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    CSK, Mumbai Indians and organisational renewal


    The IPL this year has thrown some astounding results. The two champion teams, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) are at the bottom and have failed to qualify for the semifinals.

    MI are traditional slow starters and had made a habit of losing more of their initial matches before galvanising themselves into form and consistency while winning the IPL crown five times; CSK on the other hand have generally been consistent barring 2020.

    However, this year both have been consistently outclassed by opponents which is disconcerting. Ardent supporters of the two teams would argue that this is an aberration as CSK proved last year by winning the crown after a miserable show in 2020. However, there appears to be a deep- rooted malaise.

    Experience, new ideas and agility

    While welcoming a fresh batch of executives for Executive MBA programs, my favourite bit of advice was for them to ‘unlearn’ as experience is a baggage that can lead to arrogance, rigidity and lack of agility to tackle new situations. This is where ‘start-ups’ score as they are not conditioned by success and the performance of a few individuals.

    If you look at the MI and CSK teams their core of experience is intact — Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah in MI; and MS Dhoni, Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayudu in CSK. Although arrogance cannot be ascribed to them, they have not been able to withstand the energy of fresh blood in other existing teams and two completely new outfits, Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT).

    T20 is a young man’s game and the frenetic speed at which it is played, and the change in approach and mindset that young players have brought in makes great players look ordinary and dated as has probably happened to both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli and even to Jasprit Bumrah. That’s why it is said that organisations must constantly be learning and developing themselves and be engaged in a process of Organisation Renewal (OR). It is also why many private organisations do not unduly fret over attrition in the hope of inducting fresh blood. The origin of the concept of ‘Zero-base budgeting’ that looks at costs and revenues afresh to minimise

    inefficiencies and move away from incrementalism was with a similar end objective in view. By its very nature OR is necessitated for teams, organisations and countries where ageing, external disruptions by people, events and things lead to loss of efficiency, competitive advantage, viability and supremacy. Individual sportsmen like the great trinity in tennis, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic or Tendulkar in cricket have renewed themselves to ensure longevity. However, merely inducting fresh faces, and reducing the average age does not constitute OR.

    Essence of Organisation renewal

    Human beings and living species go into a state of gradual deterioration of normal functioning called ‘senescence’. However, there are certain species like the ‘immortal’ jellyfish — Turritopsis dohrnii, Hydra (a jellyfish like sea animal) and Lobsters that are capable of escaping the ageing process and renewing themselves. While a hydra has renewable genes, lobsters have a never-ending supply of an enzyme called telomerase that aids in making the DNA youthful.

    The Turritopsis dohrnii has the inherent capacity to change into a tiny blob of tissue, which then reverts into the sexually immature polyp phase of life whenever it faces some kind of environmental stress, like starvation or injury. Human beings do not have this capacity and an organisation composed of multitude of humans is obviously incapable of self-renewal. There is however one parallel of the ‘hermit crab’ that organisations seem to have learnt from. The hermit crab goes through a process called ‘molting’ whereby it sheds its exoskeleton, remains static for some time before regaining muscle control, eats up its old skeleton to recycle calcium and other minerals that confer health to the new exoskeleton.

    Albert Einstein had famously said “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it”. Hence, we require new processes, new systems and new people to effect change and renewal. This was best illustrated by Jack Welch in 1999, when he set up a portal ‘Destroy your’ to goad GE’s various businesses to renew themselves in the wake of the dotcom boom. The destroy your business approach is akin to that of the hermit crab shedding and eating its exoskeleton. The organisation can then renew itself by refocussing on the purpose of existence, roadmap for the future, rebuilding culture and the underpinning values if necessary, and inducting new people to trigger a new thinking. Companies that last for over a hundred years like GE, do so because they have mastered the art of renewal.

    An outstanding example of OR was IBM which when faced with death like situation due to the advent of personal computers in 1994, reinvented itself and transformed from a hardware supplier to services, analytics and consulting. IBM renewed itself when faced with a ‘do or die’ situation.

    However, OR should be built into the DNA of an organisation as exemplified by Amazon who in two decades transformed from being an online bookseller with no inventory to one of the world’s most preeminent technology firms with huge warehousing capacity. Similarly, Reliance Industries (RIL), in 50 years, has grown albeit at a slower pace from a polyester textile company to oil and petrochemicals to a retail and technology conglomerate. Both Amazon and RIL have disrupted their industries.

    Thus, it is not that only start-ups can disrupt businesses-established companies as well can, provided they have renewal capability through a management system that constantly looks at new market opportunities, builds a pipeline of leaders to ideate, innovate, incubate, implement customised programs and establish large scale.

    Change vs Renewal: ‘Organizational change’ is in response to internal or external factors such as technology, market dynamics, consumer shifts, competition or financial performance. OR on the other hand is a proactive approach that is orchestrated to render the organisation agile to carry out disruptive innovation, anticipate uncertainties and be ahead of competition. Change is a subset of Renewal, in other words, during renewal, change is inevitable and an integral part of the process.

    Organisational renewal encompasses (i) modification of vision/values if necessary (ii) leadership pipeline appropriate for modified vision(iii) customising strategy to modified vision (iv) dispassionate relook at employees/players and their roles-take tough calls even if it means sacrificing erstwhile high performers, the likes of Dhoni, Rohit, Jadeja and Pollard for example.

    Probably, CSK will have to do serious soul-searching to extricate themselves from the ‘Dad’s army’ syndrome and rejuvenate; MI will need to restore their lost team balance; and both need to emulate teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) who have a disruptive weapon in the form of fast bowler Umran Malik who can hurl consistent thunderbolts at +150 kmph or Gujarat Titans who perhaps have the best balance and are aggressive from start to finish in batting and bowling providing no respite to their opponents.

    Organisation renewal is composed of two simple words but the sheer breadth of its reach, impersonal outlook, and impacts on life and stakeholders can be enormous.

    The writer is a Leadership Coach and Advisor Rajagiri Vidyapeeth and Advisor, Miles School of Branding & Advertising

    Published on May 15, 2022

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