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A time for change

By changing the architecture, a company can improve customer satisfaction, writes Varun Soni.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 18:07 IST
Varun Soni

The times they are a-changing! And this holds true of the business environment as well! Forces like technological breakthroughs, economic growth, shifts in customer tastes and dramatic changes in competition are making organisations search for newer ways of increasing productivity.

Says Ashish Gupta, CEO, Hero Mindmine, "A change in the business environment has forced organisations to develop new skills and capabilities in line with emerging challenges. We need to address these challenges not only by developing new products and services, but also by creating an atmosphere that fosters innovative thoughts and decisions."

In such a scenario, the steps that companies need to adopt are numerous, and include grooming managers as leaders, transforming leaders into icons so that they create an empowered organisation by allowing employees to think and innovate, positioning the management in line with future organisational goals and risks etc.

According to Analjit Singh, Chairman, Max (India) Ltd, who spoke at length on the "changing architecture of organisations" at the recently held Hero Mindmine Summit 2006, "There is a definite need to create a federal and entrepreneurial management structure. The Head Office just cannot always be right."

   Good times ahead

Hence, says Pawan Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Honda Motors Ltd (who also spoke at the Summit), "Whether it's a service business like healthcare or a manufacturing one like automobiles, it's vital to apply comprehensive metrics in order to improve. Many of these metrics can be based on closely studying what the customer is saying. At the same time, it's equally important to have a structured method of benchmarking with the best."

So what exactly do we mean by the "architecture of a winning organisation"? According to Singh, "Adopting the best HR practises is the essence of a winning organisation. It's important to identify a coherent vision or mission statement that reflects market reality -- one that is clearly understood by those it's meant for."

True, because today's knowledge workers need to be empowered with the right information to make sound decisions, to grow the business and be part of a community that's contributing to something worthy of their time and energy. Says Rakesh Mittal, President and COO, Corbus, "At present, the challenge is not one of managing in order to maximise utilisation, but of engaging staff for maximum innovation. Leaders must take this responsibility."

In fact, adds Gupta, "In order to keep pace with innovation, the management must understand the needs of its internal and external customers. This is possible only if the organisation has the ability to take quick and appropriate decisions at all levels." There's also the need to involve key people in the "strategy process" by reinforcing the organisation's faith in their capabilities. "These people generate the right amount of energy for organisational growth," adds Mittal.

Hence, says Singh, "In any transformation process, companies must be prepared for a concomitant increase in the risk factor. Of course, there's the promise of greater rewards, but the downside risks cannot be underestimated. Apart from being flexible, companies must also rely more on technology and upgradation."

So what more needs to be done? "Ongoing changes often lead to higher demands among customer needs. And these changes, although difficult to anticipate, generate new and exciting opportunities. We must rely less on the ability to identify new opportunities and more on the need to focus on the right opportunity," says Mittal. Reiterates Dr. Surinder Kapur, Chairman and MD, Sona Koyo Steering Systems Ltd, "Most organisations have hierarchical structures but the effort in restructuring so far has been more in terms of de-layering. But, in order to create an ambidextrous organisation, companies must support new activities as well as have operational efficiencies.

Though most management practices are borrowed from the West or the East, with competition growing by the day, the need to restructure is being felt like never before." And definitely says Singh, "It's important to take a call on ethics, even if it means a slower ramp up. Only trust sells." Mittal sums it up saying, "By changing the architecture of an organisation, a company can definitely strengthen its process management systems, improve time management, employee morale and customer satisfaction."

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 11:18 IST