In Search of Change Maestros - Series IV
The recruitment process ensures a culture-fit and they have introduced leadership awards on the articulated DNA traits
Reinventing the Financial Sector Landscape
K.V. Kamath transformed a development bank into a vibrant and dynamic financial powerhouse with his over arching vision, foresightedness and a magical ability to nourish entrepreneurial innovation.
Formed in 1955 as an initiative of World Bank, the Government of India and representatives of the Indian industry with an objective to create a DFI for providing medium and longe-term project funding to Indian businesses, K.V. Kamath’s advent into the bank in 1996 changed the rules of the game. Soon after, 1999 saw ICICI Bank becoming the first Indian company and the first bank/ financial institution in non-Japan Asia to be listed on the NYSE, and the present ICICI is a name familiar to every household and individual.
With their strong believe that their business growth mainly lie with the customer, they were swift enough to capitalize on this emerging opportunity. From being a project financing company in the pre 1996 era, the bank moved on to corporate lending in 1998 - 1999 to de-risk the business, and later in 1998-1999, they took over two non-bank finance companies – ITC and Anagram – to grow in size and reach. Finally, in 1999-2000 they also set up the ICICI Home Finance Company. Their agility is a critical element that ensures longevity of the organization.
10 EMERGENT PATTERNS IN ICICI BANK
1. Continued Growth Velocity: The definition of growth has morphed from time to time. For ICICI, the macro-economic indicators and emerging opportunities that have been sighted have always decided the definition. But at all times, growth has been the basic mantra of this institution.
2. Re-inventing the Financial Sector Landscape: ICICI successfully exploded the myth of Indian consumers wanting a human interface while banking. A pioneer in many banking strategies, processes and systems, which have now been adapted by other Indian banks.
3. Entrepreneurial Ownership: The company is largely driven by constraints and employees are empowered and equipped to convert constraints into opportunities. They are able to react quickly to change as there is no bureaucracy and entrepreneurship is a way of life.
4. Thinking Big: Their burning ambition to emerge big has led them to take many unconventional steps even in the highly regulated sector like banking. Their swiftness in bringing global perspective in their vision and ability to set audacious and stretched goals exemplifies their ability to think big.
5. Execution Centric: There is a clear bias for action and focus on speedy execution. They follow the 90-day rule where anything new and different must be put into practice within ninety days. Deadlines are sacred, deeply negotiated and crunched to enable quick time to market.
6. Seamless Organization: There are many cross functional teams working on projects and endless opportunity for people in diverse departments to interact and share ideas. This fosters faster decision-making and execution where many bottlenecks are overcome through frequent meetings and discussions.
7. Empowerment with Accountability: The company supports plenty of delegation and empowerment coupled with accountability. As a result of empowerment, employees are able to perform beyond their level, and help in unleashing the potential of people.
8. Techno-centric Work Culture: They are the pioneers in using technology in banking and use it powerfully to leverage it efficiently to bring speed of response to the customer, efficiency in functioning, and creating differentiated products, thus, enabling creation of a cutting-edge organization.
9. Contribution-centric Meritrocracy: Individuals are assigned roles based on their ability to deliver and ICICI has been able to create entrepreneurial ownership, sense of excitement and motivation among people through introduction of contribution-centric meritrocracy.
10. Shaping Talent/ Building Leaders: The recruitment process ensures a culture-fit and they have introduced leadership awards on the articulated DNA traits. There is a system of competency mapping for different positional roles and developmental plans are evolved around inculcating these competencies. People have to be endorsed by 360 degree DNA characteristic inputs from at least 30 (seniors, peers, and subordinates) following which a committee scans the list and selects names.
Excerpts from the book In Search of Change Maestros* by Dr. Pritam Singh and Dr. Asha Bhandarkar