MAKER'S MARK AND THE DEVIL'S DUETweet
RELIGION AND God are central to the lives of all Indians, to its untold races. Our Maker's mark is written all over our lives. Then, of course, there is food.
It's hard to fathom, how we've managed the enormous task of remaining true to the beck and call, sense and sensibilities if you will, of a culture that sits within a labyrinthine maze of religious and cultural mores – tradition, designs and patterns, rituals and customs, ethics and morals.
It is befuddling because Indians aren't known for their attention to detail. While we remain resolute when it comes to paying obeisance to the Maker, as intricate Hindu rituals demonstrate, for example. The detailing and designing brilliance of artisans creating idols of the Ma during the pujas – how they take great care to blend tradition with the new, fusing traditional history with new influences into their craftsmanship – is sometimes astonishing.
Committed puja samiti members – these days often leaders of corporations and other organizations – are always at it ensuring that every little offering before the Goddess has the right formula day in and day out, day after day, throughout the festival, as it has been for centuries.
Perhaps, one doesn't want to take chances with the Maker, calling upon the Wrath of God. It's not just religion though, and there's food at the other end of the spectrum.
The ubiquitous Indian dal, or the lentil soup, (called various names across the nation) is a veritable potpourri of different things and a chef's unrivalled kitchen art – get the mix and measure wrong and you're staring at disaster.
Yet, mothers and homemakers get it right each time day in and day out inside the Indian kitchen.
Perhaps it's time we also paid obeisance to the Devil, I mean in the detail, when we're at work.
India has some of the best creative designers and people who do the fancy jingle writing in advertising and are often the people who really provide the substance to global advertising or media campaigns and yet they are never given the task to deliver the product.
We have the best network engineers or even some of the best product designers in the ICT industry and yet Indian ICT companies never seem to be able to put together and deliver a really world-class and smartly packaged product. Why?
For one, our story-telling abilities are dismal, in that we somehow do not seem to be able to get design, manufacturing, packaging, pricing, marketing, and branding into a single story well enough.
The simple, but omnipresent, business power point is a great leveller. How many times have we, and those trained B-School types, fretted over unformatted fonts, bad colours and shoddy visual sensibility taking substance to hostage?
One would expect Scandinavian food to be by far a simpler proposition compared with ours and yet look one doesn't have to look too far to see how they are able to chisel everything into perfection – making for an elegant housing and development industry, precision designing in watches and hi-fi sound, precision engineering and heavy equipment, woodcraft and furniture, science and technology and, of course, their power points. The irony of it all is not far to see as the Western kitchen will tell you – it has a far simpler culinary challenge and it's not because their kitchens are far better designed!
The story of Apple's distinctive design sensibilities-of keeping it all clean, friendly and fun-is a story that is stuff of design legend and it's a story that needs telling again and again. These same sensibilities inspired the first of the iMacs and would later become the hallmark for a company, which is today a design beachhead for many industries and product companies.
Apple's first marketing brochures in 1977 simply proclaimed da Vinci's 'Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication' its manna for success when it launched the iconic Apple II PC. Jobs, throughout his career, always acknowledged it took a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and create elegant solutions. The same is true of the services business.
A new generation of Indian organizations is trying to understand these very underlying challenges or principles that govern the way business will be done in the future, the way products are created, packed in a box and a service, an experience and a business outcome is delivered.
India has made rapid strides in many fields-its business and industrial climate has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades or so. The ability of the private sector in India to attract capital-local and foreign-demonstrates the confidence that people around the world are willing to place in India. The growing tide of local companies focusing on creating IPR is also something to blow our trumpet about.
Yet, despite a fairly good run lately, at least on the growth indicator, our engineering products industry has relied heavily on foreign technical knowhow and design. Due to its failure to develop indigenous design and development capabilities, the Indian product market for instance continues to flounder unable to meet the aspirations of a new consumer.
Design and aesthetics can play a key role as a strategy involved in the development of products, machines, equipment and other related areas. One of the most important factors in the US, much of developed Europe and even countries like Japan and Korea is their sound base in industrial design, but a base that is complemented by a strong aesthetic sensibility.
Today, product innovation simply just cannot mean a unique solution and has acquired a new meaning, one that is seen as a carefully positioned marketable 'design idea', taking into account user needs and aspirations and available technology.
Brazil's success with the design, manufacture and supply of 'executive aircraft' in developed countries is a good example. Brazil concentrated on the market gap for aircraft which was not economical for the developed countries to fill up.
Innovative product development is now a multi-disciplinary activity that involves product planning, engineering design –aided by marketing, research and management feedback – and aesthetics.
Indian companies realize this and many are adopting a new tact that first looks at the audience or the customer working backwards from there instead of the other way around. There is also a new approach that is emerging and making significant progress, one that pictorially connects a solution to a problem.
In all this, there has been a significant level of contemplation regarding aesthetics, design and presentation.
Paying obeisance to the Lord was never easy, in any culture, as it is with what we eat, but it belies the fact that Indians are innately quality inert.