The need for organisational speed has never been greater than what it is today, amid so many disruptions accelerated by the pandemic. Business who made quick decisions on the get-go, adopted new and innovative ways of working and leveraged technology and data to scale up were the ones that actually thrived. That’s why everyone is so intrigued to understand the secret ingredient within these organisations that stood out?
And who better than Harsh Mariwala, founder and chairman, Marico who transformed a traditional commodity driven business into a leading consumer products company, in the beauty and wellness space. The visionary leader built the FMCG giant from scratch and is known for leading it with the highest standards of corporate governance and professionalism, while hiring the best talent and creating agile workspaces to achieve positive outcomes.
In an exclusive conversation at People Matters TechHR India 2022 with Chaitanya Peddi, co-founder and product head, Darwinbox, Mariwala reveals the changes he made at Marico, triggers for agility in businesses and the reason behind Marico’s exponential growth since the pandemic.
“If organisations want to succeed in a fast-changing environment, they need to move with speed, which is a big challenge,” shares Mariwala.
Finding the sweet spot between perfection, excellence and agility
There are a few industries where perfection is of the utmost importance such as when designing airplanes. But, in others, beyond a point, you don’t have to be completely perfect as it may add only marginally to the quality of work while the organisation will be losing out on time. The first and foremost thing management should do is figure out the line between perfection, excellence and agility.
Top management tier
In every organisation, the senior management has to give the right execution signals. The mindset changes at the top but the challenge is how to keep the momentum going so it trickles down to the bottom. Leaders who are looking towards the future with endless possibilities need to realise that the entire organisation has to be in sync, thinking about agility and speed, as a whole.
Re-looking at processes
Even amid the disruptions, a lot of organisation didn’t make the jump to new processes. To be honest, sometimes, change doesn’t add value and it might even be too cumbersome. That’s why organisations need to relook at goal-setting, core evaluation and incentive management, among others and simplify it - what can be eliminated and how to condense some of these processes to lessen the workload of management. This is an exercise that needs to be done by the leaders once every few years.
Culture of openness and transparency
There is a need for organisations to create a culture where employees are comfortable to talk to one another about anything. This greatly helps reduce wastage of unnecessary time, which is spent fluctuating between the opinions of different hierarchies. “If an organisation invests in culture and values that constitute openness and boundarylessness, speed can be achieved. But you need to reinforce it on a perpetual basis,” adds Mariwala.
A flat organisational structure, with few levels of middle management between leadership and employees, popular in startups today needs to be backed by great quality of talent. That’s because there is a higher degree of empowerment. Otherwise too, businesses need to invest in talent building through job rotation, training, skilling, etc. so each employee is empowered to do more. It plays an important role in building a successful organisation.
Mariwala’s engrossing session also shed light on today’s war for talent, where he emphasised on the need to hire great talent, form cross-functional teams and let them focus on one project at a time, for speed. Identifying these critical projects is key as leaders remove escape buttons.