Thursday, February 23, 2006

Corporate skills and MAFIA

Working in an internal RnD project (we call it MIST here- MindTree Incubated Showcase Tech) has its advantages. You get to meet and interact with prospective clients or partners who are (or atleast seem) interested in adopting your techno. We've been demo-ing our Digital-PVR tech (I'm proud of it!) to people from Logitech, TI, AMD, etc. Today afternoon we had to show a demo to a team from Philips. All the demoes usually follow the same script - The team from our company tries to impress the outsider using lottsa tech jargon, making it seem larger than life. ( wait a sec, isn't it? ;-0 ) The client alwayz puts on a bored face having the 'yea-yea-sowhatzthebigdeal-you-bozoes' look. And then he/she asks some totally irrelevant question which throws everyone off track. Or if it's a prospective tech-partner, they can't help but show off their tech-database too, so they try and ask some absolute-bull-tech doubt!! I've even purposely given them the "Are-you-that-stupid-dude?" look. I know you're supposed to flatter these people, cos else your company loses prospective clients (read cash) but God! there's a limit to everything right?! (No, I'm not an Airtel Lifetime Validity sim- card owner either!)

Anywayz, today's demo went off damn well. Reason? We had our domain's Business Analyst with us. You have to hand it to these guys, they can bullshit about anything and everything, and do it very well too. Even without knowing half of what actually happens, they can convince the client to believe what they say, using choice words. They do their job much better than the Tech-leads who goes "umm..yeaa..hmm..well we..duh" boring the client to sleep.
It's something you gradually learn in life - Having the "street-smart" skills to make people believe what you say is very important. VERY. It's more effective to have the ability "to think on your feet" rather than have like 10 prof. degrees under your belt and still not be able to make people believe you. To be able to sell toothpaste to a person with no teeth; now that's how good you gotta aim to be.

This reminds me of a game I've started playing recently - MAFIA !!!!! (Thankyou Sibin,Kutty,Gaurav for introducing me to dis rad game!!) We play it every afternoon during lunchtime - about 10 to 15 of us. It's basically a battle of wits where you have innocent (villagers) and evil (mafia) players. And a couple of other roles as well such as the cop,disabler,doctor, village idiot etc. The game is run by the narrator or God. Anyway, the game proceeds in such a way that the villagers try and find out who are the mafia among them and vote them out. The mafia in turn try and vote out innocent players without revealing their indentity. The game is won by the villagers when all the mafia have been identified and voted out, else by the mafia when they are in greater majority.
I can't explain everything about the game cos i'll need like 2-3 pages, so for more info abt the game go here

It's a great game simply because the underlying concept is similar to what i had said earlier.The trick is to be able to bluff well and convince other people to believe what you say, cos basically every player is suspicious of each other. It's just not what you say that is important. Mannerisms and body-language matter too.

"You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need
You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street
You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.
And after a while, you can work on points for style
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake
A certain look in the eye, and an easy smile
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to
So that when they turn their backs on you
You'll get the chance to put the knife in."

The ability to think smart. And fast. And lie blatantly if needed. These are skills required in the Corporate world. And in the real world too right?

Until next time guys, sharpen your C-skills (not the ANSI kind, though that doesn't hurt) and stay alert.
Meanwhile, let me go back to playing Mafia with my mates :-)