Bringing the TRANSFORMATION through the TOOL of TECHNOLOGY | Jagdish Belwal | TBCY
Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh Garg and today I'm delighted to welcome a very, very accomplished technology entrepreneur cum advisor, Mr. Jagdish Belwal. Jagdish, welcome to the show. Thank you, Ashutosh. Thanks for inviting me.
Thank you. Jagdish is the founder and CEO of Jagdish Belwal Advisory. He's a board member, and is a board mentor and has an organization called critical eye and we'll talk about it. He was earlier the CIO of Tata Motors. And he has been awarded, recognized and felicitated several times. So Jagdish, let's talk about your advisory first,
tell me about the work that you do. Yeah, so Ashutosh, you know, before we go there, let me talk a little bit about, like, you know, where I come from. So, you know, I'm a mechanical engineer started out as a service engineer of excavators going around in the field for about four or five years. And then I shifted to service headquarters, did a lot of service transformation programs, and then I shifted to IT. So, you know, before I came to IT, and did that CRM program, I was actually you know, involved in hardcore business processes, moving them transforming them and all that and then it just that, you know, I got another tool in my repository, which is technology to basically accelerate the whole thing. So, what I really am passionate about is transformation.
Now, technology is one big tool of transformation, which is necessary for transformation, but what I say is that the technology is necessary but not sufficient. So, there is so much more that it requires to really get transformation out of technology than just technology itself. Like for example, there's a lot of organization change management that you need to do. I mean, there are partners in your transformation programs and you need to sort of try one team kind of philosophy with all your partners. So then let me start by asking you how do you define transformation? Oh, transformation is you know, I think the simplest example of transformation is like, you know, pupa turning into a butterfly, right. So something which is crawling, you know, starts
flying, and then it goes through a bit of pain in the process, there's an incubation process and then there's like, you know, this whole process of breaking the shell and I think, you know, organizations, divisions, processes, they undergo a similar process that you know, when there is a discomfort about you know, where you are, and then you basically go back to the drawing board, you start looking at like, you know, what are the root causes, you start looking out for benchmarks, and then it starts a planning process, which is the incubation process, where you're in a pupa stage nothing seems to be changing. There is a lot you know, just looking inside and then when you start executing, you know, then the whole thing starts flying. So, transformation is a similar process. So, can you give me an example without giving any names of some transformative changes that you have brought about in organizations? Yeah, so, let me give you an example, you know, from my past career, and I can name the organization and it's like a published case study. So, you know,
Tata Motors was in a duopoly in the commercial vehicle market, you know, Tata Motors and Leyland Yeah. And then what happened in late 90s, early 2000s competition started coming in and, there was like, you know, a lot of pressure from all around. In the duopoly customer would always take a backseat, you know, because the product is always in short supply. So, you know, when we started the CRM, the intent was to transform our approach to the customer. And we conceptualized, we looked around and looked at you know, everyone who was succeeding with CRM primarily in the services and retail industries. And then we basically identified some of the core principles you know, which is the centrality of the data, the real-time nature of the data, the connectedness of the enterprise and the ecosystem and a shared ownership of the customer. So, fast forward, we put up a platform connected all the dealers and we started
getting a lot of data in real-time, we put analytics on top of it. And now here comes you know, the transformation is always in the results. So Tata Motors used to be called leader with the follower's mindset, that was the industry buzzword. We will always lead the market share but you know, if you look at customer satisfaction and all the other qualitative measures, we would fall behind, we actually rose to the top. So Tata Motors continues to
be on the top of the NPS in commercial vehicles, it is there in top three, it used to be seventh or eighth in the JD Power, you know, rankings, it has been consistently in the top three for the last many years, I would call that as a transformation. But, was it only the system? No, there was, like, you know, the functions change there, the way we're doing processes, there was a lot of analytics, which was put into place, there was a lot of customer interaction measures, and call center that was put into place. So if you see 20 years back how they used to operate, and today how they operate, is completely different. So you know, that's what I call calling supply. Okay. And then, you know, a few minutes back, you mentioned that technology is only one of the factors that enable transformation. Help me understand this statement, and maybe, you know, if there's something that you're doing in your advisory, give me an example. Once again, no names.
Sure, sure. So, see, technology just provides you a way of doing something in a different way, right. But the real people who are involved in the process are the users or the managers. And if you really look at how traditionally organizations have worked, information used to be, you know, a means of power, right? So, and then, you know, there was this whole mentality around, you know, this is how it is done here. So, we are unique, okay. And then there has been, like, you know, this whole command and control, top-down kind of mindset. So what technology does is, it brings a certain amount of data democracy, you know, the same version of data available and user, so, we cannot live with the information silos. Now,
everyone across the organization, top to bottom start seeing some same version of data. Again, there's a bit of democratization there. And it requires changing our processes. So collectively, if you look at this, there's so much that needs to be done inside an organization to transform through technology than technology alone, right. So again, let me give you an example here. Okay. So this is again, from my past experience, we implemented a technology which was supposed to improve the warehousing operations, and successful implementation.
Everyone liked it, you know, no barriers, people started using it. And well, everything was going well, before I asked for a review. And I said, Okay, I want to look at are we really getting the benefits out of it? There was no escalation, you know, as an IT manager, I was actually going and checking with my business folks, that have you really got the benefits, we started looking at the figures and six months, everyone is happy, but there's no change in the business KPIs. So that was a situation. And then we started getting into a root cause analysis of you know,
everything is fine, you know, a technology implementation is successful, we're all talking about it, why is the KPIs not changing? And what we figured out was that, to run that new technology, on a day to day basis, we required a new set of skills and people called planners. So this was a planning system you're putting into place, you require a couple of planners to execute the entire thing and make sure that the data is alright and stuff like that, right. And the whole planner hiring was stuck somewhere in the HR bureaucracy. You know, manufacturing organizations always have this bottleneck of like, you know, your ability to hire resources. Now, the moment we root caused it, you know, then I think, you know, collectively, all the leaders we basically bottlenecked it along with HR and got those people hired. In the meanwhile, while you're looking out for those people, we got some contractors in place, and then the processes started running. So I generally, you know, call it a good example of,
you know, everything's successful, but the KPI is not being delivered. And where's the problem, it's not technology. It's somewhere in the HR. Okay, so coming back to transformation two related questions for you. At what stage does someone in an organization realize that
I think it's time for me to transform and second, who decides it is time to transform? And you give me the example of the caterpillar or the pupa into the butterfly, who determines where I am at this stage? That is the pupa that I may be and what do I want to become? Yeah, so typically there are two ways about it. So, one is like, you know, there is a pain that you're facing, right? Like, for example, you're losing market share, or let's say, you know, your warranty cost is going through the roof, or let's say, you know, the competition is, you know, really biting into your, you know, whatever you're doing. Now, that pain, and, you know, generally the business, everyone would have done something about that pain, and you're not able to, you know, really address it. And that's where, you know, you go back to the planning board, and you said, hey, you know, what, running faster won't get you there faster, you know, you got to let's say, you know, get a motorcycle or a car with the same energy to get you faster there. So, a pain creates a need general, right. And the second thing is just looking outside.
So when you look outside, within your industry, and I actually prefer to look outside to other industries, right, as to how other industries are working, how they have evolved. And then if you're able to, let's say, create an aspiration, right? That, hey, you know, what? This is what we can do, this is what somebody has done, this is what we can do, and then you know, creating some sort of a credible path or plan on how we can do that. Now, 90% of the people, you know, follow the first path, which is, unless there is a pain, you don't act. But I would say Transformative Leadership is where, you know, there are people who are looking always ahead, and we're looking at, you know, where things are done better, and then you are able to push the organization ahead. So the second part is what I would call real transformation, even the first part also leads to transformation. Interesting. But again, I want to come back to the process. So say, I have an organization and I'm the CEO of
the company, or I'm the owner of the company, and I reach out to you, and I say, you know, you're a specialist in transformation, Jagdish. Can you come and make an appraisal and tell me do I need to transform? And I'm giving a very wide thing, obviously, it'd be with some particular department of function, what is the process that you would follow? Okay, so, yeah, the process is not very complex. To begin with, I think, you know, you generally start with a diagnosis, right. So, the diagnosis will include interviews with, you know, with the leaders,
it will require some dipstick, you know, let's say, a visit to a factory, visit to a warehouse and just like gathering as much absorbing a lot of information about the current state, then starts the next part of the process, which is like parsing this information against, let's say, you know, what others are doing in the industry, right. And if you go beyond the industry in terms of process, let's say warehousing process, right, so you can even benchmark yourself with Amazon's warehousing process. And so this then creates that you're able to now become aware of not only what you have, but you know, where others are, and that creates that sort of, you know, where do we need to be? So there's an as is to be situation that needs to be defined first. And then comes, you know, the process of identifying what programs will get us there? How do we prioritize those programs, you know, identifying the program team.
Now, typically, I will talk in the context of technology. And in terms of what works and what doesn't work, I think what works is when there is a business leader, who has looked at his as his end to be and he's putting his personal weight his or her personal weight behind the two we stayed and willing to sponsor because as I said, technology is necessary but not sufficient, there's so much things, so many things you have to do on the organization side, structures, process changes, you know, rules, policies, etc, that can only be done by a business. So you require a business leader to sponsor the program, right. The second important thing is, you know, having somebody from the business function itself, you know, as a program manager, somebody, and here I bring in a concept of exclusive accountability, or somebody holding a particular function and also doing this program, you know, always has an excuse that, you know, this program didn't work just because like I was busy with something else. So once you take away everything else and give that exclusive accountability that really creates a drive and that, you know that you can say, sometimes anxiety or the positive stress about making it happen. I think the third important thing here is like,
you know, getting the right partner and the technology. So I, again, have another concept of like, you know, technology in Hotel California, so you shouldn't jump into something, it's very hard to get out of technology once you've got it, right. So you have to do your due diligence, maybe the POCs and looking around for other people who have made success with it, and have a rigor around selection of technology, and I think a similar rigor you need around the partners. Now, once this entire setup is in place, you have the program plans and everything, then I think the most critical thing which people get wrong, is the governance that governance is a, you know, a complete system of reviews, which keeps everything aligned, which has multiple stakeholders, like, you know, working in tandem, and a continuous, you know, sort of process of resolving the issues which are faced during the program by any of the participants. A lot of decisions need to be taken. And so that's how we get there. I hope that answers your question. I understand. I understand. So Jagdish, let's now move to the second part of our conversation, which is on critical eye.
What is the peer-to-peer board community? Oh, this is interesting. In fact, you know, I also discovered critical eye, you know, serendipitous the connected with someone. And when I started reading about them, it's very interesting concept of, you know, people who have done their CXO career, you know, who are now basically not looking at full time roles, okay. And it's like, you know, people like you and me who also want to give back, right. So critical eye is building this community of, you know, ex-CXOs, if you may call them who are available as board members, as independent directors. And as board mentors, now, board mentors, is simply CXO, mentoring the CXOs.
So they have this entire, I would say the community of, you know, CXO of board mentors. And this is available as a service to any of the corporate, they have been, I think, more focused on Europe so far. And now they are expanding into the APEC and one of the first ones to join them. Interesting. And, you know, does this also handle things like you said, if a company, if an organization wants board members, they can reach out to critical eye? Wonderful. And are you on several boards also? Not really many. I'm on a couple of boards here. Okay. So my question to you, and I often ask this for many people who are board members, non-Executive Board members, and in India, the fiduciary responsibility of a non-Executive Board member is the same as that of an executive board member. As a board member, what is the level of
transparency that you seek from a company? Oh, you know, it's a balancing deem act, you know, if you may call it because, you know, you have to partner with the CEO and the team, no, you have to advise them, you have to be empathetic to them, but and also, at the same time, you know, you have a responsibility as a conscience people. So you also have to ask them the hard questions. And typically my hard questions are around, you know, around governance, compliance, you know, is basically doing the right things, you know, and you have to make them aware. Now, as a board member, I think your effectiveness is much better when you don't really rock the boat, that means you keep an eye in identifying the issues in advance and alerting the CO and giving them the necessary time and bandwidth to basically make the coarse corrections. Now, I must say that, you know, so far, I haven't come across a case where there has been a willful, you know, intent and so everyone is under stress, they are moving with the speed and there are some over sites that may happen. And I think,
important goal as a board member is to make sure that you're keeping an eye on those oversights, and you're basically like, you know, you're the ones who are like checking all the i's are dotted and the T's are crossed, and keeping the executive, safe and compliant. Interesting. And my last question to you is on again back to the board members, what are the precautions an independent board members should take before she or he decides to agree to an invitation to join a board? Now, my questions would be like, you know, why me? And then I would also talk to like the other board members, in terms of what their experience has been, I will do my own checking around in terms of you know, are you looking at, you know, someone who can add some value who can be what I said, you know, as a conscious people or, you know, someone you know, who's just willing to sign on the dotted line. I would really look at the intent, I will also talk to, I will also ask the hard questions to the CEO or the entrepreneur, as to you know, why are they looking at me, and unless there is a convincing answer, I would hesitate. Jagdish on that note, thank you so much for speaking to me. Thank you for talking to me about the amazing work that you have been doing at Tata Motors and in the area of transformation. Thank you and good luck. Thank you, Ashutosh. Thanks for inviting me to the TBCY show. Thank you.
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