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It’s very simple to grow your business when you us



I have been hearing a lot of buzz about the Rotary Four Way Test lately. I have been reading a lot about it and listening to speakers talking about it as well. One question really popped up in my mind – Is this simple Rotary Four Way Test really relevant today?

Well, to find an answer, I spoke to our President Rtn.Ramkumarr Seshu – who passionately practices and advocates the Rotary Four Way Test day-in and day-out.

Before I spoke to him, I did some homework about this test. It was penned by Herbert J Taylor, an American businessman who had huge problems running his aluminum product distribution business during the early 1930s. One day, he sat down, introspected and penned this simple test and put each and every aspect of running his business under this test and took decisions that adhered to this test. The result was – a miraculous turnaround of his business!

Later, in 1940, during his tenure as Rotary International Director, this test was adopted by Rotary International as one of the guiding principles of all Rotarians worldwide.

Looking at this simple test of 1930s, I became a little curious as to how its adherence can make businesses profitable in today’s era. So, Ram and I discussed point by point about this test and its relevance in today’s era. Here is a gist of what Ram had to say.

1. IS IT THE TRUTH?

In today’s consumer oriented world, many product companies make promises about their products. Take an example of any popular soft drink of your choice based on what it promises. When you actually go and drink one, there is a moment of truth that occurs which will either make you go back again and again to that product or switch to another product which has a similar promise.

However, in a recent example of a big e-commerce portal where it failed to deliver its promise, its customers as well as its associates started losing trust, forcing them to engage in a huge damage control exercise.

So, the key is – whatever you promise to your customer make sure there is 100% TRUTH in it.

2. IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED?

Business is not a one man show. Businesses need a team to smoothly run its day to day operations and implement long term plans. You need to engage employees and associates in order to sustain and grow.

There was this fantastic startup a few years ago that rekindled the bus travel in India. It was funded by a few investors on certain promises. However, when a lucrative offer came by, the investors exited the company, effectively nullifying the hard work put in by the team. The gain for a few was a loss for many which resulted in the decline of the company’s performance and loss of market share which was built with a lot of hard work.

On Monday, we heard about how then Chairman of Tata Group, Mr.Ratan Tata, spontaneously instructed his team to support all the employees and their families in face of devastating terror attack. Today, Tata Group has grown from $5 billion company to $130 billion company and is promising to touch $250 billion in next 5 years. This is what is being FAIR to all concerned even in the face of adversities.

3. WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIP?

Businesses run longer and stronger when they are run with win-win situation for everyone involved. When a friend of mine started his services business, he was faced with many challenges including, of financial nature. His rapport with vendors earned him a lot of respect from his former company. So, they offered their products at a lesser cost. This friend of mine, faced with financial crunch, made use of the Four Way Test and offered to buy same products at 40% higher cost! Why? He wanted a staggered delivery schedule where the vendor will need to stock the personalized printed material for a year which would cost them at least 20% more. Ensuring that the vendor benefits from his business, he offered to buy at 40% higher cost. Today, he has earned immense amount of goodwill from his vendors which has resulted in better friendships. Needless to say, his business has grown exponentially ever since and from his growth his vendors have benefited tremendously as well.

In contrast, one of my yesteryear customer from Switzerland, whose confidence in outsourcing was buoyed by our efficient service, recently outsourced a project to a company in Ahmedabad. The company in Ahmedabad turned out to be a con-company who took the money and never delivered the product. This really dampened his spirits and he vowed not to outsource to India again. It took tremendous effort on my part to convince him to reconsider his decision, which I am glad he did.

4. WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED?

When businesses run in an ecosystem which is beneficial to all, it thrives. By beneficial to all, we mean – the business owners, stake holders, employees, vendors and most importantly its customers.

Attrition is one of the biggest problems created by the IT industry because of which the entire ecosystem of IT industry is suffering.

Small, owner run IT companies provide quality training to its team in all technical aspects because small companies cannot afford the cost of “benched” manpower. Neither can they afford the cost of highly experienced manpower.

Bigger companies depend on quality manpower which they source from these small companies. However, the “poaching” practice started by some companies, spiraled into free-for-all madness that resulted in people leaving companies to join another company who offered them slightly higher pay within months.

This caused damage to the projects in terms of quality, timely delivery and cost-overruns. This also resulted in frustrated and dissatisfied customers. Smaller companies, faced with sustenance started to disappear and the quality of manpower started to deteriorate even more. Profits are falling for every company which is resulting in dissatisfied investors as well.

Can this trend be reversed? Yes. By using this simple Rotary Four Way Test of the things we think, say or do.

1. IS IT THE TRUTH?

Is your promise to your customer, the truth?

2. IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED?

Is your decision fair to your employees and associates as well?

3. WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIP?

Will your vendors and suppliers be happy with this?

4. WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL?

Will this be beneficial to all involved with your business, including you, your employees, your vendors, your customers and your fellow businesses.

To conclude, yes. The Rotary Four Way Test is relevant today even more than it was in late 1930s. Lets follow this simple test and make this world a better place.

- Rtn.Musten Jiruwala

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