Spending time with the customer

MIX carries an article on the management trainee training program of Hindustan Unilever Ltd in India. As a part of this program, trainees spend substantial time in the rural India, participating in social programs like teaching in schools, understanding the ultimate customer and bringing out new ideas for the business.
Apart from the lessons mentioned in the article, I think the biggest advantage of these programs is the understanding that the company’s people get about the business they are in, the impact their products have on people and society, the gaps that exists, the ethos that are relevant for the local market. I think, this should not be once in a lifetime activity for the management teams, this should be repeated at regular intervals, at least once in 4 years so that the management thought process remains in tune with the customer environment. 
I think the article gives too much importance to the various lists published by various publications. To my mind they are completely irrelevant. Publications need them to keep themselves in circulations. Organizations should make being in them their aim, although a lot of them have dedicated teams to work towards it. Your organization performance is not dependent on these lists.

Anuradha Goyal