In times of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Attritions (VUCA) companies should not panic, but rather capitalise on the situation to take tough decisions and optimise their work. This was the theme of the session of Manu Anand, MD of Cadbury India at the ISA Global CEO conference-Navigating a VUCA world in Mumbai.
Manu Anand, MD, Cadbury India listed slow GDP growth, clearance delays from the Governance, Rupee devaluation and shrinking wallet share as the major hurdles in the contemporary economic scenario. According to him, there are four possible steps or approaches to deal with the VUCA times – optimise cost, sustain strategic investment, engage your stakeholders, and create innovation pillars.
In the Indian context, he banked upon a robust rural market, emerging youth population, and long term potential of the reviving low per capita income as the prime reasons for the above approaches to be successful.
Anand highlighted that slowdown is the best opportunity to cut costs and delete extra flab in a company. He insisted that any process which is time consuming and delivers no value should be shredded and slowdown is the best time to do that. The process could from operations to logistics or anything, depending on the organisation. He also highlighted that a slowdown is the best time for a company to prioritise the factors required for growth.
Sustained Strategic Investments
The other aspect that Anand highlighted was that of strategic investments. “Companies should focus on the core strengths, new products and should make prioritised and future-oriented investments during slowdown. This has to be done very smartly and organisations should focus on category growth,” he maintained. He further said that organisations should shift investments and save cash in such times, but should not shy away from relevant and smart investments, which might give them an advantage when the ice of slowdown melts. He also reflected that investments in such scenarios help the companies sustain their presence and give out a positive message to the stakeholders and the market about the organisation’s deep values, which do not get withered with the environment.
Engaging and Motivating Stakeholders
“While performing a balancing act of money (optimising and then investing), an organisation should engage with its stakeholders in dialogue and convince them about the actions. The stakeholders would be the people working with the organisation, customers and the shareholders in case of a public limited company,” shared Anand. He stressed that taking stakeholders into consideration is very fruitful since it gives them an idea of the reality. “India is a robust growth market, and when they (stakeholders) hear about the growth story in India and China, their expectations get high. In case of slowdown, consistent dialogue with the stakeholders garners their support,” he added. Besides, motivating people to work for the company is also the need of the hour.
Create Innovation Pillars
The final point that the Cadbury India MD highlighted was that innovation should be pursued in the VUCA moments and that companies should experiment with the market needs. “Time is moving very fast and one should not rely on just consumer feedback log and well researched data to implement changes or fill the gaps. One has to rely on intuition as well,” he felt. Anand insisted that this is the time when companies should question the approaches that are not working and trust their customers’ intelligence.
Manu Anand was speaking on the topic ‘Reigniting growth in an economic slowdown’, at ISA’s Global CEO Conference - Navigating VUCA, organised by the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in partnership with exchange4media. The Conference was held in Mumbai on October 30, 2013.