You are on page 1of 18


geffiffig$s$ ffi_ x w&x * &Pffi$& € S, gffiE tll
{ewffi$$sg ffi_ $ w&$ * &pffi$& € S, gs€ {F}
Management gwu CK Pnahalad
passes awry; industry mourns
ftrjobis to understand
New Delhi, Apr 17: CKPrahal- !,}.a,1op
ad, globally renowned manage-
ment guru, eminent thought
becomes the diamond -
leader and a distinguished pro- so most people live
fessor at Ross School of Busi- normal, middle class
ness, University of Michigan,
passed away on Saturday morn-
lives. That,Ithink,
ing at a San Diegohospital after shouldbe our goal as
abrief illness. Hewas 69. managem andpqryle
Prahalad, best-known for his
b o ok T he For tune at t he B ott om of ofprivilege ' .

the Pyramid- Eradicating Pouer- - CK Prahalad | '

ty throug h Profils, is survived by
his wife, a son and a daughter. 1975. He served as a profes;sor at and Washington-based World
Hailingfrom the textile city of the IIM-A between 1976 an'il 1977. Resources Institute.
Coimbatore, Prahalad did his After his doctorate fronr Har- His other popuiar books are
B. Sc. from Universityof Madras vard, he had been associated The Future of Competition: Co-
in 1960, a post-graduate diploma with University of Michigan. creating Value With Customers,
in management from the IIM, Prahalad was also on the T he Multinational Mi s sion, B al-
Ahmedabad(1966), andDoctorof boards of severaitop Indian and ancing G lo b al Inte g r atio n Wit h
Business Administration from global companies and .institu- LocalResponsiueness.
the Harvard Business School in tions like Hindustan Llnilever r GKtheteacher, Page2

.tlir' ..rl
CXw* on. ofthe foremost He contributed signif icantly He will always hold a special
visionary t creative thinkers ts our business and aLways flace in the hearts of Indian
of our times. His guidance supported us in times; of managers as the man who
had aprofoundimpact on will miss,Cx,,pnd
need. We I gave us the courage to
several Indian busiheses wouldmisshim compete on a gl ,

- KV Kamath, past plesid€rt, cll - Harieh Manwantihai;#bn, sut- - Asradd Mahindra, vednd:lilD, M&M
CKP changed the conversation in the field of strategy & coined terms
like Core-Competence, Strategic Intent and Bottom of the tryramid

GKPMHALAD N[! M[|NE Our Bureau

OIMBATORE Krishnarao Prahalad, one
of the foremost strdtegic advisers to
those at the very top o{ the corporate
fyramid, passed away on Friday in Cali
{omia. United States, after a brief illness.
The 68-year-old was battling lung disease for the
past few days, those ciose to him said.
"It's a pro{ound lbss' CKP was not oniy a great map-
agement thinker but also a luminous intellect always
reneyving himself," said RI( Ikishna I(umat vice-
chairman, lndianHotels, anddirector,Tata Sons, who
has known Mr Prahaladfor the last 40 years.
The Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished Uni-
versiry Professor at the University of Michigan was
ratedls the most influential management thought
leader twice in a row by Thinkers 50 listing of the
world's top business management gur-rs. Three of his
boldly original ideas-Strategic Inteatt, Core Compe-_
tence and Bottom o{ the Pytamid-became part of
the rule book for a whole generation of execudves,
shaping winrring strategies for their companies.
His bottom-of-the-pyramid approach, which
chaiienged conventional ttunking about targeting ii
only the most profirable segme nts of the market' ac-
quired a permanent piace ur the lericon of chief e-r-
ecutives- -His rheorr I ;li
-{or behind ihe riabili-
rl'of the h-igh-r'olune- lon'--iql buslnem loniei-'
lr-a: pa-rh-trrealwg't-i.{ Fna: fanffir ? iflds
preiiienl of xrtmue mfusmg prynm6 -[ams*m" _
,{ *ie4 aud w@m} u'*d fob &@ am'tu[]l
do*a m Sc cm dfu'@&:md,om ;uryrmh
*Wi h$ffin
*nr:wmime s&lliiiE
I @mdftmpcr*llrl: rui ln:
!IEL?q* rr. i"!.- - :-- L":::!.- :-- --- ' :

@I!bl-q in.ri : i:
r! : : i! - : : 5. .: :

- --f,€ -: r1-,-:- li>:i ::---' i;- :.1ailei rOI nlaii:-::'
menr deiiciencies, and above ail, his ability to susiain
high levels of energy even in the fice oI some of the
rmost daunting said r:kshmi
Narayanan, ldcedaimanoJ CognizanrTethnolqies-
tVhile 1[r Prahalad consu]ted with at leas: lC
li::r !:l::e:rS:::: Le',',:; :: l:e 3i::; ::
, :i::-.:::: .:: :-ii: :: \-l :-.: '.:: \f--:.: i:-
so-;:..= :::::-:: L-.::: *::-:: ;. -:,:.:: ---.
WaS a :-.::--::: -: .:-: :, ':: .: i.:-i-.::- (
Lrnilerc:;:.: ]_' ! -=:.:.-
Ilis bocL ---:e l::.--=,":::::)'.: ::::n: :.':.::
Pyramirl C:tt::=t".; .':-:i;: 'n:,-; j:: :i:;': .-_",J-'r:::- CKP was one of the foremost
' tition: Co-Cri;:,:; -'''::;i: ',';-;.: ',','.:i:. J:..;:rt:i'-:: alrd
The New Ay; :'-':1::";:.-'t:'
lateral thinkers of our times. He
"l put acacr::.s ---.: . :::cc ia-f.lps: a r ast maiori-
t1'just get br': : ir;'; :nate one imponant contribu-
had this uncanny knack of looking
tion; once i:: a '.vhie, .vou have an academic who into the future. Whether it was the
makes ser erai seminal contributions. CI( belongs in
the third category. CK fundamentally changed the fortune at the bottom of the basics hotel concept. Ile clearly foresaw how the
conversanon in the field of.strategy. He coined modern world would unfold over the next few -
terms like Core Competence, Strategic Intent, and pyramid or potential rise of the years,o said Mr Iftishna I(umar.
Bottom of the P1'ramid that will remain with us for- Mr Prahalad was upbeat about India's future and
ever. He was a scholar, teacher, and consultant par multinational lndian business, he in the last few years visited the country frequently.
excellence," said Vijay Govindrajan, professor at Descrlbing India as a "laboratory of innovation," he
Tuck School of Management. In his later books, the saw it 10 ye"ars before anyone else envisioned India as a world leader by 2022 in his In-
management guru included some Indian successes, dia@75 talks. He was the first Indian management
among them ffC's e-choupal initiative, Hindustan ffiV Kmrl'smth guru to attain international stature and broke the
Unilever's Project Shakti, Aravind Eye Hospital, and Chairman, lClCl Bank glass ceiling of Anglo-Saxon dominance inmanage-
the Jaipur foot, to showcase the innovation that In- ment theory. It was because of him that other lndi-
dian companies are capable of . Mr Prahalad worked an academics started getting recognised for their
with some Tata companies and germinated the idea managemenl theories.
of low-cost, affordability-basedproducts and servic- "We are all followers of CI(P; he paved the way
es Lbat saw tie group launch the Ginger Horel Ior us," observed Nirmalaya I(umar of the of Lon-
gror4- "Ee led the hinking in developin g the smart don Schooi of Business.
,,$i^,- 1.
ffi&$ffiffiffi ffiNWfuffi ffiffi
ffi ffi pffiffiffi&&ffiffi$

betop ofthepyraniid

ONE FROM THE ALBUM: CK Prahalad receiving the Global tndian Award in 2OO4

ROFESSOR CK Prahalad will be course oI which I spent considerable time
remembered among the grearesr with him. h one of our conversations, he
thought{eaders ol rhe 2l st cenrury said. ilyou want tobefocused on thenext
His path-breaking work on strategy practice, youhave to worry about weak
undoubtedly represents one of the defining signais. You mustlookatthe periphery
points in the evolution of management You must see whatthe outliers are doing,
theory. He brokefrom the mouldof purely connectthe dots and see a newpattem.
ana\tical and mechanistic ways. hstead, Thinkabout ceatingthe future for
he advocatedthe needto Iift oursights yoursell as running a 400-metre marathon
ftom merely incremehtal change to at a time. This calls for urgenry speed and
revoiutionary change. Ttuly, he liftedman- stamina ali at one goi And these, he said"
agement thought to new levels of -
are the watchwords for management.
excilement and activism. He also pointed oui how the basic
He was an alchemist. He workedwith drivers of strucrural change are going to be
missionary zeal ro get lndianbusinesses to connectivity, indusive growth,
uncover the immense possibilities at the sustainabiJity and globai markets. And
bottom of the pyramid. This not only therefore, there is emerging a new logic tor
because of the latent business global managemenr. He called it "20 hubs
opporfunities, but because of his andno spokes". Irememberhim saymg-
conviction howrhepoorcouldbe iI you do not start with a legacy mindset,
uplifted. And rhat's how businesses could you can innovate like crazy. Do not worry
win tie legitimacy and trusr that they about the leamingcurve, worry about the
deserved. His contention, that business in- lorgening curve. Forgettingmay be more
terests arld the interests ofsociety could be difficult thanleaming.
intertwined, has beena powerfulmessage. Today, if one were to cawe outthe
Doingtrusiness arrddoinggooddidnot equivalent of a Mount Rushmore for
have to be two distinct initiatives. management thinkers, I am sure, prof pra-
His cutring-edge ideas and wisdom halad would have to belongthere. He wi.ll
have a timeless relevance. kr earlyDecem- always remain on top of the pyramid.
ber last yea1, we had hof Prahalad talk to We are deeply saddened by his
our senior management team, during the sudden demise.

prof essronal-scholarpar excellence, outstanding
MBA teache{, and highly sought after CEO coach]
He was the world's most-influentialbusiness
thinker. He was nor j ust rrying ro help corporations
Decome more compeiltive_he was working to
make our world a bemer place. Above all, h."*r, u
wonderfulhuman being who deep\ loved his fam_
ily. It is these qualiries rhat inspire my ornn
professional career and personal li{e.
lWo incidents caplure lhe essence ol my respect
"lor.CI(. For years, I have been rrying io g.i Cf io
visit Tirck and address our MBAirudenls_
without much luck. Then I hit upon a brain wave,
I persuaded his da ughrer Deepa, to come
ro Tirck
to do her MBA. Well, Cf< couidn,r tu." aorv"
rd;, ; #;il#'#;?::
CI('s ':'?:#5:fJ'"
talks-again nor with much luck. So I
persuaded her ro do an MBA (No. she is nor Tuckl.
With rhe rhoughr oIsrardng her MBA lasr fal],
Tarunya was nowmore willing to listenlc rnanage-
ment gurus. She attended CI{3 talk at the Woridln-
novation Forum last May. She was not only blon'n
a way bi his ariicular ion oJ how core competencies

can be leveraged for innova tion, she told me :,,Dad,
I spent two hours with CI( after his talk. For all his
accomplistnnents, he is so simpie and humble. It is
incredible". He is incredible, indeed.
There are two tlpes of academics. Vastmajority
of academics try to catch fish in a well understood
pond.(Sometimes we wait and prayevenwhen
there is no more hsh in r he pond,1. There d I e very
few academ ics who poinr us ir r he direcrion of a
new pond whele we can go and stan the process of
catching fish all over again-this is CI(,s forte. He
has opened up so many new research paths. He has
fundamentally changed the conversadon in the
field of stategy. One of tlre hallmarks of CIt is that
he neverpubLished two anicles on the sarr-re topic-
his style is to create a new line of inquiry, ieave the
space lor "mere nrona ls" a nd rnove on to the nerl.
' Let me highlight one of his seminal
contributions-straregic inrenl. There are wo n ays
to think about strategy. The tradirional view says
that companies should match current resources
with extemal opportunities. CI(k vierv is that
companies should set their ambition first and then
expand the resource base to reach that ambition.
For CI(, strategyis innovation. The siarting poim for
developing innovarion is to have a huge ainbition.
History is full of examples of greatness sowed in
the vision for a chiid when the family could ill
afford even the basic necessities. The essence of a
strategic intent (or vision) is that it works in an
"opportunity-backward" manner, not a
"constraint-{orward" manner. In orher wor.ds, the
act of strategic intent disregards the scarcity of
resources in the present. The style of rhinking
changes fuom a "budgering" orientadon to ai
"innovat ion" orientation.
In many organisations, vision is eiiher nonexist-
ent or sounds so much like "motherhood and
apple pie" that it hardly galvanises employees. Suc-
cessIu I orga n isarions imagine r he lur u re in bold
terms; the details are nor always tlred, but the big
picture and ihe direction al'e clear, and a1l
employees are aligned. John E I(ennedy's dream
and vlsion for Americain the earlv 1960s is an
example: "We will put a man on tle moon and
bring himbackbefore the end of this decade.,,The
vision ofRatanTata, CEO ofthe Indian
mulunarionalTara Croup. also cornes ro mind:
"Ourintent is to crcare a high-quaLiry,4-pasrenger
automobile priced ar $2,000 rhar meers all
emission requirements."
Why does a compelling suategic intent provoke
an innovatir e resptrnse? Because people are drawn
tochalJenginggoals. Deep inride, r,re ieel uplifred
by the thought of dimbing a mountain in a'lvayr /e
are not by the idea of scaling a molehill.
Ci{ practiced his theories in his own life. Even as
a doctoral student, he had a verv nice home anrl
lived in style. He did not want to restrict his lifestyle
within the stipend that a "poor" doctoral studenf
received. Instead, he defined the lifestyle he
wanted and expanded his resource baie to meet
his ambition.
CI('s liJe is his message. Let us celebrate his
Iasring legary.
& Global lndian Of Tfie Year 2004, CK Prahalad in his acceptance speech at Awards
ffi | NovEMBER 20, 2oo9 ET

ETJndia can argue that it's not a big Overthe lastfive years. there'sbeen abroad
polluter compared to developed acceptance that the bottom oI the pyramid
countries, so the companies here (BoP) is a viable market. And if you look at
don't really need to start thinking of BoB it's 5 billionpeople. It's notamonolith,
sustainable development lMrat it's awhole numberof segmentations. At
would you tell such companies? least in krdia this is not a debate an1'rnore
CI(P: In India, you don't have to stan (on forme. These are ourmarkets. The gOO mil-
sustainable development) because you are lionpeople are ourmarkets. So, the compa-
abigpolluter. You cdn startbecause there's nies are recognising it andlaunching
a shortage of resources. ff I look at a products aimed at these consumers.
washing machine that iecognises when
eiectricity was cut off and starts the wash Finalf,what's nextftom C K
cycle trom there and not the beginning Prahalad?
then it saves energy, it saves water and it is ff you look at myworb it is centered
acceptable inlndiabecauseitis sustainable around four areas: Globalisatioq role of AfEW GOOD MEN: Prahalad with Rahul Bajaj &
development andit's goodbusiness. The connectiviry inclusive gowth and P Chidambaram atthe EIAwards 2004
beauty of this is, if you innovate here, you sustainability. Nobody has looked at all four
can take those innovations back to the US. of themandsaidwhatare thelinkages. ff
you thinkfor a rninute. globalisation means
lfs been five years since you wrote nothingif Ican'tindude morepeople. As
LhebookThe Fortune atthe Boftom soon as you indude more people, it's going
ofthe Pyronid. How successful have to impact sustainability. And, as soon as you
companies been in tappingthis have connectiviry people are going robe
market? more informed.

ET:As authorof The Fortune otthe what's stoppingus from achieving similar
Bottom of the Pyromid,ateyou suctess iq other areas? It's all about
happywith thewaylndia is looking you look at it. A SHOT lN THEARM; Exchanging noteswith
to achieve inclusive growth? ls there I
. Biocon's Kiran Majumdar-Shaw
a need to strengthen the ecosystem You have always batted for the
here for unlockingvalue at the lndian economy.lMrat makesyou so
bottom? upbeat aboutthe economy?
CI(P: There's no denyingthat hrdia needs Indiabecameindependentin 1947. Butit
to do more to eradicate the abjectpoveny achieved economic independence only in
inthe country. Yet wehav€ to take notice 1992 and, inmerely lTyears, the country
ol the success stories all around us in reach- has come a longway.lndia is doing pretty
ing out to t he poor. The seU-help goup sys- wellcomparedto others. Everytime acom-
tem, fIC's e-choupalmodelorAmul's parison is dran'n between India and China
dairyplant are successful experiments of but don't forgetthat China is 20years ahead
using the ecosystern for reaching out to the of us as faras economicreforms go.It's like
poormasses. Cellphones, too, have the story df the hare andthe tortbise. Time
penetratedrural markets andnow a wiil tell, who will win. I can say with
million kirana shops are selling telecom conviction, the long-term ftend is extreme- SPEAKING WORDS OF WSDOM: The Parekh and GOIDEN MOMENI: Prahalad speaking at
products. Ilthe telecomboom can happen, Iy positive for lndia Prahalad lamilies share a ferru ideas The Economic Times Awards function
Management guru c. K. Frahalad passes away
'Flis passion for India to tal<e its place on the world stage was unwavering'
make it apurposeful, larger Pic- and Ied nranya comPanYto look
Our Bureau
ture. Hii ability to Predict at providing goods and serwices
Cl'tennai,April l7 to the poor as an oPPortunltY'
trends made his books bestsell-
Erninent thought leader and ers and also influenced man- With case srudies of Aravind
mrnagement guru Prof C. K. agementthought. Eve hospitals and HUL's Pro-
1 Pr:rhalad passed awaY this His Competing for the Fu- iect Shakti, among others. he
I morning in San Diego, US. ai- rure 0994)-, co-authored with outlined new business models
I a brief illness. He was 68.
ter targeted at providinggoods and
Garv Hamel and Printed in 14
I There cin be manY aPPella- languages, was among the best- seirices to the Poorest oi the
I tions fol Prof Prahalad, who selling- business books that world.
was rhe Paul and Ruth vear. 7he Future of ComPet[ As his initial indicates, Coim-
J Mccracken Distingtiished batore Krishnarao Prahalad
tion (co-authored witlr Venkat
i University Professor at the Ramaswamy). was translated was born in that town and was
Ross School of Business, Uni- into 12 languages. one of nine children. His father
versity ol Michjgan: corporate BusineisWeek described was a well-known Sanskrit
strategy specialist, whorn the book as "provocarive" and scholarlnd a jLrdge in Chennai.
B usi ne ssWe ek m agazitre once "rn importani book full otdis- After graduating in PhYsics
called one of the most influen- Prof C.K. Prahalad: l94f'2OIO ruotive ideas". The book was -[our College Prahdad
from Lovoia
tial thinkers onbusiness strate; the first to talk about how com- worked years ior Union
He served on the board of cli- world stage was unwavering;
w, ancl loremost a chamPiol oI panies need ro co-create unique Carbide before his Post-gradu-
India's cause at many world rectors of TVS CaPital Funds hc ,rlr,r'rvimade the rime and
value with customers rather ation in management in the fi rst
and Hindustan Unilever Ltd, cnergy to travel to India
h:rd tl rc
--lHonoured than firms creating Products batchof IIM-A.
with the amongothers. Mr GoPal Srini- over l0 times a year to address
and deliveringto consumers. After a doctorate from Har-
vasan, Chairman of TVS CaP- various fora and talk to man-
Bhushan last year, Prof Praha- His seminal book, The For- vard, ProfPrahalad returned to
lad, a prolific author of manY ital and a forrner student of rgemelts. For me he was a
who was alwaYs bY mY tune dt the B ott om ofthe PYr a- teach at his alma mater,IlM,
influential books rhat chal-. ,Frof Prahalad at the UniversitY mentol mid: Eradicating Pover4l before returning to the US' He
lenged the existing paredigms' of'Mi.higutt, said his former side," said Mr Srinivasan. wrs with the UniversirY of Mi-
Mr Srinivasan said Prof Pra- through erofit IZOO+), was se-
had consulted with the toP teacher has 1eft behind a legacY lected as oni ofthe best books chigan since 1977.
halad, a powerful orator, had
managenient, of manY of the for generations. "His Passion of the year by The Economist >>Tributeson Page 5
for lndiato take its Place on the the abilitv to connect lhe dtlts to
worlcLs foremost comPanies'
To Sir, with love biliw and in the third edition he
Gopal Srinivasan
told'them that both Indian in-
I recall my first meeting dustrialists and consumers will
with C. K. Prahalad vividlY' It
have incredible weaith in the
was the Fall of 198i. I had just
vears to come. In the mid and
enrolled for the MBA Pro- iate'90s this seemed imPossi-
eramme at the business school
it the University of Michigan,
But look at his ability to see
things so far ahead His passion
I ran into him in the hallwaY.
for India was such that he
An intense iooking man, t'ith
would visit the countrY six to
large bright eyes and large
tentimes ayear.
I knewtherewas aPrahalad'
He always made the time
and had the energy to connect
on the faculty but didn't know
and speak to Indian businesses,
this was him. He accosted me,
sovernmentand NGOs.
salrng, '1 know who You are, " His professional code of
but vou don't know me. But, conducf was such that he
tell me, what are You going to Prof C. K. Prahalad and Mr cGopal Srinivasan (file photo).
would always keep an engage-
do this summer to better Your G. R. N. Somashekar
familybusiness and your coun-
- ment, even at.the cost of his
co-creation, next Practices and said he would instead sPeak of health.
the fortune at the bottom of theIndia@7|. Such was his focus And, an exemplary friend
was Prahalad for You.
pwamid. in envisioningthe future agen- and mentor, on whom one
His commitment to India and ' -
Many people are abie to out- daforthe country. could count to be at one's side
,for the countrY to take its Place in times of need and life-inflex-
on the world stage was unwa- Hne a 6ig ide4 a new theorJ,' When his ideaof 5oo million
vering. But Prahalad's uniqueness laY skilled Indians and 2oo million ions.
He used to say that India got
His course on corporate in his abiiiwto connectthe dots college graduates was framed Independence through'Poor-
sbrategy was in greatest de' - making the big picture lucid inthe Presidenfs 2009 inaugu-
na swarai' but when would
mand and'at the end ol the and breaking it down to the ral address to Parliament,
would have expected the au- 'sampoorna azadi'come ior its
course he would throw agrand next steps.
party at his house with food To stimulate action in those thor, Prahalad, to celebrate and businesses?
exposed to the ideas. A contin- perhaps even relish the mo- He iooked at entrepreneurs
from the best place in town - as freedom fighters and used to
he wanted every student to uinE theme with him over the ment. sav that fteedom from shonag-
know how impofiant he or she veais was that India should re- But instead, he said, now we
guln itt place in the world bY need to find the leaders to go do es and the road to good govern-
was, and had a chance to make
ance would be delivered onlY
a difference with their lives Indians building capabilities, it, and thafs going to
be the
that driven by meritocracy and In- next challenge. bv education, meritocracY and
There were several things
dia always conducting itself in When he first addressed the the entrepreneurial energies of
made rny teacher outstanding.
an exemplary manner. Windsor Club' in Bangaiore, India.
UndoubtedlY, he was a vi- tireless fight-
he told the captains ofindustrY He truly was a
sionarv thinker on strategic At every oppornrniiy on the
*, and Lhe finest world stage, he evangelised In- that MNCs would take over er for India's economic and
thinker our dian success stories. their companies eventuailY. moralfreedom.
management to
When the Confederation of of couise, no one beiieved The best tribute him
countrryhas produced.
Indian Industry wanted him to him. In the second Part, he would be for us to continue to
He has created several Path-
sneak on India@60 - the anni- urged lndian industriaiists to toil for that noble cause.
breaking bodies of thoughr (A s t oI d to Vinay Kama th)
ieadership: core competence, uirsan' of lndependence he - beiome global in terms of caPa-
outstanding professor and friend
Bala Balachandran
What one remembers most
N "rrtr clarity of thought and creative and riding rhe manager.::
about C. K. Prahalad is the expression cr eated lasting impressions thought wave. He :h.- .-.
extent of warmth course, went on tc :,...-_
and and he was the undisputed master of guish himself as onr
genuineness he brousht ro :.-.=
the table. the classroom." finest professors an; _-_ -.
His friends were very spe- in rhe field of manage:_.-
cial to him and he would'go .{s a famill man, I ., .

out of rhe way to ensure that knori n him to ii alk rhe ...._:-
the related ceremonies to best professors at IIfI_-{ mile in ensuring that he ri,:s
they were comfortable. complete. \4/hen
Another notable trait your friend
he \\.as even in those dar-s. He a r,or onil'an outstanding
he u'as a friend complete .hur.e, all the rher. but a menror ' ani
about him was that he trieci indeed.
wayi no could d."am oi friend to his family as lrell.
his best to attend everv func- You had no-holds barred sleiping in his class. His In their hour of griei. I
tion, event that he #as in- support from him and he clarity of thought and cre_ pray to the almighw ro o--"
vited for - now let me also was th,e person you wanted
tell you that ifyou lived in the alroulg rl
uriu.' .*pr.rsion created ih.m th. ri;;nfth',; E;r:
needed a lasting impressions and he with his incredible
US and had friends all over snouloer to Iean on.
was the undisputed master
loss. \hi
the country, both Indian and his soul rest in peace.
What made him an out- of the classroorl. (Prof BaIa
American, this is no easy standing. teacher and Bala::..:-.-
task. _ Harvarcl was in those days dran, Founder and D=:-.
pfo1rptea. him to pur.sue his the pioneer of several firsis Great Lakes Insrir:::.
I still remember that he Ph.D could be attributed to in management education Mand.gement &
had flou'n dou'n all the wav two things his inimitable like the .lrr. bur.J and ex_ -rl- K. -. . -
from \,Iichigan to Houston to an4 lucid-communication Prof of Managern,.,, _-,-
periential i;;i"e formats counting, Kellogg S-.: .-
attend my youngel. son's and more fundamenrally. his ind
u'edding and stayed u ith us Daslc iove tor teaching. his ,tini tf,.i? allowed Management, Arrerr' -- 1_'

fbl the two days it took lor all
him to realise the advantag_ P-rahalad for ot c- . , :
He ranked one of the es of staying on in the U"S decad es)


The prescience of Prahalad
Manaoement quru G.K. Prahalad, who passed away on saturday; had an uncanny
foresi[ht to see the next big trends to impact global businesses.
basis of the book to a corporate audience at
Vinay Kamath the Tai Coromandel. In the middle of the talk,
I first met C. K. Prahalad in New Delhi in the hotel staff suddenly distributed confec-
1993. I had never heard ofhim at that time but tionerv to all in the hall from large packs. They
was sufficiently overawed as BusinessWeek *.r. M* sweets, priced at 50 paise each and
had called him "the most influential thinker made and marketedbyHindustan Unilever. It
on corporate strategy today," and was keen on was CKP's way of demonstratingthat compa-
meeting the man. Acknowledged then as-one nies could come up with quality, low-unit
of mahieemenfs new guruslecause of his orice oacks of products to cater to the poor
fresh ap[roach to the global market place. 'otofrtiblv. As he had said then' "The real
there was a lot written on him in American source oi market promise is not the wealthy
business magazines but very little in India few in the devel-oping world, or even the
and few in ttre industry had heard of him. emerging middle-income consumers. It is the
We were to intervieiw him for the national billiois 6f aspiring poor who are joining the
business dailv I worked for then and the ven- market economy for the first time."
ue was the Taj Mansingh hotel. Over the next He was of the view that a market at the
two-and-a-hilf hours, Prahalad with his bottom ofthe pyramid could be co-created by

powerfirl oration and emphatic gestures mes- MNCs and d-omestic industry, NGOs and
merised us on a variety of issues. CKP, as he is most importantiy, the poor them,selve.s, Toq
popularlv known in industry circles, talked often poor people are pitronised, he said, and
ibout how the coming of the multinationals wanted them-to have real power in the
into India cannot be stopped, while pointing marketplace.
low Remarkable out that Indian industry was much too in-
lUomon Lead ward looking and businessmen were raising SIMPLE PRESCRIPTION
lo;rrtna Barsh and too manybogies about the MNCs. with CKP was in
Mv last extensive interview
iirsic Cranston The MNCs. he had said then, were essen- .laiuarv 2009 (The New Manager, 'saryam
tial for the Indian industry to become a global sasa miv have wider impact', J an 12, 2009)' in
oower itself. Call it prescience but much of thE buci.drop of the financial sector break-
i"h"t he said in thai seminal interview has in New down in the and Ramalinga Raju's revela-
nlaved out so true for the industrry. Prof C.l( Prahalad addressing the CII National Conference and annual session
' .[ stickler tion. CKP was in Chennai to speak at the
for the precise word, he had Delhi in March 2009. - sandeep Saxena
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and later at the CII
wanted us to fax (it was long before the In- Young Indians iorum. He spoke at length on
imagination." The extensive intenriew, pub- verv fascinated bv how much satisfaction
ternet happened!) the text ofhis interview to whatfndian companies needed to do to- stay
fish6d in two parts, reflected CKP's anguish theie with whatis happening in software. I
him in thd US and he called back with his afloat in the recession that confronted the
thatthere was not much debate onthe coming think it is an extraordinary achievement so
colrcctions. The year 1993 was an early point global economy. His prescription was.simple.
of the MNCs when the world order rvas shift- far, butwe haven't scratched the surface ifyou
on tlrc roacl to libcralisation and Indian com- iust three thinqs: conserve cash, fix internrl
in'i rrnidly firrbtrsirlcsscs. I rccrll gcttings.'v- look at the global software industry. I feel that
trrrrit's wcrc lrrrttlirtg thc MN(l llogcy. Thcrc r,r'hcn it gcts to have 2-3 per cent of the inefficiencies and do things morc crertively'
criil clrlls"ll,trrl s('tti()t' ittclrr:lrv l,'ltLlr't's lr'lt'l lntlir,
wt'r't' issucs wirlr l.Ml. lrntl l'ilrggio, Stlztrki Crrrlting to Chcrrnli wlts lllwlys :t ltttlttt'-
rrrrrl Mrttttti. ll(:1, lll',;rrrtl Slrt'll lrrrtl wlllit'tl tt'rtrl lltt' itll('t'vi('u' stilttttLtllrl lrv (litl"s lirl 11lolr:rl s,r['tw:u ti ltlrlt'l(ct tts cotnparctl to the 0.1
l,{,r'r'(,ilt rr,' lr,rvt', it will li'('l Ilrt' tlilli'r't'rlt't'." contirtg ol'sot ts lirr' (ll(l'. As his lirrrrrt'r strl
I lrt ipllrl ttr':rr lttttl tr';tltl irrii lr I p,t't irr torrr'li rvil lt
ottl ol'Not'il,
l,allt ott, tvltctt (Il(l"s Irtrli;r virilr lrt't';ttttt' rk'rtt, ilrplrl Stittiv;tsltrr, (llr;tiltltrttt ol't'VS
lrirri, Alrr,,ilg {lte ,,rllt'lrt tr'rl$ l'l 11!llnrrr J{*vl r',.,,it,r1 rrrrirrtr rrrrt {llil, rlrr,lir.rl irr llrt"l'rrlrtil
IIlIIl. AllrurrH Lrlc lautl D w
INDIAN MULTINATIONALS Kant, who was Marketing Director of LML at more frequen! I used to meet him often in Capital, p-oints out, CKP studied in the Tamil
'l'o ir question on these spats, it would be that point of time who found CKP's views Chennai. lt would be events such as the con- medium at the Corporation School in the
worth reproducing CKP's answer: "What I refreihing. Kant, of course, in later years, vocation address at the Great Lakes Institute Nungambakkam area of the city. From that
sct' is r reaction to the requirement offoreigrr went on io become MD of Tata Motors and of Management or more recently when he background to stride across the world stage in
strateg,v, Srinivasan
tlilcct investment rather than asking the spearheaded the Tatas'global ambitions in was one bf the star speakers at the Pan-IIT academia and business
IIT few ofthe interactions says is what CKP always believed in: merito-
tlrrt'stion: how do we grow tndian multina- cbmmercial vehicles. A fact, no doubt, ap- event at Madras. A
plaudedbyCKP. were arranged at the IFMR campus inChen- cricv. Not manv know too that CKP worked
lion;rls; how do we build MNCs that are lndi- - CKP stoked the debate amongthe captains nai by the late Prof S. Ramachander, former lor a while
in ihennai with tndia Fistons of
lrr in oligin but have a global spread? To me,-if gtoup after his MBA from
prolific writer and the Amalgamations
*" ca'rt do that, all this talk about glob- of Indian industry on the need to be global Direitor, and
at consultant to
who was a
LJne. CKP and Ra- IIM-4.
rrlisrtion and exports is goingto be short tetm' players; his annual sessions with CEos held -Business
Just before Ramachander passed away, on
Our long-term destiny is to build global lhewindsor Manor hotel in Bangalore were machanderwentback alongway-therewere a visit to his home when he was ailing he lent
MNCs. If you want to do that we must have a essentially to fire their imagination. And, it classmates in the first batch of IIM-A' The
CKP was me CKP's latest book signed by the man him-
long-term strategy that attracting MNCs to, did get them going: In a little over a decade two shared an enduringfriendship -
present for the launch ofRamachander's first self,The New Age of Innovation, co-author-
come to India also facilitates the process of fromthe ear1yl990s, many Indian companies
ai,AscendingtheValue Spiral ed with M.S. Krishnan. Ramachander had
bccoming MNCs. What I see is inward in- strode out into the world to acquire compa- book in Chenn
while ma:ry wrote the foreword for the book. described the book as quintessential CKP,
v('stnlcnt, but what I don't is Indian compa- nies and acquired an MNC tag and
CKP's interviews were dominated by the bristling with anecdotes, new concepts, and
rrit,s tlurt lnVe thc inragination, wherewithal Indian-origin managers are chiefs of global
current thought and debate lre was engaged new arguments. Am yet to corrplete the book
;rrr,l ,lriv,' lo srtv llt:tl stttttt'tl;ly I wotrld like to corporations.
lrr. ;r 'lirvollt ot lt Ilotttllt, Ilotlt wct'c ollcc tilly CXp, in that intelview, also had stlong in. On curc of his eallicr visits b Cltcnnai, post but neecl to lctttrn it to llanuchlnclct''s
on software expofts. They were early the launch ofhis book, Forfun e dt theBottom as a keepsake to remember CKP's ancl Chan-
lilIlt' t'ritrrlttnit:s. I clo ttot bclicve that we are views
gave a talk on the der's enduring friendship.
t'onstluirrctl by t'csottrces, I think we are by days, no doubt, but as he s-aid, to quote: "I am of the Pyramid, in 2004, he
A master abstractionist
Lakshmi NaraYanan

It was at a technologY confer-
ence in 2004 that CarlYFiori- There are innumerable ex-
na. then CEO of , amples of his abilitY to.ab-
Hewlett-Packard, was deliv- stract a theme in any glven
ering a keYnote address. She situation that can easilY stand
was talking eloquentlY about the test of time and anY man-
HP's experiment at KuPPam, agementtheorY. It is this abil-
Andhra Pradesh, where the itv that he Put to use so
comDanv was emPowering eifectively in defining a vision
villagers through technologY for India@75, as Part of a
- distributing digital cam- large CII initiative. His Pre-
eras and image Printers that scription for a strong and re-
could be used to generate in- surgent India, simPlY Put, is
come. She called it "doing one" of flnancial strength,
well by doing good" and went technologY excellence and
on to argue how the expert- moral auihoritY. So simPlY
ment had the Potential to be a put that his vision for India
Iarge revenue stream' C.K. Prahalad will live on.
Frofessor C'K. Prahalad three keY asPects and make A management guru, a
was also a sPeaker at the con- halad,I got an opPortunity to strategy consultant of the
sure that You make disPro-
ference and Carly's sPeech talk about Cognizant and its above all'
highest order and,
growth story. I was elaboral- oortionate investments along
seemed to fit in with a hY- 'those This was such a the Guru ofAbstraction, Pro-
oothesis he was working on' ing on the companYs nerl- fessor Prahalad will be mis-
tage, its image, its Progress, abstrac{ion of what
ili. subsequent work on sed bv all in the corporate
its" investment strategY and *., ut u firm, should be doing
"Fortune at the bottom ofthe strategicallY, that even todaY world. But his work will for-
Py'ramid" was a great abstrac- competitive Pressures' It ever remain and guide leaders
examPles' sounded almost like abig cor-
all of our investments are
tibn of the manY evaluated to see if theY make all over the world for a long
and stories that corPorate norate pitch.
' Professor Prahalad simPlY a big difference to how we are time.
Ieaders have exPerienced. differentiating ourselves in (The writer is Vice-Chair-
Once during a similar in- said: "You have to dif{eren- man. Cognizanl)
tiate your flrm along two or the marketPlace.
teraction with Professor Pra- ,r-ce
C.K. Prahalad passes away
India. scribed himas one ofthe great
Narayan Lakshman units, leaves and fruit as end
products. Nourishing and sta- Growing up in Chennai, management thinkers. Pro-
bilising everything is the root where his father was a San- fessor Prahalad, he said, had
WASHINGT0N DC: Coimbatore
system: core comPetencies." skrit scholar and judge, Pro- crusaded for the transforma-
Krishnarao Prahalad, Distin-
guished Professor in the Ross He was also known widelY fessor Prahalad worked tion of lndian business into
initially with Union Carbide globally competent business.
School of Business at the Uni- for his interest in the "For-
tune at the Bottom ofthe PYr- after completing a B.Sc' de- He had emphasised that en-
versity of Michigan, and a
trepreneurship held the keY
amid" and his book on the gree from Loyola College in
world authority on manage- to freedom.
ment thought, Passed awaY subject is considered an au- 1960. He then went on to ob-
a Postgraduate DiPloma Mr. Srinivasan, who is the
on Friday in San Diego after a thoritative exposition of the tain
potential for large corpora- in Business Administration Chairman and Managing Di-
brief illness. He was known of rector of TVS CaPital Funds,
for his work specialising in tions to improve the condi- from the Indian Institute in recalled that the management
strategy focussing tions of the poor in countries Management, Ahmedabad
corporate thinker was one of the foun-
Doctorate in Busi-
on top management in large, such as India. TheY could do 1966 and a
diversifled, multinational so. he argued. by "mobilising ness Administration in the der-directors of the
investmenL caPacitY [aJong Harvard Business School in organisation.
Professor Prahalad's semi- withl the commitment of 1975. He is survived
bY his gen t"
'oAmazingly int t' lI i

nal work, alongside Gary Ha- NGOs and the communities wife and two
Chennai SPeciaJ Corre- Jairam Varadalrt.i, Manag-
mel in the 1990s, on the that need helP." The Poor ing Director of lllgi l')quiP-
concept of "core comPe- must become active, in- spondent rePorts: ments, who was it sttttlcnt of
tence" of companies won the formed and involv,ed consum- Gopal Srinivasan, former
the he urged. Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Professor Prahzrlrr<l lirr fbur
McKinsey Prize and sold ers,
years in the UnivclsitY of'Mi-
maximum number of rePrints Yet Professor Prahalad's il- State Councii of the Confed-
chigan, descrilrtrtl him
in the entire 80-odd Years of lustrious career was not re- eration of Indian
Industry, as

to said Professor Prahalad had "amazinglY intclI igcrr1."
history of its publisher, the stricted academe: he
an "He had a tl't:ttlt:tttlttus de-
prestigious Harvard Business equally established his rePu- dreamt of India becoming
talion as a corporate consult- economic leader and a moral sire to mahe chirrlgtr haPPen
that would havc lrtt itllllrct on
In his paper with Hamel, he ant par excellence, working leader in the
comitY of
a large section ol pt'oplc."
urged corporate leaders to with a wide cross-section of nations. Mr. Varadall"i rt't irllcd how
think of diversified company companies from the CEOs of Recalling Prahalad's invol-
Fortune 200 firms vement in the PreParation of Professor Prah:rl:rtl, itt 1997,
as a tree: "The trunk and ma- the top 30
brought his f:rrn i lY I r I (lrimba-
jor limbs as core Products, to Hindustan Lever Limited the CIIIs vision document, In- tore to show thctrt lt is roots.
smaller branches as business and Microsoft CorPoration, dia at 75,
Mr. Srinivasan de-
I ::J-* + sl
Thg man
who would
rr P


iillluence eternitY
Kamn -"'"'::'.:
challenging the slatus
q"" PY.":I-t^ii".,ll t?Wno coulrl think 2518' tt remains,our
I t

neuer Itett
u L'
teacher affects elern-ity;,
he cdn
can neu(I
ffiftn:ggpql[p"1ii"m*rfi: or ttt tu -
;;;;rd; isperhaps"the:::***i,:rl:l: T,fi.ti:l una*arr to difficult-guestrons'
ftf,i*rn is perhaps.the b,est.examole
6L """uPaandMurli'
it"iu"tte' Strikingittutout
not manv who uqli:1"')iji'
Strat- :11"1$';t'" d^'*- itt... are
r'\ ' ittins in C K Prahalatl's Business
*" "?tt ffi;1#;i rogit
tt"o* againsl d'ominant
the it wl
logic rs
' &, utl *'u'it?itl tu*i pultion us d'id c K and'
$* lecture at lrn'ra"iiui"tiO do Gavatrt' Dee^paanly-Hll H:
-S indeetl,
$:;.".:;;"; ti; ; 1;1"1 1!1 t11i3. X'llJl:
*)u"",u::tr#t-il,:li:iulrie'1ifi Fp;n:n:;rutmt;it*"*--

*r'inrff***+*''.ll: q+${fimru*- ff;*"*rum
*,*'"ffiil.:1il;'+$ l"TT'Hfi
*i"?'^*i;';t Hjl*{1'#iti;:ffi
iorffiili"-i"t*' :ffJ*#l#fl#'
i.uu fuui,
go i*tead wJrere
is no Path and Ieave
awesomil as washis
t'il"d::iii#H ffi'' IWl r##:r";,_
y#[ffiTffi:ffJi,i:Ui1il.iji'-",*:?** mi
an invaluable member
Iever board
a:-rd once

persuaded us to invitelhe
try'olt-tT:*:1 1':t
Wi,** "J,Tl'3#i,"ifri"ii'

wives to a str"
u,,THt|El;'t'fli % ,*ffi'$ W;
His enthusiasm in talkrng

:ill'$""f if liil.I3-i'lli'$
insighls {j'om l:]:]] --

rrne else who t:ortlrl tlt:tw'srlt:h
ir,ii,:."i.".iii,,g n,riv.ry irrxru'lll:l.l::::::l'::i;,,, iiil:l'#iJiilii;iil::,r,
t I t-
guru CKP
THINIT ofthe red carpet atthe Oscars. Pierce Brosnan is surrounded
by journalists and television cameras. Then, another black limousine
drives up. rhere is commotion, and Piertc suddenh tinds himsell
alone. Sean Cunncry has i usr arrived. Many years ago, I leli usr like

Pierr,t in this scenario , My MBA section of pricing for the Fall had
beenfullyerxotledat 70and had a waitlisr.Iwas"two days awayfrom
startingt0teachthe course. But, the next day, Inoticed thatmy enrol-
men$ wete dow.n to 48. Cle arly a system bug. I calle d adminislration
to silnthe bugorrt and the person at the other endwas equally
perttlexed.Irnentionedthe problemlo a colleague and hb smiled
well, :uurked is more like ir -
-did n 1 you hearl CK suddenly decided
yesterday tb offer a course and all spoti were taken in I0 minutes_
Letis see. Yeg his classmeets ai.the same time as yours-toobad!" He
was lalkurg about CI{ Prahaiacl, the visionarymanagement guru of
the core compbtency andbottorn-olthe,pyiamid dodels. #ho
passed away on Saturday.
One can divide the year into monlhs, or seasons, or work and vaca-
tion periods, but here atthe Ross School ofBusiness at the University
of Michigan, we also divide the year into "these are the times CK
teaches" and "these are the times rhat CI( does nor reach". When he is
teaciing, the enrolments in ali ihe other classes drop, Ali roolae
professors leamthe hard way to teach at a dme when CI(is not teach-
ing, or they don't get any students in their classes.
While CK is exrremely well-knovm as a corporare consuhanr, a
true gnru, he is less well-knornm as a faculty member at the Ross
School ol Business where he spenr nearly his enrire workrng life. As a
t'ellow chaired professor and colleague of CK ar Ross, I waniro bring
some perspecfive on hirn as a facuity member. teacher and researcher.
His magnetic personaliry and visionary outlook were insightful not
just to corporate managers but also to MBA sfudents, phD studens
ttrirk of Hamelwho is a corporate guru himsell-and other faculn' -
members. Whereverhespoke. hedrewa crowd. tn Arn fubor
where he was a residerrt, you cannot throw a stone without hitting a
lacultymember. Bul, even here, whenhe gave a speech, hundreds of
peaple viedfcr a spot to listen. And I am nottalkingabout the geneiai
pubtc, not just the Micbigan students. He used ro fill Hill Audiicn:.::_--,
the largest auditorium in tolrrn, where Iast year's lineup inciudec F.:r:
andAnushka Shankar.
CK s iarge ideaE the core cornpetenry model sftategir thinbng
_ -
should stan with iooking at the core strengths o{ an orgai:isation
and the bottom-ofltbe-pltamldmodel*large companies can also -"
se 11 to the lorrrest rungs of society .:* were path-breaking, But so were
his knowle4ge-building methods. He was an innovatoiin using MBA
teams to follow individual compbnies, and then collate the leaming
foom *re combined effon of all these teims into a cohe sive. svsremitic
whole Ll:Lis is wha L led ro his bestsellin g a nd la r- reachi ng book, Tfte
Bottomaf:the\,,tlisis notjust a book anymore bur a
ma$agement approach, adopted by many finns. Ar Ross. rve have
multiple corrses wifh this approach as a comerstone. ^{udiiionaltt, his
methodof usingMBAteams to createknorvledge r_. no*.len.t used
bybusiness schools worldwide .
Teachingrechniquesthat CK used also JiJfered r,,:i.:.,\r r: :,:*
other professors at business schools. Unlilte oihet lrt'iessi-is, re ,lj
nothave elaboratbPowerpoint slides. He rvanied iiudenrs rc jjsten
and.take their own notes the old-fashoneci'. ln an age nhere
students expecl detailed class nores, the fact that his classesivere still
ilt p,-'ptrl:r4nyrvay speaks r&rin 1o hi: ch.:n:m.: .r:rd rnldot,i-
CK attained management guru stafus worldwide soon after he
published his core competency model in 1990 in the Hana-rd Business
Rev#ri,. lnponantly, he retained the guru status for a long time. He
was named amongthe top five in CrainerDearlove'sTitinkers 5}):stot
the Mostlnfluential Business Thjrkers rhree tirnes rrrnnin& being
number I in 1005 andtcpping rhe list jl2007 and 2009. This [sris
publlshed in F".rl.rj rflagazitle. In India, he n'entbeyond managemenr
guru to celebriq: even being called on to hald out the national
Fibnfare awards. Despite anaining celebriry status, he vras lvillhg to
give his time to eve4one in the Ross communi4'. He was humble in
his personalitli generous and kind.
Ilwillbe remiss not to point out thar in a tree speech academic
setlin& not everyone agreed with him. There also were critics of the
bottom-of-the-p1'ramid approach, some going so faras to say thatthe
approach couldbe relramed as, "how to make rnonel ftom the
poorest o1 the poor". Howeve r, ev en r hese dissenters ha ve
tremendous respecr for C.l('s inrellen and his accornplishmenrs. Cl(.
beingrhe geat man he was, satin the audience fortrany of these
ialk, and just listened quietly to undersmnd bis critics' poinr of view.
He knewthat one testof a great social science theory was dtat
someone wanted ro challenge it. While CK may have passed away, his
risionwill continue to inspke us.