Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Inspite of, and not because of Competence

At Changhi airport earlier this year, I arrived early to travel into India. I browsed through stores and chanced a premium luxury watch section. My wife Ann Joseph knows a great deal about wrist-wear, and a natural familiar curiosity took me there. When interacting with the salesman from Singapore, he was honest enough to admit that he had not heard of LG and Samsung as Google Watch contenders. For a man who sells Bulgari and Rado, I wondered if he ever struck ‘edge’ conversations even with willing clients. But to my surprise, and to Titan’s credit; he acknowledged one brand from India!

Google Wear has now admirably entered the User Interface (UI) by glance design! That puts Titan in the age of the dinosaur. I had earlier tweeted at the length of a possibility, that perhaps Cyrus Mistry could announce a Nano version for Titan, by marshalling TCS and Titan to come up with an earth shattering paradigm given its intellectual assets and manifest brand value.

Alas, even Wipro despite its closer to skin successes in ASEAN, could not orchestrate its human capital to build on its once renowned capabilities in telecom engineering. People in the industry claim that it could have easily changed the game in India with device to operator knowledge embedded in its people. Leadership of risk and innovation are not the routine affair in India, even in growth phases.

Hence, firms mature too early and die with its product or services portfolios.  The long-serving Ambassador car is one such. Perhaps it is the paradox, India truly needs to balance better. In its abundance, human resources are treated as commodity in a capitalist frame. Retail formats in sunrise mode make no real investment in low-cost, client-facing personnel to relate to its clients. Governments and political ideology in India treat human assets as dole-potential of entrapment, no matter how differentiated the reach and custodianship of the electorate.

Perhaps, a case can be made that Indian firms succeed in spite of their competencies, and not because of them!

What will it take for authentic leadership to lay claim on India’s latent potential?

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