Last edition, I wrote about the ‘power of observation’ and how closely observing other businesses and entrepreneurs can give you an idea or two for your own venture. I went on to elaborate how The Smart CEO will go through an evolution in its design and packaging, to facilitate just this – giving you ideas for your own career or business.
After writing on that subject, almost magically, my capability to observe, listen and learn has gone up. During my interview with Arun Jain, Executive Chairman, Polaris, there was one aspect that he mentioned a few times that garnered my attention; it was about how as a leader one has to help the team identify the “blind spots” in any process.
In the cover story this edition, Jain spoke at length about the various aspects of the de-merger that is underway at Polaris. The Rs. 2,424 crore (annual revenue in FY14) company is doing a vertical split creating two companies – one focused on IT Products and the other on services. As the de-merger progressed, Jain invited various consultants including Boston Consulting Group and independent consultants with expertise in SEBI dealings, employees, advisors and board members to run no-agenda brainstorming sessions. The goal was to uncover blind spots, if any, in several aspects of the de-merger. Jain believes such sessions certainly played a key role in expediting the approvals from SEBI and the court (Polaris got the de-merger approved by both these institutions within 90 days each). Today, as Jain has appointed five CEOs to lead his services company and the four verticals in his products company, his personal role has become one of a coach, one who assists his CEOs in times of need and also uncover blind spots and challenges they could potentially face, from a quasi-external perspective.
In this note, I am going to elaborate further on what this insight means to our magazine. The media, traditionally, has been a source of PR and publicity for the corporate world. It was always outward focused as far as companies go and except for a select few brands – maybe the Bloomberg, Economist and Harvard Business Review – I believe there is none other that fits into the decision-making process of a company. The question we ask ourselves is can we plug ourselves into the daily routine of an enterprise? As media, can we uncover blind spots for our readers, who are decision-makers and advisors? Can we go beyond being a source of information and become a key part of the decision-making process of a company?
For starters, becoming that kind of a decision support media company requires two big changes. One, on the product development side one needs to understand the decision-maker deeply and fit seamlessly into his or her daily routine. Two, the marketing mix will have to include customer education and mindset change components.
In the financial services world, Bloomberg has done a brilliant job of serving enterprise customers with their financial products and information and data-heavy enterprise solutions. At the end of the day, it is still a media company with two sides to it – consumer and enterprise. The question for ourselves is: can we make such a transformation and create a division that is enterprise facing? One thing is for sure; there is no media company in India that fits into the decision-making process of an enterprise. One trick might be to simply shed away the tag that we’re a media venture and become a decision-support company.
With regards to helping uncover the blind spots, stay tuned to this space for our new design that will roll out by early 2015.
Hope you enjoy reading The Smart CEO.