In the United States the last Friday in November (day after Thanksgiving) is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many stores open before dawn to welcome bargain shoppers to the sales. Then comes Cyber-Monday, the year’s busiest Internet shopping day. In contrast, half a world away, this weekend commemorates the November 26, 2008 terrorist attack on the posh Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai India.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a lot about sales and business but two recent articles also describe the Mumbai attacks. “Global criminals are now sophisticated managers of technology and talent,” begins an HBR commentary on terrorism and organized crime (November, 2011). The article shows how technology was used by terrorists in attacking the hotel. During the melee attackers “used their BlackBerrys, satellite phones, and handsets to get tactical direction from a command post far away and to monitor broadcast news and twitter posts sent by innocent bystanders who gave real time information including the activities of police and military. There are practical lessons from this and from the weekend mall frenzy in America. Social media may seem overwhelming, especially to people who are older, but this is a part of the world where we live. Terrorists, criminals, police, retail businesses and shoppers all use and are impacted by social media. We may have discomfort with the changing technology but we’re likely on a track to irrelevance and isolation if we ignore technologies or use excuses to keep operating in the old ways. Social media can be harmful or helpful they are here to stay and we must keep learning to understand and use them.
Another HBR article. “Ordinary Heroes of the Taj” (December, 2011) describes employees working inside the hotel when terrorists attacked from the outside. The hotel recruits employees from smaller communities because that’s where traditional Indian values still persist. Then employees are rigorously trained to show respect for guests, cheerfulness, dedication to duty, honesty, and consideration for others. Values are even more important than skills, talents, competence, and profits. All of this was evident during the terrorist attack. In business and in times of crises, values and integrity are of prime importance, probably even more than knowing social media.
Do you agree? Please comment.