A crisis is a terrible thing to waste

As part of the annual strategy input conference at our company, I got chance to hear some great speakers. There were some very articulate speakers who caught our imagination. It was also interesting to hear diverse views about employment and employability situation in the current world economic situation. In a series of posts I will share with you what the industry leaders are saying about the current situation.

Pramod Bhasin is the CEO of Genpact, the largest BPO company in India. Genpact is an $882 million company with more than 34,000 employees. Pramod is a very dynamic, articulate and passionate leader who doesn’t mince words.

According to Pramod, there is globalization of Services and not just products, and it will only increase in times to come. BPO as a term will become obsolete… ‘Services’ will be bought or sold much like products. India has the potential to be a global hub for process excellence, six sigma, lean and re-engineering and not just the current BPO services being offered. The service mindset will move from ‘transactions’ to ‘solutions’.

Pramod initially painted a bleak picture of the current world situation and went on to provide some very useful leadership inputs. According to him, we are in the worst economic meltdown of our lives. It starts with liquidity crunch as phase 1, which leads to abrupt disruption of industries. Bad news about industry slowdown and economic de-growth is yet to flow through. It will be hard to regain confidence and trust of investors. More regulation will be required and businesses will have inherent inability to predict their results.

He provides some rules for the environment that business should be sensitive to, including some of the things he is implementing in his organization.

  • “Cash is King”. He mentions that one analyst mentioning that cash is not just king in times like these, Cash is God! It is imperative that companies manage and improve their cash reserves in current times.
  • Avoid denial… acknowledge and then solve. The worst that can happen in these times is the leadership being in denial mode of the situation we are in.
  • There are no sacred cows in this environment. He urges to relook at everything. No project is too sacred, no initiative too pet. Focus on core strengths; abandon ‘hobbies’.
  • Pramod urges you to renegotiate existing terms and deals. Don’t wait for end of term or contract renewals.
  • This is also a time to be aggressive not defensive in terms of going after business and managing costs. Aggressively drive your sales team to close orders. Focus on improving the order win rate, even if it means dropping prices. Now is the time to take calculated risk, focus on volume and increasing market share. He urges his sales teams to be closer to the customer, abandoning old models of engagement. He urges his sales team to get on the plane to meet with customers and close deals rather than wait patiently for customers to respond to proposals.
  • Interestingly, he says leaders could use the ‘burning platform’ to alter cost models and bring in cultural changes. Now is the best time to bring about major changes. Now is the time when there will be least resistance to change in order to survive. Set new productivity goals for your teams. Crisis, he says, is also an ideal time to build teamwork.
  • Accept lack of ability to predict and always have a plan B. Build flexibility in your plans.
  • Look further out than what’s in front of you. Focus on high growth areas and areas that have the most potential in times to come.
  • Take decisive actions, don’t hesitate. It is okay that some decisions may not be the best but now is not the time to hesitate.

Key takeaways:

  • Assume that your pricing is going to come down by 10-15%. How will you make the same money?
  • Change at this time will be relatively easy. Make the change now.
  • Crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Use the crisis to figure out how can you change your business model, how do you want to utilize cash?