Transformational Change through a Simple Strategy in Practice
Year : 2006. Place : Capital City of the State that is now on the threshold of getting bifurcated. Venue : Reputed Institute offering UG & PG Courses in Engineering, Technology, Management, and Arts. Current Trend : War on Retail takes the City by storm with big expansion plans of Organized Domestic Retail Players. Gathering : A mix of Graduate Students and Industry Executives from all over the nation. My Role : As one of three Speakers I had the privilege of addressing the Gathering with the specific intent of voicing opinions favoring FDI in Retail.
The Apex Industry then, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, (Assocham) had just endorsed Domestic Players in Organized retailing allowing 49% FDI in a calibrated manner. Also, they requested for 2 to 3 years to consolidate themselves to face competition from external players effectively.
The First Speaker dealt with the Bureaucratic hurdles faced by the Domestic Players, and emphasized that the enhanced Capital Cost pulled the domestic players down. He also spoke on Industry infrastructure falling short of expectations. In a nutshell, his narration centered around impediments to the growth of retailing in the State.
The Second speaker began his narration with a laudatory account of the India Inc. and the vista of opportunity before them coming to fruition now; need to develop a state-of- the- art supply chain infrastructure across the country; the different nature of services that they can engage in; and the various segments that the retailers can form to gain market share. He also made specific mention of the different players who’ll possibly roll out various formats in the hub and suburbs of the City.
It was my turn now and I decided that before professing I should get a firm handle on the mindset of the audience. I posed a direct Question to this effect to the audience : “Whether they viewed foreign participation in Organized Retailing as threatening the unorganized retailers ?” About 84% responded in the affirmative; 11% opined that they didn’t think so; and 5% did not have any opinion. I realised my task to be challenging to contend with in the face of those set in conflict; and pronto, I shifted my diegesis to the “Tech & Strategy” factor(s) where we are perceptibly short. I now badly needed to turn the tide in my favor to score my point.
About the strategy I adopted now: I first didactically oriented their outlook to the Retail Business in different parts of the World. Apodictically made them perceive the need for Collaboration with external players in Tech and Strategy initiatives. Once they got into my groove I started posing the following questions to them in an attempt to elicit their points of view.
First, I mentioned that “Tech has caught up to innovative ideas in every Business.” referring to the manufacturing/automotive/aircraft/energy & exploration and the like with examples. Everyone yielded and said, “Yes, Agree.” I said, “Retail will also witness a similar trend soon.” and Round One I Won.
Second, I mentioned that, “Tools enabling that have also begun n to grow on a rapid pace in every Business.” referring to the engines/pipes/Composite materials/software controls and the like with examples. Everyone agreed this time too with,”Yes, Agree.” I said,” It will be so in retail also soon.” and Round TWO I Won.
Third, I mentioned that “the above two put a greater need to get most out of them in every Business,” referring to the input-output dynamics to keep the business above water. Everyone agreed again with, “Yes, Agree” I said, “So will retail see a similar trend.” and Round Three I Won.
Fourth, I mentioned that, “Value, Strategy, & Process structuring occupied dominant positions in every Business.” referring to the stores structures/value for customers/ ritzy retailing and the like with examples. Everyone agreed with, “Yes, Agree.” I said, “So will it be in retail too.” and Round Four I Won.
Fifth and final, I mentioned that, “Every Country wishing to be bracketed along the developed nations embrace wholeheartedly all the above features.” referring to and reiterating all the sequence for the benefit of Retail Business. Everyone agreed with, “Yes, Agree” I said, “So also is our Nation and our Businesses, Retail included, to be bracketed along with the Best.” and Round Five I Won.
I summed it all up with the inescapable Future Trend where we’ll move towards a “Cashless Society” with more tech-based innovations; less Banking Intermediaries making the adoption of best practices from anyone, anytime, anywhere a NECESSITY. FDI is a step in the direction of this Transformation of Retail Business. This will make us win in a canter by earnestly gaining our spurs. Apagogically, I also showed them that by not engaging with the foreign players how we will concede our edge to them and let them occupy the Box Seat.
I closed my session shooting the same question I put to them in the beginning, “Whether they viewed foreign participation in Organized Retail as threatening the unorganized retailers ?” I saw almost all hands raised up with a firm, “No”. That it took just a little more than an hour to effect the CHANGE/TRANSFORMATION was extremely gratifying to me. I must confess here, honestly, that I didn’t expect the Change to be so sudden and convincing when I began. My joy knew no bounds and I could sense the glee and mirth in the face(s) of the Organizers too. My Strategy of “posing Questions and seeking Answers” paid off handsomely in the end. I also remained vindicated as a Management Expert with a judicious mix of Logic; Intuition; & Commonsense.
I am a Conservative basically and I felt happy that I can say something convincingly in support of FDI in Retail. Another lesson learnt in my LIFE through sheer Practice.