Namastrategy (noun) is derived from the words Namaste (Sanskrit), and Strategy (Greek). It is a long term plan of action, and a method of winning, that is based on respect and recognition for the value of partners and clients, in acquisition, merger, expansion, and diversification.
– Namaste (noun) is an Indian greeting as well as a gesture, indicating deep respect, often intended as recognition of the common divinity within another person. The same hands folded gesture is made wordlessly upon departure.
– Strategy (noun) is a Greek work that derives from the words stratos (army) and ago (leading). It is a careful long term plan of action or method designed to achieve a particular goal, most often “winning”. Strategy is differentiated are used to make problems easier to understand and solve. Strategy is about choice, which affects outcomes.
How quickly trends change in global capitalism. For a decade the mantra was a concern about losing US technology jobs to overseas outsourcing. The debate centered primarily on the value to consumers for low cost timely services in exchange for the perceived loss of jobs in the US. The predominant argument was related to the loss of jobs for Americans, as enterprising corporations took advantage of the lower cost of personnel in other countries. The decline of the US currency has created an even playing field, and in some cases it is less expensive to hire US employees than to pay for the same expertise overseas. As currency and global exchange continue to move toward balance, the real driving force will be pure business. The global economy is adjusting and balancing itself at a much more rapid pace than ever before, and it is gaining speed.
Is this really a new trend, or is it just another highly publicized manifestation of trends that have existed for generations? Previously, a much publicized shift occurred in the 70’s and 80’s as automobile manufacturing plants grew in Japan, and closed in Detroit. The once dramatic battle for domestic manufacturing dominance made a u-turn when Toyota began manufacturing quality automobiles in Kentucky. The Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing plant is located in Illinois, and the Nissan motor manufacturing plant is located in Tennessee. These companies discovered the advantages of local just in time manufacturing, with local suppliers, to avoid the tremendous logistics costs of moving materials and automobiles between continents. The financing, marketing, distribution, and other business segments of the operations likewise took advantage of local geographic presence in the US, and in Europe.
Similar trends occurred with the transition of consumer electronics. The very names of the brands are a telling tale of the trend. The generation of RCA and Zenith, was replaced by the generation of Sony, Hitachi, and Toshiba. The subsequent generation of consumer electronics manufacturing did little to change the brand names, but the factories moved to China, Taiwan, Philippines, and Korea. Another generation is emerging, one that is even less sensitive to brand names, but even more aware of the global economy. Domestic borders have less consequence to consumer demand than cost, quality, and availability. Each subsequent generation of manufacturing is more fluid and responsive than the previous generation. Each generation is more aware of supply chain, environment, market fluctuations, and consumer trends.
Are we really that much different than the time of the Roman Empire? As the Roman empire expanded, it frequently met resistance from local tribes. Although the upper classes of the conquered areas usually adjusted to the Roman way of life, the majority of the conquered population continued to live as they did before the Romans came to power. As a result, a mixture of Roman and native cultures coexisted easily in many regions. As the empire advanced, it assimilated technologies and theologies from nearly every region. As the empire expanded, it introduced the accumulation of acquired technologies to the people of the conquered lands. Roads, arches, water and waste management were improved, but not without some sacrifice. Many generations later, as communication, transportation, and technology continue to evolve, global information, education, and interaction is advancing at incredibly accelerating speed, and without the assistance of invading legions.
Successful modern expansion also requires assimilation and integration. Even as global economics and capitalism create a common marketplace, by contrast, cultural individualism has become increasingly diverse. Groups, communities, and individualism are no longer restrained to domestic or geographic demographics. MySpace, iTunes, social media, and social networking have created powerful communities and amazing forms of individual expression. As manufacturing and logistics must cope with globalization, so sales and marketing must cope with fluid social diversity and individualism. The market is much more dynamic than ever before, and this is just the beginning of the trend.
So, who is advancing effectively? Surprisingly, the culture that is adapting to the universal diversity of individualism is one that has, for thousands of years, honored the spirit in you which is also within me. As defined by Mahatma Gandhi, in India, when people meet and part they often say, Namaste, which means, “I honor the place within you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place within you of love, light, truth, and peace. I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.” The Roman Empire assimilated portions of the local regional cultures, technologies, and trends, as it conquered and controlled new lands. Likewise, the culture of India is to acknowledge, embrace, and pay homage to the common divinity of each unique being. As India’s economy and business expands beyond it’s borders, it does not conquer, but rather embraces and enables partners and clients, respecting and protecting individual capabilities, while gently blending the strengths of each individual for the benefit of the collective good. In this example, the individual could be representative of a person, a region, a company, or an industry. Namastrategy pays homage to the divinity of the individual, organization, or region, even as it integrates diverse and dependent resources for collective benefit.
Bangalore based Wipro is evaluating several regions in the United Kingdom to employ 500 people, in addition to the 300 employed at the facility in Reading, England. This trend of hiring and expanding in local markets is sometimes referred to as ‘reverse off-shoring’, which would presume that the jobs would otherwise have been outsourced to another country. However, the move is really just another form of namastrategy. In exchange for bringing more local jobs to the United Kingdom, Wipro will enjoy government tax incentives linked to the jobs that they create, and they will have the added benefit of being an integral part of the local community. “We want a center where the general profile of the young girls and boys graduating there is of a nature where they would like to work in that area, they have family roots in that area, they come from a background which is comfortable in that area, and don’t necessarily want to migrate to the larger cities.” said Azim Premj, chairman of Wipro.
Consulting services represent just under 5% of Wipro’s $3.4 billion annual revenue, but the goal is to increase that amount to 15% of the annual revenue over the next five years. To accomplish this objective, Wipro is also committed to increase the number of local staff members in each region. Of the total 88,000 workforce, Wipro currently employs about 6,500 staff in Europe, including the United Kingdom. Wipro recently set up facilities to support US customers in Troy, Michigan and Atlanta, Georgia. When asked if onshore expansion and local recruitment at local western salary levels would increase cost and decrease the company profit margins, the chairman of Wipro was quick to point out that local billing would be commensurate for maintaining local employees. “The billing rates are completely different. They are much higher. So the profit per person you get from consultancy, if it’s well run, is higher than the profit per person which you get from the other businesses in the rest of Wipro Technologies.”
In many cases the global expansion is achieved by acquisition. In 2006, HTMT Global Solutions acquired AFFINA – The Customer Relations Company, a leading provider of inbound contact center services. HTMT is one of India’s premier customer solution providers, offering a wide range of contact center services, and business process outsourcing, to customized IT solutions. Based in Bangalore, HTMT is rated among the Top 5 Best Employers in the industry (Dataquest – IDC). How did HTMT demonstrate this reputation as Top 5 Best Employer when it acquired the Peoria, IL based AFFINA? Rather than redirect the calls to an offshore center, HTMT infused financial and personal interest to empower the Peoria based AFFINA operations. The astounding results can be measured in profound profit increases for both companies, enhanced capabilities, integrated expansion in US and overseas, and the inspired dedication of the workforce in all geographies. “AFFINA is a strategic fit into HTMT’s global vision. Through it’s experienced management team, diverse skills, and wide-spread network of delivery centers, HTMT is now poised to ramp up its operations in the growing American market. This will be a happy marriage of domain expertise, CRM capabilities and management skills,” said Mr. Partha Sarkar, CEO, HTMT.
In the last five years, Tata Group has expanded it’s influence from India into the global market by acquiring a diverse portfolio of businesses. In keeping with a proven trend, the Tata Group often maintains the prestigious brand name, brings resources to a beleaguered organization, embraces the existing employees, and invests in the local market for stunning success. Since 2003, the Tata Group has bought the truck unit of South Korea’s Daewoo Motors, a stake in one of Indonesia’s biggest coal mines, and steel mills in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. By acquiring the Dutch-British steel giant, Corus Group, Tata Steel secured access to automakers across the US and Europe, immediately propelling the capacity fivefold, with mills in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The strategic acquisitions of Daewoo, steel mills in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Europe, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, were all precursors to the announcement of Tata Group’s acquisition of Jaguar, and Land Rover. In a landmark deal worth $2.3 billion, the India steel and motor company has become a marquee name in luxury automobiles. With unparalleled infrastructure for steel and production, the company is poised to polish the slightly tarnished reputation of the proud brands. As many as 40,000 jobs in the United Kingdom, mainly suppliers, depend on the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, as well as 16,000 direct employees. Tata Motors executives have expressed commitments to preserve jobs, and grow the business. “We have sought to keep management in place after we acquire a company,” Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors said. “We pride ourselves on our ability to motivate management’s plans.”
In 2000, Tata Tea took over one of the United Kingdom’s biggest tea brands, Tetley Tea. To this day, no Tetley Tea directors or senior management have been asked to leave. On the contrary, Tata sent managers to work for Tetley in the UK, and to learn about tea buying, branding, and exporting into new markets. Tata has continued to invest in Tetley Tea, and enabled Tetley Tea to expand into new markets, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. “Experts say you have to slash, burn, cut, and we have not. People might say that it is foolish,” says R.K. Krishna Kumar, president and managing director of Tata Tea. “Sometimes acquisitions should have an equivalent impact on the acquiring company.”
How does Tata Group use this global expansion to fuel the development of economy and infrastructure in other regions of the world? In January, Tata Motors announced plans to build the Nano, a $2,500 “people’s car”. The inexpensive Nano was inspired by witnessing entire families being dangerously transported on motor scooters, a very common sight in developing countries. The goal is to introduce a vehicle so inexpensive that it will enable even economically challenged geographies to provide safe transportation for the entire family. The Nano resides at the absolute polar opposite end of the spectrum of luxury automobiles, but it may give some additional satisfaction to owners of Jaguars that, when they slip into an automobile that defines luxury, they are preserving jobs in the United Kingdom, and contributing to preserve lives in developing countries with safer modes of transportation.
Can it really be that good corporate citizenship is also good business? ZSL Inc certainly believes so. With headquarters in Chennai, India, and US headquarters in Edison, New Jersey, ZSL Inc has demonstrated phenomenal growth through expansion, acquisition, and diversification of the portfolio of offerings. However, the executives would tell you that the formula for success in much simpler than that. The executives would tell you that sustainable growth is achieved through loyalty, enabling clients, actively contributing to the community, and empowering partners. Growing the success of clients is the means of naturally growing success for ZSL. The current client base includes small and medium sized companies across a broad range of verticals, as well as respected leaders in Finance & Banking, Insurance, Life Sciences, Telecommunication, Retail, and Manufacturing.
ZSL ranked 275 for the year 2007 in the VAR Business 500, and was recognized as one of the 10 Fast Growth VARs to watch. Despite the accolades, the executives maintain a dedication to humility that is a reflection of the respect toward the divinity within every other person. To expand operations and support into the Consumer Electronics industry, the humble company recruited a volunteer advisory council of respected members from within the industry. The advisory council guides development of solutions that integrate the best practices from across all services. The role of the council is to provide leadership, guidance, and participate in design of architecture that unites multiple diverse systems through common platforms and applications. This approach enables each constituent to maintain the infrastructure and expertise of individual organizations, while simultaneously enabling each to communicate, update, perform, and report with valuable real time actionable data. ZSL openly respects the expertise of the diverse industry representatives and empowers them to lead the design of development, as ZSL take a supporting role to bring the vision to reality. Who benefits from these solutions? Everyone. “With our humble beginnings and modest approach, we are certain to make a difference for the good,” said Ananth Chaganty, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Solutions of ZSL Inc.
Words of Wisdom
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
John Mehrmann is a freelance author and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital. John Mehrmann and Mitchell Simon are authors of The Trusted Advocate, the fundamental guide to achieving extraordinary sales and sustaining loyal customers. This revolutionary sales guide applies peak management techniques and leadership skills to the sales profession, showing you how to utilize authenticity and integrity in your sales to achieve maximum success.