Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Unsung Talent of Bengal

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is not quite often that we write a blog post on a barber (read barber, not hair stylist). Shahrukh Khan once made a movie and I am writing a blog post. I just happened to visit a barber in my locality for the second time for a hair trim as I call it. Receding hairline also does need a visit to a barber once a month! A Calcutta barber is never free and so he was occupied with a client (that’s what they call a customer in B schools).

As my turn came and I sat on the chair, I started explaining him what I wanted. He questioned me same as last time? I was shocked as to how on earth did he remember what I wanted when I had visited him only once in the past. He might have served at least a thousand customers in the last one month. I felt privileged as in this urban madness of Calcutta a barber happened to recall what I want.

As he was about to finish with my side locks, I asked him to trim them a bit with his straight razor and he gave me my second shocker. But last month you didn’t want it trimmed? I had forgotten what I wanted last month but he didn’t. When I was paying him the money I asked him how he managed to remember all these details. He replied me ‘It’s my job’. In a B school this would be termed competitive advantage, USP or in the most secretive case as trade secret!

This is the grassroot talent of Bengal which needs to be harnessed. In my two and a half years of stay in Bangalore I went to the same saloon but never experienced such service although I paid twice the amount there than what I did today. This is the unsung worker of Bengal who works as a thorough professional and doesn’t complain about salary hikes and join the bandh brigade every month.

Now my next door barber never went to a B school, he never went for any professional course to learn his art. He doesn’t know a thing about Customer Satisfaction Management nor does he maintains Excel Sheets to measure his quarterly performance. He has never read boring case studies of StarBucks or IBM. He hasn’t wasted his time in mugging up things which will mean very little in his day to day professional life. This proves the theory you can’t make a businessman teaching him Management theories.

He is smatter than many of us who think they are the most important factor in their organizations. He just knows his art and knows it really well. He doesn’t run around looking for employment but creates his own. This is a case study that should find a place in our B Schools alas that will never happen as StarBucks literate management graduates will try to market things in India where close to 60% of the product sale happens in the unorganised sector. Who is smatter, us or the barber?


wordsmith September 1, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

You are very right.

In 2006, being a freshly minted British MBA, I discovered my business guru in the person of a local panwallah in one of the Calcutta streets.

piya September 1, 2010 at 8:55 PM  

hey panna.. i guess he remembers u coz u dint tip him well the last time...!!!! lol ;).. this barber's in sodepur kya??? tel me where??? my bro was searching for one... :)

Subhadeep Bhattacharjee September 2, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

@ Piya
He doesn't stay in Sodepur but in Kestopur so he won't be able to help your brother I guess

Avishek Ganguly September 2, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

yes, you are absolutely right. It is amazing to see the dedication that these people have towards their job. The so called white collar B school graduates who blabber Kotler and Wroe Alderson should rather learn from these people.

Rajashree September 2, 2010 at 12:19 PM  

as the saying goes "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder"same goes for th post of your's. Hardly people are concerned about what does a barber say or how does he respond to the customers need.But the talent within you has given u a sense of questioning and points that I wish shall surely be applicable in the days to come.Positivity with young talents will surely get a place in this global village...n not only the, the student having a degree in name sake....

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