Blind spots: Merrill’s Thain and TCS’s Ramadorai

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CHELSEA — They blame the sudden firing of Merrill Lynch’s superman John Thain on “blind spots in attuning himself to differences in corporate culture.”

In today’s FT an outsider is quoted as explaining:

Merrill has a way of being very hard on outsiders coming in. It’s a unique culture. If you come in as an outsider, you’d better be paying attention because it’s a tough game.

In the end the employees virtually chased him out with pitchforks. The company that some called Mother Merrill lost it’s loving ways. It rejected Thain’s tribalism and his efforts to enrich his peers and himself.

They say he never saw it coming.

That’s company culture for you. Stronger than national cultures and often harder to figure out… but built in the heart of the business over many years.

We know how to quantify and manage it. But most people don’t.

Then there’s what seems like to opposite extreme. Subramanian Ramadorai is head of Tata Consulting Services (TCS), which is one of India’s first multinationals. He has a personal history that reads like a textbook of Indian middle-class to multi-national transformation.

And yet his industry is under threat from no less a tricky challenge than John Thain’s. Reputation is the blind spot for the outsourcing industry. The Satyam scandal has sullied the reputation of a business that faces big cultural challenges to start with. The potential rise of protectionism, evident in President Obama’s “buy America” programme, will add to the potential difficulties.

Mr Ramadorai retires soon, but the need for further internationalisation and greater focus on building reputation for businesses like TCS is more stark now than it ever has been.

Hopefully that blind spot will be revealed before it too becomes something that “could have been”.

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One Response

  1. tkapanndian
    |

    Did TCS Really grow under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA?

    Of course yes. Spectacular growth in Revenue terms, headcount and geog spread

    Commendable 40% CAGR!!!

    Global Media was innocent and ignorant to believe the astonishing growth story of TCS in last 10 years

    How many NEW PRODUCTS did it develop in last 10 yrs under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA?

    under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA What was its spending on R&D in last 10 years out of its total revenue valued at over Rs.6000 core annualized

    I suppose under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA, RISK APPETITE to inculcate R&D was abysmally negligible or probably nil

    I suppose under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA, there were not even a single fortune 50 for whom TCS designed BUSINESS INTEGRATED IT STRATEGY aimed at 10yr forecast.

    Is TCS equipped with Rich consulting team to compete with Mckinsey or IBM though TCS is aged over 50 years on ADVISING BUSINESS INTEGRATED STRATEGY OR ROADMAP like IBM or Mck does currently

    Under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA), How many papers were presented or Won in International Journals and Conferences. It would be a good Success quotient to prove TCS was a successful IT STRATEGY FIRM for fortune 50

    Otherwise, I view, under the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA, TCS as one more Indian IT Vendor like PATNI COMPUTER SYSTEMS OR NITANY OR ANY BPO FIRM

    Can the present leadership of CEO-RAM, COO-NCHANDRA AND CFO-MAHA, just with specific facts answer these 3 apprehensions without Jargons like VALUE PROPOSITION TO CLIENT?

    Rgds

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