Business Today 14th January 2018 - Page 90

The Best Management Lesson I Learnt many changes, you are bound to fail. the number of innovation projects. It paid off. Growth The most important resource in a company is doubled. That is when I learnt that to grow, you have management time. How this time is spent determines to focus on the head and prune the tail. what gets done and what does not get done. That is The power of focus also works in our personal the power of management focus and attention. It is lives. I cite this example when I talk to students. There really a no-brainer: If we give more management is a logic why people prefer to have only two children, time and attention to an area, it will start improving. and not a dozen! You can focus on your two children – If we keep jumping from one thing to another, trying provide them with the best upbringing, care and edu- to do too much, we end up delivering very little. cation. You can do it for two or maybe three children, I applied this lesson in my next assignment as the but certainly not 10! CEO of a company in East Africa. The company was rands and Priorities: Diageo taking over Unit- just not performing – business had not grown and ed Spirits made big news in the Indian media. lost money for a decade. It had too many brands, too When I joined the company, one of the big- many SKUs and too many new initiatives to come out gest management challenges before me was the huge of the woods. I began my work by pruning the port- number of brands we had after pulling folio and focussing all efforts on a few together United Spirits and Diageo In- brands. It worked. The business started dia. We had more than 150 brands on growing by double digits, and we turned our hands. Imagine how thin we would profitable. have spread ourselves by chasing all of The power of focus explains the them. meteoric rise of Apple after Steve Jobs We analysed the strengths and was rehired in 1997 to turn around its weaknesses of each brand and zeroed in flagging fortunes. He began a critical on around a dozen brands. We crafted a restructuring of the company’s product power brand strategy and concentrated line and eliminated 70 per cent of its all our resources and energy to winning product road map. The rest is history. in each segment of the market, with the The power of focus also transcends least number of brands per segment. It business. It underpins the success sto- In business, was supported by a clear task for each ries of star athletes and sportspeople. focussing on brand, such as gaining market share or That is why each sport has its own he- the few things growing the category. roes and heroines. What would have that have the Five strategic priorities drive Dia- happened if M.S. Dhoni and P.V. Sindhu potential to geo India – strengthen power brands, chose to pursue more than one sport? pay back is not evolve the route to consumer, drive illing a Brand Is Never Easy: In costs and efficiency, enhance corporate easy. In order to business, focussing on the few citizenship and build a future-ready or- grow, you have things that have the potential ganisation. Everyone in the company to focus on the to pay back is not easy. People are at- knows them, and everything that we head and prune tached to products and practices that do is focussed on just these five priori- the tail become part of a company’s psyche over ties. And it helps execution and delivery the years. Employees who have put in as well. This focus and persistence are decades of service may be hurt when a bearing fruit. We are now benchmark- brand is killed. It is like amputating a ing our performance not just with the limb so that the rest of the body can stay industry peers but also with the larger healthy and flourish. Certainly not easy! consumer space. As marketing consultant Bernadette Jiwa says, Modern science proves that multitasking does not “We have to choose what we will be more of and less of help. Everything we see around us – your pen, mobile to create a successful business.” phone, watch, the zip of your pants – came into being It is not an easy choice as I learnt when I joined from people who focussed their attention, intelligence a confectionery company. The company had great and imagination to find a solution to a human need. brands, but the revenue was a fraction of the size of Focus can help us test the frontiers of our capabilities the brands in people’s minds. And I was charged with and leave a legacy for the coming generations. the task of generating a steep change in sales. In my I am a great believer in the power of focus. India first year, I was looked upon as a terminator rather has the world’s largest youth population. I want our than a creator or an innovator. I killed several brands, youth to embrace the power of focus to bring out thei r halved the number of SKUs and drastically reduced best. For themselves and the country. B K 90 I BUSINESS TODAY I January 14 I 2018