How companies can be insulated from ups, downs

Title: Nimble: How Intelligence Can Create Agile Companies and Wise Leaders; Author: Baba Prasad; Publisher: Random House India; Pages: 275; Price: Rs.499

Can anyone predict turbulence? Probably, no! But one can always keep the strategies in place to beat the heat. Baba Prasad in his book emphasises on how a company management should keep itself insulated from such highs and lows.

The author, who is the president and chief executive officer of Vivekin Group, stated that this book is a product of a 15-year-long search to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The book suggests five “intelligences” companies need to develop and apply according to context.

These are intelligences in the domains of analytics, operations, invention, communication and vision. Prasad mentions that the companies need to adopt new paradigms and new frameworks to remain agile.

By following this model, people can conceptualise an adaptable and agile organisation. It weans away from people the trappings of a knowledge-based organisation – where the same strengths that gave it a strategic advantage and competitive edge can become a trap in turbulent environments.

The author also puts forward simple instances. Like how a change in government may open up new market opportunities, or could bring stricter regulations. Similarly an executive may face the sudden resignation of a critical subordinate or become embroiled in a crisis with a key customer.

But it is always important for a company to keep its strategy ready.

It also delves on how in turbulent times organisations and individuals can develop capabilities to not only survive and succeed but also emerge as leaders and sustain such a leadership, as also how strategies can be created in the short term to go for the long haul.

The author argues that instead of engaging in the futile exercise of predicting inflections, companies and individuals should develop capabilities that will allow them to deal with the inflections as and when they occur.

On the other hand, he also looks at how companies and individuals should build capabilities to deal with unpredictable inflections. He presents a framework for companies to develop strategic agility, inspired by the quintessential driver of human adaptability – intelligence.

Companies across the world are struggling with a variant of the same question: How do we create strategy when the rapidity of change is making the word ‘strategy’ itself dated?

The book seeks to answer this question through a comprehensive framework that encompasses the organisation internally – its technologies, business processes, its people and culture – along with the external forces that rapidly and significantly change the business environment.

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