Just sometimes the gal, in her quest constantly to be ahead, has to work at Usain Bolt speed. Thus it was with a four-hour stay at Taj Mahal New Delhi, but there was nonetheless check-in, shown to room and so on. As always, the eternal reflection in the elevators on the way up to the tenth floor was irresistible. There is something about mirrors in luxury hotels that simply say ‘I dare you to take photographs’. Now ‘room’ in this particular stay was something of an understatement. 1030, at one end of a long corridor, is a favourite of Lady Gaga. She therefore is partial, from this one detective clue, to heavy wood furniture, displays of bronze, including a hookah, and one heavy-wood bedroom (for her?) plus a lighter, more normal room (for security?).
I unpacked in the lighter room as I felt I would be less likely to leave things behind when it came to packing up again. I headed up to the rooftop Chambers Club, a members’ only venue for captains of industry, and one girlahead as guest. There were a couple of dozen-participant breakfast meetings, grey suits and eggs benedicts carried in on elaborate gold-on-white Versace Arabesque china. I head down to the lobby, always abuzz with meetings and greetings and people watchers. An elaborate flower display greets arrivals.
Apparently 92 percent of those who stay here are on some kind of business, including incentives. If the 296-room hotel is full, that means that, even if all occupancy is one per room, there could be 277 or so important people catching up with local contacts and their flunkies, here in the lobby. Satyajeet Krishnan, who is the boss here, claims he spends 85 percent of his working day meeting and greeting, here in the lobby. I go through the lobby and down 34 gracefully carved marble stairs to the lowest level, where the Olympic-sized outdoor pool has terracotta surrounds and striped terracotta and white loungers.
Surprise. Krishnan appears. Is he going to man the thoughtful poolside service centre? We had been talking earlier about leadership and something I had read, from a former military guy who says the good leader should never ask anyone to do something that he/she would not do themselves. No problem, says Satyajeet Krishnan, if necessary he would man this booth. I look at everything in a new light. I consider what challenges might come up, switch my thoughts to innovation, as shown in this elaborate pool-sided booth.
Innovation, according to the dedicated innovation lab of Nordstrom at its head office in Seattle, requires at least three solutions to every challenge. One will be chosen. At one end of the pool a man crouches cutting the tiny lawn with small shears. First, leadership. Could the boss do that? Next, how can innovation help this process? What could be three solutions? Get stand-up shears? Buy a sheep (environmentally friendly but then the current grass-cutter would have to be retrained as a shepherd)? Rent a mower (not environmentally friendly and could be noisy)? Which would be chosen by an innovation committee?
I am taken to see one of this luxury hotel’s most successful innovations, the legal library. We are next to the main court and many lawyers stay here (lots of use of room service as they prefer to meet behind closed doors). Thus, a library exclusively of legal books has gradually built up. Anyone staying here can use it, for free. Now that is not only innovation but, in my experience, unique.