Lessons in Excellence: The power of impossible thinking — episode 6

Anuradha Sengupta: If you want to transform society, you need to take people along with you. The power of impossible thinking necessarily involves some amount of R&D of the mind. That's on Lessons In Excellence today. Jerry Wind will tell us how it is done and Shiv Kumar; head of ITC's international business division will share his experience of the ambitious e-chaupal concept. Thank you, Shiv Kumar, for joining us and Jerry., R&D of the mind — is that possible? How does one do that?

Jerry Wind: Well that is relatively simple. The idea is, because of the continuous changing environment, it's imperative for us to continuously experiment and we cannot just rest and continue what we have been doing in the past but continuously we have to experiment or we learn from natural experiments — what's happening around us. But it is critical due to the changing environment that we continuously engage in active experimentation.

Anuradha Sengupta: Do you buy into this?

Shiv Kumar: Yes absolutely. Unless you look at things very differently. If you continue doing things the same old way and there can be a whole lot of deficiency in the way you do things and —

Anuradha Sengupta: But how much of this having to look at things differently is it because you are pre-emptying or is it because you are reacting? Because we are going to get into the e-chaupal model and concept but that was a reaction to the fact that the market around you as an exporter of commodities and a buyer of agricultural commodities was changing, isn't it?

Shiv Kumar: Yes, the basic reason to start could be reaction; it could be many other things also. But the way you look at it differently means that it is not a reactive thinking. For example in e-chaupal, we were the buyer of commodities. If you have to reduce cost or improve quality, all that you could do if we were thinking in the old way was appoint commission agents in the mandi's who are better skilled or cut the transaction cost a little bit by improving transportation costs.