The young and the ambitious

PIC: Images Bazaar
The popular perception is that younger bosses are more open to new ideas and relaxation of rules. "A lot of times there is a disconnect between employees and their managers because the managers are inevitably much more experienced and used to being in higher management positions. So in turn they lose touch with the employee culture. Younger bosses are much more attuned to their employees," says Nishrit Shrivastva, co-founder, Heaven & Home. Ishaan Sachdeva, director, Alberto Torresi agrees, "Younger bosses do have a tendency to make the work atmosphere more energetic. They tend to be more dynamic and ready to adapt new ideas and ways of workings. If we look at statistics, a majority of employees today comprise of youth. In such a scenario, younger bosses prove to be more approachable and communicative. They are more likely to adopt the philosophy of 'work hard, party harder.' Young bosses are more ready to take risks and be rule benders. They are relatively easy-going with concepts like time flexibility, informality and professional interactivity."

A ‘Fun' Workplace

So what exactly qualifies a ‘fun' workplace? "A healthy work environment is what qualifies as a fun workplace; if an employee is given such an environment then the employee works more efficiently and hence gives out a better performance/outcome. HR plays an important role in making the workplace fun and are the ones who formulate the rules and regulations, so making them a little relaxed without building pressure on anyone is what HR should do to employ this concept," believes Aayushi Kishore, director, Globalite Industries. A ‘Fun' workplace in our view is an extension of home – where employees seamlessly transition from home to work and vice-versa. Colleagues become friends and the workplace becomes a place to ideate and innovate. Flexibility and empowerment is the key essence of such a workplace, and it is extremely important for HR to understand and align itself to foster such culture," adds Sameer Maheshwari, joint MD, healthkart.com. Dr. T.K. Mandal, vice president, JK Paper says, "We find our young managers throwing challenging tasks to their team members, rotating their responsibilities frequently, breaking rules to provide support to them, bring in cheers through engagement activities/events. These actions create an enabling environment for new innovative ideas. This is what we consider a ‘fun' workplace where employees find the work enjoyable and challenging."

Age No Bar

The key to keep employees happy may lie in preserving a young mindset even as one advances in age and experience. "We feel that it is not the age but the relationship which bosses share with their employees that makes a workplace enjoyable. May be younger bosses are able to relate closely to the needs of the employees and foster a culture which allows flexibility and innovative thinking. At HealthKart, we don't micromanage and each employee is empowered to exceed in their roles," Maheshwari opines. "Young is a mindset. You can be on the wrong (very wrong) side of 40 and work happily in a hierarchy free, first name culture; you can create a 'fun' and participatory work place and you can share credit," agrees Alpana Parida, President, DY Works. DY Works offers yoga at the workplace and reflexology foot massages, along with a Foot Ball Table, a punching bag and an impromptu band. Kavindra Mishra, founder-member and VP Sales, Zovi.com echoes the same sentiments, "More than the age it is the mindset of the boss that determines the ‘fun' quotient of a workplace. Personally, I have seen bosses where there is lot of age difference but they make the work fun and vice-versa I've also encountered relatively young bosses who have been very insecure."

Thus, while younger leadership may have an edge when it comes to adding a bit of colour to work life, there's no reason why older bosses cannot adopt the same mindset as well!

- Ankita Shreeram

Read the original article from ItsMyAccent.


Sustainability & INDIA INC

Publication: The Economic Times Mumbai; Date: Apr 25, 2012; Section: Business Of Brands; Page: 4

HUL Bets on Innovations to Reach Sustainable Goal Unilever can achieve some of its audacious sustainability targets only if it relies more on product innovation & research, and perhaps less on the mercurial ways of consumers NAREN KARUNAKARAN NEW DELH

The dry shampoo that Unilever, the € 46 billion FMCG giant, is currently introducing in various markets is a significant step in the company’s commitment to halve the water associated with the consumer use of its products by 2020. It also drives home another critical aspect in its sustainability agenda: that it can achieve some of its audacious targets only if it relies more on product innovation and research, and perhaps less on the mercurial ways of unpredictable consumers.

So, giving consumers a dry shampoo that doesn’t need water is a far easier way of reducing water consumption in the bathroom than pleading with them to use less water. The dry shampoo is spray on, absorbs oil from hair, and also lends volume.

Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and MD of Hindustan Unilever, unveiling the first year’s progress on the Unilever sustainable living plan (USLP) on Tuesday, as part of a simultaneous global release, admits reducing greenhouse gases, water and waste associated with the consumer use of its products has been rather challenging. It’s a matter of concern and may jeopardise the ambitious sustainability goals the company has set for itself (see table).

Unilever has not only committed to reduce emissions from its manufacturing plants, but has taken upon itself the responsibility of the entire value chain, from suppliers, distributors to its consumers. Around 68% of the company’s carbon emission is directly related to consumer use, while the manufacturing process contributes only 3%.

The company has progressed well in what it controls directly: sustainable sourcing, improving livelihoods of farmers, converting used plastic sachets waste to fuel, through a ‘breakthrough’ pyrolysis process.

Its sourcing record, barring sunflower oil, is commendable. “We may meet 100% sustainable sourcing of palm oil by 2012, three years before our 2015 commitment,” Paranjpe told ET. Today, it’s around 64%. Unilever is now working on a traceability plan to make the process more robust and credible. Under the circumstances, the success of the USLP hinges on the responsible conduct of its consumers, which is a daunting proposition. Therefore, the focus on the innovation bit of the strategy where consumers turn responsible by default. For example, the Comfort One Rinse introduced in Vietnam that reduces the use of water from three buckets to one; a leave-on hair conditioner that doesn’t need to be washed away; detergents that clean at room temperatures, doing away with the need for hot water at 70 degree Celsius in washing machines.

Unilever has great expectations from the dry shampoo. “It’s an incredible consumer proposition,” says Paranjpe. “A large number of women cannot wash hair every day because it’s not convenient.” He, however, refuses to discuss pricing or its launch in India.

“We need more, we need innovations,” he asserts. “The entire issue of consumers is not only about behaviour change; much of the challenges can be addressed through new products.” This is in line with the proposition made recently by John Elkington, the sustainability guru, that good choices by consumers ought to be default choices. Over two billion consumers use a Unilever product every day.

But there is only so much an inhouse R&D infrastructure can do in terms of product innovation. Moreover, the progress would be slow if only in-house expertise was tapped.

Unilever, therefore, last month, unveiled its online open innovation initiative. Open innovation involves negotiating and integrating externally developed intellectual property into a business, and opening company R&D labs to outside individuals or institutions for collaborative work. “The world is full of brilliant people with brilliant ideas, and we want to tap into that,” says Roger Leech, Unilever’s open innovation scouting director. Within a couple of weeks of launch, the platform has received over a 100 credible submissions from across the globe, and surprisingly about 5% are from its staff.

Unilever, as in the USLP, has put out a list of clear ‘wants’, all focused on sustainability—fighting viruses, reduction of salt in food products, preserving food naturally, storing renewable energy, sustainable showering, and of course, ways and means of altering consumer behaviour.

This new-found emphasis on product innovation doesn’t mean Unilever is giving up on influencing consumer behaviour, which revolves around how a message is communicated to them. HUL has garnered immense learnings from its years of experience in conducting the Lifebuoy handwashing programme.

For example, consumers have to be exposed at least three times in a period through television, movies, mobile vans, or whatever. It has to be then followed with a onetremely challenging is weaning consumers from high-salt food products. Unilever has been gradually reducing salt levels in its products without changing its taste, but this approach has limits. The 2011 USLP progress report highlights it: “The gradual reduction (of salt) over time is only really effective if the whole industry moves together. If it does not, people will desert our products for more highly salted ones.” on-one interaction where the efficacy of hand-washing is demonstrated. Only then is change seen. It’s bearing fruit. The Madhya Pradesh government, impressed by the fact that the incidence of diarrhoea has dipped by 25% in a recent study, now wants to implement this across five districts in 5,000 schools. “It’s cheaper than other government interventions,” says Paranjpe.



Wikipedia puts Upcycling as "the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value." For us who deal with the branding and packaging industry this concept assumes greater significance.

In my mind, the pivotal thought here is not reuse, but conversion of the waste to a higher order utility. Here is a brilliant case of a discarded cycle being used as a gate. Brilliantly done.

Internationally, a company called Terracycle has been doing brilliant work in this space, tying up with many an FMCG major. Sharing an examples that I really liked.

Our friends at Busride had chanced upon similar ideas for a retail installation.

Upcycling is definitely a way in which brand owners can not only showcase their responsibility towards the environment, but also create very interesting engagement devices. The entire thought of generate value from waste can actually be put into practice with a little thinking and courage from brand owners.

Many of our designers and you out there are surely Upcyclers. Hoping to see you responding with your own Upcycling examples.

Devatanu Banerjee
Contributed by
Devatanu Banerjee
VP - Retail, IT & New Media
DY Works



Bindu. One could argue that an article, especially one on semiotics, should probably not begin with a dot. However the 'bindu' is no full stop. Yes! It is simple but it is profound. It is as superficial as an embellishment but also as inherent as the soul. It is self contained, yet diverse. It is exactly why I thought the analysis of this mark, taken so for granted in a country inundated with culture, would make for an interesting ‘point’on semiotics as well as a fascinating analogy with brands.

In India the bindu is omnipresent - whether it be a chandra bindu in the devnagari script or a tikka on the forehead. Something as simple as a dot takes different meanings with its multiple shapes, sizes and colors. For instance, in an Indian soap opera the slightest variation of the bindu defines the deadliness of the vamp. It subliminally changes people’s perceptions of good and bad. So in the context of brands, could one say that what the bindu does to the woman is what a logo does to a brand? The answer is yes, if you look at it as superficially as an embellishment. The answer has more layers as one explores the different layers associated with this deep-rooted symbol.

My first realization of the 'essence' of the Bindu was as a painting by French based, Indian painter, S.H.Raza titled 'Ma Laut Ke Aunga Toh Kya Launga' (Mother when I return, what should I bring you?). As an audience of age 8, what appeared as a black circle, evolved (with what I'd like to believe was my evolved sensibility) to take multitude forms. It formed a whole. A solid black circle encompassed half the canvas. Was it the womb of a pregnant woman? Or was it the symbol of the Bindu that one immediately associated with a quintessential Indian Mother? It was the containment of energy, the central point of emergence and a unit that preceded life. Raza himself calls the Bindu the 'seed' bearing the potential of all life. He says 'Bindu Ki Anant Sambhavnaye' (The multiple forms of the Bindu). It is through the eyes of a painter that I noticed the multiple dimensions of the Bindu.

It was the mere influence of the Bindu that gave the heavily French influenced painter an Indian soul. It gave the Indian audience a reason to believe in him and created an immediate emotional connect. Beyond the top layer of the painting, I began to see what Anjolie Ela Menon calls 'Pentimento', and M.F. Husain called 'birthmarks' - the lines still visible under the top layer of paint. It is what is visible but still absent. It contributes to the end product but deliberately takes a back seat. What earlier the layman would call marks that the artist forgot to cover up actually form the complete picture -a picture that fetches millions of dollars today.

So before I digress from semiotics- into my evident passion for art, you may ask what has the bindu to do with brands? At DY Works it all came back 'full circle' - pun intended! I realized its how we look at brands. It’s a simple way to build and envisage million dollar brands. What we call the brand seed gives the brand an essence; just like the bindu does to the various canvases, foreheads and scripts it prevails in. It can change the origin story of a painter, it can change the perception from positive to negative and vice versa, it can even change the way you pronounce a word in various languages.

And what is the reference to pentimento to do with all this? Semiotics is our pentimento at DY Works. It forms an integral part of the process, explicit enough to be noticed but subtle enough to take the back seat. It is what differentiates one from the other, it is the inherent core that builds the brand and lends immense character. It is not just about glossy color palettes, fancy fonts and what the layman would assume is a brand - the logo. It adds layers to the brand, making it identifiable, acceptable and rooted within cultures.

In Hinduism, the bindu is believed to be the point where energy exits the body. It contains and preserves this energy. It provides focus, aids concentration and balances temperament. Similar to the shape of zero, the original form of the bindu is an underrated geometric shape that provides a 360-degree view as a third eye. It is grossly underrated but very easily adds value. Can a brand do that? In my opinion it should. And for those semiotic geeks who have not had enough – I will try and be 'semiotically correct' by tying the close of the article with the beginning. With a 'Bindu'.

Contributed by
Udit Bhambri
AGM - Marketing
DY Works


Bai in Christian Louboutin

Semiotics? When I first heard this word in my work place, my initial reaction was ‘what in heaven’s name is this?’  And later as Santosh Desai put it – if you are feeling very good about yourself on any given day, just do a online search on semiotics; try reading it and everything else will go south for you thereafter.

But curiosity got better of me and I said to myself, what the heck? Let’s find out found what this thing called semiotics is all about.

Started reading some things online, got a graphic guide (yes, a graphic guide with the least appealing illustrations) to semiotics…and voila! my rather simple brain realized that semiotics is in what we do everyday.

We are all instinctive beings. Some more than some others. If we were to just pay more attention and be practical while understanding them (do not read more into it than it needs to be), we get to learn and understand people and situations better all over the world. I do not think then the region, culture, gender, age, socio-economic background etc. matter.

Let’s take a look at the life of a woman in Mumbaijhopad-pattis through the semiotics lens. She, more often than not works as a housemaid, with the husband being the chief wage earner or a drunk and an abuser. Whatever the scenario, she very rarely gives up her husband. He could even have a mistress, but no ‘mera pati sirf mera hain’ is always her bol.

Her will power to live life with renewed energy day after day is amazing. She will do all that she can do get her children and herself dressed in finery on all festive occasions, buy gold on Diwali, get her home white-washed. She is also the one who will use Dove soap, Fair & Lovely fairness cream, Ponds talc, bright and shining green coloured glass bangles, a shining mangalsutra and flowers in hair. This is her way of telling herself and her world that she is in charge of her life.

Her aspirational sense is no different than the woman who will wear a Christian Louboutin shoes.

And cheers to that!

Contributed by
Suma Joshi
Head - Creative Services
DY Works