Last few weeks, the business news has been totally shadowed by the news emanating from the Tata Group about its Leadership Imbroglio, and having spent more than a decade with one of the prominent of the Tata group companies, my anxiety and concern was little deep rooted.

The anxiety was not about the imbroglio per se but the way it unfolded. Top level exits from organizations is not a big news these days but here was a case of dismissal of the MD and head of India’s one of the most respected conglomerates, plain and simple. When Cyrus Mistry took over there was the talk of him having all the time on the world to understand the group and set his agenda. This was because he was young, and successful in what he was doing before taking over as head of Tata Sons board and he had the trust of the board since they had selected him over an insider.

So, what could have gone wrong? It certainly would not have been integrity or financial impropriety, but the issue is what was then more important for the Tata Group which triggered this ouster?

Let’s look at some of the possible causes that could have tilted the balance against Cyrus: Vision, Values, Culture, Speed of Change, clash of generations and the associated egos, company image, prestige or may be Vision? I am deliberately making a difference between culture and values, since redefining culture was not new to the organization. And it was Ratan Tata who first took up the challenge and set out to transform the culture of the Tata Group from a laid back, slow responding and philanthropic organization to one which believes in People, Profits and Planet in alignment ,rather than focus on any one in particular.

After completing my engineering degree, I joined a Tata group company as a graduate trainee and spent close to a decade and a half of my formative years in the company and learnt most of my human and professional lessons here which became a bedrock for my subsequent career. And One of the most important of these lessons was about Tata Values and the respect we attached to it. It was the like the mythical river Saraswati, flowing unseen and undetected but very much part of our conscience and shaping our behaviours. These values often acted as our behavioural boundaries and each employee’s sand-pit to play within, rather than the clumsy rule books of the organizations. And it was these values that helped the group to break the fiefdoms that chained the group and held it back.

Hence, one of the most plausible answer to me seems to be the threat to the Values of Tata Group which was the crucial trigger in this whole episode. I also feel Tatas, especially Ratan Tata must someday (may be as a memoir),  explain to the world the real reason behind this ouster , since this will give immense reassurance to the employees( both ex and current), Shareholders and the public at large  about what Tatas stand for and what has made this more than a century old company become one of the most respected in India and abroad.


To be concluded………


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