "you can feed a fire all the wood that you want, yet the fire's appetite will never be satiated."

    https://bit.ly/36d65TJ
    Dirty money leaks shine a spotlight on kleptocrats devouring our economy - Michael West
    From the above -
    "An unprecedented leak of thousands of files from the US government’s most confidential financial intelligence database has shone a spotlight on the world’s $2 trillion-a-year dirty money habit.
    I’ve shared a beer with an ex-Drug Enforcement Agency special agent who had to pry the body of a financier from the back of a car in Mexico City. The financier was one of his main informants on a global drug cartel money-laundering operation. Photographic evidence was grisly, showing the man’s hands tethered behind his back with his necktie. His fingertips were burnt to black stumps."
    Can you imagine $2 trillion a year?
    Our scriptures teach us that those who think of money all the time - their next life, they will be born snakes. I cannot fathom why people will do everything they can to acquire as much wealth as possible, only to be reborn, crawling on their belly!
    I have been in business myself. I am not against making a profit. However, once you get into profiteering, getting out is well nigh impossible. You end up getting consumed by greed.
    Thank you for initiating this discussion.

    kuldip46

    1 month ago

    My view - Ayn Rand, who advocated that greed is good, and Milton Friedman, the business of business is to maximise profits - have been largely responsible for the ills of capitalists.
    And the world is paying the price for these riduculous exhortations.

    REPLY

    peruvemba.ramachandran

    In Reply to kuldip46 1 month ago

    Ann Rand was against corruption of the mind: against a valueless society: where merit is sacrified for reservations in the name of alleged hurts of earlier generations which has lead to braindrains. So who is John Galts stopped the wheels of india and put out the light of bharat like the last of the Danny Taggrats against the Jimmys and Tofes.

    kuldip46

    In Reply to peruvemba.ramachandran 1 month ago

    In December 1985, my Spiritual Master, Saint Scholar Giani Niranjan Singh Ji, said, " Come to the turn of the century, the economy of the world will start to go downhill."
    To the question, " If the world economy will start to go downhill, which country will come up?'
    The Master replied. "India."
    To the question, "Why?"
    The Master replied, " Land on which deep meditation took place will thrive. Other countries will have a hard time."
    The Master ended the conversation by saying," In the 21st century, India will lead the world."

    To answer your question, " So who is John Galts stopped the wheels of india and put out the light of bharat like the last of the Danny Taggrats against the Jimmys and Tofes."

    The answer is capitalists and industrialists in their mindless pursuit of wealth and power.

    Who will reignite the lights of Bharat - numerous Spiritual Masters of the various religions in India, who are toiling away in spiritual contemplation to make this world a paradise. Where there will be peace on earth and goodwill towards all mankind.

    The following quotes would certainly have everyone reading the quotes to sit up and ponder on these words of wisdom.

    1) Many years ago, someone asked the Spiritual Master, Saint Scholar Giani Niranjan Singh Ji, "All the chaos in this world, who is responsible for it?"

    The Master replied, "2 classes of people who live by the principle of divide and rule. One is politicians and the other preachers."

    2) A Muslim lady asked the Spiritual Master, Saint Scholar Giani Niranjan Singh Ji, "What is the difference between Islam and the Sikh religion?"
    The Master replied, "There is no difference."
    The lady was astounded at this reply and asked, " Master, how can you say this"
    The Master replied, "My daughter, I say this, simply because the Truth is One. It is only our form of worship which is different."

    3) "Science has spread skepticism among educated people. The hope of establishing a heaven on earth by means of material progress has led many to ridicule the search for the spiritual path. But, the god of material progress demands worship at its shrines. We worship the swift-moving machinery of our skills, factories, and workshops- the temples of industry; we worship our office, our trade and commerce, banks and stock exchanges(the churches of high finance); we worship scholarship, our schools, and colleges.
    And in the midst of all this worship, we have forgotten the worship of the Lord."
    Quoted from the book

    *Divine Mystic Reflections on Gurmat* by Saint Scholar Niranjan Singh Ji
    Gurmat (gur-mat) - counsel or tenets of the Guru, more specifically focusing the mind towards the Guru.

    4) The following is from Sant Mohinder Partap Singh Ji who gave this advice sometime in the mid-'90s.

    A wise man once said “If you want to change the World, first change yourself"

    To change ourselves, the Spiritual Master gave this advice.

    In the morning, when we open our eyes, before getting out of bed, repeat 5 times, only one of the following Mantras -

    Jai Shri Krishna. (Hindus)

    All praise to the Lord. (Christians)

    Hallelujah. (Jews)

    Allah o Akbar. (Muslims)

    Jai Shri Mahaveer. (Jains)

    Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. (Sikhs)

    All praise to the Almighty. (For those who believe in the existence of The Unseen Force, but do not follow a religion.)

    (The most elementary definition of Spiritualism - doing the same thing, at the same time, every day.)


    LESSONS FROM THE PAST: An Unforgettable Role Model
    A new fortnightly column by marketing whiz Walter Vieira
     
    My second interview in the 1960s was with Glaxo Laboratories. At that time, it was the largest pharmaceuticals company in India. They were selecting management trainees. Some 40 selected colleges in India were asked to send one representative candidate. Each candidate had to appear for a total of five interviews, one with each of the five directors of the company.
     
    Any candidate who got a NO vote from any director, had to drop out of the race. I was asked by the College of Pharmacy in Gujarat (my alma mater) to represent them. Isn’t it odd? A resident of Mumbai, of Goan origin, was asked to represent Gujarat University, as the sole representative at this series of interviews. It was still a time when Indians were Indians, and state and communal affiliations had not been set on fire! 
     
    I arrived for my first interview in the series, with the purchase director, Ian McKinnon. It was a wet July day; it was raining heavily and continuously. The roads were flooded, as is usual in Mumbai even toay. I had travelled all the way from Marine Lines to Worli by a combination of bus and cab—to arrive with a wet suit, a dripping umbrella, wet socks and soggy shoes. I was going to present a very poor –‘first impression’ and I had always been told that  “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” But there was nothing that I could do.  On the dot of 3pm, I was at Mr McKinnon’s door. To my surprise, he was there to receive me, at the door of his cabin. I was shocked. I was not used to this: especially after my past interview with Mr Singh.
     
    He took my umbrella and kept it in a bucket where it could drip. He took my raincoat and asked whether I would like to have my wet jacket hung as well. 
     
    He asked whether I was cold and when I said that I was, he turned off the air-conditioner. Would I have tea or coffee? And he requested his secretary for two hot cups - and while waiting, making polite conversation about the weather, the rains, the floods, the city transport, till the coffee was brought in. 
     
    And then he told me that he had come to India only a year before. He briefly told me about his academic background—which included Balliol College in Oxford. And his work life before coming to India. He told me where he had travelled, his travels around India and some of his impressions of the country and the people.  “Based on a limited exposure,” he was quick to add. There was insight, and there was humility. There was no intellectual arrogance. His urge to learn more and more was very transparent. 
     
    Because I was BSc BPharm, he went out of his way to tell me that he was not a 'technical' person, as I was. So we could first talk about literature and dance forms, and music and art, and places of interest and sports—both Western and Indian. He asked about my family, and my time in school and in college. My hobbies and my likes and dislikes. About my passions and the goals I have set for myself (which at that time were very vague). All the time, he kept asking questions and listening—then making notes (he asked for my permission to make notes—“because I just cannot remember everything—and it is all so interesting”). And again asking questions and again listening and making notes.  He proved the truth of the old adage that God gave us two ears and only one tongue with a purpose: that we may listen twice as much as we talk.  
     
    Before I knew what had happened, I realised it was 5.45pm. We had had a conversation for nearly three hours. And it seemed so warm and friendly. The hall outside was empty. The lights had been put out.  Mr McKinnon was apologetic that the interview had taken so long. But he insisted that he had enjoyed it and that he had learned a lot. He brought me my now dry jacket and helped me get into it. Then he brought me the raincoat and the umbrella. I felt so honoured and respected. This man, who had graduated from Oxford - and was now purchase director of Glaxo, made me (looking for his first job) feel like a star!
     
    Because I had met Ian McKinnon and had fallen under his spell—I decided that if Glaxo offers me a job finally - I will take it. I did not even think about the money. Here was an opportunity to work for a renowned company and one which was staffed with gentlemen. “If there were people like Ian McKinnon at the top - who could walk with kings, without losing the common touch” ( Kipling), it would be worth  working for even less than what I would have expected. For me, at 22, Mr McKinnon became a hero, a role model, someone for whom I wished well. He much later became managing director of Glaxo India, and was next posted as managing director of Glaxo, France. He died early, but he was one of the great influences on my own life!
     
    (Walter Vieira is a Certified Management Consultant; and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He has written 11 books – some of them best sellers – translated into Chinese and Indonesian and 3 books in collaboration with Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame. Mr Vieira has straddled the space between business and academia – and shares his vast experience with students and peers, to help make this a better world!)
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    COMMENTS

    sridhar marudhai

    1 month ago

    Very interesting and informative. People like him are very rare to see in our real life...

    m.prabhu.shankar

    1 month ago

    Amazing Amazing. What a Human Being. Many sentences, not able to believe what is written like "he asked for my permission to make notes" hence ended up reading twice to confirm what I read first time is correct.

    saikat sen

    1 month ago

    Spellbound....

    Sudhir Mankodi

    1 month ago

    Excellent article. The Glaxo director only reinforced my belief that leadership is about service, putting your stake holders to ease and look after their welfare. It\'s not about any position or power to terrorise people down the line. No wonder, it is because of the kind of people he worked with, the author is where he is today - at higher altitude. After all, the attitude decides the altitude!

    pprasad

    1 month ago

    Waiting for the next already, really excellent.

    narayansa

    1 month ago

    Indeed a role model!

    s5rwav

    1 month ago

    Simply Superb 😅😅😅

    LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Power and Glory Are Transient!
    A new fortnightly column by marketing whiz Walter Vieira
     
    It was Peter Drucker who set the example. By writing an interesting and immensely readable book, titled “My Times, Others’ Lives. So, when Debashis Basu, the editor of MoneyLife and I were swapping stories one evening, he suggested that I also do my brand of a Peter Drucker—at least in this respect! Could I dip into my memories of over 50 years of a working career as a corporate executive and later, as a management consultant, much of it in India , and some of it abroad—to work out thumbnail sketches of people I have worked with, or just met, or seen, or even heard about ? Would this be interesting as profiles in management, or even as a backdrop of how business was done in the 1960s to now in the 2000s?  Debashish felt that it would. And I picked up my pen and dipped into the past….
     
    It was my first interview in the early 1960s. I had graduated in science, and then again, in pharmaceutical technology. A friend of my dad’s suggested that I go and meet Col Mohinder Singh of TCF—a pharmaceutical company in the Rallis group at that time. It was my first interview for a job, and I was so excited!
     
    The colonel had an opulent office, set in immaculately tended gardens at Andheri. He was punctual and courteous, but curt and not friendly. He glanced at my CV  and asked – What would you like to do? I said, that depends on what openings are available!  He said that I could work as a junior in the liquids department—and the pay would be X. 
     
    Perhaps, I looked scruffy, so he offered me a scruffy salary. It was so scruffy, that I was bold enough to tell him that I would not be able to smoke my brand of cigarettes at that salary! He turned red in the face. He was not used to 'back-answering'. Army discipline had invaded civvy street. 
     
    “Then you should change to a cheaper brand of cigarettes Mr Vieira,” he shot back. He was blunt and curt and just with his tone, he indicated that the interview had come to an end. 
     
    I thanked him as courteously as I could bring myself to do and left. I was relieved to be in the cool and fresh Andheri air outside (it was fresh in 1961!). As I walked towards the gate, I smelled the all permeating unmistakable smell of Minolad tonic which I was not destined to help produce! Perhaps, it was just as well!
     
    Later, much later, with many years of experience, I looked back and reflected. What could Col Singh have done?
     
    He could have asked for my expectations first. Perhaps, explained the company’s salary structure. Regretted that the gap is too wide to be bridged easily. Perhaps when there is something more suitable, he would write to me again. Yes – there are so many different approaches and options!
     
    Some years later, we met in the balcony seats of the New Empire cinema. We both recognised each other. He knew or assumed that “I had arrived”! I not only kept to my brand of cigarettes but could also afford the same more expensive seats, as he. Another few years later, after that chance encounter, I began meeting him at trade association meetings - each of us representing our respective companies. We were now both on the same side of the table and, in this setting, at the same level. 
     
    Col Singh, who was better known in city restaurants as a 'gourmet', rather than as an authority in industry taught me my first lesson in corporate life. 
     
    “Always be courteous to candidates at interviews. Don’t play God. Power and position are transient.” Many of the candidates will be on their way up, when perhaps, you are on your way down. It is like the escalator in the shopping mall. You look across and you see a familiar face. And who knows? This candidate who you had so abruptly rejected(and who is on his way up)could be interviewing your son, twenty years hence. And he may not have forgotten the father . Especially if he has a readily identifiable surname like VIEIRA!!
     
    So, even from an entirely selfish point of view, it is prudent to go beyond being civil—to being courteous and pleasant. Every candidate recognises that you cannot give the job to everyone who applies. But YOU can be courteous to everyone you write to (rejection letters) and everyone you meet (at an interview).
     
    This is where HR management is everyone’s business – and cannot be relegated to the HR department alone. Every manager is also an HR manager!
     
    This was a lesson I learned early in life. It has held me in good stead. And soon after this interview, I saw (fortunately) that there were many others who one could learn from about 'what to do' rather than 'what not to do' at the final point of candidate contact! 
     
    (Walter Vieira is a Certified Management Consultant; and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He has written 11 books – some of them best sellers – translated into Chinese and Indonesian and 3 books in collaboration with Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame. Mr Vieira has straddled the space between business and academia – and shares his vast experience with students and peers, to help make this a better world!)
     
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    COMMENTS

    sv

    2 months ago

    Mr Vieira used to write in Business World decades ago. I followed for many years and had clipped quite a number of them. Some of the articles found their way into books he wrote (I have a couple of them). Lovely to see him again! Happy writing, Mr Vieira

    m.prabhu.shankar

    2 months ago

    Excellent Excellent. Thanks for sharing this Sir.

    bapoomalcolm

    2 months ago

    TCF. Teddington, Themis?

    bapoomalcolm

    2 months ago

    Nice to hear of old times. While you were looking for a "cushy" job, we were sweating away, not far, at Saki Naka. Good that you did not get the post. Eating out was a MAJOR problem in those days.

    TILL MORE NEXT WEEK.

    TAKE CARE.

    pprasad

    2 months ago

    Will definitely look forward to this column.

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