Thursday, April 5, 2012

Office-Office: Scapegoat

Well, that is what General V.K. Singh seems to have become, with the Defense Minister and Prime Minister throwing up their hands in the leaked letters case. While it appears that this species is rare in the armed forces, it is quite common to find scapegoats in corporate India. What is more, anyone can become one if careless or unlucky.

Consider this. You have put together a marketing plan post some discussions with the team and your boss. Your boss changes it to his satisfaction (and in keeping with vision, or the lack of it) and immediately passes it on to his boss, without any mention of you or the team in his email. But god is great (or so you think) when the super boss does not see any diamonds or other treasure the plan and promptly trashes your boss for sending sub-standard stuff. (That, super bosses see stellar stuff all the time is a myth. They are after all former scapegoats who have got lucky and risen to power.)

While you are grinning with glee imagining the boss’s expression, you get a bomber – an email from the boss to the super boss marking you in CC that reads: “Dear (Super boss’s name) . (Your name) worked on this plan. Will share the feedback and get (Your name) to re-work accordingly. Sincerely, (Boss’s name)”. Scroll down the mail trail and you will see the super boss using the choicest of expletives describing your boss’ work. There, you have just been made scapegoat.

Sounds familiar? So how do you avoid becoming the next V.K Singh?

For starters, do not aspire to spearhead or contribute to any game changing initiatives for your employer. These only increase your chances and frequency of becoming the scapegoat. You might even be considered for a Scapegoat of the Year award.

If you do end up getting roped in to such initiatives, ensure your contribution is restricted to just listening to the discussion. (Take a leaf from the boss) and making notes. You can volunteer to organize for tea and snacks, as little can go wrong in placing such orders from the canteen (Unless your luck is down and out and the snacks vendor has been changed).

If asked to work on any presentations/ plans, ensure you send the final version including your comments on email. If a repeat of the above example happens, you can do a “Reply All” to the mail by attaching your email discussion on the subject and CCing the rest of the team by asking for their opinion on how to improvise further. That way, you divide your chances of becoming a scapegoat by the number of other people marked on the mail.

If you don’t have the heart (more likely the spine) to do this, find a scapegoat and do to him/her what your boss did to you. Or divert attention to more pressing issues, like someone has done to take the heat off Gen. V.K. Singh by exposing the Army’s attempt of a possible coup.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Earful!: Attempting to be Mallya

(Image Source:

The problem with larger than life figures is that people can never see them any other way. For instance, can you believe Vijay Mallya is poor? All media reports say he is unable to pay his employees. But take one look at him and the diamond ear rings and gold chains continue to dazzle your eye balls. He arrives in a designer suit and a snazzy car and asks for donation (sorry bail out) from the government. You, like the budding punk in my neighborhood, will be tempted to believe, the good times are just around the corner.

Well, who doesn’t want to be publicly poor, but privately rich? If that is your dream, then this post should help you fulfill it. Remember, you need to be rich to begin with.

1. Divide and conquer – Split your kitty into smaller chunks and make the world believe they are separate sources of funding cut off from one another. When money in one fund gets spent, you seek bail because “the complex nature of investments and conflicts of interests prevent you from borrowing internally”. Of course in reality, it is like cutting a chocolate cake into pieces and eating one piece every hour. As long as you are the solo cake-eater, you will end up eating the entire cake by nightfall. Who cares if you had one extra slice in the afternoon?

2. Confuse, don’t convince – We deal with pesky people all the time. More so, when one starts getting rich. Intermix and liberally use terms like “breath through”, “new segment”, “good times,” “World class”, “customer delight” and “Innovation” repeatedly in your conversations. Make people feel grateful for your existence. During bad times (of course you must never use the words in public), you can always pin the blame on “jealous competitors”, “regressive government policy” or “sectorial crisis”.

3. Get others to tow your line – After all, how long can you say the same thing? For a change, let others in your business circles speak the same jargon. As long as you are having a good time at their expense, how does it matter?

4. Travel by your private jet– Isn’t that cheaper than renting an A380? See, you are already saving money and consequently your company from bankruptcy. You have a moral conscience.

5. Party – Show up at all major parties or throw some yourself. Don’t you need exposure (and funds) to like-minded people? Additionally, you (and others) are having good times, thanks to mugs of your beer being downed by the crowds.

6. Keep your private yacht docked in the most prominent bay – See how poor you have become? You can’t even afford to take off on a cruise. It is another matter that renting that part of the bay will cost you more than the cruise itself.

7. Stay cooped up in your bungalow – Look how depressed he has become, the public will say. Only you know that no one serves food on gilded cutlery in this country, except your household staff comprising smart young people who don’t care much about salary but are here for the “experience”. If any pesky journalist questions you on the opulence, you can always say you have only tomato soup for dinner.

If these seven steps don’t help you, try acting in movies. Not only will you get more money, you will also learn the requisite emotions that come with playing the part of a publicly poor person.