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Book Review: The Professional by Subroto Bagchi

A more appropriate title for this book would had been “The MindTree Professional”.

Subroto Bagchi has to his credit an excellent first book “The High-Performance Entrepreneur” and a mediocre second book “Go Kiss the World” (however, it must be noted that his second book was unique in many respects, and does deserve some credit for the same).

“The Professional” neither excels in the content department, nor is it unique in any respect. Mr. Bagchi has published what appear to be a set of policies adopted by his employer MindTree (of which he is a co-founder), and that is the reason I suggest he rename the book to “The MindTree Professional” and eliminate any misconception that may be generated by the current generic title.

There are several “way” books that have been published – for instance “The HP Way” or “The Toyota Way” – this book falls in the same category. If you wish to understand MindTree’s definition of a Professional, read this book. If you are looking for a more “universal” set of rules, don’t waste your time and money.

Mr. Bagchi fails on two counts:

  1. Presenting the relative as absolute:
    Mr. Bagchi presents his subjective views as objective universal truths.
    Certain organizational policies have no “right” answers – every organization has to find its own “right” answer.  Take for instance the policy of referrals – In Mr. Bagchi’s view, referrals are a big sin. If a vendor is related to someone in the purchasing department, Mr. Bagchi advices the vendor must not be entertained. In my view, referrals are priceless – if I know a vendor is related to someone within my organization, I can asses the vendor better. In other words, an organization has to do what is “right” for it.
  2. Presenting the absolute as if it were his discovery:
    The second count on which Mr. Bagchi fails is to present the time tested truths as if they were his brand new discoveries. Don’t we all know, since biblical times, that stealing is bad?

Mr. Bagchi has also indulged in some “below the belt” knocks by writing about Satyam. Hindsight is 20/20 – and it doesn’t take a “professional” to call a self-confessed conman a conman! Had Mr. Bagchi written this book prior to Ramalinga Raju’s confession, would he have mentioned the Satyam incident? Mr. Bagchi says he wondered what a retired income tax bureaucrat was doing serving on the board of Satyam – an IT company. I am not trying to defend Satyam (Raju is a self-confessed crook after all, and what he has admitted to doing is despicable), but I wish to use this point to highlight what appears to be Mr. Bagchi’s poor understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Members of a Corporate Board! I am not aware of any rule, written or unwritten, that forbids an industry “outsider” from serving on the board of an IT company. I would expect Mr. Bagchi to know this well enough, after all he is on the Board of MindTree (the MindTree website on 28th December 2009 listed him as a board member, and a Gardener & Director – whatever that means!!!)

My key takeaway:
After I set down this book, I was left with an impression that MindTree is a very narcissistic organization.
I could be completely wrong, because I am basing my judgment entirely on Mr. Bagchi’s comments about the organization that are sprinkled so very liberally throughout the book.

In an earlier post, I had blogged about the purpose of business and how it centered around customers and meeting or exceeding customer needs. After learning more about MindTree from Mr. Bagchi’s writings, I may have to add a third type of customer to my list (in addition to the “real” end customer and investor) – SELF!

MindTree seems to be founded by a group of individuals who decided they wanted to start an organization whose main reason for existence was to do business the way they believed was right – the end seems to be to serve themselves, to prove their concept and to validate their beliefs. The “paying” customers and investors are only means to achieving that end.

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