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Friday, March 30, 2012


TQM has made impressive inroads in the manufacturing and service sectors. Organizations have finally realized the difference between seeking an ISO certification and launching a process to improve continuously. The shape of TQM in different organizations may be different but there are obvious similarities in terms of three basic factors:
•  demonstration of management’s commitment
•  involvement of employees across the organization
•  building of support systems to help continuous improvement.

The TQM initiative has been moving forward under different banners but, faced by competition, demanding consumers, and the needs of global customers, it has gathered momentum in the last few years.

The manufacturing sector is focusing on aspects like lean management, TQM, Quality Circles, and Kaizen. Their essential approach has been influenced significantly by the Japanese approach to TQM. The service sector has been using the Six Sigma banner to further its movement. Benchmarking is a common thread between the two sectors to drive improvement. Organizations have also been using variations of the business excellence models to drive their improvement. The Tata Group, for example, uses a variation of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award (MBNQA) to rate the excellence score of its group companies.

A business excellence model like the MBNQA or the EFQM can serve as an effective guide for companies seeking to enhance their overall quality. The models focus on results and enablers. Customer satisfaction and business results are the two critical aspects of results while business processes are a key enabler to drive excellence. However, it is this component in particular that proves to be the waterloo for most companies.

Some of the managerial processes that we, at Hewlett-Packard India, followed to achieve excellence which finally resulted in winning the CII-EXIM Award for Business Excellence are as follows:

  • Personal involvement of the CEO in building an organizational culture conducive to business excellence.
  • Total, visible, and emphatic commitment from senior management to TQM.
  • Strong employee motivation.
  • Unique and successful application of tools such as policy management, measurement of customer satisfaction, and people satisfaction.
  • Integration of total quality principles in the business philosophy of the company.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marketing : Positioning Strategy

Who are my customers/ clients?
This is the first question you need to ask, just who am I aiming my main offer towards? If you can’t answer this then you are possibly trying to market your products to too wider an audience. Identifying your customer groups or segmenting as we say in marketing, is that essential first step in the process. Now you may find that you have several products or services aimed at several distinct segments. That is fine but you will need to look at possibly fine-tuning your positioning to those segments.
Where is my product in the marketplace?
From the data gained above, you will need to assess where you stand in the market in terms of your quality and price. there can be a lot of variation in this, and you are not always selling at the highest price, sometimes you are focussing on low price and high volume, that is for you to decide. So here you will compare where you stand say against other players in the market on two or more attributes, so these may be price vs. quality etc. It is a key decision to make, where you wish to stand in the market as this will determine your positioning and ultimately your choice of marketing tools and media channels.
How can I target the right audience?
Once you have clearly identified where you are wanting to be in the market, the next stage is targeting, this is the decision you will make as to how to target the segments you have determined as attractive to you. This can be governed by your available budget and other aspects, such as where your target audience are based or demographic factors, such as age or disposable income etc. You will need to ask yourself, which target looks best, is most substantial and can get the best return for the investment in your marketing.
Is my branding in tune with my positioning strategy?
When you have identified the best possible audience to target, you need to consider how your brand is perceived and if you are aligning with the expectations of your target audience accurately. Your marketing communications in whatever platform(s) you decide upon will need to mirror your position in the market, so for example, if you have identified your product is high-end, high-quality and aiming at the luxury market, your branding needs to be in keeping with that positioning in the marketplace, as it is likely that your target audience are looking for a branding that suggests expensive luxury. Another element here is differentiation, so your brand occupies a unique place in the mind of your audience, that is quite different to that of your nearest competitors.
How can I measure my positioning strategy for effectiveness?
Any strategy needs to have check in points along the way to ensure you are keeping on track with your intentions. Of course in any business the main Key Performance Indicator will be sales. Your level of sales is where you are making money for your business, so you will be looking for early signs that your time and effort is paying off. You may, at fairly regular intervals, want to carry out an audit of how your brand is being perceived, this can be achieved by developing a survey questionnaire, or by inviting customers to focus groups for feedback and opinions.
The real measure of success is in sales, and although this can take time to develop, you should be seeing clues that all is on track by the level of enquiries and your conversion of these enquiries into revenue for your business, as a result of your positioning strategy. If you don’t like the results, revisit the processes and try another approach. Even the very largest brands have to constantly revise and refresh their positioning strategies.
The main thing with positioning is to end up with your main offer(s) being an intuitive choice for your customers. And of course, this can be reinforced by providing excellent service and being a great company to do business with. 

Interview Tips: To get the job you want

In the current economic climate, we find ourselves with millions of highly intelligent, overqualified job seekers around the world fighting for the same jobs. Millions of Curriculums Vitae's emailed every day, followed by millions of phone calls, followed by millions of interviews, followed by rejection and disappointment.


Believe that you are the best candidate for the job. Hoping, wishing, or even badly wanting it is not enough, and it may even go against you. Just as it happens when looking for love, giving out a vibe of neediness, may put your interviewers right off.

They are not going to offer you the job because you need it, or hope to get it. The job will be offered to the person who "gets to them"; the person who makes the best, most impactful and lasting impression; that person they can vividly imagine working with; hat person they can see themselves dealing with day in and day out, that sounds good to them, and that when they think about you, they get a good feeling.


You are not selling your CV, your new suit or how nice a person you are. You are selling feelings! Remember that your interviewer is only human. And most decisions we make as humans are not based on logic, but on feelings. You have to realise that the interview is not really about you, it's about your interviewer. As well as how well you match your talents, experience and skills to the job, the company and people in it, you also have to focus on making your interviewer feel good. When people feel good around you, they are more likely to like you and promote you.


This may seem pretty obvious, but I am always surprised to hear human resources staff at the companies I work with complain about interviewees' lack of preparation. Knowing the name of the company you are applying for and kind of liking what they do is not going to cut it!

Research the company. Become curious and genuinely interested in what they do, how they do it, their mission, their people... learn as much as you can about what is most important to the company you are applying to work for. If you are applying for a position you have no previous experience on, it may be a good idea to speak to someone who is already doing that job, or has done it before. Spend some time with them, ask some good questions, and learn!


I am stunned when I speak to personal clients who have job interviews coming up and they tell me they haven't rehearsed.

Imagine being an actor and showing up to film without knowing your lines. No matter how good you think you are, you are bound to mess up.


You may be thinking this is easier said than done, especially if your upcoming interview is your fiftieth so far.

Well, this may be your fiftieth lucky interview! The more confident and relaxed you are, the better you will perform.

It helps to run through the interview in your mind before it happens. Imagine being already there. Imagine things going perfectly, exactly the way you want them to go. See what you'll see, hear what you'll hear, and feel how good it feels knowing you did your best and that you made a great impression.


A lot of companies are looking for more than just someone who can do the job. They are looking for proactive people with a personality and vision.

Show the type of person you are and how interested you are in the job by asking questions regarding growth and opportunities.

Think about what you would be looking for if this was your company or you were the interviewer. By imagining what you would expect, you can put yourself in a more resourceful mindset.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method

Behavioral Interviewing and the STAR Method
Behavioral Interviewing is a style of interviewing that more and more organizations are using in their hiring process.  The basic premise is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.   It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related.
The STAR method simply provides a logical approach to answering questions by providing a guided approach to using one of your past successes in responding to the question.
What is STAR
STAR = Situation or Task - Action - Results
Situation or
Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.   This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Action you tookDescribe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team.   Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you achievedWhat happened?   How did the event end?   What did you accomplish?   What did you learn?
How to Use the STAR Method
In order to be successful in behavioral interviewing:
  • identify two or three of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated STAR stories) during the interview
  • Wait until the interviewer is finished asking the question, pause, and contemplate your answer.
  • Make sure you answer the question completely.
  • Identify examples of situations from your experiences on your resume where you have demonstrated desired behaviors.
  • Frame your answer as a story that you can tell.
  • Be specific and detailed. Tell them about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one.   Briefly tell them about the situation, what you did specifically, and the positive result or outcome.   Your answer should contain these four steps Situation, Task, Action, Result or "STAR") for optimum success.
  • Whenever you can, quantify your results.   Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility.   For example: "I was a shift supervisor." could be "As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees."
Example of a STAR Answer
During my internship last summer, I was responsible for managing various events.
I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years and wanted to do something to improve these numbers.
I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses.   I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.
We utilized some of the wonderful ideas we received from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.