In the untimely death of Dr. CK Prahalad on April 16, 2010 at the age of 68, we lost one of the foremost management thinker and business leader with human face. I happened to have interactions with him on a subject very dear to him, the bottom of economic pyramid, a topic I wanted to pursue in my research studies. While I missed that opportunity to work him on the topic, the ideas created and shared by Dr. Prahalad would inspire the business leaders and common men alike. This is a brief sharing on Dr. Prahalad and the new ideas he presented to the business world.
Dr. CK Prahalad was the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan. He is famous as the father of the concepts of Core competency and BoP - Bottom of the pyramid. In the 2009 Thinkers 50 listing, Dr. C.K. Prahalad was ranked as the most influential business thinker in the world. He was not only a best-selling author; he was one of the world's most highly sought-after management consultants. His work influenced millions of readers and countless major corporations.
Along with being a great thinker and consultant, C.K. was a humanitarian—in the best sense of the word. He didn't just have grand ideas about saving the world that would never get implemented. He actually got things done. He realized that for corporations to make lasting change that benefited the world, they also had to benefit their shareholders. In The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, he showed how companies could provide inexpensive, beneficial products for low-income people—and still make money for their shareholders.Some practical wisdom on business leadership:
· When the going is roughest, leadership matters. In times of trouble, Prahalad says, "leaders must behave like emotional and intellectual anchors. There are no external cues now. The critical issue is about faith, passion, and, most importantly, authenticity -- so that people know you are not pretending. People can see a sham."
· Successful managers embrace discomfort. "If you do precisely what you're supposed to do," Prahalad says, "and you're boxed in, then you're going to do that very well." But if pressed to do things that aren't in your normal job description, he says, the challenge can push you to a new level of achievement.
· Great leaders stay on message. For Prahalad, nothing is more important than reminding people what the company stands for. "I spend a lot of time talking about what we're doing in terms of strategy," he says. "You have to give the same message over and over again."
· It's not one person. It's not the team. It's both. A painting of a pack of wolves in Prahalad's office symbolizes the combination of leadership and teamwork that pervades successful organizations. "With wolves, solidarity is first," says Prahalad. "But when they hunt, they change roles. The implicit hierarchy depends on who does what." In an organization, he adds, "one unique person makes a difference, but you need teamwork to make it happen."
· Think? Act? Balance the two. Says Prahalad: "In a small company, you have to exercise caution and build your own personal dampers so that you don't act on everything. Sometimes not acting may be smart. But if I get the feeling that everybody's becoming so thoughtful that nobody's doing anything, I want to go and light some fires somewhere."