Friday, July 30, 2010

Dr. Nitin Nohria (Dean, HBS) on India

A galaxy of industry biggies were at the JRD Tata Memorial Oration yesterday. A few interesting points made by Dr. Nohria in his address:
1. The last Century belonged to the US. It was able to do that because American economy / companies kept evolving. GE is the only company that was in the Dow Jones for the whole of the century.
2. Japan had its time in the 80s. But they could not stay there because they did not evolve.
3. In the last decade or so, India's position in the global economy is being recognised. It is tough to get there - it is tougher to stay there. If we become complacent - and think we will get our "rightful" share of the global economy - we will not remain there.
4. Sumantra Ghosal believed that companies need to be good at three things - being cost effective, addressing localised market segments & innovation. (a) In the first decade after liberalisation, Indian companies became cost effective to withstand global competition. Bharti did that through a majorly outsourced telecom model, keeping only key aspects like branding to themselves. (b) In the second decade, companies like Bharti targeted localised market segments - not corporate or urban middle class - but discovered newer markets in rural India. CK Prahalad's fortune at the bottom of pyramid is at work. (c) This decade, companies need to get on to innovation.

My personal comments:
1. Bharti was spoken about - but not Reliance. Remember? This was a JRD Tata Memorial Oration.
2. One hour is too long for reading a prepared speech. Nohria could have engaged with the audience better. But yes, the quality of his thoughts carried the day through. Brilliance was oozing out of the bald pate!

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