Business, Sports, Strategy

Indian Super League – Digital Media Review

What is the Indian Super League –

The Indian Super League is touted as India’s Answer to EPL – English Premier League – which is perhaps among the most popular football league at a global level, at least that’s the perception in India. The League consists of 8 teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Northeast, Chennai, Goa and Kerala. The league is co-owned by Reliance, IMG and Starsports. For other details on the league visit the Wiki Page.

Why is the league different –

The league is different from other tournaments since it does not use a Relegation / Promotion system but instead uses a Franchisee system on the lines of the famous Indian Premier League. The thought is that this works in the long run since the franchisees get time to establish themselves as brands. The trouble with this is that new talent from a local state cannot really come up and rise through the ranks. This could happen over the years due to politics etc, but I guess for the initial years this format works best for the organisers, sponsors and players, and effectively for the audiences as well.

The Indian Super League Website Review – 8.5/10

How does the Website Look:

On first glance, the website is fabulous. Works well on both the web and mobile. The URL is slightly long, but I guess thats unavoidable, from a branding perspective. The mobile site on both iPhone and Android gives us a notification to download the app which is a fabulous strategy. Nothing better than an App to drive engagement.

The website of the India Super League

The website of the India Super League

What works – The HomePage – 10/10

The HomePage presents an easily readable view of the latest match. The matchcentre is a good place to track the match from web / tablet or mobile – View Mobile Site here. Thankfully there isn’t too much happening on the
page, but that could also be attributed to the fact that there is only one match happening at any point of time in the Indian Super League.

What doesn’t work – No / Little opinions

What really struck me was a complete absence of opinions. While I grant that the fan clubs etc would happen over a longish time period, there is just a total absence of opinions, of views, of debates.. Would love to see player perspectives, post match interviews etc displayed at a match centre level.

The Indian Super League Twitter Page review – 9/10

The twitter page has created quite a buzz with an array of celebrities tweeting tirelessly(?) throughout the league. It definitely helps to have big names like Sachin, Kohli, Dhoni, Amitabh, Hrithik etc on board, but still, the efforts put on twitter are quite impressive, and would yield a long term result very much in favor of the Indian Super League. The Page tweets real time photos of celebrities, players, goals and retweets individual club account tweets for added fizz and views.

What works for the Indian Super League twitter Page –

The activity and buzz has ensured that Indian Super league already entered the top 10 trending topics on twitter multiple times. Particularly impressive was the opening day, when ISL was trending almost for 48 hrs non stop. A lot of celebrities are live tweeting during matches and half time as well, and this definitely helps with fan interest. Now, for the tough part, can this Indian Super League create stars out of players, especially the Indian Players? Remember, the celebrities etc do help the IPL, but IPL is IPL because of the quality of competition. Can India produce a crop of players that can actually take the field by storm? This would definitely influence the league in a big way!

What doesn’t work –

No Fan retweets – I am sure fan retweets and views would rock on this page as well. While this is a double edged sword, but still, that really influences discussions and connect with the league.

Contests lack buzz and lack of daily involvement -Why not try giving away tickets at venues? That should really get a lot of fans hooked on to the page.

Twitter account of India Super League

Twitter account of India Super League

The Indian Super League Facebook Page Review – 8.5/10

The Indian Super League Facebook page really got off to a rousing start by crossing a million Likes in the first week itself. While that certainly was a sight to behold, the momentum has slightly eased off in the following week , which can be seen in the trends below. Currently, the ISL Facebook Page stands at nearly 11 Lakh Likes, but there certainly is room for lot more, especially as the league reaches its final stages in December.

What works for the ISL Facebook Page:

There is some real engaging commentary going on with a lot of user participation. The viewers are expressing their views freely. Whats important is that ISL is taking even criticism into its stride, particularly the criticism about not including Bangalore or on the lack of a relegation/ promotion system.

What doesn’t work for the Indian Super League Facebook Page:

It could be very interesting if the ISL actually starts responding to user queries, that would really help with interactivity and ensure that viewer voices don’t go unheard.

What is your opinion?

Write about your views below. Can ISL become a long term crowd puller and make India a Footballing nation? Let us know!

India Super League - Facebook Fan Page Stats

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IPL 2012
Business, Entertainment, Sports

IPL 5 – Is it bigger than EPL and Superbowl ?

And yet another year for the sporting extravaganza that has made everyone in the world take notice of India. The Indian Premier League, despite all the controversies has been attracting audiences year on year, not only for the sport, but for the things off the cricket field as well. In marketing lingo, the mix has hit the sweet spot – cricketenment. Now, a bit of the zing was off in the 4th season with dwindling TRPs and empty stands for some matches. But that has been dismissed as a one-off thing with the last IPL being scheduled immediately after a world cup which India won.

IPL 2012

Now, the question that so many of my friends have been asking is where does the IPL stand vis a vis the global properties such as EPL, Superbowl etc . Well the answer to that is not too simple. I try and break it down –

Audiences – In terms of audiences, IPL wins, but does not quite as easily as one would have thought. EPL has a global audience, with great following from Asia, Africa and Europe in particular. Besides, IPL has been a recent phenomenon, while EPL has a bigger tradition. Now, in terms of audience numbers, IPL is a winner. But what about the ROI?

Sponsor view – (a) Branding – In terms of branding, fewer properties may be as lucrative as the IPL. IPL has given known and measurable returns to brands. Before IPL 2011, hardly anyone had heard of Floriana. However, IPL 2011 sponsorship and the branding spend later on has catapulted Floriana into a national level recognised brand. Similar stories have meant that a lot of brands have wanted to buy IPL teams. Sahara for example, entered late into IPL , and bought the costliest team – Pune .(b) Returns – IPL has had decent impact on sales. While, I cannot quote names, some of the leading brands have seen good jump in the months following IPL. As they say, cricket works in India and how! However, still the returns aren’t anywhere close to something like EPL or Super Bowl.

Viewers – IPL has made cricket more viewable for the women audiences in India. The 3.5 hour time limit has worked for sure in attracting family audiences, not only to the television sets, but also to the grounds.

Overall, while, IPL is a hot property, it has some while before it becomes bigger than EPL or superbowl, simply because, the per capita spending power for the average EPL/Superbowl audiences is much higher. Thats my opinion, whats yours?

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Revamping the domestic cricket system of India

As we all know, Indian test cricket team has reached new lows and ODI team suffered a painful result in CB Series. There has been a lot of hullabo, not to forget the blame game, issues with rotation policy and now not-so-famous rift between players. However, even before the fate of our ODI team was sealed, BCCI already was working on revamping the structure of domestic cricket for good. A technical committee, led by Sourav Ganguly, was formed to suggest changes in the system. The committee came out with its recommendations on 17th February. It was surprising that in a country obsessed with cricket, this news was not given adequate coverage.

Let’s review briefly, what were the recommendations. The recommendations in a nutshell were:-

  • Bowlers in Indian domestic cricket will be allowed to bowl a couple of bouncers per over in a 50-over game
  • Knockout matches will last five days
  • The Duleep Trophy will be played before the Ranji season
  • Ranji matches would not be played on neutral venues (as suggested by earlier committee)

All these changes will definitely improve the conditions of domestic cricket. BCCI should be lauded for this effort. However, these solutions are grossly inadequate in effectively tackling the major problem with Indian cricket.

The major problem is that – our batters struggle in bouncy and swinging conditions and our fast bowlers (who can regularly bowl above 140 km/hr) are rarely fit to play 2-3 series on the trot. The first problem is more depressing for a country boasting with 3 batters having 10,000+ runs in both Test and ODIs. Our batsmen struggled continuously for 16 innings in foreign conditions. This struggle has been an inescapable part of our foreign tours. And none of the recommendations touched the issue of bouncy pitches in India. The second problem is dependent on 2 factors – playing conditions for bowlers in domestic cricket & management of our bench strength. The former could be related to the report. The 1st recommendation is not enough to ensure that our bowlers actually compete and not just participate in the domestic tournaments where batsmen (who fail grossly in foreign conditions) score tons of runs.

One argument that comes in favor of not making bouncy pitches is that playing on turners is our strength and we must not lose that. This is right and is ably supported by the fact that foreign countries like Australia also have not resorted to changing the nature of their pitches even after suffering as many as 4 series defeats in India from 1998-2009. However, there is a middle way. We have 2 main test leagues – Duleep Trophy & Ranji Trophy. We can play whole of Duleep Trophy on bouncy wickets or at least sporting wickets. The participating teams have best players from each region and it would be great that they get a training in handling such conditions. And we can continue to play Ranji matches in the same way as they are played today. This ensures that our batsmen do not forget to play on turners and also get taste of international pitches. This will also help the bowlers as they will be able to bowl with freedom and learn to make good use of bouncy wickets.

India is a country of millions of cricket pundits and I am sure many of my countrymen would have thought about this. I leave it here and would request all to share their views on these and other problems which have plagued the most popular game of our country.

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Entertainment, Sports

Why is KKR the most popular franchise of IPL?

Kolkata_Knight_Riders_LogoLook around in the world of internet, motion media or print media you will realize that Kolkata Knight Riders is the most popular team in the competition. Never the winners or the best team on paper, KKR is able to create a buzz amongst the fans – there is something about the team which creates a lot of excitement. After winning the first two matches of IPL season 3, KKR has yet created more things to talk about. KKR is not the costliest team, infact they come second last when valued in price but everyone loves to talk about them.

Nielsen Company, which has used its Online BuzzMetrics technology to measure the buzz around IPL on social media sites states “Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has been the most discussed team online, both in 2009 and 2010. Kings XI Punjab is the second most discussed team, followed by Deccan Chargers, in social media in 2010.”
Decoding the reasons of KKR’s popularity, I think the following are the reasons:

1. Shahrukh Khan: King Khan, one of the biggest names in Indian cinema and probably one of the most popular Indians in the world. When Shahrukh Khan decides to do something new, the media follows him like crazy. When a Bollywood star had decided to buy a franchise in IPL, media went berserk and entertainer as he is, Shahrukh released several ad & video campaigns for his team which reserved prime time space on entertainment and music channels.
2. Saurav Ganguly: With the start of IPL, Indian cricket scene was going through a generation change, when the most successful captain in Indian cricket was removed from the team and sidelined by selectors. Saurav Ganguly was the epicenter of discussions for a long time between cricket experts, media and fans. IPL was seen as an opportunity for Ganguly to show his leadership skills and make a comeback to national cricket. Ganguly was followed everywhere and the media was waiting for a
3. Fake IPL Player: Fake IPL Player is a blog that started on April 18, 2009, the same time as the 2009 season Indian Premier League matches. It is written by an anonymous blogger who claims to be a member of the IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). However, the blog has become a cult, a raging phenomenon on the internet with a fan following that is numbered in hundreds and thousands. According to Mumbai-based digital marketing firm, Pinstorm, the fake IPL player blog had at its peak, on 26 April, 150,000 visitors, who each spent 15 minutes on the site, adding up to about 37,000 hours spent on the blog in one day, putting it up there with popular individual led blogs such as Aamir Khan’s blog at its peak with about 170,000 visitors!
4. John Buchanan: Coach John Buchanan had proposed a new concept of “multiple captains”. That concept was not accepted by many leading players and experts. Many people thought that this concept was proposed to sideline the captain Saurav Ganguly. After this was announced the fans of Ganguly protested all over india. This incident was followed by Ganguly’s meeting with team owner Shahrukh khan. In that meeting also nothing was decided. Multiple captain means having more than one captain for one match. When this incident happened many people thought that was spat between Ganguly and coach but after some time the meeting between Shahrukh, Ganguly and John Buchanan happened. After the meeting is over Shahrukh khan the team owner announced that Ganguly will remain as the captain for the first matches and after that based on Ganguly’s performance decision will be made. This incident was the centre of attraction for many people.
5. Brendon Mccullum & Ricky Ponting: The failure of the New Zealand captain to be successful in IPL when he was being projected as the face of KKR was also discussed a lot. Punter (Ricky Ponting) was speculated to be the captain of KKR, even his absence from IPL could not stop people from discussing about him. As is said, either people like Punter or hate Punter but they never ignore him.

Let us see what magic KKR creates now in the popularity charts. I hope they do well in IPL this season and be in the top 3. Also see the posts about Fake IPL player and Unbranding KKR (2009).

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Politics, Sports

IPL 2010 – Indian Political League!

(Disclaimer: The views expressed below are those of the author and not of as a blog in general)

ipl-logosSee the greatness of the IPL (Indian Premier League), how highly it stands among other sporting events, which has already provided us so much drama before the play has actually begun. It is in the news all over, flashing here and there, and catching eyes of all. Media is so much excited! After all, everybody was so much bored to see bald-headed Headley and evil-smiling Rathore’s face every day at the breakfast. IPL has provided the idle-sitting cricketers something to chirp about, write columns and give fancy statements in the media. It has given some freshness to the Pakistani people who had all got bored burning effigies of the US and the Taliban. It has given Pakistani ministers something to brag about and divert attentions from more serious issues.

Anybody who is not aware of what actually happened (I doubt this), here is the summary. It all started when the star-studded Pakistani team and others, went under the hammer at the IPL auction in Mumbai. To everybody’s surprise, nobody from the T-20 champions got any call! Meaning, all the Franchise owners sidelined the Pakistani team and all of this was pre-decided. They defended themselves saying they were doubtful of Pakistani players stay in India, whether they will get a visa- or not. This makes complete sense! After all, which business group will pump money into something that gives no returns! Now, this is the rubbish part of the story we all have heard. Here is the truth-

Government of India in a media release said that it has already granted visa to 17 Pakistani Players who could go under the hammer at the auction. It said it did not interfere by any means. So why, why after all, all the franchisee ignored Pakistan? Why was Pakistan embarrassed? Reason is not too hard to guess! It was the Shiv Sena’s hard talk that haunted IPL teams. It would not let matches happen if Pakistani players played.

In the past also Shiv Sena had disrupted two Indo-Pak matches, by digging-up the pitch! This is not unusual for them. They dared the Australian team to play in Mumbai. (After ‘racist’ attacks on Indians in Australia). The MNS threatened candidates from North India who want to take a job in Maharashtra. They forced PSU banks to admit only Maharashtrians. They asked film-makers to use ‘Mumbai’ and not ‘Bombay’ in movies. They beat up an MLA for taking oath in Hindi, in the Assembly and in front of the Governor and the media. And, above all, they call themselves patriotic! They are afraid of no-one! Seems like jungle-‘raj’ going-on!

But, it is the Government which is the biggest ‘Gunda’, yes, you heard me right. Can’t they stop all this hooliganism? Can’t they teach this ‘moral police’ a lesson? Can’t they put these law-breakers and murderers behind the bars? What holds them from punishing those crooks who beat-up an MLA? Is the Government afraid of losing its vote-bank and if it is, this is the saddest part of the world’s largest ‘democracy’ where the Government has to bow to hooligans and crooks to retain power.

Everybody is free to work anywhere in India, and nobody can encroach upon this. Every Indian national is free to speak the language of his choice. I find no wrong in Shiv Sena’s (and the MNS) ideology! I support their philosophy and respect the love they have for their state. Maharashtra is a great state, it has rich culture and traditions and they are great people! I appreciate Shiv Sena and MNS for various programmes they conduct for the promotion of the Marathi language. But what I find irritating is the methods they use and misuse to promote their views. They misguide us. I hope you will agree with me.

This post is written by Puneet Yadav. He is a student at IIT Delhi, pursuing graduation in Chemical Engineering. Involved in varied extracurricular activities, Puneet has great interest in history, political affairs, management and engineering. Recently,he has developed keen interest in Fuel Cell Technology. Read his previous post here.

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Business, Marketing, Sports

The force of Force India!

When it comes to Formula 1 – three things are discussed to death – Huge money, cutting edge technology and glamour. Clearly, for a new team, it would take years to come to terms with the big spending giants like Ferrari, McLaren, Toyota, RedBull etc. However, Force India has done the unthinkable by earning their first podium within only a year and a half (around 30 races)

While critics speculate on a lot of things including this as a tactic to put pressure on the Indian Sports authorities to change their current stance on Formula 1, the progress made by Force India is spectacular nevertheless. Read on to understand the opportunities that have suddenly sprung up in this industry of Sports entertainment.

force-india-vjm011. Sports franchises for media presence – Every sports franchise at the top of its game receives huge media coverage. Whenever a sports India driver goes up on the podium, he & effectively the sponsors on the driver’s clothes get excellent media presence. Clearly, getting associated with franchises is an excellent opportunity for corporates wanting to showcase themselves to a huge audience. Formula one is watched in an estimated 70 countries across 6 continents. Whenever a TV show is beamed and it shows a car, all sponsors’ names get displayed as well. Now thats excellent brand promotion. (Notice the brands on the car alongside) . So when the 5 lights illuminate and go off signalling the start of the race at Monza today, Force India (and effectively its sponsors!) would be watched by an audience estimated to be 10 mn across continents! Exciting for sponsors, isn’t it?

2. Merchandise -There is a huge opportunity with respect to merchandise. Do you or do you not find it ‘cool’ to strut along wearing a Manchester United T-shirt? There is a definite chance that a Force India or a Rajasthan Royals or a Bangalore Royal Challengers would acquire that kind of status in the coming years. Now that is value for the sponsors associated with teams! If distribution mechanisms are strengthened, we would soon find IPL/Formula 1 tshirts flooding the textile markets across Indian cities.


Notice the prominent brand presence

3. Franchises as brands – Over time, such sports franchises would become brands . Incidentally UB Group has investments in premier football clubs of India . There is so much value in these brands and fan following associated that sports over a longer term is a winning proposition provided your team is always in contention to go to the top. Again, this ‘getting to the top and staying there’ isn’t an easy proposition by any stretch of the imagination. But then, getting best in business in your team definitely increases chances. And of course the CEO of the franchise watching his team perform definitely puts added pressure on the team. Notice how corporate honchos – right from Mukesh Ambani to SRK to Roman Ambramovich to Vijay Mallya are personally present at sports events. Its about brands and its serious business as far as the business community goes.

4. Franchises and IPOs – Very recently, had an article on IPOs. Perhaps a new industry is emerging on the IPO front – Sports franchises. The 2008 IPL champion Deccan Chargers indicated that it wanted to go for an IPO, with stock options to its players. Just yesterday, Kaushik posted an article indicating that Dr. Mallya was thinking on same lines – but a common company for all his sports investments across cricket , football and F1. So all you IBankers (current and aspiring) reading this article, don’t be surprised if in the near future, you are creating Research reports on a new industry – Sports franchises!

Perhaps the opportunities I have raised here are the tip of the iceberg. But one thing is for certain, the ‘force’ of audience involvement is certainly there with Force India and other such sports brands. Cheers to India and its sports industry which is finally showing signs of blossoming!

Looking forward to reader comments about sports and opportunities here!

(Liked this article? why don’t you become a fan on our facebook fan page ? )

Image credits: Paddocktalk Automolove

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Entertainment, Sports

Cricket: T-20, ODIs and Game theory

india-wc-2007Cut to October 2007 – The first ever T-20 World cup was going to be held in South Africa. Folks in England and South Africa were harping about this new format of cricket called Twenty -twenty which the BCCI wise men had not woken up to. If anything, they were looking at T20 with caution – the between-overs commercial breaks were going to get reduced – from 99 to 39! That certainly couldn’t be good from a revenue standpoint. So, they rested the big 3- Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid. However, time had something else in mind – India won the world cup under a brand new captain, and that started it all … T-20 as a format was here, and here to stay. The rest – ICL, IPL, player auctions, IPL-2 etc – is history thats documented to death all over the internet, so no point mentioning that again.

However, recently, there have been a lot of discussions about how ODIs as a format has suffered with the advent of T-20. Big cricket commentators, cricketers, even the spectators have written obituaries about the most popular format of the game till 2007. So much so that, Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run getter in ODIs and the greatest modern day batsman ever, suggested a ‘Sachin format‘ for ODIs in order to keep up with the current T-20 style cricket.

To save One-Day Internationals from extinction, revamp them by giving both sides two innings of 25 overs each. Think of it as a sort of ‘Test T-25’! Today, we can tell the result of close to 75% of matches after the toss. We know how conditions will affect the two teams. But it (splitting the game into two innings) is not too dependent on the toss because, (if) for example it’s a day-night match, then both the teams will have to bat under lights. In those 25 overs you can use your 10 wickets the way you want. Suppose if it rains, then (also) you can plan.

zero-sumHowever, the question is has T-20 actually led to this fear of extinction of ODIs?  Is T-20 v’s ODIs a Zero-Sum Game? I don’t think so…Here’s why:

Hypothesis  1: Rather than T-20 affecting ODIs, its the presentation of T20 as a complete entertainment package thats making ODIs as a format look forlorn and lost.

What I imply is that had there been an IPL for ODIs, it would still have been a huge hit. T20 format is incidental, its the ICL and IPL type of leagues that have suddenly exposed the unattractive nature of ODIs. According to me, ODIs per se aren’t bad at all. Its the teams that play that have too much of a differential. In the IPL, you had 8 genuinely competitive teams. If ever there is a ODI IPL among these 8 teams, it would be a winning proposition even in the current format of ODIs. What is hurting cricket as a whole is the yawning gap that exists between national sides- a gap that becomes all the more obvious in a 50 over game. In a 20 over game, there is a greater possibility of an upset than in a 50 over game, if the lesser among the two sides as a genuine game breaker – either in batting or bowling. So, while the Worldcup T20 wasn’t as big a crowd puller as the IPL, it did stand its ground.

gametheoryHowever, the wise men from the BCCI and ICC aren’t quite sure if ODI world cup would stand its ground in its current format, particularly in the face of the Champions’ trophy for clubs- another T20 tournament lurking in the background. Its the efficient administration and the competitive teams that makes T20 a bigger crowd puller than ODIs in current format.

Hypothesis 2: T20 hasn’t been harmful to ODIs. If anything, it has opened up another opportunity for ODI cricket. Its perhaps a Pareto Improvement (one element making the other better off due to its change)

You can call it the ‘Lalit Modi’ effect. Whatever it may be, but Lalit Modi did bring a fresh perspective to the business of cricket administration. While most of what he did was pioneered by ICL officials, it was Lalit Modi’s IPL that exploited organisational possibilities to the fullest- much to the delight of the team owners, administrators, sponsors and spectators. There is certainly a case for introducing marketing gimmicks into the ODI format as well. The question is, why wasn’t cheerleaders, DLF maximums, Citi Moments of success etc thought of for ODIs? It was a case of the administration not taking the ODI event organisation to another level. And for this, ODI as a format should not be blamed. Its the non-opportunistic behaviour of the tournament organisers that has to be blamed for this.

katrina kaifThe Opportunity – The IPL has shown the way, how a tournament has to be organised. Today, spectators want a complete entertainment package. If ODIs can provide that, spectators will surely come back. Perhaps, the Sachin format mentioned above could be one of the marketing gimmick in order to revamp the game. But that should not be the ‘Be-all-and-end-all’. There should be a conscious effort to reduce the number of teams. Whats the point in having 60% hopelessly non-competitive matches in a 45 day world cup as we witnessed in West Indies 2007? The tournament should get over in at max a month’s time. There is definitely a future for ODIs, if only the ICC/BCCI put in some effort behind its organisation.

Lets hope that instead of frowning over the loss of a huge cash cow, the cricket administrators take some positive steps and revamp the 50-50 format – not because it has to be saved from extinction, but because they themselves have taken ‘cricketainment‘ to another level with the IPL!

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MS Dhoni: A Case Study In Reactive Leadership


MS Dhoni is young. He has been a captain for about 2 years. And he s already made his mark. Dhoni has all the makings of a reactive leader. Who is a reactive leader? And what is reactive leadership? Let us analyze with Dhoni as the example.

Reactive Leaders Anchor The Boat:
Dhoni has had a dream start to his captaincy, what with winning the T20 world cup for india in south africa in 2007.
When the victorious T20 world cup winning team returned to india, they were given a open-top bus drive through the city of mumbai. While Sreesanth and Yuvraj danced to the crowds and Sehwag and Harbhajan played to the gallery, Dhoni was a picture of calm and composure. A simple smile on his face. Acknowledging the cheers of the crowds.

Great leaders have a sense of perspective. No achievement is small. And yet no achievement is larger than life. Everything should be put in perspective.
So in a sense..standing with this dancing team-mates, and flashing a calm and contented smile…was ample proof of a man in control. Accomplished. And allowing his team-mates to celebrate, while he provided the inspiration. But you know what? Dhoni did not plan to do this in the plane from Johannesburg to Mumbai.
Its what I call “Reactive”. It is the weight of the moment, and just that moment that made Dhoni do what he thought was right.

They react! Expressively:
And yet this was the same guy who exulted with this hands facing the sky, when India won the match against Pakistan.After scoring his brilliant 183 not out against Sri Lanka in 2005, Dhoni simple held the bat in the shape of a gun and appeared to say “Fire!” It was that moment of achievement. And he was expressive. And he was back with his mild demeanour again. There was nothing planned before. There was nothing to be bothered about later.

Maturity but not necessarily with age:
When he was made vice-captain, Dhoni slashed his locks. He cut his hair and looked trim. Great leaders lead by example. That act of trimming his hair was a sign that he was taking on responsibility. A sign of maturity. A sense of discipline. Oh but Dhoni never learnt that from anyone. It just spurred him on when he was given that responsibility.

Sensing Emotions…..of the moment:
This is by far the greatest quality that differentiates a reactive leader from the other kinds of leaders. On the last day of Ganguly’s farewell Test match, Dhoni did one of the most surprising and endearing moment in cricket folklore. With the match heading towards a draw, and India having all but won the series against the Aussies, Dhoni the captain, decided to pay tribute to Ganguly: a great servant of Indian cricket but also the captain under whom Dhoni made his debut.

He asked Ganguly to captain the team for one last time. Ganguly did so for a couple of overs. And then tossed the ball back to Dhoni.

To me that was the epitome of a reactive leader’s guts and values.Great leaders are reactive. And they empathize. And they win the hearts.Dhoni had clearly paid the finest honour for Ganguly with this gesture.

They Speak Out:
Once a selection committee member leaked the minutes of the meeting to the press, saying Dhoni did not want RP Singh instead of Irfan Pathan; and was thus willing to resign. Dhoni stood up. He rubbished the claims. But he also made a strong statement by saying he didnt want one bowler to feel he was not wanted over another.
I think in a single stroke, Dhoni was able to win both these bowlers….who are now both in the team. The team remains united.
And they think of Dhoni as their leader.

They Speak For Themselves:
There is no doubt that Dhoni has played well. His runs and his skills on the field are hardly debatable.

Cricketers are a pricey set of people. They play for a lot at stake. And no-one wants to lose their place in the team. Yet MS Dhoni openly said during the tour of Sri Lanka that he was fatigued and wanted to be rested for the Tests. I havent heard in recent times of a player who has been open and candid about his wants. Most players keep playing on inspite of fatigue or injury, as they fear for their place in the team. As a consequence they lose pick up serious injuries on tour and have to return midway. Viru would agree!

They are Confident About Speaking Out:
“How much money does one need it life?”, said MSD in a news interview. Reactive leaders dont fear for their place. They speak their mind out. They might not always get it wrong. But what sets them apart is that they dont care if they get it wrong. I am sure many of you might be eager to put Ganguly in the same box. Fair enough.

They Kill Issues Quickly:

More recently, Dhoni was in the news during the 20-20 World cup, when apparently there was a rift between Dhoni and Viru over the latter’s match fitness.
I was following the news. It lasted just one day. Nobody spoke of it the next day. I like to believe that Dhoni not just resolved the issue. But actually killed it.
The result: A Happy Team

They Want To Win…..As Planned:
In the recent one-day series against West Indies in the Caribbean, Yuvraj Singh scored a brilliant 100 and India had touched a score of 300+. With a fine batting effort, India held the upper hand. Yet when the Windies started their chase, India looked edgy. They almost lost their way. However some tight bowling in the last few overs ensured India won the match. So in the last over, when Harbhajan took the catch to send back the last West India batsman, Yuvraj and Harbhajan rejoiced at the latter’s decision to push Nehra to bowl the last over. Suddenly the whole team was celebrating what was a tense final over.Dhoni as the commentators noted was not happy at all. He didnt flash a smile. Just removed his gloves and joined his mates and then walked back to the pavilion.

When asked why he was not happy at the moment of victory at the post match conference, Dhoni replied, “I didnt like way we played. With such a strong batting display, we should have won comfortably”. Would you ever expect the captain of a team not celebrate the moment of victory in a match that almost went down to the wire? Well thats my take on being a reactive leader. They sometimes dont react at all!

My next post will talk about another kind of a leader. Any guesses?

(PS: This is writeup by a regular author about Incredible Indians. From tomorrow, we would start the reader’s articles sent to the Incredible Indians contest)

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Entertainment, IIM, Marketing, Sports, Strategy

Why did Ferrari go back to Michael Schumacher?

(We at welcome our newest contributor, Arun KS. Arun is an alumnus of IIM-Calcutta, is a huge sports fan, specializing in EPL, UEFA and F1. His stay at IIM-C was marked by his attempts at Genocide during his stint as the Mess Representative of the Old Hostel, and winning several Marketing contests)

It is pretty stale news now that Michael Schumacher will be holding Felipe Massa’s seat in Ferrari until he is fit enough to race. So all those F1 fanatics and Schumacher supporters like me are ecstatic to see the maestro at work again and all those new F1 fanatics who have started following F1 in the past 2 years will get to see the maestro at work live.



After all the oohs and aahs the news has created there comes a question as to why did Ferrari go back to Schumacher and did not choose any other driver to replace Massa. I am trying to have my guess work at why Ferrari did that.

At the beginning of the season, the aim of Ferrari like most of the other teams was twofold.

1.    Win the Drivers Championship

2.    Win the Constructors Championship

In happier times

In happier times

After 10 races, their top driver, Massa is placed 7th, is injured and is not sure of racing again in the season. Their second driver Raikkonen is placed 9th and has no realistic chance of winning the drivers’ championship. Similarly, though they are placed 3rd in the Constructors championship, they are 74 points off the leaders and 58.5 points off the 2nd placed Red Bull.

The crew of the Enterprise accurately express the emotions at Ferrari

The crew of the Enterprise accurately express the emotions at Ferrari

So the only option they have now is to finish as high as possible in the constructors championship, which in turn burns down to holding on to their 3rd place. With the competitors like Toyota and McLaren breathing down their neck, it is a real tough task and for this they need both their drivers to

a.    finish

b.    finish as high as possible within the point scoring positions
For this they need their own machinery to be reliable and their drivers to be highly competitive and reliable. Their current drivers were competitive and reliable and thus they would have no complaints on that and no need to change the drivers next season. So keeping this in mind let us have a look at what the options were in front of the team to replace Massa

Desperate times - Desperate measures

Desperate times - Desperate measures

1. Marc Gene – The 35 year old test driver for Ferrari. He has had 36 starts in F1 though mostly with the 2 seasons he had with Minardi. His highest finish in F1 has been a 5th placed finish in the 2003 Italian Grand Prix when he replaced an injured Ralf Schumacher. He has scored a total of 5 points in his career and last driven an F1 car in the 2004 British Grand Prix. The most points he has scored in a season has been 4. This rules out Gene both on the count of a reliable point scoring driver and being highly competitive

2. Luca Badoer – Yet another test driver for Ferrari since 1997. He holds the dubious distinction of being the driver with most Grand Prix starts (48 starts) and not scoring a single point.  His highest ever finish has been 7th place in the San Marino Grand Prix (at that time they were giving points classification only for the first six drivers). His last race was 1999 Japanese Grand Prix. Though he has been a long time test driver, and probably the driver to have done the maximum number of miles in a Ferrari, he is ruled out because of the lack of reliability.

3. Robert Kubica – One of the many names linked to the empty seat in Ferrari. He is a rising star in the F1 circuit, though his current season is marred by an unreliable car. He has had 50 starts in F1 and has scored 122 points, winning the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix and finishing on the podium 8 times. He was leading the drivers’ championship at the half mark last year only to lose it off due to a reduced car performance. Thus he is a proven reliable driver who could get you the points and is highly competitive. He meets both the situation. But, he is under contract at BMW Sauber and being their top driver, the team would be reluctant to let him go to a rival in the middle of a season. Moreover, even Kubica might not like the idea of being a stop gap driver in the team, where he has to score points only to let the seat whenever Massa returns.

4. Fernando Alonso – The weirdest of the rumors was the one linking Alonso to the seat to replace Massa. Though there are rumors that he would be joining Ferrari in the next season, neither he nor Ferrari are ready to confirm the news. Moreover, being a 2 time world champion, why would he move into a team as a stop gap option?

5. Sebastian Bourdais – The 31 year old driver has had 27 starts and has scored 6 career championship points. He has been relieved of his contract with Torro Rosso at the end of German Grand Prix this year and he hasn’t proven his competitive spirit or the reliability to get the Ferrari seat, when it is so desperate to score points.

6.  Nico Hulkenberg – Yhis 22 year old reigning Formula Three Euro series champion is a rookie. The maximum level of F1 experience he has had was as a test driver at Williams. And the present situation is not a situation to put a rookie in.

A host of other drivers including David Coulthard were also linked to them. But either most of them are under contract with some team or the other, or they are not reliable or sometimes both. David Couldhard, although retired is still under contract with McLaren Mercedes. Moreover, he has not even driven a Ferrari on the race circuit till now.

So in the end it comes down to Michael Schumacher. A proven driver (the best race driver in history), reliable in scoring points (his 7 world championship titles are a testimony) and highly competitive (sometimes blamed for being over competitive too :P). He last raced in the 2006 season where he just missed the championship, and last drove the Ferrari car in April 2008 (he used to test drive the cars after retirement). He is known to be a keen fitness enthusiast who still keeps himself fighting fit, but of course he will have to undergo a battery of tests before he finally sits in the car because of his neck which he injured in an accident early this year. Though he hasn’t driven this year’s car and could not drive one till the practice session in European Grand Prix, he knows the Ferrari machine and the engine inside out after so many successful seasons with them. So, he can score those vital points needed by the team and can also easily leave the seat once Massa returns to go back to his role of consultant.

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Reflections: GOD – He is back

(The article is submitted by Pritish Khale– an extremely passionate follower of Formula 1 racing. We thank him for his article about the return of Michael Schumacher.  Its filed in reflections section – where we post articles which are different from our strategy or business section.)     Can you believe it? Almost everyone is talking about it. The information media is going bonkers about it. The pundits have already done SWOT analysis of it. Ever since He made the official announcement yesterday, everyone is going ga-ga about it. At the end of the day, what matters most is that He is back. Yes, it may be only for the remainder of the season but Michael Schumacher is back at the wheels of His beloved Ferrari.

On August 25, 1991, a certain 22 year old German got a chance to drive for Jordan F1 team thanks to some slick talking by His manager, Willi Weber. Apparently, He was replacing a Belgian who had to do some prison time for his misdemeanors. What followed for next 15 years was an act of brilliance, dedication to sport, team loyalty & doing what He loved doing the most – Driving to perfection. Now, 34 months into His retirement and He gets a call back; this time, to replace an unfortunate Brazilian.

Coincidence? May be. Because this time, slick talking Willi Weber assured that He won’t come out of retirement and drive and Willi was 200 % sure about it. Because this time, He will be driving for a team which has lost, rather, not found their bearings till now. Because this time, He will be racing on a track where he has never driven before. Because this time, his first race after retirement will be on the week of August 23, 2009; exactly 18 years after his first race. May be we will see Him riding a folding bicycle on the track on the Friday of that very weekend “just to get acquainted with the track” and then we can say it is indeed a coincidence.

Now, every single one of His fans will expect Him to drive His heart out & produce the same magic from the word GO. I am pretty sure He will. I mean, mathematically, with 7 races to go, title number eight is a sure possibility. All He needs to do is win the remaining races by blowing His competition away. Besides, who is He competing with?

I am pretty sure Brawn GP drivers would have started fretting when they first heard the announcement, especially given their current slump. The Toyotas are struggling to keep their act together and BMW have announced that they will be out after 2009 and hence must have begun packing their bags already. The Spaniard and his French outfit mustn’t even have noticed because they must be busy loving themselves if not serving a ban come the immediate race. That leaves the 08’ Champion who, I feel was very lucky to win the title last year and has lot to prove when it comes to driving a not-so-friendly car. So, the only person worth mentioning is another German who, rather than threatening Him, is threatened by his team-mate’s sudden purple patch (a patch long due). Oh! I forgot to mention the 07’ champion i.e. His current team-mate. Anyways, Iceman is not a threat as he is already dreaming about his rallying career which takes off next season. So, title number 8??? Quite possible, isn’t it?

But, if this was an ideal world, Ferrari would have been leading the Constructor’s championship at this juncture; each team would have been running the KERS system mandatorily; double diffusers would not have been an issue at all and Max Mosley would have been ousted from FIA a long time ago when he tried to kill Ralf Schumacher with his “no tire change for the entire race” rule. Hell, He would have still been racing for Team Ferrari and may be, just may be, would have been wrapping up title no. 10 by winning the next race with a 5 pit-stop strategy. I mean, with mastermind Brawn at helm, the two did it with a 3 stopper and 4 stopper, so why not a 5 stopper???

Alas! This isn’t an ideal world. As much as I want Him to go flat out and win it all, something tells me it may not happen. No matter how great He is, the fact of the matter is that a 40 year old’s reflexes may not be as sharp as a they were 3 years ago, and mind you, back then, He made a mockery of the remaining grid at His last race. But my intuition says that He will be enjoying the sport even more this time around. Everyone believes that He will have to cope up with immense pressure but I feel He won’t be under any pressure. His ‘driving to the extreme’ then was for winning but now His ‘driving to the extreme’ will be just for the heck of it. Something tells me that He will be more open to the media now and when asked about His ‘extreme driving’ given the current scenario, He’ll nonchalantly say, “I love this sport and I enjoy what I do, so why not?” Then again, He may not do all that and take this stint pretty damn seriously and even sign up as a full time next season. He was never predictable, He will never be!

My personal message to all you avid F1 fans out there; watch Him teach the newbies how not to cry out loud if your car underperforms and still drive its wheels off & produce favorable results. Watch him for the knowledge He brings to the team by His minute observations. Watch him for His blistering in-lap, out-lap & the fastest lap and may be even the qualifying lap. Watch him do all that may be you will be lucky enough to see that giant leap on podium once again. Watch him bring back the glorious era of 1994-2000. Watch him and learn.

Finally, I’d like to quote a famous verse from Bhagwad Gita:“Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya, Glanirva Bhavati Bharatha;….Whose meaning in relation to Schumacher’s announcement goes like this:

“Since there is a decline in Sport (religion) and predominant rise of irreligion (Mosley antics, FIA-FOTA war, Lie-Gate, Stepney-Gate); to annihilate the miscreants (cry-babies on current F1 grid & Max Mosley off the course) and establish the principles (bringing back the lost interest in F1 & the art of driving flat out), I will descend myself”.

“SCHUMACHER, Uber Alles!!!”

– One of the million Schumi fans & a proud one too.

PS: Please send your feedback about the new reflections section on admin at . We appreciate your suggestions at improving .

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