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How is Team India similar to Nokia: What can Indian cricket learn from corporates

NEW DELHI: Former Australia captain Steve Waugh once told his bowlers ahead of a Test series against India: “If you get (Rahul) Dravid, great. If you get (Sachin) Tendulkar, brilliant. But if you get (VVS) Laxman, it’s a miracle”. The Aussies managed to achieve all the three in the recently-concluded series in which they blanked out the Indians 4-0. What makes a star-studded team that seems invincible on paper flop? It’s a question that not just the legion of frenzied followers of the flannelled fools are grappling with; pinstriped promoters in boardrooms and corner rooms of India Inc time and again are confronted with a similar dilemma, particularly when growth isn’t a given and competition is cut-throat. After all, the problems are not dissimilar. Failure in leadership; conceiving poor strategies and executing them even more poorly; the sudden realisation that yesterday’s stars don’t glitter anymore; and the sinking feeling that inadequate attention was paid to planning for their succession during the win-win days are some of the parallels that can be drawn between India’s down and out cricket eleven and sections of corporate India that are in the wars.

Team India today resembles a once-successful corporation that rested on its oars when the going was good and then got caught out by a near-fatal combination of complacency and harder-working competition.

To complete that corporate analogy, Indian cricket is a bit like Nokia, the Finnish handset multinational that could do no wrong in the 90s, but has since been on the decline thanks to the ascent of nimbler smartphoneplayers like Apple and Samsung.

The Indian team’s decline mirrors Nokia’s, albeit over a shorter span of time – it became the number one team in Test cricket two years ago, and won the World Cup in 2011. But it’s been pretty much downhill since then, with eight overseas Test defeats on a trot.

Nokia brought in Microsoft heavyweight Stephen Elop to stem the rot; and has since aligned with the makers of the Windows operating system to script a comeback. Who should the wise men at the Board of Control for Cricket of India (BCCI) turn to?

Or, more importantly, what should be the way ahead? Let’s start with leadership – it’s time for a change.


SUCCESSION PLANNING SHOULD BE PRIORITY OF BCCI
“The role of a team leader is to get things done through their team and obviously this is not working,” says Amit Nandkeolyar, assistant professor-organisational behaviour at the Indian School of Business(ISB), Hyderabad. The professor adds that a captain needs to highlight and define “collective” goals, and guide team mates towards achieving these goals.

“When team members believe they can achieve their goals, they are more likely to engage in pursuit of a task. A low level of belief works against the team,” he adds.

The immediate priority of the BCCI should be succession planning.

Experts point out that the exercise should have begun yesterday. Says TV Mohandas Pai, director, Manipal Universal Learning, “In the corporate world, succession planning spans many years. We have an ageing superstar cricket team.” He adds that it doesn’t help that many of them are in the same age bracket and will retire at the same time.

 There is clearly a lack of strategic planning, risk assessment and succession planning. Especially, when the cricket calendar is known for the next three years,” adds Pai.
 A predicament related to age, and overachievements in the past, is the lack of passion to win. That’s when complacency, and the famed Indian ‘chalta hai’ attitude, seeps in. “You have to be desperate to succeed,” says K Sudarshan, managing partner of search firm EMA Partners. “What chances are there for this desperation to exist when you have been there, done that, with an array of achievements to boot,” he asksThe BCCI could also go back to the drawing board and stress the virtues of team work – planning and executing strategies is rarely the work of one individual.The Indian team is blessed with super-talented individuals who aren’t quite jelling as a team. “You can have a great individual performer, but if he cannot work well for the team, it just does not work. The team is paramount,” says Ajay Srinivasan, group CEO ofAditya Birla Financial Services. Management gurus also explain it is extremely important to acknowledge that team success is accorded the topmost priority and individual records are kept subservient to that goal.

Elango R, chief human resource officer at MphasiS, has often seen in the corporate world teams failing when there are too many stars. “A star – at the work place or in the cricket team – is a star as long as the team wins,” he says.

Many of Team India’s ‘stars’ are guilty of overstaying the party. That can prove suicidal for a second rung of leaders in the context of India Inc. In the context of Team India, it is suicidal for the next-gen players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

“There are examples of senior executives overstaying by 7-8 years in a company and in the process killing a generation of future leaders by not giving them an opportunity. There’s a lot of fatigue in such experienced people,” Sudarshan says.

Bidding adieu to yesterday’s super-achievers may be an imperative, but it is also a delicate matter. “We are talking about firing legends,” says Nandkeolyar. “The first step is to acknowledge their experience and let them know that there is a problem,” he adds. Also, if the captain has to be sacked so be it; he can still stay back as a player, if he is good enough.

The ISB professor points to scenarios in the corporate world where “younger people are managing much more accomplished but older employees”.

Finally, it all boils down to hiring and appraisal.

“To me, it’s a hiring issue. The mental make-up is tested only at the time of failure,” says Abhijit Bhaduri, chief learning officer, Wipro. “People are hired for competency and fired for (lack of) mental make-up.” Is the selection committee listening?

Short URL: http://www.cckerala.com/?p=1682

Posted by on Jan 30 2012. Filed under Cricket News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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