• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
  • Editorial Calendar 19-20
BW Businessworld

Management: Adopting Indian Values

Gopalkrishnan shared a similar demarcation persists in the academics in the management institutions: Management academics and management practises.

Photo Credit :

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.