Friday, 30 December 2011

Incredible India: Improving the Koenig Solutions brand - Part I

Between expansion and improvement
As my training classes draw to an end today, it has literally been 23 days of intensive coaching with just Sundays off. There were days I just could not take in anymore either by reason of fatigue or incapacitation brought on by the different environment I was in.
Koenig Solutions in their training services have become a brand and one can understand that every organisation has to balance the demands of growth and improvement. As I have noticed here and in many places, one always seems to take away from the other; the organisation has to be so utterly unique to manage both expansion and improvement in tandem without falling a victim of its own previously acclaimed success.
The trainers are really good
The core resource pool of Koenig Solutions is their trainers, young, highly educated, probably driven and maybe ambitious. It would appear the minimum academic requirement for acceptance into the training pool is a Masters degree, though I cannot say much for the other areas of their personal and personality development.
From what I have observed of some of them, they need some adventure and this cannot be acquired by just meeting with trainees who come here from all the corners of the globe.
Language proficiency
English with all its complexities, exceptions and nuance is probably one of the most forgiving of international languages, even where the command of the language is nigh on appalling, if the trainer is quite conversant with the material, they can deliver the curriculum well enough to the understanding of a majority of trainees who in some cases have English as a foreign language too.
In my view, I think Koenig Solutions should invest in more English language training for better expression and usage, not necessarily in the format of formal classes but in bonding encounters around debates, discussions, games and team-building. That way, people do not feel too exposed for their poor command of English even though they are brain boxes on the curriculum.
Koenig Solutions recently announced that certain courses will be conducted in French and considering the visitors from other Hispanic, Germanic and Lusophone countries one would expect Spanish, German and Portuguese to follow; it is doubtful that Italian will become one of those languages though Chinese will be an interesting addition.
Employees include others
Koenig Solutions appears to be a good employer when it comes to its trainers but those not the only people in the employ of this organisation; I leave India mortified at the living conditions of the staff of Koenig Inn and those of the people running the various apartments as reported by other trainees.
Beyond the main distinguishing factor of good trainers, the only other basic advantage of training in India is cost and that is hardly a great differentiator anymore. Training organisations in Europe are trimming their costs and offering incentives to attract the locals that will normally trot out to India.
Besides, Malaysia and Thailand which I dare say are somewhat more exotic locations are offering greater competition and it is only a matter of time before experienced Koenig India staff are lured away to train for these fledgling organisations that will be have newer and better equipment whilst offering even better support than Koenig Solutions has dared to attempt.
There are many areas where Koenig Solutions is in need of considerable improvement and it is a task that requires purposeful and immediate attention.
Location
The reason why I decided to take my training in New Delhi rather than at the other 3 centres in India was because I felt there was no way I could visit India without seeing the Taj Mahal. However, New Delhi is under a constant haze of fog and pollution it is really unhealthy at the best of times. The winter months are probably the best months to come here but Dehradun and Goa will be in my list of options the next time.
It is surprising that there are no training centres in Bangalore, Bombay or Chennai (Madras), I do not know if Koenig Solutions plans to open centres there.
Management
Sometimes things happen within this organisation as if lessons are not being learnt. I can chart a trail of management disarray and disorganisation from information I received for getting my visa, through my being picked up at the airport, a poor introduction process, tardy problem resolution from information dissemination, testing facilitation to internet connectivity and many other things that appear inconsequential but are major operational problems that show an organisation that is not being run like a tight ship.
From observation, it is almost impossible to say that Koenig Solutions has been in this activity for over a decade, for all the growth they seemed to have remained a tyro organisation repeating the same mistakes, offering the same excuses and hardly showing characteristics of a learning organisation.
Facilities
To suggest many of the systems are old is to proffer an understatement. I have taken pictures of systems that charities will probably reject. Much of the equipment is out-dated and they are not keeping up with technical advancements in the industry.
For instance, they offer a 3-month after course support but what is required beyond the classes is good access to the labs, even lesser organisations put a lot of stuff on the cloud. As I have noted before, it is amazing that an organisation that trains in current networking trends and systems cannot offer remote labs when we are present in India and for a limited period of time after we have left India.
Koenig Solutions might not be allowed to upload core curriculum material but having been in this business for over a decade, they should still be able to provide generic accessible systems in the cloud for trainees and ex-trainees to use to help reinforce the training they received in India.
Having been in the MN-1 & MN-2 buildings, I cannot vouch for the other buildings but it did cross my mind that fire safety rules did not matter, I could see the one access into the office areas and quite restricted exits if anything happened. In Europe, none of these locations will pass a fire safety test or be granted a fire safety certificate.
Impressions
All that said, I hope that one fundamental piece of information has not been lost by Koenig Solutions, the idea that trainees that attend courses in December are probably quite senior type personnel in a month that is not as busy.
They will form impressions about the whole gamut of services apart from training provided by Koenig Solutions and that could well inform their recommendations in terms of advising others of attending courses here.
To think there is much incentive in the paltry sums offered for recommending others is a fallacy at best, a service will be recommended if it exceeds expectations regardless of commission.
In general and my honest opinion is this – Koenig Solutions offers excellent training in terms of the personnel, uses average equipment in the delivery of the curriculum, can be quite mediocre in addressing issues raised by trainees either at the training centre or at the residences and really does not pass the muster of exceeding expectations.
I might return to India, I am not fully persuaded of a second helping of Koenig Solutions but then, I have only been in New Delhi; things can be different in Dehradun where they have their largest training centre, in Goa or in Shimla – there is much to be desired but the experience has been eye-opening and wonderful.

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