Last year, I had quite a journey even before I headed off to Mumbai. My passport expired at the same time as did my one-year, multiple-entry business visa to India.

SO, I put the passport into “The System” and got it back surprisingly quickly. Then came the application process for the entry visa to India. To be honest, it was an incredible “up to your axles in the mud” kind of process and terribly frustrating, time consuming and bureaucratic. And one would think that they would WANT people going there to do business and improve the economy!

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Scott, talking about being up to your “axles in mud,” with Spectator Sheep. This situation sure felt like that!

Online, the application process gave me some options so I applied for the 10-year, multiple-entry business visa since it was the same price as the 5-year one and not much more expensive than the 1-year one. The application requirements were as before as were the timelines and I had already gotten a 1-year business visa so it was not as if I was new to the system or the process.

But in this case, I ran into “the processor bureaucracy.” To make a long story short, it took me nearly a month with my making 7 phone calls, repeatedly sending documents and letters, changing one or two words in the application letter (I am a one-person company but the letter from my company to the embassy has to be from someone else in my company verifying my honesty and ability to pay any debts occurring in India) and there was an issue with the words “training” and “contract.”

The processor assumed that if I were going there to do “training,” then I had to be someone’s employee in India — that I could not be training unless I had an employment contract! I did have a contract, for EduRiser to represent and protect my Intellectual Property — that they were contracting to ME, essentially. But I had to change the wording so that those two words did not appear.

I was going there to market my organizational development tools (Square Wheels and The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine) and to meet with EduRiser and Solomon’s staff to look at new product development and marketing ideas. I was going to present to some large conferences to model the delivery of the tools to decision-makers. Our contract protects my intellectual property, mostly. BUT, the person reading the application materials was MOST CERTAIN that I was going to India for employment, and thus, I must complete an Employment Visa. And having “a contract” proved to her that I was an employee and not the owner of my own company doing business with another company there. Her ignorance plus her arrogance about this was most amazing, actually, and combined with her unwillingness to listen, caused me (and probably many other businessmen) a great deal of anguish.

Requirements for the Employment Visa required me to have an employment descriptive document with things like my having to receive an annual salary of at least USD $25,000 from that employer and that my sponsoring company had to assert that I was uniquely qualified and that there was no one in India who could do my job. (I cannot imagine how that verification would actually be accomplished but I do suppose that I am a bit unique…).

In reading the requirements, we would have to LIE on the application for me to qualify for an employment visa.

With my being totally truthful on all things and with the processor actually losing my passport in their mailroom, I finally made that one perfect phone call to the right person who said, “I can fix this!” and she did, using the information that they already had. It proves the value of the empowered employee when it comes to customer service.

I eventually got it after a MONTH of them diddling around with this processor company’s people (absolute power corrupts absolutely?) and making mistakes and losing things. And, this put a great deal of pressure on all of us given the commitments we were making to deliver large programs in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. I got it because I connected with a different processing person at that same company who actually understood and wanted to be helpful. The rest of the people were absolutely awful to deal with.

Anyway, it was a good trip and we continue to refine and define opportunities and build on successes. There are a variety of new products that we can construct and distribute. Long term, I am looking to leave a footprint with my works.

A lot of materials will recombine the Square Wheels tools into a program on strategy implementation; something that is a critical issue for most large organizations. We will be building on the work of my old friend and associate, Robin Speculand in Singapore, and focusing on using his Compass model and his general information, combining his approach with my tools for generating engagement and involvement and alignment and using the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine exercise as a tool for changing behavior and generating commitment to missions and visions.

I have worked on implementation themes for 30+ years, but never linked these tools in this manner. We are redesigning the play of Dutchman to allow for mid-game restructuring and communications, which will improve its effectiveness around the strategy and vision themes.

And, I will get another post out on this as we do more structural definitions and product development.

Square Wheels are everywhere! So are the Round Ones.
  (And thanks to Jennie at Travisa for helping me out when all others failed…)

And I am really looking forward to working with the illustrations and games again in India.

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Dr. Scott Simmerman is an international traveler, presenter and a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant and has presented in 38 countries so far.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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