Business Doctors - A Review

So many books to read, so little time. Given the limited time at my disposal and so many books on my to-read list, I decided to put a strict schedule and knock off all the books on my to-read list before venturing into unexplored territories – the new authors. That meant I had to put a stop to book reviews of new books. But when I received a request to review a book with a premise of applying management consulting ideas to the world of mafia, I could not resist the temptation to take up the offer for more than one reason. The obvious reason is of course is my being a professional in the very same field. (Management consultant I mean, not mafia)The second and most important one is that one of my dream projects is to write a spoof based on business management theories and management consulting frameworks. This author seemed to have beaten me to the post. So professional curiosity meant I had to pick up the book.

Since I started this book with lot of expectation, the book started with a strong disadvantage as is always the case when expectations are high. For one, from the tagline ‘Management Consulting gone wild’, I expected a spoof that would be an out and out laugh riot, the kind I dreamt of writing. So I did not find the book so funny despite the rich sprinkling of dry humor all over the tale. But I guess I must be happy that Sameer has not written the book I wanted to write. If we were to apply correction for my preformed notions and undue expectations, this book I must say is notches above the common fare in the contemporary Indian fiction market.
To start with, the concept is indeed a very novel one amidst the same old oft repeated themes in Indian book market. The execution is meticulous with a smooth engaging narrative and a reasonably consistent plot.  We have here a senior partner at a small time consulting firm as a protagonist. He is hired by a mafia boss whose business is running downhill to revive his empire. The hero ends up taking up this “offer he cannot refuse” due to his own firm’s bad condition due to the recession. Further incentive comes his way in the form of seduction by the gangster’s wife and he goes around applying the management consulting ideas such as value stream maps, issue trees, organizational behavior theories etc. to solving the problems faced by the mafia. Overall the story proceeds at a reasonable pace and there aren’t too many dull moments.  
In some ways I found the book straddling two genres – regular crime thrillers and subject matter books packaged as fiction to interest readers and educate them at the same time. The book tends to lean more towards the latter but I feel the author did not go full steam ahead in the fear of losing the mainstream market. So we have a book that would not wow the serious reader seeking new management insights and at the same time having management jargon that goes over the head of the casual reader seeking entertainment.  My personal opinion is that it would have been better if the book had focused exclusively on one of the two segments – preferably the serious reader. For all we know, we might have had a masterpiece like Eliyahu Goldratt’s “The Goal”.
I would definitely recommend people in management professions and aspiring to the same to definitely give this book a try. Though it does not have anything new as such, encountering some of the familiar aspects in unusual settings will definitely will bring a smile on the face.  To the book’s credit I must say I felt it was definitely worth the time I took off from my reading schedule.

Author Bio: Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Booksoarus. His first book, Beyond The MBA Hype published by HarperCollins, is currently in the third reprint. Business Doctors - Management Consulting Gone Wild is his second book

The Magical Cave IX: An Intriguing Problem

Eeks, a rat!” Ramya yelled.

The next moment the small creature disappeared and the demon that had been chasing them appeared in front of them.

 The children froze. They thought they had escaped the land of odors. But the people from there had come after them here as well. The creature blocked the entrance of the borough. There was no escape unless they decided to go down Bracken’s passages.

As they stood indecisively, Bracken boldly approached the demon and rubbed his nose against the demon. Bashful also approached the demon tentatively. The children wondered what was happening.

Suddenly in a blink of an eye, the demon disappeared and there were two Brackens exactly alike like peas in a pod. What the hell was happening? As both the Brackens neared they could make out the difference. While one of Brackens was solid, the other looked kind of shadowy and insubstantial.

So the second Bracken was the demon. What tricks was it up to? Bashful gently stroked both of them. Then he spoke up. “Don’t be scared of him. He won’t harm us. He is more scared of us than we are of him?

Him scared of us? Why would that be? He is the one who has come after us to capture us.

Well, circumstances have changed. Their land has moved away and he is all alone in our land. He is so scared.

As he said the words, the creature transformed into a cute little girl and gave them an endearing smile. They now understood what had happened. Sneezy’s sneeze had swept their pursuer into their world and the land had moved on without him. Now their roles were reversed. He was now entirely at their mercy.

Vinod finally spoke the question that was on the top of all their minds. “So what do we do about him?

They all looked at each other. The room was filled with smell of a hospital.  There was a thin half starved puppy in front of them that was whining piteously. The children still found it difficult to get used to the sudden transformation. But they were at least no longer scared. It was clear the creature was not hostile and it was trying to communicate to them the best it could. They needed to somehow help the creature. But how?

How much time would it take for the land to come again?” asked Vinod.

It is very difficult to say. It can take years or even decades before a land comes back here. Some lands never come back. Some come back within months. There is no pattern to it.” Doc shook his head.

Is there a way of finding out when the land may come again?

Sleepy can try to find out. All the knowledge regarding such things is hidden in the Land of Dreams. But very few people have power to enter this land at will and even fewer to interpret a meaning out of what they see there. For most people it just appears to be a crazy place where nothing makes sense. Sleepy is one of those few who can visit it when he sleeps at night and find answers to specific questions from there.

So I think best course would be to ask Sleepy to find out when the land will be back here next. Till then this creature has to be with us I guess.

If he is going to stay with us for some time, I think we should try to learn to communicate better with each other. I am not sure how much of what we say he really understands,” added Ramya.

As I said he can sense our thoughts in the form of smells. But it is not clear like talking. It is different. Similarly he tries to convey his feelings through smells and shape transformations.

 But I think we need to go beyond communicating emotions and be able to exchange ideas. Otherwise it would be tough to work together,” said Ramya.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

Why are we bothering to help this creature who landed up in this situation due to his own fault? If he had not tried to capture us, he would have been safer and sound in his own land.

No, Grumpy. What he was doing was right from his point of view. He was just trying to stop felons escaping from captivity. It was his duty as a responsible citizen of his land. I am sure he did not have any personal malintent towards us.” Happy was always the reasonable one.

Grumpy did not look convinced but he remained silent.

I think Bashful and Bracken should work with him. They are best at not verbal communication,” said Vinod.

The others agreed.

Ajay suddenly looked at watch. It was 6.00 pm. “I think it is getting late and we must be heading back home or our parents will be getting worried.

The children reluctantly got up and began to walk towards the entrance. There was so much excitement here. They did not at all want to go back. But they had to.  Anyways there wasn’t much left to do either till Sleepy had got the information from the Land of Dreams. They promised that they would return as soon as they could and were soon back on their way home.

The Magical Cave VIII: Out of the Mouse Trap

The strong smell of decay seemed to be getting closer by the minute and the wind was blowing more strongly. They rushed on. If they did not get out in the next couple of minutes, they would be struck in this land for the rest of their lives. This indeed was an extremely unpleasant proposition given their experience in this land so far. And they knew what the smell was. They were being pursued. If they faltered a bit, they would be taken into captivity again and bundled back to their prison cell.

The next moment they suddenly saw a gleam of sunlight breaking through an opening in delight. They ran towards it. As they were about to come out of the opening, a shadowy demon like form popped up in front of them and blocked their way. This must be one of the land’s denizens that they had not been able to see so far. It was interesting to be able to see one but interesting things were not always nice: definitely not when they stood between you and freedom. They wondered what to do. He looked too menacing to even think about fighting their way through.
As they stood thinking, Sneezy resolved the issue for them. He gave one loud sneeze. “Achoooooooo!” The creature was swept out of the way and the children jumped to safety. It was a moment none too soon for when they turned around there was complete emptiness behind them. The land had disappeared. For a moment the children reflected in horror, what would have happened had they been held up even a second more. They heaved a sigh of relief, thanked their stars and slowly headed towards the gnomes’ burrow.
We must have been away for ages. Our parents must definitely be looking for us by now. When they find us, we will be in deep trouble unless we tell them about this cave and the strange lands. Either they won’t believe us or completely forbid us from coming here ever again.” Ramya sounded very mournful.
How much time do you think has passed?” Vinod turned to her with a flourish of a professor asking the class a smart question.
I would say it has been hours and hours, maybe even days.
And how many times did Sneezy sneeze?
She looked at him surprised. "You mean just an hour has passed in our world?"
If Sneezy’s biological clock is still working.
That was one more problem solved. They even had time to stop by at the gnomes’ place for a snack. By now they had become firm friends with the gnomes. Nothing like an adventure to cement bonds between people! Even Grumpy no longer seemed to resent them. And Dopey, Sleepy and Bashful, the more silent gnomes also spoke to them now and then, at least to Navneeta who looked sweet and kind.
Ajay and Sneezy are the heroes of our story, eh?” said Ramya.
Ajay did not look too happy to talk about his role in the whole episode. But he knew Ramya would never let it pass. Damn her!
Bracken sat quietly in a corner. Naveneeta and Bashful sat on either side of him, passing their hand lovingly over his soft fur. Sleepy was fast asleep.
I hope you have learnt your lesson from this episode,” said Grumpy.
All is well that ends well. Ho Ho Ho!” laughed Happy
Sleepy has seen that the next land will be the land of games. That is not an entirely safe land but we should have an interesting time, if we are prudent,” said Doc.
A faint smell of cheese wafted in. Slowly it became stronger. Then suddenly it turned to the smell of musk. It was so delightful. They were involuntarily drawn towards the smell. As they walked towards it, suddenly it turned to the smell of rotten fish. They turned away in disgust. Then suddenly they began to get a smell of cheese again. What was happening? Had the creatures from the land of odors come after them? But they thought the land had gone away. And why were they giving out so many different kinds of smells?

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces