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Most private sector CEO's had the view that the public sector managers were useless bureaucrats rather than managers, incapable of taking decisions and only good at creating files that protected their own hides. Dhirubhai, on the other hand, had the vision to go in for mega projects. He recognised that, in India, only the public sector companies had any experience of executing projects of the size he was contemplating. So, he hired the best people from these companies and made the best use of their of skills and experience. It was this group - most of whom had either retired or were nearing retirement in the jobs they held before joining Reliance - that had served as professional implementers of Dhirubhai's vision over the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, however. a new and much younger group of managers were being inducted at the senior level. Like Mukesh and Anil Ambani. this new group had typically been educated in the best technical and management schools in the United States and India and they often had considerable experience of working, typically abroad, with international suppliers and customers. The relative roles and status of managers in the senior group was always in a flux. Similar to most family managed companies around the world, relations ‘with the family members in the top management often meant a lot more than formal titles or job descriptions. As described by V.V.Bhat. responsible for the human resource function at the group level. "in RIL. authority. responsibility and power have to be taken. They are never given. No one has the time to give! We are too busy growing.” Decision Making At RIL, most decisions were verbal. Information came through paper but decisions were made by discussions and talking. typically over the telephone. "Verbal decisions work hecause of the trust" said Sapra. Added K.Narayan : Trust is not a function of being a blood relation of Ambanis. | am not and most of us in the senior management today are not. Trust is a function of my capacity to deliver. It, however. is a two way process. I know that if something goes wrong and my family is in trouble. the Ambanis would put the entire RIL corporate muscle behind them to support my family. And this is not restricted to the top. What they do at the top, 1 do to people down below. Often the issues are not big. For example. if a clerk's child is seriously sick, I send a car for him to use at that time. We practice this with our trade as well. | tell my trade - doing business with us is risk free. If you lose. come back to us. If you make profits. it is yours. Textile is a wade driven product. Consumer acceptance is necessary but then trade must help too. Most traders are small entrepreneurs. Even if he is confident. he has a fear - what happens.... So when | specify targets to him he would do his damnedest to perform” Added Kamal Nanavaty, Vice President (Marketing - Polymers), and a veteran of Indian Petrochemicals Limited (IPCL), the state owned petrochemicals giant: “Our style of decision making docs not signal lack of planning or analysis. Even before | joined in April 1989, 1 was asked to prepare a bluc print for the marketing organisation 1 was to set up. It was debated before approval. Once the plan was approved, I went ahead and set it up, making modifications along the way that were needed. I did it and informed them of it. 1 went to them with a problem only if I couldn’t solve it. I did not have to seek sanctions again and again. That would cut down our speed. The marketing organisation, the down stream project feasibility reports etc. were in place before the first granule came out". Speed AURIL there was a great emphasis on speed. "We don’t accept a barrier as a barrier" said Sapra. "We deal with issues directly. We do not build defences for non performance”. K, Narayan provided an example: In 1973. the rotary machine at Naroda had broken down on a Friday evening. The import of the component to be replaced would have normally taken two to three months. So I went abroad the same night, bought the component and got it back on Sunday night and the plant was in production from Monday aftemoon." Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of Reliance's speed came when its huge Patalzanga Complex was flooded on the night of July 24. 1989 by flash floods from the nearby “apology of a river’. Technical experts from Du Pont flown in at considerable cost estimated a minimum period 90 to 100 days before the complex could be operational again. Local newspaper reports. based on the opinion of India’s best experts. were even less optimistic, predicting that some of the units would not be operational for at least five months. Reliance had the entire complex fully functional in 21 days. K.K.Malhotra. chief of RIL's manufacturing operations provided some details: Understand the scale of the havoc... After the water receded, we had to remove 50000 tons of garbage - silt, dead animals. floating junk - before we could get to the actual recovery work. All our sophisticated electronic and electrical equipment had been under water for hours... We set up a control room to connect the site with the outside world . Then we took time to carefully ]ook at the damage and quantify the work. Based on that quantification, we set up objectives. for each plant, when it will be on track. Each day at 11 a.m., 1 would have a meeting for an hour to review... on the third day I asked the Du Pont people, " what do you think?" We had planned a to get our two huge compressors ready in 14 days. They said, "out of two, if you can get one ready in a month, you will be lucky". I phoned Mukesh that evening and said "I want these guys out of here. If they say this, it will percolate... it will break the will.” We had the compressors one day shead of schedule, and the whole plant going a week ahead of plan. The real secret to speed, according to Malhotra. lay in two things: careful planning to quantify tasks and then saturating the tasks with resources: Most companies do not quantify the tasks. do not quantify the resources required....anyone who says we will do this is 24 months has not done a proper estimation for only by accident can the real requirement match such a nice round number....we assess the requirement precisely. And then. once the plans are done, we saturate resources. We put in the largest amount of resource that the task can absorb. without people tripping over each other... If | had all the time in the world, 1 would optimise. But given my opportunity cost of lost production, it almost does not matter how much it costs because, if I can get the production going earlier, I always come out ahead.. only when you put the value of time in the equation do you get sound economics and then saturation almost always makes sense. And finally, we follow a dictum: co-ordinate horizontally, when in trouble go vertical, That dictum - both parts of it - are also vital for speed, The Organisation Structure With the constant flux in both the status and role of senior managers. it was hard to draw a formal organisation structure of Reliance nor was one readily available inside the company. Historically. the company had been managed along functional lines. The company’s focus on rapidly building and tightly managing its assets was supported by the professional excellence of a group of managers who had complete responsibility for specific functional areas like finance. manufacturing. planning. purchase and human resources on a group-wide basis. In the recent past, the revenue side had been strengthened by the creation of a set of business units with profit and loss responsibility for specific products such as PFY. PSF. PTA. LAB. Fabrics etc.. While the different products were produced in common manufacturing sites that were managed by the manufacturing function. the business unit managers were expected to liaise with these site managers with regard to their own specific requirements. Individuals heading the different business units and functions typically carried the title of President or Chief Executive and each of them reported to the “Ambanis” The result of such a structure was a high degree of ambiguity but also a high level of flexibility. People could be brought into the organisation from the outside quite easily: responsibilities could be adjusted without openly declaring winners and losers; and positions could be created and abolished overnight. Managers more often than not