Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rest in Peace - CKP!

While we all were salivating over the sleazy news coming in from the Indian Premier League, the sad demise of C.K. Prahlad, the Guru, who all management strategy aficionados swear by, received very little attention.

My first introduction to C.K. Prahlad's intense work happened at my B-School, Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon over 11 years back.

The strategy folder and handouts were a treat for me and what made it even more interesting were the way my professors, Sumit Mustafi and Ajit Prasad, drilled down the concepts of the likes of Porter, C.K. Prahlad, Tarun Khanna, Arie de Geus, Tarun Khanna, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Kenichi Ohmae, etc. etc.

And the lesson on C.K. Prahlad's concept of the core-competence stood among the dozens of lectures and class discussions we had on strategy. So while, we all thought Sony's core-competence was electronics, we soon learnt and experienced, from an amazing single page case-study that core-competence is more than what it seems.

Sony's core-competence is indeed miniaturization of electronic circuitry, which helped them deliver killer products to the market, like the Walkman, digicams, etc.

This concept sparked off my love affair with strategy in general and Prahlad's concepts in particular.

When it dawned on me that I was graduating soon, I started making dashes to the library, hunting out the all so sexy HBR articles on strategy, cutting discounted deals with xerox operator to get their copies done.

And then out in the mad-mad corporate world, I thrived on and devoured Prahlad's writings, which by then were diligently filed in hard cardboard files.

As time went by, and work pressures and commitments increased, the reading part did take a backseat. CNBC's series on management excellence helped me keep in touch.

In 2005, I got a glimpse of Prahlad when he visited ICICI Bank's office in Bombay - he was heading straight up to KV Kamath's office in the famed, exclusive bubble lift. That was the closest I got to him.
Soon the bottom of the pyramid happened. The concept was lapped by likes of ICICI Bank and Hindustan Unilever. ICICI Bank started its rural thrust, Hindustan Unilever tried to keep afloat - all apparently guided by the master strategist.

And recently when Bharti-Airtel acquired Zain Group's African telecom operations, the first thought that crossed my mind was - Yes, Prahlad's concept is at work at again - a cool marriage of core-competence with the bottom of the pyramid.

Little did I realise that Prahlad was about to go soon.

But his concepts will remain immortal, will stand the test of time, for centuries to come.

Rest in Peace - CKP!

1 comment:

sankalp said...

totally agree with the marriage of core competence and bottom of pyramid part...nice thots..

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