Monday, April 19, 2010

CK Prahalad, the father of ‘Core Competence’ dies

"If there was a Nobel Prize for management then Prahalad would have won that for India."

Gopal Srinivasan, director of TVS Capital Funds

" Prahlad's ideas offer an intriguing blueprint of how to fight poverty with profitability." Bill Gates

CK Prahalad, the celebrated professor of Michigan University’s Ross School of Business passed away a few days due to some unknown virus. He was an influential thinker who came up with ground-breaking ideas in corporate strategy. He was twice ranked as the world's most influential business thinker, most recently in October 2009, by the "Thinkers 50" list of the top 50 management thought leaders in the world, published by the leadership consulting firm CrainerDearlove. He was one of the few thought leaders India produced in the new age.

I personally remember him as the man who coined the word ‘Core Competence’. His thesis about how a company should differentiate from others in its sector made a splash. Ever since, the word has become so common in usage across the productive economy – from referring to a company’s assets to an employee’s. He later went on to use another expression, supposedly used by Franklin Roosevelt, to produce seminal works like "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profit" which lay the basis for targeting India’s largely rural market with mini versions of products like shampoos and soaps. The idea was to see the rural poor to customers and cater to them as a market. His idea looked audacious then as it was too simple! Before we knew, it sparked a sachet revolution in consumer market.

A few years before, one of my friends applying for Ross school of Business was doing so purely because he was fascinated by this business thinker. He used to say how much before Indian IT companies broke into the top league, CK Prahalad seem to have foretold it. What makes him foresee things? I guess it is his unique way of formulating his ideas about businesses - by actually observing them on ground. This is in contrast to what most Academicians do – going by statistics and case studies at best to formulate their ideas. In fact, ‘The bottom of the pyramid’ was supposed to have taken shape in the experiences of HP’s i-Community Project in Andhra Pradesh’s Kuppam. In addition, he was a wonderful articulator; an evangelist of new ideas. It is sad we miss a profound thinker who could have contributed a lot more, especially to the India @75 vision being envisioned by the CII.

1 comment:

Ammara said...

quite a loss
im very sorry fr it
like the nobel prize comment