‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is one of the most popular proverbs, often heard in management and self-help talks. Another, narration that we often hear these days is about business being challenging and market conditions being tough. Some may argue that motivational talks are good but hold very less significance when it comes to handling routine business challenges. The fact remains that our thought process and the way we react to situations do affect our business and professional life.
One such insightful experience was during my recent Hyderabad trip where I happen to stay at the Lemon Tree Hotel. I learned that Lemon Tree is India’s largest hotel chain in the mid-priced segment; ranked 12th amongst the best large workplaces in Asia in the ‘Great place to work’ Survey 2018. Almost 20% of their workforce are people with disabilities whom they call ODIs or Opportunity Deprived Indians. They employ people who are speech & hearing impaired, or deaf, people with physical handicap, down-syndrome & autism, also acid survivors.
Many of these ODIs do not have any kind of formal education or training; they engage with NGOs and subject matter experts to make them job ready. Their working and salaries are same as other employees. Lemon Tree adopted this business model in 2007 and it was observed over the years that their output, speed and productivity is 15% more in terms of efficiency. With this model, they have tapped a new talent pool and brought opportunity deprived people to the mainstream.
I would submit that there are important learnings from the Lemon Tree example. Operating a business is an evolving process wherein we have to accommodate and adjust according to the market conditions and new advancements. We need to rethink our existing business models, think of new viable and sustainable alternatives. We, the finance professionals have an eminent role to play as advisors to our clients. One of the most important exercises that we can engage in is analysing the present business models industry-wise, examine the processes and think of innovations that can be brought in; in other words – business re-engineering, an extremely potential area of practice and business function.
On a lighter vein, the other three important learnings from the Lemon Tree story is - Firstly, we do not control the market conditions, what others do or any other external factors but we do control is our own ‘conduct’, irrespective of the situations we are in. What matters is analysing the situations, thinking positively and acting diligently. Secondly, there is an opportunity in every adversity, it’s a matter of perspective. Lastly, most of us need regular skills training and everyone needs motivation.
Let me close, with another popular quote by the American motivational speaker, Robert H. Schuller – tough times never last, but tough people do.