"They are so melodramatic. Subtle is not a word you could associate with this generation." Those words, of a manager somewhere, and echoed time and again through India Inc., have literally been taken at face value at Bharti Airtel. At the bright red and blue Gurgaon head office of India's biggest mobile phone services firm, two youngsters are stirring up the established process of India's top telecom service provider - through drama.
Meet Teena Sidana, 23, and Atul Bansal, 24, management trainees with the company's mobile commerce, or m-commerce, team. Their boss, Sriram Jagannathan, CEO, mCommerce, wanted to present the new offering to senior executives - Atul Bindal, President, Mobile Services, Krish Shankar, Director, HR, among others - and wanted it to be different from a normal PowerPoint affair.
Sidana, Bansal and a third colleague, who has since moved location, came up with a skit written around a week in a customer's life using m-commerce. Eyebrows were raised, but they were backed to the hilt by Jagannathan. Bansal wrote the script and the cast included managers, the vice president and general manager of the m-commerce team. To cut a long story short, the skit, performed before company leaders at a club near the Bharti headquarters, was a big success. "We have never done a skit in our life; we only wanted to innovate," says Sidana.
The innovation obviously did well. The concept of skits will be used for training frontline Bharti staff "to give them faster growth and faster learning", says Shankar, the HR head. Shorter learning modules spread over six months and the introduction of "reverse mentoring" pairing high performers with top executives are becoming established practices at Bharti.