Bringing about revolutionary changes in the pre-existing management philosophies, Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad or CK Prahalad (1941 – 2010) was a provocative thinker who was determined to provide staggering insights that people in the top positions would have never considered. Aside from being a brilliant author, he was also the management professor for University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business Administration & an international business consultant for various business giants, like Phillips, Oracle, Unilever & more.
Prahalad completed his BSc from Chennai and went on to work for the Union Carbide. After four years of work there, he went on to pursue his MBA from IIM Ahemdabad and thereafter, his DBA from Harvard Business School. He then worked as a professor at IIM Ahemdabad for a brief period before returning to the US in 1977 as a professor for management. He eventually became a tenured professor at the University of Michigan earning the highest university distinction of Distinguished University Professor in 2005.
The management guru established some avant-garde themes for businesses today, like strategy, emerging markets, innovations and organisational structures. Prahalad’s work promulgated the importance of nonconformity and the fact that leadership is about change, hope & future. It also displayed importance of investing in developing the core competencies of a company and in developing the people of an organisation.
In a co-authored paper of his, he elucidated the need for a company to have strategic intent. Wherein, he explicated that it is important for a company to have a long-term strategy based on an intent to be clear, easily articulated, and formulated in a way around which all the activities could revolve. He adduced, “Strategy is about stretching limited resources to fit ambitious aspirations.” Prahalad divulged his resource-based standpoints of how a firm could achieve its long-term goals incrementally by improving capabilities. He supported this theory with examples of various giants, like Canon & Sony, which expanded into adjacent markets. He cited, “The essence of strategy lies in creating tomorrow’s competitive advantages faster than competitors can mimic the ones you possess today.”
Prahalad, through his work, created a legacy in moral leadership which continues to benefit the management field. His incisive way of educating proved to be an asset for CEOs of various establishments. His contribution to the field of management will enable India to achieve the moral and ethical leadership that he envisioned.