Ask the Expert : July'08

1.I work in the marketing division of an FMCG company dealing in ready-to-eat food segment. We have reached saturation as there are various other players with similar product lines. I have a new product idea but do not know how to go about communicating and implementing the idea.

It is indeed great to know that you are keen to contribute original ideas and introduce new products that would benefit your organization. Here are a few things you can initiate to communicate your idea and ensure implementation of the same:-

  • Exploit your company’s competitive advantages -You really need to thoroughly know your company’s unique competencies that are suitable for this endeavor to succeed. Once you have thought it through, you are ready to sell it.
  • Ensure support from key stakeholders - To ensure success you need more than an approval from those in charge. You need passionate supporters in management who believe in what you are doing. Once you have identified top-level supporters, establish contact with them. Make a constant effort to keep them updated on your project’s progress so they feel empowered with the latest information and can better advocate your cause to others. But be sure to keep them in the loop on problems, too. Do not sugar-coat setbacks or obstacles to your supporters. You need powerful allies, but it’s just as important to understand how to keep them. Send email updates on your project’s progress to top-level executives, circulate summary documents with answers to FAQs to keep everyone up to speed and interested in the project’s success.
  • Enlist support from other departments - In addition to sponsors in the top management, you will also benefit from alliances in mid and entry-level positions, where people develop valuable specialized knowledge. When you are refining product features look to people in other departments for ideas and feedback. When you successfully convince people about your idea, you will be surprised to find out that someone from a seemingly random department might hold the key to unlocking the potential of your business.
  • Look beyond quantifiable metrics - A big part of intrapreneuring is selling your idea up the management chain and then convincing them that you are meeting your goals. One of the most powerful moves you can make is deciding what your variables for success are and understanding how to gather data for the same. You might get information from market research and customer surveys. Another powerful way to communicate why your idea is an improvement is by using the words of a customer or employee who is clamoring for it. Do not lose sight of your quantifiable goals, as they will tell you how you are going to achieve what you set out to do. But if you keep the words of your customers in the front of your mind you would not lose sight of the whoand the why of what you are doing.
  • I work for a multinational firm drawing a good salary. Lot is being said these days about intrapreneurship or employees acting like an entrepreneur within an organization they work. Why should I act like an entrepreneur in my current organization when I am only an employee?

We evaluate the worth of work by the benefits that are linked to it and yes, you should get extra rewards for being entrepreneurial. What differentiates Entrepreneurs from other employees in an organization is their passion and conviction for an idea - Intrapreneurs are more driven, want to see their ideas implemented and tested with the ultimate success criteria – will someone pay for their product / solution.

You need to prove first that you are entrepreneurial – only then the rewards will come. Also, each individual has the entrepreneurial mind set in varying proportions – at the high end is the person who puts aside a good career to become an entrepreneur while there are others who would not like to risk running a company of their own but have ideas which they would like to nurture and implement in a Corporation. That is the difference between an Entreprenuer and Intraprenuer.

The benefits of being an Intrapreneur include the following-

  1. You will ave gain visibility within the Company and progress quickly to maybe having P&L responsibility for your Product / Solution. Since you explore unconventional routes to complete your tasks, are proactive and do not restrict yourself to a single stream of work, you will prove your uniqueness to your peers, subordinates as well as your manager and stand out of the crowd.
  2. Unlike when you are on your own, as an employee acting intrapreneurial you will get a safety net should an initiative of yours falter. If the intrapreneurial effort fails, you will still have a job tomorrow and get another chance to implement another idea as long as you learn from the mistakes made.
  3. It is not easy to gain access to resources required when you are on your own. As an intrapreneur you can utilize talent from within the company, tap into management skills, leverage existing technologies etc to work on your pet idea and make it a reality.
  4. It will make you proud to walk on a path that is less traveled ie., do something different and courageous.
  5. You will have the satisfaction of being an inspiration for other employees and other employees will look upon you as a source of strength. They will seek your advice and value your inputs.
  6. You will get a chance to unveil your creative self. You can implement out of the box ideas at your work, which would make work itself more interesting.
  7. You will look forward to each working day for the empowerment, freedom and satisfaction you derive from work making it an enjoyable experience

2. I have a team member who wants to be an Entreprenuer. How do I channelize her energies and ideas, so that she contributes positively to her role, today?

You are lucky to have her as your team member. People with an entrepreneurial bent of mind can contribute a lot to the organization. All you need to do is take care that you do not stifle her creativity or need for freedom and autonomy.

Encourage her to be proactive in identifying improvement areas in your department and work on them. Check out if she has a new product, service idea that aligns with the organization vision and goals. If you can get her to convince top management and get the company to provide her the resources to implement that idea then there is nothing like it. She will be able to become an entrepreneur without having to the leave the company and the company will gain in terms of being able to offer a new and better product/service to its customers. But this may not be possible always. So instead give her assignments that will help build her entrepreneurial skills. Let her be part of such assignments from the conception stage till the final execution. If financials need to be worked out and a team needs to be managed, the better it will be for her. An entrepreneur has to be comfortable with all areas of running a business ie., managing of people, money and the operations of the product/service delivery.

Such people like treading on a path which others have not taken. So put her on assignments where the rules are not clear, where there are no tried and tested ways to succeed and where one needs to innovate. She will enjoy the challenge and is more likely to succeed than others since she will not give up very easily and think creatively to identify ways to tackle setbacks. Entrepreneurs have high risk appetite. So encourage her to take calculated risks in her work.

Another way you can channelize her energy for the company is by assigning her some team members with low initiative, passion, and energy to work with her. Her passion may get rubbed off on them and she may be able to inspire them to become more resourceful and enthusiastic at work.

Disruptive Innovation : Management Funda; July'08

What is it?

The term ‘Disruptive Innovation’ first appeared in the 1997 best-seller ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. Disruptive innovation is an innovation that improves a product or service in ways that the market does not expect. It disrupts the market and forces other competitor companies to radically change their business or face serious consequences. It can be of two types:-

  • Low-end : This is typically cheaper or simpler to use version of an existing product that targets low end customers. 
  • New market disruption: This addresses an entirely new set of customers in the same product space.

When a Disruptive innovation is made, usually by a new entrant, an established company, instead of retaining its share in a not so profitable segment, tends to move up-market and focus on its more profitable customers. Eventually the disruptive innovation meets the demands of the most profitable segment and drives the established company out of the market. A good example is producers of downloadable Digital Media disrupting companies producing CDs. File sharing technologies, were initially free. Then came inexpensive online retailers such as the iTunes music store. This low end disruption eventually undermined the sales of physical CDs. Similarly, has disrupted online advertising and created a new revenue stream by placing highly targeted text ads besides the search results of its search engine. In contrast a Sustaining Innovation seldom causes the downfall of established companies. It improves the performance of existing products along the dimensions that mainstream customers value. For example Contact Lenses as an improvement over Eye Glasses.

Examples of Disruptive Innovations

Disruptive innovations can happen in a process or a business model too. Dell’s adoption of just-in-time delivery for its computers’ electronics parts, substantially cutting warehousing and depreciation costs is a process disruptive innovation. Disruptive innovations have been demonstrated by no frills airlines with their low-cost business model allowing them to strongly compete with established airlines. So how does one know one is making a disruptive innovation?

Determining if an innovative idea is Disruptive

Step 1: Firstly explore whether the idea can become a new-market disruption by determining…

  • Whether there is a large population who historically has not had the money, equipment, or skill to use it themselves and as a result went without it altogether or paid someone with more expertise to do it for them?
  • Whether customers need to go to an inconvenient, centralized location to use the product or service?

Step 2: Then explore the potential for a low-end disruption by determining…

  • Whether customers at the market low-end would be happy to purchase a product with less, but good enough performance if they could get it at a lower price?
  • Whether a business model can be created that enables to earn attractive profits at the discount prices required to win the business of the over served customers at the low end?

Step 3: If the idea passes the new-market or low-end disruption test, finally determine…

  • Whether the innovation is disruptive to all of the important existing players in the industry? If it seems to be sustaining to one or more of them, then that player has an edge, and the entrant is unlikely to win.

But what if it is not your company but your competition that is making the disruption, how will you deal with that

Dealing with Disruption from competition

Let’s examine the reasons companies fail to counter competition from disruptors effectively. They are:-

  • Tendency to listen to and focus too much on its main customers failing to recognize potentially disruptive innovations that serve only marginal customers.
  • Not taking Disruptive products seriously since they compare badly with existing products.
  • Not being interested in deceptively small markets typically available for a disruptive innovation compared to the market for the established product.
  • Even if a disruptive innovation is recognized, reluctance to take advantage of it, since it would involve competing with one’s existing and more profitable technological approach.

In order to address these problems companies can adopt the following two approaches:-

  • Chase the market: Create small independent business unit to cater to the emerging market and at the same time continue to push technological demands in your core market so that performance stays above what disruptive technologies can achieve. Quantum Corporation, a leading producer of 8-inch drives was not sure what applications 3.5-inch drives could have in the computer industry. Instead of shelving the project they created a spin-off unit to develop 3.5.inch drives. After 10 years the 8-inch market had completely disappeared while their small venture had grown to become the world’s largest disk drive producer.
  • Find new market based on one’s expertise: When it became clear that digital imagery would forever change the photography market, Fuji not only began producing digital imagery products but also identified numerous opportunities for using its photographic chemicals knowledge.  


To sustain and grow a business it is imperative that one not only makes disruptive innovations but also detects them early enough in one's competitive landscape. So, next time you brainstorm on generating revenues for your company think of how your competition is possibly disrupting your business or better still how you can innovatively disrupt your competition. And needless to say this will be one disruption that your company is going to welcome!


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    Scocco, D, ‘Disruptive Innovation’, October 04, 2006,
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  • Patrick, ‘What is Disruptive Innovation?’, 1/08/2005,

Employee Speak: Pradeep Kar, Chairman and Managing Director, Microland : July'08

Pradeep Kar is the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Microland, a company recognized as a key player in the Remote Infrastructure Management Services space by the top three outsourcing industry tracking entities in 2008. A visionary and industry pioneer, Pradeep leveraged the power of networking and e-business technologies long before they were recognized as critical business enablers when he founded Microland in 1989. Under Pradeep’s leadership, Microland has emerged as a leading Indian pure play IT Infrastructure Management Services Provider. Pradeep’s philosophy of driving business transformation by leveraging Remote Infrastructure Management, with a strong customer driven service perspective has enabled Microland to grow to 12 locations, 8 Operation Management Centres and 2300+ people.
A serial entrepreneur, Pradeep founded and successfully sold technology companies, India’s first Internet Professional Services Company, Net Brahma Technologies and, India’s leading portal, which he sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Pradeep sits on several boards and is the President of ‘The IndUS Entrepreneurs’ (TiE), Bangalore Chapter and the Founding Member of the Bangalore Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. Pradeep’s leadership acumen has been recognized with the Indian Express’ ‘India Young Business Achiever Award’ and he has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow’. He holds a postgraduate degree in Management and a Bachelor of Engineering degree.


  1. How did the entrepreneurial journey evolve for you? What got you started?
    The entrepreneurial bug hit me very early in college. I got fairly clear then that I wanted to be on my own. Post my engineering and MBA degrees; I joined Wipro, which in my mind was a start-up journey. It was in the early years of Wipro where everything that needed to be done had to be entrepreneurial. Then I went and joined a start-up company as the 3rd employee and we built India's first computer retail chain – namely Computer Point. The owners of Computer Point then sent me to the US to set up a software company which is now known as Sonata Software. I was fortunate that my entire set of experiences was entrepreneurial in nature and I learnt a lot in the process.
  2. How is the entrepreneurial spirit sustained now that you are running a large organization?
    I still think that the entrepreneurial instincts in me continue. While we are a larger company today with 2300+ people, we are very much entrepreneurial in nature. There needs to be systems and processes to run larger organizations. But our approach to each has an entrepreneurial flavour built in. Individuals and teams have full flexibility to drive change, innovation and deliver on results and in many cases paint their own canvas within the corporate objectives and guidelines.
  3. How can the entrepreneurial spirit and culture be owned and practiced by individuals performing corporate roles?
    Entrepreneurship is usually associated with new company formation. But the entrepreneurial spirit that drives individuals to start a new organization, bring in new products/ services in the market can do wonders for the growth of an existing organization. Individuals can imbibe the following aspects in their corporate roles to practice the spirit of entrepreneurship within an organization:
        • Drive Innovation: Individuals should thrive for constant innovation at their work place. New business can be created by undertaking product/ services, process, technological and administrative innovations. Individuals should also consider renewal of key ideas on which the organizations are built.
        • Embrace Challenge: Every organization and every work place has pain areas. The challenges that arise in resolving these pain areas would be daunting and tedious to many. Individuals should identify these pain areas, volunteer to take ownership of these challenges, chalk out a plan to address them and demonstrate competence by successful execution.
        • Be passionate about every aspect of your work: Not all the tasks associated with the work would be extraordinary or out of the world. There could be mundane and repetitive tasks. An individual should always strive to perform each of the tasks flawlessly no matter however trivial they may appear.
        • Place high priority on your work when needed: There would be occasions when there are crisis scenarios at your work place which may require an individual to make some personal sacrifices. One should always be willing to act in the best interest of the company in those times regardless of the inconvenience to oneself.
        • Work towards accomplishments: Individuals should measure themselves based on their accomplishments and contributions made to the organization. One should be outcome oriented and should clearly outline the difference that one is making to the growth of an organization.
        • Embrace change: In the workplace, one may find scenarios where there are changes in processes, systems and organization structure. Individuals should be ready to adapt to any change that comes and lead the way for others.
        • Be a leader: Individuals should not wait for their supervisors or their colleagues to give them directions. They should strive to be the first one who tries something new and encourages others to follow suit. One should motivate others to work harder and make every effort to bring the best out of everyone around.
        • Be autonomous: An individual may have a brilliant idea. The success of the idea lies in
          its implementation and execution. An individual should act in bringing forth an idea or a vision and carrying it through to completion.
        • Organization support to individuals with entrepreneurial spirit: All the above mentioned aspects can be practiced and become effective only when the leaders of the organization provide a favourable environment for the same. Organizational leaders should encourage innovation in the organization and provide freedom to individuals to operate strategically in unstructured situations and to challenge the status quo.

Intrapreneurial Mind Set v/s Establishment Mind Set : Activity Corner; July'08

Every effective employee has Intrapreneurial/Entrepreneurial traits that may or may not culminate in an Entrepreneurial life.

To determine whether you have an Intrapreneurial mind set read the following statements and indicate whether you agree more with choice A or choice B. Choose responses that come closest to how you usually feel or act. There are no right or wrong responses.


Scoring Key

Tick the option you have selected in each of set of statements.

Give 1 point each for each tick. If you have more points in Intrapreneurial mind set you lean towards having an Intrapreneurial mind set. Similarly if you have more points in Establishment mindset you lean towards having an Establishment mindset.

Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs are people who focus on innovation and creativity and who transform a dream or an idea into a profitable venture; either by operating within an organization or by starting up their own venture independently. In contrast some individuals prefer stability, security and the status of being in their chosen field in the organization they work for and strive to succeed by operating within the organizational environment.

Note: The above questions are compiled based on an interview excerpt of Mr.Gifford Pinchot who invented the term ‘Intrapreneurship’ ( and an article by Vimarsh Bajpai, Senior Assistant Editor, DARE magazine, CyberMedia (

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish : Book Review; July'08

Title: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Author: Rashmi Bansal

Publication details: CIE, IIM Ahmedabad, India, 2008

Number of pages: 325 pages

There is a way to become successful and derive personal satisfaction from your work. Just bring the same kind of energy and passion to your existing job that you see entrepreneurs featured in the book ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ exhibit in their work. The book narrates the fascinating stories of 25 IIM Ahmedabad graduates who at some point in their life started their own companies. These entrepreneurs belong to diverse industries like IT, Retail, Finance, Consulting, Agriculture etc and IIMA batches ranging from Class of 1970 to Class of 2004 and they started out at different stages of their careers. The one thing they have in common is their ability to dream big and pursue their dreams.

We get the inside view of how a business like Edelweiss Capital or Mphasis was born and built and in the process we gain an understanding of some of the hardships, experiences, challenges faced by an entrepreneur. Be it the story of Vinayak Chaterjee’s Feedback Ventures morphing from a market research company to India’s leading infrastructure advisory and engineering firm or Deep Kalra’s story of building India’s leading travel portal, each of the stories are equally unique and prove there is no consistent formula or strategy for success. So while small is beautiful without scale the actual vision cannot be realised and while it pays to ride a wave in an upturn, belief in one's ideas is as important to see through the trying times. And yet there are some common threads. The entrepreneurs evaluate “Is the business inherently scalable? Is the market opportunity large enough?” They “... are smart people, they manage the risk-reward equation very well.” They do not give up. They build teams that can sustain the business.

Most of them thought innovatively or differently. Some of them ventured into nascent spheres like schooling (Eklavya’s Sunil Handa), online trading (India Infoline’s Nirmal Jain) etc. Others like’s Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Renuka Sugar’s Narendra Murkumbi, who built wealth for poor farmers, nurtured ideas that were well ahead of time.

The book also looks at alternate models such as social entrepreneurship exemplified by Vijay Mahajan who pioneered the concept of microfinance in India through his organisation ‘Basix’ And then there are those who believe they can be entrepreneurs without necessarily being 'owners’. An example is S B Dangayach who is not the owner of Sintex but works like one in every sense and was behind the iconic Sitnex water tanks.

Written in a conversational format, the author, Rashmi Bansal an IIMA alumnus herself, thinks aloud before having a conversation with an entrepreneur. We then get to hear about the vision, struggle, team building, success story and advice for young entrepreneurs in the very own words of the entrepreneurs. So it’s no surprise that the book is filled with gems like “Become extremely conversant with finance especially if you are going into some form of a fairly complex, large type of operation.”, “Base your business on deep customer insights.”, “There is no point in merely saying we are all a family. We have to believe it, we have to show it, we have to behave, we have to walk the talk.” and “In every business the more you know about the grassroots the better”. With its liberal use of Hindi (“Dil mein Chaah to niklegi raah”) the book makes you feel proud about the fact that it’s not just the story of successful entrepreneurs but Indian entrepreneurs. This is a must read for all young MBA graduates and a “treasure” for all those who are looking for inspiration to counter the feeling of “What I am doing at work is just not enough, But really, what can I do?”


Fostering Corporate Entrepreneurship : Feature Article; July'08

Understanding Corporate Entrepreneurship

Do you long for the spark, innovation, speed and risk taking that small entrepreneurial companies have and envy the passion people working in such firms display? Fostering Intrapreneurship is the key to achieving this in your own organization even if it is not in a start up phase. Intrapreneurship is all about retaining ideas / product innovations within your company. It is being able to create an environment where the idea generator does not feel the need to leave the company to take his idea to the market but finds the support systems within. And the company gets to share the benefits!

Gifford Pinchot III coined the phrase 'intrapreneurship' in 1985 to describe the marriage of an entrepreneurial spirit - complete with its fierce independence and lack of deference to established views and the strictures of conventional wisdom - with the resources of a large corporation.

 “They (corporate entrepreneurs) are always the dreamers who figure out how to turn an idea into reality.” - Pinchot

Entrapreneurship also known as Corporate entrepreneurship (CE), generally, refers to the development of new business ideas and opportunities within large and established corporations (Birkenshaw M.J. Scheepers, J. Hough and J.Z. Bloom 2003). And Entrepreneurship should not be confused with just incremental improvements - it is about a new idea, product, revenue stream or way of maximizing returns. In most cases, CE describes the total process whereby established enterprises act in innovative, risk taking and proactive ways (Zahra 1993; Dess, Lumpkin and McGee 1999; Bouchard 2001). But what prevents most individuals from bringing the entrepreneurial energy to their jobs?

What retards Corporate Entrepreneurship in large companies?
Primary factors in large organizations that discourage Corporate entrepreneurship are:-

  • Mindset of Senior Management who support sure success ideas only: The view that most of us share as analysts and problem-solvers runs counter to successful entrepreneurship. When demand for lots of data is made it kills the entrepreneurial spirit which relies more on instinct.
  • Cost of Failure: The costs of failure are too high and the rewards of success are too low. Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the Intrapreneurial process. But Intrapreneurs are not given the space in which to fail. The rewards for success are usually inadequate. Very few organisations provide rewards for Intrapreneurs that come close to the rewards available to their entrepreneurial counterparts.
  • Inertia: Inertia is caused by established implicit and explicit systems that no one is willing to change. Intrapreneurs are met with "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and "changing it now would just take too much effort..." In fact many organizations use their existing systems to prove they already have the "right answer" effectively killing creativity.
  • Hierarchy: The deeper the hierarchy, harder it becomes to get permission for anything new. How long does it take to get the green light and obtain resources to implement a good idea born at the grass root level in your company? If the answer is long then it will be tough to foster intrapreneurship in such a culture. This is not to say that there should not be a business approval process, but that it should be efficient.
  • Complacency: A company that does not encourage its employees to reinvent themselves and their careers at regular intervals also faces the risk of complacency in thought and action among its employees.

So how can one get individuals to act in an entrepreneurial manner? Cultivating corporate entrepreneurs requires creating a corporate culture which encourages firm-level entrepreneurial orientation that is reflected by five dimensions: autonomy, competitive aggressiveness, proactiveness, innovativeness and risk-taking. Let’s look at the ways to create an intrapreneurial culture.

Be an “Intraprenuerial” Company
BP PLC a leader in the restructuring of the global oil and gas industry and a highly innovative, forward looking company has a management model that rests on four components that help guide and control entrepreneurial action.

In fact the four elements in the above model are well balanced in all companies that are successful at encouraging entrepreneurial behavior in their employees. 3M’s “15 Percent Rule,” which enables employees to spend 15 percent of their time on pet projects (space), encourages the use of cross-functional and cross-country teams (support), and still adheres rigorously to the broader growth objectives and values of the company (direction, boundaries). But when too much space, too little direction and support and too few boundaries are there it can lead to chaos. For instance having too few boundaries at Enron resulted in its demise. It was ultimately a failure of control and governance. At the organization level, lack of support typically results in business units doing their own thing duplicating efforts. For example at one point executives in Ericsson’s central research and development organization discovered five separate development teams in different countries all working on their version of a ‘screen phone’ — a telephone with a small TV screen for Internet access. Quickly steps were taken to bring these teams together and to encourage a more coordinated effort.

Here are some ways you can create space within your company for all those potential “entreprenuers” employed with you. Of course how you do it will depend on the kind of business you are into. Like Google not every company can afford to let all its employees spend a day in a week working on their pet projects.

Defining characteristic of entrepreneurs are confidence, optimism, and the perseverance to keep working toward the goal no matter what the odds. Your company needs to support this by providing the freedom to fail! A manager at Dow Chemical remained optimistic and determined that a new class of plastics would lead to important products for the company. His research in the area was killed twice because nobody else saw the possibilities. Thankfully the researcher never became discouraged. And, in time, it lead to plastic films that are resistant to oil and moisture, and today are used in the packaging of everything. In contrast Game designer Seamus Blackley who joined Microsoft in 1999 after a big project of his failed was able to develop his Xbox concept in relative freedom at Microsoft, and get credit for it.

Some amount of failure is inevitable when one is trying to achieve something new or different. Do not penalize such failures thus sending out the message that failure is not tolerated. Otherwise people will always play it safe. Many entrepreneurial careers are built on a succession of minor failures. As long as the idea was well thought of, well planned and well executed the failure should be viewed constructively. People learn to trust their leaders and the culture if interim setbacks are not politicized and used in unhealthy ways against them. Of course the company must encourage responsible and optimistic risk taking. There is no place for recklessness in CE and all initiatives should be backed by solid business cases. For intrapreneurship to work effectively, risk should be balanced with reward and opportunity with difficulty.

Allow challenging of status quo. It is essential to have rules and processes in every organization for order to prevail. But when we catch ourselves saying “we've never done it that way before" or “that's not how we do things here”, then we need to evaluate those rules to see whether they still serve the purpose of guiding the current business or are they restricting successful building of a new business. There is every chance that we may be citing a rule that may no longer be appropriate for the new situation. In fact it is even necessary, to sometimes break with past traditions and status quo and establish new precedents to respond to new opportunities. Disparate voices should not be squelched, but encouraged, and disruptive ideas should not be labeled troublemaking, but entrepreneurial.

Allocate adequate resources for entrepreneurial pursuits. If you want entrepreneurship to be part of the organization’s DNA, everyone should have access to the tools, training, shared techniques and resources to quickly bring their innovations to market. Leaders should demonstrate the willingness to listen to and recognise good ideas whenever and from whomever they arise. Do not classify ideas as good or bad based on the persons it come from. A culture with one set of rules for some and another set of rules for the rest of the employees will not work. Instead every person should have the opportunity to innovate while accepting responsibility for his/her choices. Company should provide financial, technical and motivational support to all good ideas that will help meet organization goals.

Adobe India, for instance, launched the incubation program under which, employees generate ideas which are then sifted through various channels and finally recommended by a committee for innovation. Once it’s approved, these ideas get the support from Adobe’s global expert pool for further development. Apart from initial funding of $1 million, the idea initiator also gets a 6-12 months window to work on it. If it succeeds, it’s scaled up and the person behind it ends up heading the entire project or venture. And has it been successful? Well, in three years time, the IT major’s Indian arm filed 60 patents and 25% of the patents filed by Adobe worldwide in 2007 came from India alone.

Reward entrepreneurial behavior : One way you can reward is by allowing intrapreneurs to follow through with their ideas. The intrapreneur's creativity and emotional investment in the project and knowledge and understanding of the various issues under consideration will be helpful in further developing the process or product. Also not allowing these intrapreneurs to do so can lower their morale and reduce future contributions from others, too., the online social networking service was based on Google engineer Orkut’s selfdirected research that Google encourages. So not only did Orkut become the technical lead for the project, Google also named the site after him. Entrepreneurial behavior should also be financially rewarded. Your objective is to inculcate entrepreneurs within the company and not for them to seek better rewards by implementing their ideas outside the company.

Finally entreprenuership is not accidental, but intentional. CE must start at the top. Top management support for CE is crucial to developing a climate that is supportive of entrepreneurial projects. Senior management must be comfortable dealing with ambiguity, fast-paced workplace developments, and changing marketplace dynamics. They must possess the collaborative skills needed to “flatten decision-making” with internal constituents, partners, suppliers, and customers in order to bring innovative products to market faster.

A case in point is Google. Marissa Mayer director of consumer Web products at Google is good at drawing out programmers informally, during a chance meeting in the cafeteria or hallway.
During a casual chat in 2003, an employee told her about the project of an Australian engineer, Steve Lawrence. He was developing a program to track and search the contents of his computer, which ran on the Linux operating system. Knowing Google had to figure out a way for people to find stuff on their own computers, Mayer tracked Lawrence down and asked him about developing a version of his software to search any PC. He was enthusiastic, so she helped assemble a team to work with him. The result: Google introduced its desktop search in October, 2004, two months before Microsoft.

Entrepreneurs build businesses. Great entrepreneurs are able to create value from almost nothing, often by building on existing ingredients. You may see the result and wonder 'Why didn't I think of that?' Entrepreneurs see the world differently. They see possibilities. They see what can be. Google has institutionalized this process and is able to remain the leader and be competitive because the whole company is an ‘innovation lab’. Being an intrapreneur is more about attitude than aptitude. So one can be an entrepreneur even while running a department or leading a team just as much as by starting a company. The question is whether you have created an organization culture that will allow, encourage and sustain Corporate Entrepreneurship in your company.


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Ask the Expert: March'08

1. I have been identified for a Team Leader position for one of the company projects. My peers are questioning this since we all worked together as a team on one of our earlier assignments. How do I go about delegating the work among my peers without them undermining my authority?

Leading your team members rather than just delegating work to them is what you should focus on. Leading individuals who were your peers in earlier assignments can be a touchy proposition, but not an impossible undertaking. You have been selected to lead the team because of the confidence your seniors have in your abilities. So exhibit confidence in your abilities.

Start by asking your team members for their inputs and suggestions in making the project a grand success. By using and implementing the team’s ideas, there would be greater encouragement and motivation among the team members. Do not just delegate the work but also assist by giving them a better understanding of the task assigned.  Do not get dejected if they don’t come to you immediately for guidance. Help those who do and if you give valuable inputs word will get around. Credit team members with project successes. Your willingness to help them while giving them credit for good work would be well appreciated! If any of the team members disobeys you, be direct and firm in dealing with him/her.

Your team members have not had a chance to see you in action as a team leader. Once they see you as being capable they will naturally appreciate and respect you. Work towards wining their confidence over a period of time.


2. Recently in a meeting with senior managers I completely embarrassed myself by not being articulate in the discussion. That day, I realized that I need to improve my communication skills to be more confident and to be able to persuade others in a meeting. What are some of the steps that I need to adopt for the same?

You are right! Being articulate gives people the impression that you know your subject well, an important aspect of convincing others.  Here are some suggestions to help you become more articulate.

  • Know your subject well: Firstly, get a thorough understanding of the subject and make a note of relevant points that can be discussed in a meeting.
  • Visualize yourself speaking: Imagine yourself adding to the discussion with grammatically correct and complete sentences.
  • Think before you speak: Once you get into the meeting, take a moment before highlighting a point. This helps you eliminate verbal pauses and may prevent you from saying something that does not make sense.
  • Be as concise as possible: Add valuable content to your discussion by stating your points briefly. That way you don’t loose the attention of the audience.
  • Eliminate pauses and restrict usage of big words: Fillers like ‘um’ etc can disturb the flow of thought and make it seem detached. Simultaneously, make sure you restrict the usage of big words, which may reduce the clarity of your communication.
  • Self-improvement: Reading aids the effort of being articulate. Attend seminars on communication and presentation skills to gain some valuable insights.
  • Have patience and practice continuously: Improving the way you speak takes a great deal of time and effort.


3. My Manager is not assertive enough when it comes to clients constantly changing their requirements. This is causing a lot of undue stress, longer working hours and de-moralization of the team. How do I convey to him the need to be more assertive in extending deadlines when clients change project specifications constantly?

This is a common scenario in most companies these days. However, it can be subtly dealt with. Bring to the notice of your Manager the current de-motivation within the team owing to the long working hours. Veer the discussion to possible ways of avoiding undue stress for the team. See if the manger himself comes up with the suggestion of being assertive with the client on deadlines. If not, you can check with him whether it would help being assertive with the client.

Make sure that the communication is positive and does not offend him in any manner. Do not take an accusatory tone of “You should….” but that of a “we are in this together” tone by using “We can…. We should explore…”

Some points that you could cover at the time of discussion are:

  • If the team gets stressed the quality of work output will suffer in turn affecting the client satisfaction. Team members may also exit the company. Cite examples.

  • If the client requires the team to complete additional or changed project deliverables, then the Manager could ensure that the team gets sufficient time to complete the project. A reasonable timeframe can be established in consultation with the team and client. If anytime this has been done in the past mention it.

  • While some deadlines can be negotiated some cannot and there still will be times when the team needs to put in that extra effort. What will help then is the team bonding. So the manager should plan for the entire team taking some time out to have fun and de-stress together. This enhances team spirit and it will also increase the productivity among team members even under tight deadlines.

Becoming Lean – Reaping benefits of Lean Solutions : Management Funda; March'08

Becoming Lean means eliminating waste at every product or service creation phase and becoming highly responsive to customer demand while producing quality products and services. For example the new car ‘Nano’ uses less steel, less plastic, less space and less energy to run. People love it and there is already a huge demand for it. This definitely makes the car ‘Lean’.


Origin of Lean
Lean was born with the Toyota Production System a manufacturing methodology developed originally by Taichi Ohno for the manufacture of automobiles at Toyota. Its goal was "to get the right things to the right place at the right time, the first time, while minimizing waste and being open to change". During the 1980s, Lean production was adopted by many U.S. and European manufacturing plants. It has also been implemented with success by service organizations, logistics and supply chain organizations.

Implementing Lean
The following steps need to be followed:-

  • Define who are the customers

  • Define desired outputs and value in customer terms

  • Define current process as it really is, not as it is supposed to be

  • Identify and eliminate waste (non value adding steps) ie., all steps should directly contribute to satisfying customer need

  • Make the process flow so the customer can ‘pull’ (i.e. demand from the customer)

Types of waste in Service context
Now, let’s move away from Production environment and see what resources typically a service company wastes.

Points to remember while implementing Lean:

  • The focus of Lean initiative is on delivering continuous improvement and a mix of long term as well as short term improvements.

  • Ever heard of continuous improvement taking place in the absence of measurements? So, a regular measurement of improvements is important.

  • Kaizan, Just In Time, Six Sigma, process reengineering etc are some of the Lean tools. But unless you know what you want to achieve using the tools, the tools are useless. It’s like giving a cook lot of ingredients without telling him what needs to be cooked. Thus it is necessary to have a clear vision of your organizational objectives before you choose your Lean tools.

  • A holistic approach is the key to making Lean work. Every one who is involved in providing the service needs to understand what and how they are delivering to the customer and how they can eliminate the waste from their actions.

  • While the principles of Lean are common for all organizations, the way it gets implemented will differ from company to company.


Examples of benefits that you will enjoy

  • Operational excellence: Companies such as ICICI Bank and Wipro have been successfully using Lean for driving this.

  • Flexibility to meet varied customer demands: By reducing production system response time Toyota was able to quickly change and adapt to market demands.

  • Minimised costs: Dell implemented Lean to remain profitable by minimizing costs.

  • Better service: By combining Agent-assisted Voice Solutions and Lean's waste reduction practices, a call centre company reduced handling time, between agent variability and accent barriers to improve live agent call handling.

  • Better price realization: General Cable achieved this from ‘Lean’ initiatives.

  • Competitiveness: Lean manufacturing reduced lead time, reduced costs and improved quality providing opportunities for new marketing campaigns, allowing companies to gain market share from competitors that were slower, costlier or of poorer quality.


Can you ever say you have done all that is required to become ‘Lean’? Well, can you ever say that my customer will always be happy with my current level of service or that there are no more ways I can improve my processes? No! Since becoming ‘Lean’ is a continuous process and to bring about meaningful results Lean management needs to be sustained over a period of time. Regardless of the industry, company size or culture, the Lean concept can be used to provide value to your company and yourself.


  • Malloy, J, “Lean production”,,,sid182_gci810519,00.html.
  • “Leading In Lean Time”’,
  • Kumar, V. R, “Just get Lean and mean”,
  • Sarkar ,D,  “ ‘Lean’ is more than a cost-cutting tool”,
  • “Lean manufacturing”,
  • ‘Lean Process Improvement - effective organizational improvement though your people’ pdf document.

Employee Speak: Mr. Amit Kumar Das, Director - Human Resources, Allergan India

Tell us something about Allergan?

Allergan is a global health care company focused on specialty Pharmaceuticals products. Founded in 1950 in US, it is currently headquartered in Irvine, California. Allergan was launched in India in 1995 as a joint venture with Nicholas Piramal. The inspiration for setting up Allergan came from the need to deliver value to the end consumer and to provide an improved and promising future for the life of a patient. The primary business focus of the company is in the Eye care, Aesthetics and Neurosciences areas of specialty pharmaceuticals.

What is Allergan popular for in the Pharma market? What are it's specialty areas?

Allergan is popular in the Pharma for Eye care products and treatment of eye diseases like Glaucoma and Dry Eyes. We are currently the market leader in eye care products and have taken the initiative to create awareness for the various treatments. Over a period of time, Allergan has also become extremely popular for Botox, a patented product, which enjoys 95% of the market share in India. Botox is used for both therapeutic as well as for cosmetology purposes. Botox is also approved for indications like Cerebral palsy, migraine and urinary tract infection to name a few. It is injected only by a trained medical practitioner.

What is your role in the company?

As the Director - Human Resources, I am responsible for developing and executing all the Human Resource policies for the company. Our entire Human Resources team is committed to ensuring an employee-friendly environment where each individual would be provided various opportunities to realize his/her dreams and goals. We partner with the business managers to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are met.

What are the key challenges that you face in your industry and specifically in your role? 

The Indian Pharma market is characterized by companies with generic products who are quick in copying (or bringing out copies of the) patented products at lower prices and who have a large sales force reaching all corners of the market. Capability building, attraction of right talent, availability of talent pool and retention of employees are some of the high priority challenges for Allergan India. We have institutionalized right processes and taken active measures to address them.

What are some of the best practices in HR that have been implemented in Allergan?

Allergan has established a robust Performance Management System, Capability building and Career development processes. Our global recognition program ‘Hidden Gems’ recognizes excellent performers in the organization and the selected employees are flown to California to be a part of the recognition ceremony which is part of Allergan Quarterly meeting. Individuals who contribute significantly in any specific assignment or project are rewarded with Excellence Award and cash incentive. Employees who have been in the system for more than 5 years, also receive awards for their hard-work and commitment to the company. We also have excellent employee development initiatives.

What are some of the employee development initiatives?

Learning has been given a great deal of importance in Allergan. We have institutionalized the Allergan India Learning Resources Centre and Allergan Institute of Management to increase the competence level of the employees. We have also put in place a process to ascertain the knowledge level of the field sales team. Regular tests are administered to check if the sales executives keep abreast of the recent pharma industry developments. A knowledge allowance is also provided to them if they perform extremely well. The training programs are categorized as:


Integrate - focuses on bringing the new team together

Improve- focuses on capability building of the team

We believe that learning has to start from the time one joins the company. Hence the training provided at that stage covers all the basic aspects of selling and product knowledge with specific programs like Torque and Momentum. Torque is a fast-track 3-day program and Momentum is a 16-day product training program for new joinees. The intensity of the training programs increases as the employee moves up the ladder, focusing more on acquisition of essential competencies for the next role.

Tell us something about the real-time data capture software at Allergan.

‘Envision electronic reporting’ (PDA) was introduced to track and capture real-time data from the Sales executives who make regular sales calls with medical practitioners. The field sales executive carries a PDA which has a list of doctors that he/she has to meet. Once the meeting is complete, he/she updates the PDA. These details get captured onto the main database.

How significant are Research and Development activities for Allergan?

In this growing age of incurable diseases, it is vital for any Pharma company to pursue and continuously do research on new cures for diseases. We invest a great deal in research and development because that’s what we believe will give us our edge over other pharma competitors. Every year, the investment spent on R & D has been significantly increasing and will continue to increase in the years to come. The kind of Product pipeline we have is a matter of envy for all our competitors. We also have a Clinical research set up in Bangalore, India.

What do you think are some of the key success factors of Allergan India?

Allergan India is the acknowledged leader in the eye care segment with roughly 21% market share. Low input costs and customized formulation for Indian markets have also helped us to sustain large volume production. Our competitive advantage over other Pharma companies in India is the trained, knowledgeable and motivated field personnel. Precisely this is the reason for us investing heavily in development and empowerment of our employees. World-class infrastructure and use of innovative technology cannot be discounted from our success factors.

What are some of the future plans for the company?

The company plans to rapidly move into the health care segment with emphasis on Botox. We intend to introduce state-of-the art products for reducing morbid obesity in individuals. We will continue to leverage our expertise in R&D activities to create new and better products for consumers and ensure an improved life for them.

What are your Career Anchors? : Quiz; March'08

Career anchors are distinct patterns of self perceived talents, abilities, motives, needs, attitudes and values that guide and stabilise a person’s career after years of real world experiences and feedback.

To determine your career anchors give a response (SA= Strongly agree, A=Agree, D=Disagree, SD= Strongly disagree) that best describes your feelings about each statement below.

    1. I would leave my company rather than be promoted out of my area of expertise.

    2. Becoming highly specialized and highly competent in some specific functional or technical area is important to me.

    3. A career that is free from organization restriction is important to me.

    4. I have always sought a career in which I could be of service to others.

    5. A career that provides a maximum variety of types of assignments and work projects is important to me.

    6. To rise to a position in general management is important to me.

    7. I like to be identified with a particular organization and the prestige that accompanies that organization

    8. Remaining in my present geographical location rather than moving because of a promotion is important to me.

    9. The use of my skills in building a new business enterprise is important to me.

    10. I would like to reach a level of responsibility in an organization where my decisions really make a difference.

    11. I see myself more as a generalist as opposed to being committed to one specific area of expertise.

    12. An endless variety of challenges in my career is important to me.

    13. Being identified with a powerful or prestigious employer is important to me.

    14. The excitement of participating in many areas of work has been the underlying motivation behind my career.

    15. The process of supervising, influencing, leading and controlling people at all levels is important to me.

    16. I am willing to sacrifice some of my autonomy to stabilize my total life situation.

    17. An organization that will provide security through guaranteed work benefits, a good retirement, and so forth is important to me.

    18. During my career I will be mainly concerned with my own sense of freedom and autonomy.

    19. I will be motivated throughout my career by the number of products that I have been directly involved in creating.

    20. I want others to identify me by my organization and my job.

    21. Being able to use my skills and talents in the service of an important cause is important to me.

    22. To be recognized by my title and status is important to me.

    23. A career that permits a maximum of freedom and autonomy to choose my own work, hours and so forth is important to me.

    24. A career that gives me a great deal of flexibility is important to me.

    25. To be in a position in general management is important to me.

    26. It is important for me to be identified by my occupation.

    27. I will accept a management position only if it is in my area of expertise.

    28. It is important for me to remain in my present geographical location rather than move because of a promotion or new job assignment.

    29. I would like to accumulate personal fortune to prove myself and others that I am competent.

    30. I want to achieve a position that gives me the opportunity to combine analytical competence with supervision of people.

    31. I have been motivated throughout my career by using my talents in variety of different areas of work.

    32. An endless variety of challenges is what I really want from my career.

    33. An organization that will give me long run stability is important to me.

    34. To be able to create or build something that is entirely my own product or idea is important to me.

    35. Remaining in my specialized area as opposed to being promoted out of my area of expertise is important to me.

    36. I do not want to be constrained by either organization or the business world.

    37. Seeing others change because of my efforts is important to me.

    38. My main concern in life is to be competent in my area of expertise.

    39. The chance to pursue my own lifestyle and not be constrained by the rules of an organization is important to me.

    40. I find most organizations to be restrictive and intrusive.

    41. Remaining in my area of expertise, rather than being promoted into general management is important to me.

    42. I want a career that allows me to meet my basic needs through helping others.

    43. The use of my interpersonal and helping skills in the service of others is important to me.

    44. I like to see others change because of my efforts.

Scoring Key

Score your responses by writing the number that corresponds to your responses. (SA=4, A=3, D=2, SD=1) to each question in the space next to the item number. Then obtain subscale scores by adding your sore on the items indicated and then divide by the number of items in the scale.

The types of career anchors are:-

  1. Technical competence: You organize career around the challenge of the actual work you are doing.
  2. Autonomy: You value freedom and independence.
  3. Service: You are concerned with helping others or working on an important cause.
  4. Identity: You are concerned with status, prestige and titles in your work.
  5. Variety: You seek an endless variety of new and different challenges.
  6. Managerial competence: You like to solve problems and want to lead and control others.
  7. Security: You want stability and career security.
  8. Creativity: You have a strong need to create something of your own.

Ask yourself ..On which anchor did I receive the highest score? What jobs fit best with this anchor? Use your analysis to select the right job and career for you. You will function best when your job fits with your career anchor. 

Source: Robbins, SP, 1994, ‘Organizational Behavior’, 6th edition, Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi