Me: So what was your plan? How did you think about the change you wanted to see?
Ravi: I decided to approach it in three phases. Phase 1 – I went around the country and met all people. I reviewed all the work that they were doing, got to understand their issues and challenges. I also used the opportunity to assess people. So I met the factory and supply chain leadership, the sales and marketing teams, distributors and retailers, my own Management Committee (MC) and spent around three months doing just this. Phase 2 – I shared my vision and growth strategy for the company and aligned my global CEO and his team to my thinking. I recommended shutting India R&D and leverage global R&D to drive innovation in both product and packaging. He agreed. I also shared my vision and growth strategy with my MC. Phase 3 – I identified people who might be challenged in executing my vision & strategy and decided to change them.
Me: So, Ravi did you execute on your plan?
Ravi: Yes, I did to the hilt. I had a plan, worked hard at it and we made a lot of progress.
Me: How was the progress? How did you achieve the growth results like sales, market share etc.?
Ravi: We did reasonably well, grew 5% in the first year but bounced back to 8% in second year. We did six product launches in just 2 years, the last time the company had a new product launch was 10 years ago. My globa stakeholders should have been thrilled. They could never achieve any of this with my predecessor for the last decade. Our profits margins continued to be strong. I improved our net margin from 12% to 16%. We made the highest profits ever. I brought in some good leadership talent from outside and we had lots of people change in manufacturing and supply chain. More than 50% of the organization was tenured less than two years with us. From a slow lethargic set up with old fashioned people, we had a bunch of young and bright talent. I made that happen. They saw promise in my story – my vision & strategy.
Me: So what went wrong?
Ravi: My global CEO said I had not achieved what I set out to do? I had promised him 18% sales growth, but we did 5% and 8% over 2 years. He wasn’t satisfied. In his view, I missed my target. How can growth happen overnight? It would take 4-5 years for us to get there? We were on track. He said my MC was not happy with my style. They thought I was going too fast and not consulting them enough. Come on, I hired half this team! They knew my vision and strategy, they agreed in our MC meeting. We were losing share – did we expect the customer to wait for us longer? The third reason I was told that the employee satisfaction scores went down. This shocked me completely. I raised the compensation costs by 24%, hired smart people and I just can’t get to understand why would people be unhappy?
My reflection: It was then that it struck me, Ravi was such a smart guy, high achiever, had the right ideas, great intent but the best of people could have blind spots.
Me: How committed was Roddy Lin (your global CEO) and his team on your vision & strategy for India?
Ravi: Oh.., Roddy said, it is for me to decide and drive India.
Me: You have not answered my question Ravi? Was he committed to your vision & strategy?
Ravi: I think he was committed, why do you ask?
Me: That’s okay Ravi. What is your reflection now if Roddy was committed? Further, my next question is how committed was your MC on your Vision & strategy?
Ravi: They were over-awed when they saw it? A few walked up to me and said, this is the best strategy they have ever seen in their careers.
Me: Were they committed or were they over-awed with YOUR strategy?
Ravi: Why do you ask that question? I thought they were committed?
Me: You said you went around the country meeting people and sharing your thinking? Did your MC also do the same?
Ravi: “eh.. Not really. I guess they left that job to me
Me: Who did you work with to make your decisions around people, Organization changes etc.?