‘Innometer’ ticks away as Tatas foster empowered culture | business | Hindustan Times
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‘Innometer’ ticks away as Tatas foster empowered culture

As chairman Ratan Tata gets set to hang up his boots, there is plenty afoot at the salt-to-software Tata group, with a clutch of programmes to create new leaders. And the driving mantra is innovation friendliness. Manu P Toms & Sandeep Singh report.

business Updated: May 29, 2011 23:41 IST
Manu P Toms & Sandeep Singh

As chairman Ratan Tata gets set to hang up his boots, there is plenty afoot at the salt-to-software Tata group, with a clutch of programmes to create new leaders. And the driving mantra is innovation friendliness.

The group has initiated an “innometer” to measure and monitor new innovations in the group, while it groomed new leaders with a “talent meter”, R Gopalakrishnan, director at the holding company, Tata Sons Ltd, told Hindustan Times at the group’s Bombay House headquarters.

“We have initiated something called a ‘rich jobs programme’ to create larger jobs for people with potential. You grow leaders by giving rich responsibilities. We are implementing it gradually,” he said.

The initiatives are part of efforts to create an empowered set-up where individual companies function as independent, loosely controlled units. It is widely believed that the Tatas are working on a transformation of its organisational model along with the leadership change slated for the end of end 2012.

“We are consciously making our culture innovation friendly,” Gopalakrishnan said, explaining that it was vital for a large organisation. “We are far from where we should be where people who come here would say this place encourages innovation.”

To make this go beyond a slogan, the group has devised the “Innometer” — a computerised measurement of the culture of innovation in each department.

“By measuring innovation culture we are sparking the desire for innovation,” Gopalakrishnan said.

In the backdrop, the Tata Group Innovation Forum (TGIF) is busy compiling the group’s landmark innovations in more than a century of existence.

“Every 10-15 years Tata has come out with something dramatic and what is relevant to that period,” Gopalakrishnan said.

Among the innovations that the Tatas count as their own are low-cost water purifier Swach and the very idea of offshore-based software services.

“You can’t put an IP (intellectual property right) on it. But it gave us a $50 billion company,” Gopalakrishnan said.

The Tatas are also documenting management innovations to help internal training across the conglomeration. These include their experience in acquiring and transforming public sector companies or in reviving ailing firms.