Thursday, December 4, 2008

What about the walk-about?

15th November 2008, 11:05 PM.....hmm... I had a sore throat and a stiff back. I was finding it hard to concentrate on what Abishek was trying to tell me. He was sitting on the foot-board of the jeepney. I was sitting near the rear holding a stereo set as big as the jeepney!! I was not able to concentrate much because of two reasons , one reason was that I was tired , we had just completed our much hallowed walk-about and the other reason was that I was in my own world trying to re-collect some experiences to fill this post. As you might have guessed , the rest of this post is not about what Abishek was trying to tell me , but about my experiences during those days which led to this eventful day. The post goes in the reverse chronological order as my mind took me through....

15th November 2008 , 10:30 PM... Suddenly the sky was clearly visible to me. Oh !!! that was the Great Bear, I thought; .... one couldn't be more optimistic when he is lifted from the ground and treated to some Indian Bums (It is a Bum with an 'm'). But , I was grinning like a Gorilla which had found some food, because we had made the SLEDGE & HAMMER (AIM Cricket Tournament) a success. More than that, we had made money selling shares for the Cricket teams. We had sold a completely new concept. To the uninitiated (read people who don't check their mails quite often and who pass by the notice board without noticing it) , we had come up with the concept of selling shares for each of the teams participating. As the teams progressed through to the next round , the share price of the winning team rose. We , finally buy back all the shares of the winning team. We , in this context means Me , Himanshu and Prabs (for the uninitiated). I was thrilled to see at how the share concept moved from thought to plan to execution(no pun intended). Still the sky was clearly visible to me.....

15th November 2008, 10:15 PM..... People were running all around the ground , trying to hug , do hi-fis and the usual formalities that needs to be definitely done after winning a Cricket Match. I was on the far side of the ground , while Himanshu and Prabs were on the other side. The SLEDGE & HAMMER tournament had come to an end. The Batch-3 guys won it . It was a great moment to relish. It was our walk-about and we had enabled the four teams to combat in a fairly (which happens rarely , even by international standards ) conducted cricket tournament. Two teams from batch 3 and one from batch 2 and one from batch 1 participated in it. We had two rounds , Batch 3 won against Batch 1 in the finals to clinch the title... I was literally amazed how careful planning can create wonders.We were able to see the satisfaction in their faces . Even the teams which lost. A well fought match would delight any sports man. Better than even a success. (But of-course it was cricket!!!!)

15th November 2008 , 8:45 PM..... He was nodding his head.. For what? Two of the flood lights were down ... wait, floodlights? Yes , that was one of the key USPs (I know my Marketing ..Hmph..) of SLEDGE & HAMMER.. We went around exploring Manila ( quite literally) and finally found a Cricket ground with flood-lights in Manila. It was a dream come true for many of us , including me.. to play Cricket under lights. But , why were the flood lights down? Can we continue the tournament without the lights. We stopped play for a while , we checked with the administration and we had the lights up agian in about 15 Mins. A lesson learnt , even well planned events can have some snags. We should be in a position to handle these professionally.

15th November 2008, 7:30 PM..... Oni was running in to field the ball... He was standing at fine leg (No , not 'on his fine legs'.. I can see that coming... It would also be out of context to define Oni's legs) . He completely collected the ball and threw it back to the wicket-keeper..which any international cricketer would be proud of. By the way .. what was Oni doing on a cricket field.. Isn't that a world known fact that Cricket is the adopted national game of India ( Hockey is the national game of India .. I was a bright student...) . To make sure we engage everyone and not just Indians , we had mandated that either two non-indians or two girls should be playing in the team. We initially had many opposers to this idea , but we never fell for it. But , there it was, the idea getting implemented before my eyes.. A proof that persistence can lead to magic sometimes .What a moment...

15th November 2008, 7:00 PM... I had just fielded the ball and had thrown in back to the bowler.. 'Sri.......' , I heard it clearly ... 'Sri.......' again.. It was Prabs, calling me. He told me , that the second Jeepney had not yet reached the AIM campus. He started to board the other jeepney and was going somewhere ( I was not clear on what he was saying , and better still I didn't even have any clue on where he was heading to) . I was there standing in the field. I had a decision to make ... either to continue playing or get back to the pavilion (not the one for gods) and take control when Prabs was away. My objective was to make sure that the tournament went on well. So , I decided to bring Deep as a substitute into the match and I royally marched out.. I had lost my single opportunity to play under lights.. Sob Sob.. The price I needed to pay for being the organizer and a player at the same time... But I was happy , that I was able to make the decision fast and It turned out to be a right one... As luck would have it , Prabs returned immediately as I stepped out, as Himanshu had messaged him that the Jeepney had arrived at the AIM campus. What a Plan!!! We had planned exactly for this kind of a contingency. We made sure that one of the organizers stay at the AIM campus till the last batch of students were picked up by the jeepneys.

15th November 2008 , 5:15 PM .... " Please turn-around guys , get yourself photographed" , Jake was shouting on top of his voice.. The teams were ready to leave to the ground. There were a couple of strange looking vehicles standing near the AIM campus entrance. A guy , new to Philippines would have believed , if you had told him that these vehicles were a cross between a bus and a cow. The ground was 6 Kms away from the AIM campus . We cannot expect people to come there by themselves. That would clearly , defy the objective we set out to achieve. We had arranged for two jeepneys (can we call this a the hybrid vehicle?) which would make two trips from AIM to the ground ( The Nomads Sports Club) . We patted ourselves on our back.The Logistics for around 80 -100 people was provided in a simple but cost-effective way.

15th November 2008, 12:30 PM... " Batch 1 all shares sold out , Batch 2 still 24 shares to go , Batch 3 nothing sold " , I was into my marketing pitch . Prabs was there next to me , trying out his Kohtler instincts. There it was , the holy grail of marketing... Customers... Batch-3 people started buying shares , better still people bought into our concept. Me and Prabs were standing there admiring each others marketing abilities. We also had allies in Batch-3 in the form on Gadoo , Sateesh and Umesh .. they were our Batch-3 celebrities..

15th November 2008, 5:15 AM.... You would think , I would have been sleeping.. No.. we had an overnight WAC (Written Analysis of Case) . I was breaking my head on some management issues faced by Chapparal Steel . I was not sure whether Chapparal Steel faced more issues or our walk-about. It was a night well spent. A sense of anxiety had begin to creep into me. I wanted the walk-about .. our SLEDGE & HAMMER to be a success.

14th Novemeber 2008 , 5:00 PM .... " Use the Printer in our room" , Prabs was instructing me... "No dude , we will get the posters printed " Himanshu shouted from his all too cozy bed. We had already spent a lot on the ground and for the transport. We decided to cut costs.. We decided to use A4 size sheets and our printer to print the posters, Marketing lesson 101 .. when the customers are near you , visit them and convince them. There we went, room by room in the dorm explaining the rules of the tournament and the share concept. We were able to convert some of the Batch-3 and Batch-2 guys , with this whirl-wind tour.

14th November 2008 , 4:30 PM... The MM Batch which had previously accepted to play , pulled out of the tournament. What a set back... We needed four teams for the tournament.. With just three teams , it would be difficult for us to decide a winner... the ground was booked for just 4 hrs...We needed to have a knock-out tournament. Then we remembered , Batch-3 had a strength of 120 and they were ready to field 2 teams ... we had earlier refused the second team , as it would again make the scheduling difficult . We immediately called Batch - 3 guys and they were ready with their second team in 45 Mins time.. Lesson learnt... always expect contingencies unforeseen (what a choice of words.. ) circumstances and act according to the situation at hand.

13th November 2008 ... 6:00 PM ,12th November 2008, 6:00 PM....11th November 2008 ...6:00 PM......10th November 2008 6:00 PM.... Someone passing by our room would have mistaken it for a stock exchange. Ashish , Deep , Me and Himanshu would discuss on the share pricing strategy for the teams and also on how the system can be improved to reduce our risks.. After much thought and deliberation , we came up with a model , which would give us zero profit under the worst case scenario.. We congratulated each other for being business savvy and money minded...and we were extremely pleased to know that we would be covering our transportation costs for the jeepneys...The jeepneys costed us some significant amount. Thanks to Dindo , he had helped us communicate with the drivers and owners and settle a price.

9th November 2008... 6:15 PM , Me and Himanshu were waiting to meet Mr.Faizal , a director at Nomads Sports Club , to book the ground for the tournament. We had discovered this ground by accident, as Himanshu would put it. I would prefer to say that we discovered the ground through our persistence. Right from the beginning , we wanted to give the players an experience for their life time. We wanted a ground which had lights , we were convinced that people would be extremely happy to play under lights. We kept searching around Manila for the field. After visiting a couple of schools ( Thanks to JM and Franko ) , we hadn't still decided on a field . Then , we hit upon an Idea.... local people are the most informed people about local conditions... So , we spoke to a taxi driver , and asked him to take to a field which he knew. He told us that , he knew a place where lot of Indians played!!! What?!! ... Did I hear that correctly? Lot of Indians play? Well , the only sport which lot of Indians play is Cricket? Are we onto something here? He said the place was called Merbill ( I was more worried about the Taxi Bill )... When I had asked an other taxi driver about football fields earlier, he had also mentioned Merbill . So , we were certain , that there would at least be an open field in Merbill. We hopped into the taxi , trusting the driver completely .When we arrived at Merbill , we found out that , it was no longer Merbill , but it was Merville!!! and it had a field which was illuminated by flood-lights!!!. What a discovery... and yeah we were still waiting for Mr.Faizal to arrive...

November 4th 2008 , I don't know what time... We lost the notion of time... as we were brooding over our sole creative content. We had designed our first ad ever , staring Ashish Mahtre. "Let the Balls do the talking" Mahtre was addressing all MBA grads. We were pretty pleased with the output. We sent out the video to all the AIM students and we received some immediate response on it... We thought to ourselves.. what a way to start our walk-about.

October ... Some day... Then I had even lost track of the days :-) .. I was sitting with my HBO workbook.... I had just filled my Ideal self and Real Self entries. I had identified that I was more of a planner and an Idea generator , than an implementor. I wanted to change myself to an effective planner and an implementor. I had put down a thought of using my walk-about as a tool to test my skills as an person who could plan and also execute it in an efficient way.

The jeepney had just reached the AIM campus. We take pictures and congratulate each other on the successful completion of the walk-about. We paid the jeepneys and off we went to our world of MBA again!!!!