Get Better at Getting Better by Chandramouli Venkatesan

Get Better at Getting Better by Chandramouli Venkatesan

Author:Chandramouli Venkatesan [Venkatesan, Chandramouli]
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub
ISBN: 9789353054601
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited
Published: 2019-01-24T16:00:00+00:00

Leadership role modelling

The interesting thing I am observing is that slowly but surely, in many of the buyer–seller relationships, the buyers are starting to invest energy into making their external ecosystems better. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in the traditional procurement or purchase function, where earlier, the primary task was to squeeze the best rates and terms out of the seller. Nowadays, the bulk of the procurement job is about helping the vendors deliver better, be it through strategic sourcing, quality audits, co-development of new products and packaging, etc. In a sales function, much of the sale force is often outsourced to an external partner or a distributor. In that kind of situation, if you did not invest time and effort into making your distributor better, you might not get a lot of success. Making the external ecosystem better has to be a priority for us. The interesting thing is that even the customers, at times, can be treated as part of the external ecosystem, and efforts can be made to make them better. In Pidilite, while the carpenter is the customer for the Fevicol brand, the company makes a significant and regular effort to upgrade their skills and capabilities. These are all examples of people making efforts to make the external ecosystem better, which is a key part of success.

I have noticed that this is often driven by the cultural dynamic created by the leaders. When leaders model the behaviours that vendors must not be treated as vendors but as partners, that culture often flows down the organization. I was fortunate that in my formative years, I saw my mentor, Bharat Puri, perform this role at Asian Paints, and it became ingrained in me. In another organization, I saw that the leader was very transactional with the vendors. Hence the entire organization started following that culture, thus not getting the best from the external partners. I have personally practised having top-to-top meetings with my partners without any specific business agenda, focused on how we can create value together.

One of the great ecosystems built in recent times is the app ecosystem that Apple built for its iPhone. A large number of independent app developers have built apps and sold them to customers through the iPhone app store. In a way, the ecosystem of app developers worked towards making the iPhone successful. They were not selling something to iPhone, but as ecosystem partners, they were working hard to make the iPhone successful. The more the ecosystem succeeded, the more iPhone succeeded. The same is the case with the Android ecosystem as well. Possibly, in a previous era, a company would have structured this as a buyer–seller relationship, bought apps from the ecosystem and sold them to customers. Do you think that model would have been equally successful?

The successful companies and individuals in the future will be those who can leverage their ecosystems as force multipliers and not as vendors and suppliers. The most important change for this is the change in your mindset.


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