Friday, November 25, 2011

"Growing Indian Management Gurus Globally" - Professor M.S.Rao

"I shall pass this way but once. Therefore any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again." — William Penn

When I received mail from thinkers 50 I was overwhelmed to find the listing of management thinkers coming from relatively younger age group as well. The entry of Gen X into the list excited me and made me think there can be young management gurus as well. Usually there is an impression that the top management thinkers are highly experienced and fall in the bracket of Baby Boomers. Hence, the 2011 list of Thinkers50 debunked the myth that age is not a deterrent to achieve global management guru status.

What is Thinkers 50?

The Thinkers 50 ranks the most important living management thinkers alive today. Stuart Crainer authored a book titled, The Thinkers 50: The World's Most Influential Business Writers and Leaders. It periodically conducts voting of various global thought leaders based on certain parameters who contributed to the management field. The thought leaders could be educators, economists, authors, executives, consultants, social scientists and scholars.

People who voted showed interest towards younger lot sending Baby boomers Stephen Covey from 29 to 47 and Tom Peters from 19 to 24 positions. However, there is senior lot whose rank rose up such as Vijay Govindarajan from 24 to 3, Marshall Goldsmith 14 to 7, Dave Ulrich from 31 to 23 to name a few.  The list also indicates mushrooming Indian management thinkers such as Nitin Nohria (Ranked 13), Dean of Harvard Business School, Nirmalya Kumar, Pankaj Ghemawat, Vineet Nayar, Rakesh Khurana, Sheena Iyengar, and Subir Chowdhury.

Previously there were four Indians found place in the list heading CK Prahalad in number one position, Ram Charan at No. 22, Viay Govindarajan at No. 23 and Rakesh Khurana at No. 45. It is exciting to note that the in the current list the number of Indian management thinkers have doubled. They are making their presence well. They are being accepted globally and recognized for their contributions to management.  However, it is unfortunate that Ram Charan is missing from the list. 

Guru Criteria

The criteria for management gurus’ status are that their presence as gurus and impact of their ideas across the world, presence on the academia and corporate world, charisma with international exposure and visibility. Their research background, any exclusive contribution to the domain of management and, above all, the number of Google hits indicates their popularity. The guru must ideally blend either academic or industry background with extra ordinary contribution towards management field through research and innovation. Those who crave for international attention must slog hard with a passion to make a difference to society and that catapults them to the top. For instance, Vijay Govindarajan’s innovation and his concept of ‘Housing for Poor @ $300’ put him on the international map. Remember it is always the cream that comes to the top. The list changes every year with the entry of new gurus who contribute unique research in the area of management.

The Thinkers50 must also come out with life time achievement for one living Management Guru every time.  I am sure it inspires others and contributes to the cause of management as there is no Nobel Prize for management discipline.

Challenges for Gurus

The gurus should not take their rankings for granted. They must learn and grow continuously with humility. They must become more responsible to deliver their services to make a difference in the lives of others. Above all, they must pave the way for other upcoming gurus graciously before being pushed away by next generation gurus.

Indians Appetite for Management

The list clearly reveals the growing Indian management gurus shining after crossing the seas. We cannot find any Indian working currently in India excelling as guru except Vineet Nayar who has been ranked 40. Probably one of the reasons is that the gurus have better research facilities, academic ambience, exposure, network and plenty of opportunities without any prejudices.  In addition, most of them work in prestigious global business schools.  Hence, if the same conditions prevail in Indian business schools we can find more Indian management gurus growing from native land as well.  Government must realize that there is huge potential among Indian management faculty but lacking certain infrastructural and research facilities. If the same is provided we can find more Indian management gurus growing from Indian business schools and Indian soil than in an alien soil.

The list also shows the growing appetite among Indian management thinkers as global management gurus through their research and contributions.   When you look at Vijay Govindarajan who is popularly called VG globally, he is specialized in innovation.  His three box approach written along with Chris Trimble is very popular and published in Harvard Business Review titled, “The CEO’s Role in Business Model Reinvention” urging forward-looking CEOs to manage reinvention with a “three-box approach”. This approach emphasizes on managing the present (box!1), selectively forgetting the past (box!2), and creating the future (box!3). Leaders need to operate in all three boxes simultaneously to achieve the desired organizational outcomes. 

Nitin Nohria made all Indians proud by becoming the first Indian to head as the dean of prestigious Harvard Business School. VG also made Indians proud through his contribution in the area of innovation and standing in 3rd place as a management guru. Other Indians such as Nirmalya Kumar, Pankaj Ghemawat, Vineet Nayar, Rakesh Khurana, and Subir Chowdhury have equally made all Indians proud through their contributions.

Studies reveal that most of the top business schools in the world have faculty members from Indian origin. It shows the strength of Indians and their acceptance globally in the area of management. Previously it was in science and technology and currently it is into management Indians are doing well. There is huge demand for quality Indian management faculty members globally who are blend of industry, research, teaching, training and consultancy background so that they can effectively integrate all these areas to excel as successful faculty members.

Indian vs. International Ambience

There is a perception to take our people living in India for granted.  In addition, there are too many politics within Indian academic institutions. At times cream is prevented from rising. Of course, it rises ultimately!  However, egalitarianism and meritocracy prevails in advanced countries especially in a country like America.  They respect knowledge of the people, not the origin of the people.  They don’t see whether rich or poor or white or black.  They only see competencies, not color.  They see only strengths, not skin. They see skills, not status. Likewise, there are number of ways they are ahead of us and these are some of the reasons why Indian management thinkers go abroad and grow as gurus.

Indians in Alien Environment

Leaving Vineet Nayar who grew within India, most of the gurus grew in an alien land. In fact, alien environment especially advanced countries is highly competitive.  It is kind of “perform or perish”, “do or die”, “swim or sink”.  Indians often perform amazingly well, do effectively and swim and sail successfully in overseas shores.

Indians have great heart and are always jubilant with the success of their compatriots beyond the borders.     Not only as management gurus but also there are number of Indians who rose in other sectors such as Indra Nooyi, Arun Sarin and Vikram Pandit to name a few. Most of the time the Indian thinkers going abroad are constantly in their effective zones and that brings best out of them. They also collaborate leaving competitive spirit and that pays them immensely. Similarly, there are number of reasons that make global Indians stand out.  As it has been evidenced from Thinkers 50, Indian management faculties have huge potential to grow as management gurus both locally and globally provided there is favorable academic ambience and equal opportunities for all. Let us salute these living management legends for making India proud both locally and globally.

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