Echoes of Innocence

Joshua Craver’s Real-Time Learning Experience

As a designer of the real-time learning process and a performance consultant based at Satyam, I participated in one engagement that epitomized this type of learning. The members of an onsite account team from Satyam were working with a large customer—a Fortune 100 company—with which they wanted to improve their relationship. Satyam’s account leaders wanted our help as performance consultants in meeting two goals: first, to enable Satyam to grow from being the customer’s core partner to being its strategic partner— meaning more opportunities for project wins; and second, to improve Satyam’s score on the customer’s satisfaction survey from 3.67 to more than 4.0 on a 5.0-point scale.

While collecting data during stage 1 of this real-time learning process, we learned that for the past two quarters, this account team had seen increasing revenue but not won any new projects and that the annual attrition rate for Satyam’s onsite team was nearing 20 percent. The team identified an increasing threat from other service providers and informed us that there would be projects worth millions up for bid in the next six months. Though the customer was continuing its healthy growth and dominance of its industry, its external perception in the marketplace was not stable. For instance, during one visit we had to make our way through a crowd of protesters upset about its perceived lack of eco-friendly practices.

Armed with extensive data from stage 1, we began to ignite change onsite, stage 2 of the real-time learning process. We started the week with a dinner for Satyam’s employees and their families. This helped us get to know the team on a personal level and build trust which would be necessary for our work together. During this week-long stage, we spoke with 18 of the customer’s managers, had development conversations with 26 of our onsite employees, and observed 16 meetings. We found that Satyam’s employee turnover was essentially due to a lack of cultural integration with the new country where they had been asked to move (mostly from India) and a lack of customer integration. We provided 12 learning and development sessions, all outside billable hours. Throughout the week, observed the Satyam team and customer interactions to ensure that behavioral change was happening, and we ended the week with an action planning session for all stakeholders. This customer employed four vendors with similar capabilities and remarked that our learning and development services differentiated us from our competition. The customer saw this engagement as enhancing its communication and working relationship with the Satyam team, which was previously as roadblock to a true partnership.

During stage 3 of the real-time learning process, sustaining change, we began with writing and socializing the final report. This final report documented all aspects of the engagement. We documented all stakeholders’ initial goals, feedback, and thoughts. In addition, we prepared our analysis of the account’s current state and opportunities for team development, which included an action plan to strengthen the relationship and business development.

From this point we had weekly coaching sessions with Satyam’s onsite team leaders, monthly follow-up meetings with the onsite task force, and conversations with key customers to monitor the team’s progress. As a result of this engagement, Satyam’s team reached its goals outlined from the start. It achieved strategic partner status and a satisfaction rating well above 4.0 during the next customer satisfaction survey, thus well positioning the team for business development.

When the Satyam debacle occurred, we coached Satyam’s key team leaders for this customer’s account on how to manage the customer relationship and their teams during the crisis. We, as performance consultants, became trusted advisors to the Satyam team–and the team achieved the same status with the customer. Today, this customer is still using Satyam’s services.


Strategy, Alignment & Leadership: Discussing Learning’s Impact

By Tim Sosbe on 09/17/2010
No matter the topic, no matter the individual drivers, it’s always energizing to sit in a room of like-minded individuals and talk about things in common. Even with desert temperatures of 106 outside, there’s a certain magic in the air when thought leaders, experts and practitioners come together to share, to learn, to advance the industry that embraces us all.
That sense of collaboration and purpose was certainly evident recently at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, AZ, when the annual CLO & Talent Management Forum was in session. Produced annually here in the United States by Richmond Events, the CLO & Talent Management Forum brought together about 150 senior learning leaders from organizations including Apple, ADP, Dow Jones, Bank of America, AARP, Hertz, Raytheon, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Coldwell Banker, Nationwide Insurance, Iron Mountain, Bristol-Myers Squibb, ManTech International and ESPN.
With topics as broad as workforce development and talent management on the table, the conference conversations were equally as diverse. In keynote presentations, breakout sessions, individual meetings and networking discussions, the attendees, speakers and suppliers share resources, suggestions and support for the full event.
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Reviving a Conscious Culture

Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen were senior learning leaders for Satyam Computer Services, a global organization that went through a $2.5 billion scandal when the chairman confessed to “cooking the books,” causing the near bankruptcy and closure of the company. They detail the lessons they learned during their 2005-2009 tenure in their book, “RIDING THE TIGER: Leading through Learning in Turbulent Times.”

Organizations are made up of both conscious and accidental cultures, and a crisis truly magnifies both, Nelson and Cohen note. The conscious culture comes from what’s written and documented. The accidental culture comes about from those accepting and performing around unwritten or unspoken behaviors and norms passed from one employee to the next, and even one generation to the next.
If the organization has planned and prepared well, Nelson and Cohen say, many programs and systems will be in place when turbulent times hit. “If not, then the road back will be tricky and filled with additional challenges because it requires shifting the organization’s culture to get it back on track. Attempting to shift from the accidental culture back to the desired conscious culture is a daunting task.”

Nelson and Cohen determined there are four steps to regain or establish a conscious culture:
Identify all of the components of the existing culture. Include the written, spoken, unspoken, and unwritten.
Facilitate what to keep, what to eliminate, and what to add. This step merges the positive accidental culture into the conscious culture and helps identify the negative accidental influences that need to go away.
Revisit your organization’s core purpose and values, and reorganize them if necessary. To get Toyota back on track, for example, Akio Toyoda realized the need to shift his purpose to “serving the greater global community” in addition to caring for his employees, the team, neighbors, and protecting the organization. When documented as part of the conscious culture of Toyota, this shift has the potential to positively change the organization forever.
Communicate and reinforce the core purpose and values. A conscious culture can drown out the accidental culture only when it is consistently communicated and reinforced.


Defining the Employee Relationship Chain

A successful employee relationship — which converts to strong retention — can be broken into three stages. The relationship begins with onboarding and evolves into alignment with the organization and recognition for his or her contributions. The final stage, which often is not achieved, is when the employee views the organization and its leaders as trusted advisers.

By Ed Cohen and Priscilla Nelson

Addressing turnover is critical. Many organizations cost-optimized without taking retention into account and they will now have to deal with the consequences of that. But it’s not too late for organizations to immediately begin taking advantage of this awareness by moving their employees up the value chain. Today’s economic marketplace has created the need to re-evaluate our past, current and future talent needs. While millions of qualified applicants are available, it goes without saying that many of them will not meet the criteria for each and every business requirement.
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Priscilla Nelson: Riding the Tiger- Author Interview

Talent management expert and former Satyam Computer Services executive, Priscilla Nelson and co-author with Ed Cohen, of the leadership lesson filled book Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the book.

Priscilla Nelson describes the crisis that almost destroyed Satyam Computer Services, and the initiatives that not only saved the company from bankruptcy, but transformed the entire organization into a more effective and growing business. She shares the strategies and techniques that turned the company around and began its path to renewal and profitability.

Thanks to Priscilla Nelson for her time, and for her comprehensive and informative responses. They are greatly appreciated.

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Mahindra Satyam releases numbers for 2009 and 2010

Congratulations to Mahindra Satyam for being able to wade through the mess and get the numbers for 2009 and 2010 released.  This is a great step forward for a wounded company that has worked hard to rebuild itself.  We feature many of the leadership practices implemented to get Satyam through the turbulent times in Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times.

See Economic Times New video:

We are happy for their ability to pull through, and especially believe the way the people reacted, responded and courageously led through those darkest of times was inspriring.  However, we are concerned about the message delisting from the NYSE sends to investors and customers in the US in particular because such a large amount of their revenue comes from there.  What is Mahindra Satyam’s plan for the U.S. investors who are now let in limbo?

Read more at:

Wall Street Journal – FY 10 Satyam Not out of the Woods Yet

Economic Times –Mahindra Satyam Should be Higher in next 12-18 months

India’s fraud-hit Satyam posts loss but is on the mend

Business Week — Fraud-Hit Satyam Narrows Loss After Mahindra Purchase

Economic Times — Mahindra Satyam Board approves delisting from NYSE


‘Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times’ by Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen – launches on September 1st in India

Encinitas, Ca, August 30, 2010 / IndiaPRLine / — When leadership matters most, how prepared are you to influence change and guide your organization in today’s ever-changing business environment? Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times published by Cengage Learning, provides a rare opportunity to learn innovative leadership techniques and ideas for fostering change that are essential for everyone in these challenging times.

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Leading Through Turbulent Times

While working as senior talent leaders for a global organization that went through a 2.5 billion dollar scandal (not counting peripheral damages) when the Chairman confessed to “cooking the books” causing the near bankruptcy and closure of the company, we had the opportunity to observe and be a part of culture’s true influence. During turbulent times, like those we have been going through, leadership is not determined by rank but by the strength of the talent and conviction to build the relationships necessary to bring about collaboration and seek solutions. In our situation, leaders came from all areas and from all levels.

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Echoes of Innocence

The Voice of Tony Chapman, Leader,
School of Leadership

With more than 20 years of experience in media and television production, I had decided it was time for a change of pace. I joined the School of Leadership at Satyam in March 2008 as a leadership development consultant. I quickly became immersed in the training programs, teaching conflict management tools, tips on executive presence, and presentation skills.

At the end of 2008, my family traveled back to Australia for the Christmas break. On the evening of January 7, I was at a party at my sister-in-law’s in a beachside suburb of Melbourne. It was the usual raucous family event, with friends dropping in and wine flowing. In the midst of all this, I decided to ring the office in India. This is how I learned about the massive fraud. I felt a bizarre sense of dislocation, magnified by the distance between my family there and my colleagues in Hyderabad. I imagined what they must be going through and their reactions to this news.

On my return to work a few days later, it was clearly “all hands on the pumps.” Faculty and support staff were gearing up for crisis management and morale-sustaining initiatives that could be disseminated to the staff at zero cost. One key communication platform during this time was the webcast studio we had been testing for the past year, known as Planet Satyam. As web television assumed growing importance as a communications tool that could operate on a minimal budget, I was drawn into working in the studio. My plans to develop my skills as a leadership learning professional were put on hold. We had a number of memorable webcasts, including series such as Rise of the Phoenix and Weathering the Storm. At the end of January, we ran a five-hour-plus webathon to raise funds for a local orphanage with which we were heavily involved. We had one camera going live and another crew picking up interviews at the back of the webcast area. The enthusiasm of everyone involved carried the day, and we managed to raise a considerable sum. By the end of October, web television was being used to deploy almost 90 percent of all learning. My desire to be a leadership development professional remained sidelined, so I decided it was time for me to move on.


Echoes of Innocence

Rohan Shahane’s Coaching Experience

Rohan Shahane served as the lead for executive coaching at Satyam. He assisted in the deployment of coaching programs. He shared his experience: “As I looked around the organization, I found leaders and business units in some places who, even though bruised and injured, were able to march on. What was happening here? How was this possible? What did it take for them to soldier on? There were many reasons expressed. A sense of commitment and loyalty to the organization, pride in one’s work, solid camaraderie among the team, and a deep customer relationship were just a few. However, there was one thing in common that stood out strongly: These leaders were authentic, transparent, and humble. The crisis has thrown up many lessons for all of us, and the one enduring lesson that I take from this experience is what I have begun to call ‘fearless authentic leadership.’”

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