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A very nice true story. Made me write my opinions a little bit; about usual management (non)-sense.

The Week has a story of a clerk who turned around his sinking company into a Rs 36-crore success.

It is a truly amazing rags-to-riches story. The hero, Sunil Aggarwal is indeed inspiring, but that is what resourceful people are capable of.

What caught my attention was the quote from the business owners who decided to empower and invest in Mr. Aggarwal, to turn the company around.

“We knew his capabilities, and instead of taking in a consultant, we decided to take in someone who knows the company,” said Lalit Bijlani, chairman and managing director

Personally, I believe the major reason US companies are in such doldrums these days is because of over-reliance on consultants to tell them how to do their business. In simple terms, this is how it seems to work:

  1. Company grows with hard work and enthusiasm of motivated employees.
  2. For more growth, Company decides to hire experts.
  3. Around 90% of the experts hired are simply career-hoppers. Jump from one job to another to stay afloat. They have little motivation or zero sensitivity towards what made the company grow.
  4. These 90%, brings in theoretical management notions. Soon, change becomes a useless exercise.
  5. Company's main services and products become useless PowerPoint presentations. Nobody wants to ask “what is the benefit of all this?”
  6. The original (and the 10% new ones) get demotivated. They leave or slack at work.
  7. The 90% then hires industry's leading consultants to provide an objective and neutral look into improving the business.
  8. They usually end up providing objective insights. On how to bill the client for more.
  9. Meanwhile, the company bleeds.
  10. Career-hoppers continue hopping :-)

There are several ways to prevent this from happening. These are some of the common practices found in successful Indian companies.

  1. At least one founding member gets to interview every candidate.
  2. Make small teams (15-20 people) to carry out different aspects of core business. All supporting departments are there to provide these teams with their specialized support (like IT, HR, marketing etc.)
  3. These teams are given measurable responsibility and empowered to work whichever way they figure out is the best, as long as what they do is within the policies and procedures.
  4. Standards are there, but not to an extent that prevents innovation.
  5. There is a well defined career path for every single employee.
  6. Every year, there is forward motion for most employees. Examples include pay hike, better job title, more responsibilities etc.

There are lots more. But, the recurring theme is empowerment of people doing profitable business. Very rarely you have somebody (like a consultant) who gets to tell you here is what you need to do; but, we take no responsibility if it fails. I'm pretty sure an Indian IT manager will get fired if s/he chose a bad solution and claimed s/he did so because Gartner Group (or any other leading consulting firm) recommended that :-)

  1. To confirm your suspicions, search Google for...

    consultants "boat race" Japanese

    Posted by: Paul Boddie on July 29, 2003 07:20 AM
  2. Oh yeah, it is very appropriate. I got that in March.

    Posted by: Babu on July 29, 2003 08:05 AM