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Management: Adopting Indian Values
Gopalkrishnan shared a similar demarcation persists in the academics in the management institutions: Management academics and management practises.
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R Gopalkrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons and Author of Shapers of Business Institution Series, said that the management is not algorithmic or formulae-like. “Management is like a performing arts.” Gopalkrishnan speaking at a virtual dialogue on BW Dialogue on Celebrating the Festival of Life – Lessons for Building Enterprises into Institutions shared his perspectives on the changing management landscape in the country.
Gopalkrishnan unpacked his views further by making the demarcation between efficiency (how to get more things done in less time) and effectiveness (getting a job done even if it not efficient). He stated that the management in the country has long been obsessed with the efficiency. “What the Covid pandemic is doing is forcing people to focus on the effectiveness,” Gopalkrishnan said addressing the current scenario. Studied Physics at Kolkata University, engineering at IIT Kharagpur, and attended the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School, Gopalkrishnan
has been a professional manager since 1967. He has served as Chairman of Unilever Arabia, MD of Brooke Bond Lipton, and Vice Chairman of Hindustan Lever, Director of Tata Sons and several Tata companies. Reportedly, he serves as an independent director and non-executive chairman of Castrol India and also an independent director of Hemas Holdings, Sri Lanka.
Gopalkrishnan shared a similar demarcation persists in the academics in the management institutions: Management academics and management practises. He made a range of significant contributions in bridging the gap and improving the quality of management in the country by working with top leaders in the country, writing and conveying his ideas through books and seminars in management institutions.
As a matter of fact, he is a former president of the All India Management Association. Gopalkrishnan has a wide repertoire of subjects, specifically Business in India, Markets and Customers, Governance and Strategy, Organisation and People, and Innovation. He added, “I think Indian management institutions should put an accelerator on adopting Indian values into their pedagogy more than they have done in the past.” (Interestingly, Gopalkrishnan has taught an unusual course titled ‘LWNTLearning What Nobody Teaches’ at B-schools.)
Someone has been a corporate leader for 50 years, 31 years in Unilever, and 17 years in Tata, Gopalkrishnan has a lot of a leadership lessons to share. He is of the opinion that a leader is a man of the moment. If you compare a leader of the present with the great leaders of the past (Nehru, Lincoln), it can lead to erroneous judgements. He also pointed that every leader has an expiry period so if you push the person, it is not right. He added: “Obligation and privilege are two sides of the same thing.”
Gopalkrishnan once worked with top corporate leaders to find what the key attributes are that determine a successful management. The result of the survey was that the three elements that were most recurring were: mindset, behaviour, and action – called the MBA grid. Furthermore, Gopalkrishnan explained the often missed difference between a company and an institute. “When you think of an institute, you think about something grand. When you think of company, you think about something functional,” he shared.
Gopalkrishnan is strong advocator of ‘corporate immunology.’ He illustrated the idea that a company is similar to a human body. There are different layers. In the physical layer – the physical engagement has come down. But, the adaptive layer, which is the cultural layer, has become very important. He added, “Covid is calling for cultural adaptability. People who will able to adapt in these times will thrive.”
Gopalkrishnan also shared how this pandemic period has been for him. He said, “The pandemic has been greatly fruitful for me. I am able to complete the manuscripts of four pending books.” He has authored twelve books since 2007. Among his famous books include: How Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Fermented Biocon, How Anil Naik Built L&T’s Remarkable Growth Trajector, How TCS Built an industry for India. He also mentors start-ups. Besides, Gopalkrishnan is an international speaker who actively engages in both instructional and inspirational speaking.