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Wednesday, Aug 25, 2004

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Innovative edge

IT IS a truism that corporates can survive in the era of global competition and advances in technology only by constantly renewing themselves and presenting to the customers and stakeholders convincing evidence of striving for the best standards of performance and profitability. At the heart of the struggle to capture, retain and expand market share is the unflagging capability of an organisation to inject fresh ideas and practices into its working.

Recently, Booz Allen Hamilton of the US put on the Web site the best of 12 innovations selected from among 60 entries based on a ballot of more than 8,000 participants applying the yardsticks of originality, value and impact. It may be worthwhile for business enterprises in India to similarly sharpen their innovative edge so as not to be left behind in the rat race.

Briefly, the innovations considered path-breaking relate to the following areas: Building into the corporate culture a passion for effective implementation by putting in place the right structure, methods of information-sharing, participative decision-making and mutually reinforcing teamwork; increasing the return on investment made for innovation; smart customisation; building durable models for durable goods; raising customer satisfaction while cutting costs; making offshoring a win-win bargain for all; running competitive back office in service industries; fashioning a CEO template for growth; tackling causes, and not just symptoms, of a dysfunctional firm; forging synergistic alliances; demystifying B2B sales and marketing; and imaginative fostering of the brand.

Among the many ideas gaining currency, the one that holds a lot of promise is organisational effectiveness profiling (OEP).

This is particularly so in the Indian context because the attributes of a `soft' state — lack of monitoring, follow-up and enforcement of systems and procedures — have begun creeping into the corporate domain also, raising doubts about firms being able to measure up to the exacting demands of global competitiveness and domestic customer delight.

Executives are sure to benefit from the interactive effectiveness measuring and benchmarking `tool', plus a well-documented framework that helps firms to recognise 107 dimensions of effectiveness and implant 19 "effectiveness drivers" to get over barriers to implementation. A similar India-specific exercise by any of the B-schools here can prove highly rewarding.

B. S. Raghavan

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