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Vijay Kalra

Head - Mahindra Institute of Quality, Member - Group Corporate Office Leadership Team


Chief of Mfg Operations AD, Mahindra & Mahindra

2 Ratings

TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT Get comfortable with ambiguity and chaos

Nov 21, 2022

Vijay Kalra, Head - Mahindra Institute of Quality, Member - Group Corporate Office Leadership Team, Ex ED & CEO MVML and Chief of Mfg Operations AD, M&M

How has the Total Quality Management (TQM) process shaped the entire business value chain of the Mahindra group to meet global standards?

Mahindra has a core value of customer centricity and promotes TQM through The Mahindra Way (TMW), an integrated approach for world-class standards through the application of robust systems and processes, as benchmarked with other global excellence models like Deming, Malcolm Baldrige & EFQM. In addition, it includes a set of Group Common Policies and Practices (GCPPs) hence promoting ‘One-Mahindra’ ethos. TMW encourages benchmarking with the best in the world and continuous improvement by the involvement of all employees.

This has helped the organisation to focus on improving process orientation, by adopting a structured approach to Management and Business Processes framework, thereby enhancing its capability to achieve improved results. The framework includes an assessment of the four management processes namely, Top Management & Leadership Strategy (TMLS), Daily Work Management & Standardisation (DWMS), Quality Management & Quality Improvement (QMQI), Employee Involvement & Development (EID), along with critical business processes.

With the advancement of technology, what are the steps the industry needs to take to fill in the talent pool gap in India?

The Indian industry has created a decent talent pool that produces world-class products and services for domestic and export markets. But as manufacturing is poised for a high growth period, there will be a shortage of talent, especially in emerging technologies. Due to this, the industry will need to develop talent by increasing its training and development efforts, especially in emerging technologies and operational excellence. M&M has set up the Mahindra Institute of Quality to develop world-class competencies in operational excellence, quality management and emerging technologies.

Fresh engineers need to be continuously trained and groomed in traditional methodologies like lean/TQM and new emerging technologies like IoT and analytics to build a high-quality/performance culture. Training the workforce in these skills and handholding is the key for it to become a way of life, rather than treating it as a one-time solution being implemented by specialists.

How is IoT making the manufacturing & distribution businesses more efficient and adaptable? How should one strategize the business operations on these lines?

IoT is providing an integrated unified environment, that gives the agility to react quickly to change, and makes intelligent/nuanced decisions, thereby making manufacturing and distribution businesses more efficient and adaptable. For example, smart metering, a smart network of robots on the manufacturing floor, or a group of tractors planting a field, each with their onboard computer and array of sensors. Good value creation comes when IoT devices generate real-time data, shift through streams of device data, identify events and patterns, find actionable insights, and then orchestrate the actions across the enterprise that are required to achieve the desired outcomes.

With increasing complexities in the supply chain, IoT platforms have now become essential for all businesses. I believe a good way for the potential of IoT to be harnessed is by first identifying the key operational outcomes relevant to the business, and then building an integrated system that orchestrates, automates, and manages all the business processes and resources required to achieve these. Also, involving front-line managers in the design and implementation of IoT solutions right from start is a crucial step in the digital transformation journey.

What does operational excellence mean to you and how do you define its competitive edge in the industry?

Operational excellence is a journey to attain and sustain competitiveness. We need to continuously improve the way we do business to remain relevant in the changing world. Our business models, products, processes, and systems need improvisation continuously for delivering value to all the stakeholders. A few years back Lean, TPM and TQM were the enablers for delivering a competitive edge. Now with the advent of Industry 4.0, the overall potential has increased multifold. Lean 4.0 is the answer in the manufacturing industry for today’s hyper-competitive world.

In the future, the competitive edge of operational excellence is going beyond words like productivity, efficiency, and standardisation to concepts like growth, innovation, and customisation.

With increasing competition and products and services becoming more & more uniform, operational excellence will emerge more strongly as a key differentiator and good operational managers will be in high demand. For sectors like aviation and real estate & logistics, differentiation through operational excellence is the primary means of enhancing competitive advantage.

What are your views on the new emerging technologies when it comes to Industry 4.0 and how is the current workforce adapting when Industry 5.0 is knocking on the doors?

Industry 4.0 is revolutionising the way companies manufacture and distribute their products. Technology levers like IoT, Big Data, AI, automations, AR, VR, digital twins, etc are enabling manufacturing to go to the next level in all areas. In my experience, the adaptation has been good at most OEMs, whereas many tier 1 and tier 2 companies have just started on the journey recently.

Industry 5.0 is still in its infancy and manufacturers need to ready their workforce to better integrate machines & humans, working together with higher cooperation between machines and humans (like cobots), and bringing a more human touch to operations, for benefits like human-centric designs, higher customisation/personalisation for customers and sustainability.

How vital is the upgradation of skills of the current industrial workforce given the ever-changing market dynamics?

Some examples of changing managerial roles and skills, due to market dynamics are:

  • Flexibility and creative thinking: Managers of the future won‘t be defined by a single methodology or approach. Instead, they will be looking outwards at different methodologies, approaches, and technologies to identify those that will make the biggest impact within the business context.

  • Understanding and adopting new technology: Managers will need to increase their understanding of automation, robotics, digital systems architecture, etc.

  • Data analytics / visualisation: Managers will need to play a role in identifying the required data and understanding how to render that data in a format that is simple and easy to use for the business user to act on it.

  • Designing better experiences: Operational excellence professionals will need to be able to design better processes for a good experience for customers and employees.

What would be the top three leadership suggestions that you would like to give to the next-generation leaders of India?

  1. Big picture thinking: Most successful leaders will engage in big picture thinking that synthesises numerous perspectives from throughout the organisation. They will have an aptitude for looking at a problem from all vintage points and figuring out the best possible solution informed by multiple perspectives. Business leaders must get comfortable with ambiguity and chaos.

  2. Ingenuity: A propensity for developing innovative new ideas and taking strategic risks. Successful leaders will have a propensity for problem-solving because they dare to take risks and the creativity to come up with ingenious solutions that no one else has thought of.

  3. Collaborative, fast, agile and bold: Ability to work collaboratively to align the entire organisation towards a common purpose/goal for taking bold bets to get the best out of people while being fast and agile to adjust to changing environments. The ability to relate to people on a personal level, build trust and rapport, and get results through the ability to motivate and inspire them can be a big differentiator.

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