Posts Tagged ‘Bangalore’

Breakfast in Bangalore

Friday, July 10th, 2009

It’s already quite hot at 7 am. I have arrived the night before from Boston and still feel a little tired from the jet lag. I am sitting outside, watching the campus of Infosys Technologies wake up. I’ve gotten to know the waiters at the Infosys Executive Center quite well, so they now routinely bring me a Western omelet to complement the traditional breakfast ofidli and dosa.

Watching employees arrive on campus with the first buses is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a veritable human tide. They’re all so young. The women wear colorful saris or Western clothes. They walk briskly, eager to get to work. The guys are already discussing business. The excitement is palpable. Why can’t we feel this in the West anymore?

A bit later, Manjunatha arrives. He is our partner on campus. You can see in Manjunatha’s eyes how enthusiastic he is about life. And why wouldn’t he? He’s part of a firm that is growing at extraordinary speed and provides him with an economic opportunity his parents never had. He just got married. When he gets excited – which is most of the time – he speaks so fast I routinely have to slow him down to keep up. Of course, he spends four hours in the horrendous traffic of Bangalore every day, but even that does not seem to faze him. A whole continent has awakened, and he gets to be part of it.

My partner Venkat Ramaswamy and I are teaching a class on campus that day. We were hoping that by arriving in the classroom early, we’d get some private time to catch up with each other, but the participants in our workshop are already there, ready to go. They’ve read all the recommended papers, plus others they have discovered to determine how co-creation is different from open innovation, from crowd sourcing, or from viral marketing? Their questions are probing, helping them better understand the content rather than challenge it (the way a typical American or European audience would). Their excitement becomes ours, and we feed off the steady hum, encouraging enthusiasm, and sheer delight in sharing ideas.

Suddenly, we’re at the end of day. The afternoon flew by as the co-creation message took hold, but our Infosys students want to keep going. They propose to work on the case in the evening, to maximize classroom time with us. We don’t get out of the class room until midnight, jet lag notwithstanding. We’ve simply forgotten how exhausted we are.

What an amazing place this is.

Adding insult to injury: the tyranny of satisfaction surveys

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I am in Paris, staying at a Novotel hotel, meeting with clients and teaching. The hotel is great. They all know me here and greet me by name. They even let me transform my room into an improvised meeting room with four of my colleagues, bringing me extra chairs and tailoring their cleaning schedule to my needs. It’s all peachy. Except for the fact that the Internet does not work properly. For €20 a night (gulp), it kicks me out every two minutes and forces me to reenter my access code every time. This is by now the only thing I care about. Forget about the friendly staff and the special service. This is a BAAAAD hotel. On the last day of my stay in the morning, I find a Novotel survey in my e-mail box asking me about my experience. The adrenaline starts flowing. I will get to vent. The cathartic effect is starting already. I will sleep in peace in the cab on the way to the airport.

But wait! It does not ask me about the Internet connection, except as a minor feature in a long list of “services”. It wants to know whether I think of this hotel more as “pleasant with some originality”, or “classic with a twist”. It wants to know whether I have enjoyed the two bathrobes and the slipper they have made available for me. Or whether the Nespresso coffee machine does anything for me. I don’t give a hoot. I want to talk about the Internet, in fact let them have it about their Internet. The survey is nearly over. I want to kill the market researcher who designed this questionnaire. At the end, there is a box where I can write whatever I want. I know the market researcher is already half-checked out. I still spill my guts. Just in case. The box is too small to contain my ire. The tyranny of quantitative market research has won once again. They will never know why I have woven this complex pattern of a final evaluation where I hate the hotel, yet love the people in it and most of its amenities. They will probably run regression models between my overall low grade and my favorable answers to most questions, and shake their head.

Maybe they should have just given me a blank piece of paper and let me tell my story.