Administration & Management

It's Art of Governance & Not Commerce Alone

Tribute to Late Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad


C. K. Prahalad was one of nine children born into a Madhva brahmin family in 1941. His father was a well-known Sanskrit scholar and judge in Chennai. At 19, he joined Union Carbide after obtaining a degree in Physics from Loyola College, Chennai. Prahalad called his Union Carbide experience a major inflection point in his life.

Prahalad is the author of a number of well known works in corporate strategy including ‘The Core Competence of the Corporation’ (Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1990). He has also authored several international bestsellers, including ‘Competing for the Future’ (with Gary Hamel), 1994, ‘The Future of Competition’, (with Venkat Ramaswamy), 2004 and ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits’, Wharton School Publishing, 2004. This last book transformed the Indian-born Prahalad from bestselling academic to global opinion former. His new book with co-author M. S. Krishnan is called The New Age of Innovation. His ideas are tackle the big issues of our times and make a difference.

He was co-founder of Praja Inc (“Praja” from a Sanskrit word “Praja” which means “citizen” or “common people”). He later became its chief executive officer.

The goals of the company ranged from allowing common people to access information without restriction (this theme is related to the “bottom of pyramid” or BOP philosophy), to providing a test bed for various management ideas. The company eventually laid off one third of its workforce and was sold to leading business integration and process management software company, TIBCO. He was also on the board of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs. At Harvard Business School, Prahalad wrote a doctoral thesis on multinational management in just two and a half years, graduating with a D.B.A. degree in 1975.

It was just a few weeks earlier, when I and some of my friends from different time zone had appointments with each other to deliberate and have a real learning of happenings in respective economy, markets and societies we were physically present. As per IST it was around 12:00 mid-night.

This serves two purposes, i.e., a small interaction for learning and updating on developments taking place in each other’s personal fronts and not professional. Something, probably an individual of present time may call wastage of time as it never provides RoI (as per them) or does not result in rupee, paisa, taka, dollar, franc, euro, pound or any currency for that matter.

Somehow during interactions the deliberations took a turn towards emerging countries and the type and size of markets they happen to be, and we somehow shifted to the concept of ‘BOTTOM OF PYRAMID’, which happened to be a concept developed by a thinker, who could be easily located as strategic advisor to people at TOP OF PYRAMID.

It was not easy for me to believe, when after a couple of days, i.e., on Friday (April 16, 2010), I learned that a great administrative thinker and philosopher lost his battle of life to his Lung Disease in California, USA, just at age of 68. I agreed to his philosophy or not is not a thing to be discussed at this moment.

What mattered to me was the way he viewed the things, events and future when seeing it with business goggles on.

I always appreciated him for his courage; which  I term as “Affording Luxury and Adventure to think, without any fear of having to pay any price for it, and also without any fear of society and rational individuals.”

I always found myself to be much behind to him when it came to fearlessness of society and its norms, his courage to say what he felt as needed, the style of thinking that, which I call as “Latro – Analytical thought process”,   and his uncanny knack of looking deep in embryo of time, which people have permanently christened ‘future’; till it’s not born.

I was a fan of him due to reasons of sharing a common beliefs, that what I in my terms call as “India is tomorrow of everyone’s today”. The late CKP used to call it as “Laboratory of Innovations”.

The void that has been created, due to him quitting the job, I doubt can be filled by cost or sacrifice. CKP was the first person, who made world believe in the innovativeness of Indian Companies, and future dominance of the same in global commerce too.

I will just say that I would always be missing this Administrative thinker, philosopher and visionary who envisioned India @75 and emphasized on it during his talks.

Always Yours  —-  As usual —  Saurabh Singh

3 responses to “Tribute to Late Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad

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  2. Gaurav Joshi April 21, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says the Management Guru C.K.Prahlad. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management.

    Management Guru C.K. Prahlad was a great management thinker , one of finest India has ever produced , a global citizen, person who gave world two great theories of ” Core Competency” and ” Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid “. There are very few management thinkers who gave two management theories. But he was never a socialist , if one reads his book Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid he always concerned about profitability of corporation and highlighted that the bottom half of the population has great potential to provide profitability to the corporates and if the companies start targeting this segment the condition of even poor might improve. Management Guru C.K. Prahalad was socially motivated personality but not a socialist.

    • Administration & Management April 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM

      Well Dear…I know that your comments are in direction.
      Economists [even who are in real] & very much unlike here in Vishwa Vidyalaya, have made a mess out of every thing., viz.,

      a.They should understand that being socially motivated never means socialist.

      b. Very much like China, India too practices, socialist mode of economy, and both are in process of transformation.

      c. It is very difficult to me comprehend that what is communistic economy; as Communist is philosophy of Political Science and not Economy.

      d. I can recall one of my great teachers, who happened to be a legal counselor to United Nations [Prof. Mohammad G.]: He one called me to his office; just for saying so as to make me learn for ever, Saurabh Always be alert when you seen any of the two phenomena getting stretched for a longer time at that was:
      I. If the situation seems pleasant and things and acts in any society , company or Geography keep extending to for longer duration:; and

      II.If the situation seems un-pleasant and things and acts in any society , company or Geography keep extending negatively for longer duration.

      Then, this means/conveys “there is some hidden or even evident issue, problematic in nature; other wise science of probability will turn void ab initio”.

      Let me know, if you are comfortable in comprehending the same.
      I wish that you have a good and successful day ahead.

      Always yours — as Usual — Saurabh Singh

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