Learnings from corporate czars (Business Today – Sep 2012)

I am a sucker for learning from other people’s experiences, especially, the wiser ones :) . Tough task…but nevertheless, I like to keep on trying.

One of the recent issues of Business Today carries as the main story a list of “Best Advice I ever got”, as told by 50 CEOs of Indian corporations – a mix of business heads of old economy businesses and new ones. I spent about 1-2 hours reading through that, and here are my notes on the key learnings that I could take out from their interviews.

KV Kamath – If that’s the Policy, and it’s constraining our vision or growth, then…it’s time to revisit it (NO HOLY COWS)

Yogi Deveshwar – At ITC, we have always been inspired by our abiding Vision to put Country over Corporation and the Institution before the Individual. Strong Values of trusteeship, nation orientation, consumer focus, excellence and integrity drive every thought and action at ITC. Even in adversity and in the most trying times, such Values which shape the inner voice can guide one to the right decision. (VALUES – Vision, Mission, Strategy, Goals, Programs to flow from Values).

YM Deosthalee – Create value by managing risks creatively and optimally. There are risks and costs of every programme of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. (RISK MANAGEMENT SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRAINING…SHOULD BE ENABLING).

NR Narayana Murthy – Think about the Community also. Rise beyond the Self, the Family and the Corporation.

Ramesh Sobti – Success is not only the consequence of our individual skills and determination but also comes from an enabling social and professional ecosystem. Sometimes we tend to underestimate the importance of the latter, especially, as one grows higher up in the corporate ladder. (BUILDING AN ENABLING ECOSYSTEM WILL RESULT IN SUSTAINED SUCCESS).

Shiv Nadar – The mismatch of Aspirations and Resources leads to INNOVATION

Subhash Chandra – If you cannot pay on or before the due date, you yourself should make a phone call or go personally to tell the creditor that you will be late by a few days, instead of the creditor coming to your office and finding about the delay. (PERSONAL CREDIBILITY COMES FROM SHOWING CREDIT-WORTHINESS).

Meher Pudumjee – Play to express rather than to impress. Meaning “Be genuine and true to yourself in your thoughts, words and deed, rather than trying to be someone that you are not”. Will help in the long long run.

Anil Gupta (Havells) – For top management, “Learn to Attach and Detach at the right moments”. Attach – Roll up sleeves and get into details at time of framing the problem statement and developing the Strategy-Execution matrix. Then, Detach – give your team space and authority to execute the Plan, while monitoring the same in an “Attached” way. Keep on “Attaching” yourself intermittently to keep the tempo and morale high. (OPTIMAL MIX OF MACRO AND MICRO).

Govind Shrikhande : A slowdown is the best time to invest in branding.

Ishita Swarup (99labels.com) – There should be a clear benefit for consumers which will lead to value being delivered by your business. (VALUE ADDED TO CLIENTS SHOULD BE VERY CLEAR).

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