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BW Businessworld

Tata Group Chronicles

The book chronicles Tata Group’s journey from being a $5.8-billion enterprise in 1992 to its transformation into a $103-billion giant by 2014, writes Giraj S. Sharma

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Agroup with collective revenues of approximately $103 billion and the distinction of being the largest private-sector employer in both India and the UK! Surely, there is a natural interest in understanding what makes Tata Group tick. Moreover, if one were to also consider the group’s Indian roots and the fact that since its inception in 1868 it has evolved in a manner that it symbolises private Indian enterprise, the purists would surely be excited. Author of Making the Elephant Dance, Sunil Mithas, is one such purist. A University of Maryland professor and an expert on excellence in corporate transformation, Mithas has also worked with the Tata Group from 1990 to 2000.

The book chronicles Tata Group’s journey from being a $5.8-billion enterprise in 1992 to its transformation into a $103-billion giant by 2014. The narrative centres on the institutionalised approach of the Tatas through this period in the form of Tata Business Excellence Model (TBEM) and related initiative with collateral organisational structures such as Tata Quality Management System (TQMS) and Management of Business Ethics (MBE). Set in three parts, the book provides an overview of various initiatives that became a part of the broader business excellence and innovation agenda at Tata Group. Part one of the book actually sets up the context wonderfully as it takes into account, among other things, the liberalisation of the Indian economy and the change of leadership at Tata Group. Part two deals with the sequence of initiatives and their impact on the top seven companies of the group — Tata Steel, JLR, TCS, Titan, Indian Hotels, Tata Power and Tata Chemicals. Part three gives lessons. It says that there is enough meat for any corporate leader to provide impetus as well as mechanisms to reclaim her/his enterprise’s potential by facilitating transformation and surging ahead.

A foreword by none other than Ratan Tata sets the tone for the book besides lending an air of authenticity to it. The reader gets great insights into the workings of this conglomerate. The book does not cover some facets of transformation such as cultural impact, M&A, etc. The author, however, says he deliberately left those gaps in order to prompt others to study them and share.

The reviewer is Founder-Director, BehindTheMoon Consultancy

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 30-11-2015)