Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Physical Size Does Not Guarantee Success; What Matters Is Mental Size

When Subroto Bagchi and nine other colleagues launched Mindtree Consulting in 1999, he believed he had two responsibilities. The first was to build the company as a global IT and R&D services firm. The second was to document his entrepreneurial experience, not with 20-20 hindsight -- as many businesspeople do -- but as it unfolded. Bagchi, who is the chief operating officer of Mindtree Consulting, has turned that journal into a book titled, The High-Performance Entrepreneur: Golden Rules for Success in Today's World. Mindtree Consulting is headquartered in Bangalore, and when it went public on the Bombay Stock Exchange in February 2007, its stock offering was oversubscribed more than 100 times. Investors offered more than $5 billion for an IPO whose goal was to raise some $50 million.

In his book,The High Performance Entrepreneur: Golden Rules for Success in Today's World, Bagchi discusses the challenges entrepreneurs face in building their ventures. These range from competing with larger competitors to setting in motion the right processes for growth.

Subroto Bagchi makes some lovely points on what it takes to build an organization. Frankly in my view, it's the 'soul of the enterprise' that makes all the difference.Everything else is replacable. Business will follow if you cultivate the right culture. Ask yourself this question- Does your enterprise have a soul? Surely, your customers will know it, everytime your employees interact with them. May be you can start by asking them first. Be ready for a lot of suprises!

If you then want to go back to the drawing board, you can start thinking with Subroto's advice:

  • Being big is not about size, but about mindset - Let us imagine that you want to someday build a skyscraper. You have to pre-think what plumbing must go into the skyscraper. It cannot be an afterthought.So you have to pretend that, "I am a skyscraper." The inlet and outlet for the skyscraper is going to be very different. So pretending [or imagining] is a very, very important thing.
  • Countries like Singapore, or Israel, or Finland, are world leaders in many ways. These are developed countries. These countries are at the top-end of GDP. But they are so tiny. They're microscopic when you compare them to countries like India or Pakistan. Many of the African countries are significantly larger. In today's world, physical size does not guarantee success. What is important is mental size. Nokia was created out of Finland. Singapore's GDP is way bigger than the GDP of India, and ... the population of Singapore is half the population of Bangalore.
  • Process to Empathy Ratio(PE Ratio)- Process is not a substitute for building an emotionally rich organization. Process without emotion can quickly bring you down to the lowest common denominator.
  • Inventive Thinking -When you look at building an organization, yes, the first idea is important, but an organization is built only as an idea of ideas. Sometimes people fail because they don't take a long view of time. Sometimes they fail because they do not adapt. I think adaptability is very important.
  • Create the right organization infrastructure - An organization, an enterprise, is about infrastructure.We have to continuously build infrastructure.Many companies do a good job of building the physical infrastructure. Some companies even do a good job of building the intellectual infrastructure. But above these two layers is what I call the emotional infrastructure. This is the most difficult - the most difficult to build and the most difficult to sustain.In a hyper-competitive world, it is easiest to demolish a company at the physical layer. It's less easy to demolish a company at the intellectual layer. But it is the most difficult to break a company apart at the emotional layer.
  • Have the right balance - Look at your enterprise as a three-legged stool. One is the employee, one is the customer and the third is the investor. The three have to be balanced at all times. If you try to deliver to the investor at the cost of the employee, or at the cost of the customer, this three-legged stool topples over. So we need to be careful.
These points may seem somewhat out of box, But practicaly they are very true...


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