Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BCG on Strategy: 12th August 2008

Mr. James Abraham, Senior Partner and Managing Director from BCG's India office gave an inspiring talk to the Consulting Club Members at ISB.

Along with James, the following people were also present at the event hosted by BCG on "Strategy, What strategy means for you as future leaders..."

· Navneet Vasishth, Principal, Leads recruiting at ISB
· Rohit Chhapolia, Project Leader, ISB Class of 2006
· Yashraj Erande, Consultant, ISB Class of 2006
. Akshit Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Class of 2007
. Jitesh Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Class of 2008

James gave an exalting talk on Strategy and Leadership. He started with the quote by Alexander the Great, “The God puts dreams in the hearts of men - dreams, desires, aspirations that are often much bigger than they are. The greatness of a man corresponds to that painful discrepancy between the goal he sets for himself and the strength that the nature granted him when he came into the world".

He regaled the audience with his invigorating anecdotes. He told the audience that early adoption of strategy borrowed heavily from military.

In the 1960s and 1970s, The concepts that were drawn from military were position and structural competitiveness. Competitive advantage was about positions and structural advantages. Nowadays, position advantage is no longer in vogue. Structural ad (telecom) is still present today.

In the 1980s and 1990s the competitive advantage was due to people and capabilities. This led to a huge re-engineering craze during those times.

1990-mid 2000s – strategy has moved to the periphery. We have to think about structural advantage, position and about people whom we lead. Nowadays, competitive advantage is about networks and interconnectedness. This requires very different skills to manage the people. Everybody should learn to sell, we all should become a good salesperson. In the interconnected world people at the periphery are going to make the choice.

He gave a nice mantra to the students, “ study hard .. change the world”. James summed up his talk with the following points

  • Find a passion

  • Be more humble and less insecure

  • Live into possibility

  • Learn to sell
Strategy is being re-written by new population that is coming into the main stream.

The Next Billion

James spent sometime on BCG's pioneering project "The Next Billion". This refers to the lower middle class demographic of any country – one that represents a largely untapped consumer potential. He said that the lives of billion people are changing because they are joining the new market. BCG has coined a phrase “Shaping the Future. Together.”. According to him, BCG has the responsibility to change the lives of the people and they have the capability to do that. Till the time we view this segment as a profitable segment, things wont change. Till now, this segment was being looked down upon as non-profitable and charitable segment. The project revolved around understanding the specific needs and requirements of this consumer segment, their aspirations of matching the higher demographic segments lifestyle, and how they tried to match those aspirations under the financial constraints.

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