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The craft of effective management
Sudhakar Ram
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July 03, 2007

It is over 25 years since I graduated from B-school and many things may have changed since then. At the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, I learned how to use the tools, not how to be a craftsman.

However, like any other craft, management is best learnt at the feet of several master craftsmen. Over the years, I have distilled three basic abilities required to build a business or even lead any aspect of a business - the ability to envision, to strategise, and to execute.

The ability to envision: Vision is at the centre of any creation. Being able to envision the end state of a business or initiative is the key to making it happen. When groups of people are involved, explaining and enrolling people to a common vision help in converting groups into teams.

The ability to strategise: If vision comes from the heart, strategy is a product of the mind. It involves finding alternative routes to make things happen and selecting the optimal route. It is about making the best use of available resources and coming up with a game plan to deploy these resources to achieve victory.

The ability to execute: Execution is at the physical level. It is about ensuring that teams understand the plans, the processes and their roles, and have the necessary training and equipment to perform their roles effectively. It is also about ensuring progress is tracked, mid-course corrections are made and there is good communication flow across the entire chain.

While at a craft level, the master painter or the music virtuoso are able to bring all these abilities to bear in his creation, I have found that in mid-sized and large organisations, no individual has all these three qualities to the required degree. To ensure that the organisation grows over the long run, people with these different abilities must learn to collaborate and synergise.

For those aspiring to be super-managers, the journey is exciting and rewarding. The purpose of management is to lead and organise people to achieve results that they would not have been able to achieve as individuals, leading to prosperity for the whole team. What could be more fulfilling?

Sudhakar Ram graduated from IIM-Calcutta in 1982

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