Are you considering visting Delhi any time soon?
Don’t. The place is an unholy mess. What with the construction, congested roads, flash puddles and traffic police.
The reason for this mayhem is the Commonwealth Games. By most accounts, the arrangements for the Delhi Games are in shambles. Some of the critical infrastructure such as stadia and roads are already many months behind schedule for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
Indeed, at a recent press conference, when asked about rain damage to the table tennis facility, an organizing committee spokesperson denied everything.
He insisted that “there were no delays”, that “it only rained little bit”, that “these rumours were being spread by maybe ISI” and that “there was no such thing as ‘table tennis’”.
But amid a hailstorm of allegations one man has stood tall and resolute. His determination and optimism has been unflagging. Not even for one moment has he let the massive popular opposition, media ridicule or international doubt waver his confidence.
Yes. I am referring to Manoj Night Shyamalan.
I mean Suresh Kalmadi.
The chief of the Indian Olympic Association has been an island of cool even as his pet project flounders. At every single press conference Kalmadi has defended it enthusiastically.
Yet somehow Kalmadi manages to reap only negative PR. Even when he assures people that Delhi will outdo the Beijing Olympics, no one takes him seriously. Kalmadi, in short, needs to desperately do something about his management style. Only a drastic change will win him credibility. In order to do this, he must immediately seek inspiration from the master of subterfuge himself.
Five Management Lessons For Suresh Kalmadi From Steve Jobs:
1. Offer a consistent image
When Suresh Kalmadi addresses the media he does not have a standard dress code. Sometimes he wears ethnic clothing, sometimes a suit and sometimes a regular T-shirt. Jobs always, always, wears Levi’s 501 jeans and a black mock turtleneck. This creates an aura of mystery and power. Kalmadi should do the same. And then when he suddenly has bad news, he should wear a drastically different ensemble.
The confused press will lose focus.
Kalmadi: “...which is why I must announce with regret that we have misplaced the Archery Stadium.”
Journalist: “Yes, OK. But where is your violet suit?”
2. Use slideshows
Currently, Kalmadi makes all his presentations orally. This is sheer folly. Even if Steve Jobs wants to say “good morning” to his staff, he summons them into a conference room and uses a snazzy slideshow. Human beings tend to accept without question anything delivered in slide form.
Would the iPhone be such a success without Jobs’ drama? I doubt it.
Kalmadi must immediately hire an MBA with minimum five years experience, who can make slideshows.
3. If there is a problem, deny it as a lightweight issue
The biggest mistake so far has been Kalmadi’s complete dismissal of all criticism. Ask him about any problem and he responds by denying its existence. Tragedy! What did Jobs do when people said that the iPhone 4 has an antenna problem? Dismiss it?
No. He admitted that there was a problem. But Jobs also said it was a miniscule issue when compared to the world-changing awesomeness of the device. Similarly, Kalmadi needs to deflect instead of denying.
“For a very, very, very small percentage of divers,” he could say, “there may not be water in swimming pool”.
4. Blame other people for mistakes
There is only one way to correctly hold an iPhone 4. However, it requires advanced BKS Iyengar yoga training. In an ideal world Jobs would have been apologetic. Instead he blamed the consumer’s tendency to hold the iPhone 4 like other phones. At some point Kalmadi has to blame other things. Such as the people of Delhi, the weather, the lowest bidder system, Right To Information, and so on.
For instance: “If it were not for the Commonwealth Games, we could have avoided many delays and controversies associated with Commonwealth Games.”
5. And one more thing: Take everyone down with you
Finally, when Jobs was pushed to the wall, he convened a press conference. Where he said that other phones had the same problems as iPhone 4. I cannot think of a better strategy. It is not like Kalmadi is living in a perfect country where everything happens like clockwork. So why should he alone shoulder blame for inefficiencies?
Sample press statement: “In his defence Mr. Kalmadi wishes to present the following: screenshot of website that promises Tatkal Passport in seven days, a copy of the Lieberhan Commission report, and Air India’s balance sheet.”
I hope Mr. Kalmadi uses the wisdom of Steve Jobs to better handle the Delhi Commonwealth Games crisis.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read Sidin Vadukut’s previous articles, go to www.livemint.com/cubiclenama