Friday, March 11, 2016

Business Lessons to Cross the Boundary: Part 1

Cricket and business are not estranged twins born to the same mother. Yet one does beg to differ in the context of India, where achievements in Cricket have coincided with economic growth. Starting with this piece, academicians at Ishan Institute of Management & Technology, one of the best MBA colleges in Delhi NCR shall endeavour to cross the boundary from cricket to business and extract business lessons that the game can teach all of us.

At the very outset it may be commented that when India won the first World Cup in 1983, India was very much an inward looking country in the context of both Cricket and business. It makes enormous good sense to assert that the performance of Indian teams touring overseas for Cricket was similar to that of Indian corporate enterprises in foreign markets. In Cricket parlance we refer to the ability and attitude to take the battle to the opponent’s camp. An inward  looking import substitution policy for international trade, an aversion to competition from multinational corporations and lack of attitude to invade foreign markets were strikingly similar to the soft natured touring Indian teams that played to save face by playing for tame draws in tests.

Out of My Comfort Zone
As the former Australian captain and legend Steve Waugh has put it in the title of his autobiography “Out of My Comfort Zone”, business and sport are about stepping out of one’s comfort zone and playing to win. In order to win teams in sport and corporate enterprises must risk losing. Teams that seek to achieve greatness in sport must learn to win overseas. Similarly corporations that look to win must learn to penetrate overseas markets and grab market share in foreign markets. It is not a mere coincidence then that at the same point of time when Indian corporations were learning to invade foreign markets in their attempts to convert to being global firms, Indian cricket team also began its act of transformation under Sourav Ganguly. The year 2007 belonged to India both in corporate boardrooms and on the cricket fields. While Tata Motors acquired Jaguar, Team India under M.S.Dhoni lifted the inaugural edition of T20 World Cup.

Talent Alone is Not Enough
As in the world of sport so also in business talent alone is not enough. The first time Sachin Tendulkar took to the cricket field and smashed the legendary Abdul Qadeer out of the park, the world sat up and took notice. There was another God gifted cricketer in that generation who made the most impressive debut-Vinod Kambli. What happened next is the stuff of legend and analysis. Why do some fresh business school graduates make a dream debut in corporate sector and yet flounder as they move towards seniority? Why do some batsmen get out playing the same shots in the matured stages of their careers that once fetched runs and plaudits? Why do some managers struggle to cope with targets, as they climb up the corporate ladder? At Ishan Institute of Management & Technology, our Placement Cell believes that managers just like cricketers must have attitude. Attitude determines how long a professional can stay put at the peak of their game once they have achieved it. The ability to “dig in” becomes a key differentiator between champions and lesser mortals. It is difficult to achieve greatness and even more difficult to stay put once one has reached there. Great teams, great sportspersons and great managers have discovered this truth by throwing in the towel and succumbing to the burden of greatness.

Reinvent Your Game Constantly
As said above it is difficult to win and more difficult to maintain the winning streak. West Indies did it in the 1970s and 1980s. Australia did it for a long time under Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and now Michael Clarke. Tata Sons have achieved that in business. Hindustan Unilever and Infosys have achieved that as well. The winning streak in sport comes very close to the concept of sustainability in business. It is subversive if not paradoxical that Australia has won the ODI Wold Cup in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and in 2015.  Yet when it comes to T20 World Cup archives, the same Australia does not have an enviable record. It happens to great companies as well. Colgate Palmolive found this in the early 1990s. So did Infosys when after the global meltdown, it was down for a while before bouncing back. Great sportspersons and managers reinvent their game. Great teams and corporations reinvent their game. It is an authentic truth that factors that lead to victories in business and sport and are often referred to as strengths change over time. 

In our lectures for PGDM and MBA at Ishan Institute of Management & Technology, academicians assert that strengths are subject to three dynamic constraints:
·        Time
·        Space
·        Scale
     Great corporations and teams evolve by reinventing their strengths with respect to time, space and scale. Batsmen who score on sub continent pitches struggle on overseas tracks that offer seam movement and bounce. Batsmen who do wonderfully well in test cricket may flounder in T20 cricket. Similarly shots that earn runs in the early stages of one’s career become obvious weaknesses in the middle stages of the career. Managers face these challenges as well.
The PGDM program at Ishan, one of the top PGDM colleges in Delhi is designed to reinvent the academic curriculum, teaching methodology, soft skills training and grooming for a long lasting career.