Article: Celebrating milestone successes is key for any transformation: Dr Sugato Palit


Celebrating milestone successes is key for any transformation: Dr Sugato Palit

Dr Sugato Palit, Chief HR Officer, Varun Beverages Limited shares how business leaders can create a culture for successful digital transformation to take place.
Celebrating milestone successes is key for any transformation: Dr Sugato Palit

Still at a nascent stage, at a very nascent stage, franchising industry in India has clocked the annual growth rate of 30 percent with a market size of $7.2 Bn and is said to be the second fastest growing industry. Franchise management began in the 1990s in India, with the start of the era of liberalization. Initially adopted by a few educational institutions and IT companies for business expansion, today, the franchise industry in the country has several well-known brands in various cities operating under this model. While the industry is still in its growth phase, it also has to deal with several other forces such as increased digitization. In 

To understand how the franchising industry is shaping and how companies in the sector have to transform themselves to keep up, we interacted with Dr Sugato Palit, Chief HR Officer, Varun Beverages Limited. In this interview, Dr Palit shares how business leaders can create a culture for successful digital transformation to take place. 

The business environment is increasingly becoming competitive and businesses are expected to transform themselves in order to stay relevant and profitable. How do you think the franchising industry is changing? What are the current trends shaping this sector?

In this VUCA business ecosystem, the focus for every company is on their core business. What this implies is that all the non-core elements are being outsourced to external organizations who bring in process and cost efficiencies through technology, process competence and scale.

The increased dependency on external sources creates an opportunity for franchising industry. 

At a macro level, brand owning companies franchise product creation and distribution to other companies in order to scale up rapidly and have an asset light business core competence. Hence, the future is bright for the industry and the sector will witness more growth in the future. 

Out of the many things disrupting the way businesses operate, digitization tops the list. How has advancements in technology impacting franchising industry? 

Technology has made work more process than people driven, lending to far greater efficiencies, and perception of fairness.

In fact, from business insights (stemming from big data analysis) to logistics and from ERP to RPO, companies are seeing a sea-change. More expertise is being generated, businesses have access to world class practices, and along with all this the availability of various tech platforms is helping businesses take better decisions, thus increasing their chances of success. 

Digitization has ensured data is available in a convenient format, practically on a real-time basis. In the near future, I see AI as the new norm that shall push companies in the right direction!

These disruptions have worked well for companies who have been either proactive, or have embraced change rapidly. Repetitive and relatively routine and low-value adding roles and functions have been removed from the way in which one does business, freeing up more market intelligence, bandwidth and focus to really assess need, generate/ identify demand and swiftly respond to meeting these customer demands.

Also, it has become much easier to work across geographies, across different time-zones and across different product-lines in a seamless and synergistic fashion.

The workforce today has access to a wider perspective and information, are more empowered and enabled to succeed than ever before!

How can business leaders prepare for these disruptions and help their teams in their transformation journey as well?

The mantra is simply to be proactive in identifying (i) gaps in business processes/ knowledge and (ii) identifying the non-core and non-value adding activities.

Once this is done, then there would be a strategy of identifying where the business wants to be, and which are the core focus areas and who are the kind of leaders they want to drive the change agenda.

The focus therefore shifts from core technical/ generalist roles to strategists who can drive outcomes through people within the organizations, as well as external solution providers. For leaders, it is more important to harness their people skills.

How can business leaders create a culture for successful digital transformation to happen? 

The key is to know where one wants to go, and how.

Every transformation, be it physical or digital, involve people. And hence carrying people along is the key to success.

The following are the key steps:

  • Have a big picture, and have a shared understanding and ownership of the big picture by the main stakeholders.
  • Identify the key change agents and the timelines of delivery
  • Plan a comprehensive communication plan and execute it well
  • Back it up with help desks, query resolutions and be ready to answer ‘what is in it for me’
  • Celebrate milestone successes
  • Keep the morale high and stay focussed on the larger plan
  • Be prepared that things may not go as per plan. Keep a contingency/ back-up/ Plan B in place
  • Don’t go haywire in terms of either time or budget
  • Have periodic reviews to assess progress
  • Set objective and measurable KRAs for the relevant set of people in this regard
  • Use reward and reprimand judiciously to ensure things are moving on track.
  • Keep communicating progress!

Are there some dos and don’ts of running a successful culture transformation in any company? Can you share a checklist or cheat sheet for the same?


  • Have a comprehensive understanding of why a change is required, and ensure a buy-in
  • Plan it in great detail, identifying key resources
  • Execute a well-planned communication strategy. Branding the change, creating an excitement around the change always works well
  • Have a Plan B. Things may not always work out as anticipated
  • Celebrate mile-stones, reward change agents disproportionately


  • Don’t expect to be on track all through
  • Don’t be secretive
  • Don’t scrounge on resources
  • Don’t have significant overruns on your budget
  • Don’t forget to do periodic evaluation of the progress
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Topics: C-Suite, Technology, #CultureForDigital

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