I first met the author Shiv Malik in 1990 when he was heading the PEC. I was impressed by his innovative way of running his company and one of them was that he had followed the American system of not having peons to carry the files around. It was such a change in a public sector undertaking and I came back highly impressed with his management skills. Then of course he went on to become the chairman and Managing Director of the public sector giant MMTC and retired from there. In the MMTC too he carried out several innovative methods of management through diversification.
His latest book, Outside-In Management deals with the question whether the scarce resources available should be used inside the organisation or outside. The mantra he expands is “Look outside and flourish and look inside and perish,” and he argues the reasons for the need to look outside for wealth creation. According to Malik, “The greater the focus of an organisation on the outside, the better the results and vice versa, other things remaining the same. This is almost like the law of management.” This is slightly different from the concept of “customer is the king” because it emphasises not only the customers but also the other partners in the economic chain.
This book is expected to serve as a guide for achieving transformational changes in organisations by managing the eco-system including customers, clients, companies, competitors, suppliers, distributors, and other concerned parties. He is convinced that many changes outside should be utilised for the growth of the institutions. He calls this method of organisational management as outside management.
The thrust is on how existing business can be modified to bring about transformational changes and growth and create wealth. To explain this, he has created fictional characters like Ashok and takes us through how he struggles to manage the company, facing problems from the union, media and the staff.
The chapter on Rohan’s story is also fictional about a young chief executive officer of a company, his pulls and pressures, insight about the board meetings, business problems and how Rohan deals with them. His fictional character, Sakshi, a management consultant tells Rohan, “We find that you and your team have an inward focus and perspective in managing the ABC (the company) whereas it should have been an outward focus on the customer, competitor and the rest of the economic chain.” She explains that new skills, qualities and attitudes are required to manage the outside environment.
The overall theme is how an existing business can be modified and bettered using the outside changes. Apart from business he has dealt with several areas of interest like agriculture, animal husbandry, biotechnology, using technology for education, health, e-commerce, information technology, bio-economics, genetics, and also how to build leadership in the organisation. He underlines two key changes in the economic eco-system that could be utilised by all organisations. One of them is how to use the demographic changes to the advantage of the business, as India has a young work force — 65 per cent of India’s population is below 35.
The chapter on case studies of MMTC and PEC, the two companies Malik headed in the 90s gives an indepth analysis and how to reinvent them. He is not frozen in time as he not only looks back but also looks forward to adapting himself with the changing business climate.
Shiv Malik has combined the fictional and real life instances to explain his theme. While the fictional theme runs well, suddenly he brings in the author’s action points, which disturbs the flow of the book. Had he added them at the end of the book it might have given a better reading.
The book is useful not only for the management students but also the management professionals and even the top-level company executives and NGOs. On the whole it is a delightful read with insightful information with change as the main theme. As change is constant, the book’s relevance will remain.
The reviewer is a political commentator