Core Competence? – you must be kidding

The whole of last week was quite hectic in the office as we(in the office)were unusually busy. Wonder what we were busy with? No prizes for guessing – we were busy with fire fighting! It was during that chaotic period that an old friend of mine visited me. As we were chatting he casually asked me about our company’s Core competence. “Core Competence?” I replied to my friend,”you must be kidding – there is only one core competence common to all Indian companies – that is – Fire fighting”.
Come to think of it,whatever else we,Indians, may be good at, we are best doing fire fighting. Some one asked – what about systems then(ISO9000,14000,18000,TPM and all that),meaning that since we in India have implemented all kinds of systems,there should be very few crises in the first place. I replied that even to implement systems we do fire fighting. Haven’t we seen a flurry of activity in many companies just a few days before an ISO audit for instance?
Even as children,we were used to postponing our studies right until the last day of the examinations – very often with disastrous results!

This reminds me of an industrialist friend of mine who,when questioned by me as to how he was proposing to expand into a business area which was totally unrelated,quipped- “Our core competence is diversifying into unrelated areas”. Probably he is right. When one is good at fire fighting and crisis management is the way of life,it makes no difference whether the business one chooses is a related area or not.
Typically in an average Indian organization,not withstanding the importance of a customer’s order (which can break or make a business),the system will go at its own pace doing things sequentially instead of in parallel till a crisis point is reached. The behaviour of team members during a crisis has to be seen to be believed. There is exemplary solidarity and team spirit and extraordinary comraderie.
As it happened during the last week in our company – the marketing man pressed a panic button as we failed to keep up with our committed deadline for supplies to a very important customer – the CEO declared “Do what you will but this prestigious order must be executed”. This was followed by the R&D head and the business head screaming that if we failed to service this order we would lose our credibility,our business and our technical position in the market place. Then the plant head was challenged to raise to the occasion and prove that he was the man for the crisis. The plant head was also equally under pressure from his deputies for providing all resources in the quickest possible time. Then every one’s attention shifted to the plant head and his team as the fire fighting exercise started. He moved heaven and earth and quite magically produced the desired results just in time.

I am sure the readers will have similar stories to tell from their experiences which should prove India’s undisputed global leadership in Fire fighting & Crisis management.

Published in: on May 23, 2010 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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