Cricket and corruption

Hi Everybody

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog post. I know, I know. Excuses can be many, but I’m not sure if they are really relevant, are they? One thing I can say is that I have watched cricket lately. You might read my predictions before IPL started? Quite correctly I predicted that Chennai Super Kings would make it to the final. I also expected Pune to be in the bottom of the table. My questions about whether or not there were too many strong voices in the Mumbai team must have been observed very carefully by the management there. How else could they manage the “clever” move of benching their captain and most expensive player? Thanks a lot for listening to me!

But. This time IPL was much more about the controversies that surrounded it than the game itself. Some time back I wrote about the 4 C’s of India. As you might remember from that article, I said that cricket and cash are two of the C’s. But there actually seems to be some kind of formula here. If you add Cricket + Cash you actually get Corruption…

Sreesanth

Exactly where it started is difficult to say. Maybe with the arrest of three players from Rajasthan Royals? They were immediately accused with spot fixing, which means that they have played unfair and not always done their very best. Interestingly enough, I haven’t been able to find any stories that says specifically what they have been charged for doing. But that’s maybe just part of the game?

But it all became worse, much more badly. Gurunath Meiyappan, who was at that time the CEO of Chennai Super Kings also got arrested. He was accused of having been in touch with a former Bollywood struggler who again has been in contact with some bookies. And to make it worse, this Bollywood struggler has in a number of matches been seen seated next to the wife of Indians captain, MS Dhoni. The same mister Dhoni who refused to talk about corruption on duty for the Indian national team lately.

And the story doesn’t even stop there! Mr Meiyappan is actually the son in law of a certain N Srinivasan, who is the owner of CSK and also the head of the Board of Cricket Council India! In other words, he’s maybe the most powerful man in cricket India. He’s also the CEO of the company India Cement, which is the main sponsor of CSK and the company in which Dhoni just got appointed as vice president! What he’s going to do in that company is highly unclear. Connections you might ask? For sure!

What is this all about? Money! The highly regarded magazine India Today have run a number of stories of this. In their cover page story at their last issue they suggested that mister Srinivasan is the spider in the middle of a very strong network. Some of my colleagues suggest that there are some even more powerful people who are those who really run the whole thing and that even Srinivasan is just one piece of it. More of that in a later blog post!

Talk to you soon!

Chess and politics

Hi Everyone

So far this blog has been without any posts about chess (I think). As I’m more than average interested in sport there has been a number of posts about cricket, football, sailing and even one about roller skiing. But now I think it is about time to even write about chess.

Norway and India doesn’t really have any huge rivalry in sports. It has been Norway against Sweden in cross country skiing and India against Pakistan in cricket. But this will change now! In November this year young Norwegian Magnus Carlsen currently ranked as number 1 in the world will play against Indian Viswanathan (Vishy) Anand in a world championship match in November! The match will take place in Chennai in India. This is of course not without controversies. Anand is actually from Tamil Nadu so playing in Chennai will be very much on his home ground.

carlsenanand

Management team of Magnus Carlsen has criticized the selection of Chennai. Surely I can understand this. Chennai is hot. The food is different. He will be travelling to the other side of the world and so on. But why not look at the opportunities this brings instead of just looking at the challenges?

A match like this will surely get a lot of media attention (not only on this blog). Norwegian television and newspapers has already started to write about this match and more will surely come! Norwegian trade with India is increasing. In fact Norwegian Business Association (India) was launched as late as January this year. Establishment of such an association will surely affect the already increasing collaboration between India and Norway. The Norwegian government launched what they call the Indian strategy a few years back. This was done based on the fact that there is more and more business between Norway and India.

As you probably know, sport and business very much goes hand in hand in India. Just read my post about the 4 C’s of India for an update on this. I really hope that Norwegian officials and business take the opportunity that this match creates to show their presence in India and even uses it as an opportunity to build on more business in the country. Maybe chess and collaboration can be two new C’s when it comes to the relationship between Norway and India?

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Happy Birthday Sachin!

Hi Everyone

Today is a special day in the world of cricket! First of all the Chris Gayle, the monster batsman from West Indies scored a magnificent new run record in IPL. Yes, I say today, even if that was yesterday in India. That because I’m writing from Norway and here it is still yesterday. Got it? Ok, good!

What Mr. Gayle did was quite fitting as today (Indian time) is the birthday of the legendary “God of cricket” Mr. Sachin Tendulkar! I know that many people from Norway have no idea about who Sachin is, but I think that it is correct to say that he’s the most famous sportsman in the world! At least when it comes to the most number of people who supports him. Sachin is said to be the most spoken 6 letters word in English and that even if it’s not really an English word!

Sachin 40

Why is Sachin so special? Well, I think better writers than me have tried to describe him before. But I can try to write a few words. First of all, he’s a very good batsman, no doubt about that. He’s the leading run scorer of all times in international cricket. He holds the most records of any cricketer. So his quality as a player says it all.

But there is so much to Sachin. He’s a remarkable humble person. If you look him up on Wikipedia and look for controversies, there are hardly any. And in a game that is full of controversies and dark sides that in itself is an achievement. I have never had the opportunity to meet him, but everyone who has met him tells the same story about what a fantastic person he is.

It must also be said that he was the clearly best player on a quite average Indian team for a huge number of years. I think it is almost correct to say that he carried the whole Indian cricket on his own shoulders for all these years. In a country where cricket is considered as religion this is maybe his biggest achievement. No wonder that he’s called the God of cricket.

I will for always remember the day when Indian won the cricket world championship in Mumbai. It was the first time that any country won it at home soil. The match I watched at a bar in Mumbai. A lot of locals were there, painted in Indian colors. Many of them were shooting Ind-ia, Ind-ia, but just as much as they were shooting that they also screamed they favored phrase Sac-hin, Sac-hin. Instead of supporting their country they supported their favorite player! I will never forget the moment just after the match when I spotted a young man in a t-shirt. It said “Cricket is my religion, Sachin is my God”.  This young fellah was almost crying and had a fantastic expression in his face. So much it meant to him to see his God lifting the trophy.

india-taking-a-wicket1

So dear Sachin; I do wish you a very happy birthday! Welcome to the 40’ties. I know very well how it is to be there. Don’t worry; it’s not that bad at all. Happy Birthday Sachin!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Brand CSK

Hi Everyone

The IPL season (6th edition) is now well underway. Most of the teams have now played a handful of their initial matches. IPL is said to be the most money rich cricket league. I must admit that I have no idea about the finance of different cricket leagues all over the world. But what I know is that one of the teams in IPL has been recognized as a global sports brand.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has been the most successful team on the pitch in the first five seasons, with two victories and even one more appearance in the final. This team has done a lot to differentiate it from the other teams, and to build a brand. They are the only team playing in yellow, while so many other teams play in some way of blue. CSK has also managed to be a team for the whole region and for all Tamils living abroad. Their team song “Whistle Podu” has been extremely popular and fans from all over the world join into performing it, like these people in San Francisco.

One challenge in running an IPL team is that the season is only for a month and a half. CSK have taken a number of initiatives in order to be a brand for the whole year. In addition to host a number of cricket tournaments in Tamil Nadu they also plan to send the team to play matches in North America and Dubai (why not Norway?) where many Indians live.

CSK pic

CSK are also doing promotion activities for other sports like chess, snooker, tennis and badminton. All of this to build an even bigger brand. With the upcoming chess world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand to be played in Chennai later this year it is another opportunity for CSK and Chennai to show up as a sports city and to even further build their brand.
As a follower of some of the staff and players of CSK on Twitter it is fantastic nice to see all the updates they come up with quite regularly. Not strange that CSK is the most in IPL in social media!

I remember some years back when the marketing director of Matchester United was on a trip to the Amazonas. There he watched a local kid wearing a cap from the American baseball team San Francisco 49’ers. This was when he decided that his football team should be the biggest brand value in the world of sport. And we have to admit that they have succeeded. What Chennai Super Kings do now is some of the same.

Talk to you soon

Karsten

How to overcome communication challenges in outsourcing

Hi Everyone

In a number of previous blog posts I have written about misunderstandings and miscommunication.  Currently I’m doing some studies at the University of Oslo. As part of this study I have read a number of research articles regarding outsourcing and challenges that exists there. Quite a number of the articles points to communication as one of the main challenges.

In this blog post I will try to sum of some of my experience in the area and to give some experience on what can be done. As this is a blog post and not a research article, I have omitted quotes from articles and such. That will eventually come in some later more in-depth posts.

First of all I will point to the fact that it is important to know each other if you’re going to work together. Even more so when you work across different cultures. When you know each other quite well it is much easier to collaborate. Some cultures are much more sensitive to this than what the Norwegian culture is. When you work with people from this culture it is even more important to know each other.

Adjust the way you speak and confirm that the other person have understood you. This is probably one of the most important things I learned in India. There is no doubt that the English I speak today is different than the English I spoke two years back. I do probably speak slower now than what I did before. One trick I have found quite useful is to explain my message in different ways. Instead of just repeating myself and ask if the other part have understood me (in which the answer will most probably be “yes”), I do say the same thing two times but with different words. If the other person seems to be confused I know I have to rephrase myself again. If at the other hand, this leads to a fruitful discussion, I will know that the other person most probably have understood me.

Another tip is to create a communication plan. This is something I have missed in a number of projects (maybe due to the informal way Norwegians usually like to communicate?). To me a communication plan is basic tool for the project management. In addition to decide schedule for project meetings and such it should be clearly stated in this plan at what level the different decisions should be made. This is particularly important if you work with people from cultures where there is a very steep hierarchy in the organizations. Having a communication plan in place it will make it very clear for everyone who they have to talk to in order to get decisions to happen. Too often this has been unclear and too much time has been wasted because people have communicated at the wrong level. In Norway where we don’t care too much about hierarchies it is absolutely that a consultant speaks to, and even corrects a vice president. The same would not be accepted in a country like India. Here the communication has to follow the hierarchy and this must be precisely defined in the communication plan!

Do you have any other hints or suggestions? I would very much like to hear from you!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Casa Devant – a Norwegian paradise in Goa

Hi Everyone

Last week (or was it the week before?) I wrote about my latest visit to Goa, including an “encounter” with the drug mafia there.

But Goa is so extremely much than just beaches and drug. On our way to Mysore (another pending story) we visited Casa Devant in Panjim. Casa Devant is basically the Goan headquarter of the successful Norwegian IT-company Devant. For more than a decade they have successfully combined Scandinavian design and Indian technology.

Casa Devant is a Goan house (or should we say palace?). It is situated at a hilltop with a fantastic view of the Arabic sea. At the top floor balcony you can actually see both the sea and the fantastic swimming pool downstairs! Unfortunately we only had a few hours to spend there so there was not much time for the pool. The best thing with the place is that it has a room that they give for rent! If you don’t want to stay at some of the hotels in Goa, this is a very good option! The place has their own driver, some staff that keeps the place nice and clean and best of all, they have their own chef who make wonderful local dishes! We had our lunch there and it was absolutely fantastic. Casa Devant has a Facebook group.

It is said that pictures say more than 1000 words, so here you have some from our visit.

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Talk to you soon

Karsten