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Rewriting the lexicon of strategy

Though C K Prahalad is best known to contemporary managers for recommending that they discover the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, his lasting contributions to the field of Strategy lie elsewhere.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2010 00:18 IST
Rishikesha T Krishnan

Though C K Prahalad is best known to contemporary managers for recommending that they discover the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, his lasting contributions to the field of Strategy lie elsewhere.

Over the past 35 years, CKP rewrote the lexicon of strategy with three concepts: dominant logic, strategic intent and core competence.

CKP's first major contribution (with Richard Bettis in 1986) was the concept of dominant logic. This refers to the mental maps and models adopted by managers in organisations. They provide the lens through which managers look at their business and possible diversifications, and make managers more likely to follow what has worked in the past.

CKP came into the limelight by proposing the idea of "strategic intent" in 1989. Anticipating the coming together of Strategy and Entrepreneurship after two decades, CKP and Gary Hamel proposed that an ambitious dream and direction could provide energy for small companies to overcome barriers to growth.

CKP's legacy to Strategy will be the idea of core competence (1990). CKP and Hamel proposed that a company's true competitive advantage comes from a combination of diverse skills and capabilities.

They expanded the concepts of strategic intent and core competence into their 1994 bestseller, Competing for the Future.

CKP was a brilliant consultant and source of new ideas. In the last few years, much of his focus was on innovation.

Over the past two decades, CKP became more involved in this country as a board member, consultant, mentor and cheerleader for economic growth. One of his last contributions to India was his involvement in a visioning exercise (through CII) to see "India at 75" as a prosperous nation.

Rishikesha T Krishnan, author of From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation: The Challenge for India, is a professor of Corporate Strategy and Policy at IIM Bangalore.