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HOW WE CAN HELP - Human Capital Talk to Swapnalekha Basak
Acquiring talent without reference to the culture, organization structure reduces the chances of a good hire
Organization structure in many emerging companies is ad hoc at the outset and then becomes either more adhoc, streamlined or moribund
Performance Management systems are easy to set up but difficult to manage due to bias, skewed incentives and external pressures
Click on each circle to know more..
We prefer to establish long term talent search relationships to increase calibration which we do by understanding the PMS of the client
While setting up the PMS for a client, we prefer to involve ourselves with the org structure to ensure a structurally sound solution
We can be the HR function, or the HR leadership or a part of it as advice or implementation.
We believe that people are the most important resources, and getting the right ones on and the others off is key to gaining scale and success in a venture. Intuitively one would expect that the selection, deployment and efficient use of this resource would be the biggest source of revenue for consulting firms but its not. We believe it comes from the notion that people as a resource can't really be worked on like a Strategy, an IT problem or Process and so much of the attention of clients and consultants go to fixing the latter and not the former.

For instance, selection of people is vital, but with the exception of the really large companies and large search firms the attention paid to HR selection in mid sized companies and smaller ones is on an average scant. The most evident proof of this assertion is the relative value of an MBA student specializing in HR to any other MBA specialization and the relatively low billing that the Human Capital practice has in any multi service consulting firm.
Organizational Design
We help emerging companies deal with the complexity and ad hoc nature of most organization structures which are a result of their rapid growth. Similarly old companies quite often punch way below their potential because of moribund organization structures which reflect the misplaced priorities and beliefs of promoters or management.

For a Broking business which ventured into advisory services and research, we helped align the two fundamentally different businesses in terms of difference in employee profile and performance management systems. We did this through a clear and compelling communication of the nature of the businesses the company was in, the difference in profile and compensation rationale. We also identified senior management members who needed help in transitioning to the larger and more heterogonous organization.
Conceptual base:
  • Nitin Nohria, Max Weber, Henry Mintzberg, The Economist, Bartlett and Ghorshal
  • We believe there is merit in the old school of Command and Control structure and the Organization man theory
  • The old school can only be the platform, and growth has to come from the new school of thought ie concepts like the Disaggregated company, the Networked Person , Network Structure, Cluster organizations, Self-designing Organization, Individualized Corporation, Service oriented organization are vital for organizations to be nimble yet disciplined in a fast changing world


  • Evaluate the organization for contextual variables
  • Analyze current organization structure
  • Co develop the best case for each of the contextual variables
  • Converge the current structure with the best case to arrive at the optimal and feasible Org Structure
Performance Management
The eternal problem in big or small organizations is calibrating employee and organization expectations. We help by defining performance management systems with a modified BSC being a tool we strongly believe in. For a large BPO business which had two distinct businesses in terms of profitability, employee profile and job conditions, we managed to make a performance management system that was accepted by all its constituents.

The problem that we were called to solve was to justify the difference in pay, working conditions and growth prospects for the two sets of business through a transparent and clear PMS. We did this through clear communication to all employees which helped them understand their contribution to the company and how that was being compensated equitably. We collected data points that could be measured consistently and easily that helped employees understand the manner in which effort could be correlated with results. It was an exercise that involved HR, Finance and the Strategy team which is an indicator of the effectiveness of the Integrated approach.
Sourcing and Development
This is one of our biggest differentiators, so much so that we chose to showcase it separately. Most recruitment firms are managed by HR generalists who moved into recruitment owing to people skills etc. We believe that recruitment at middle and above levels is best done by the functional specialist. Therefore a good Finance resource is best hired by a good Finance professional. In turn a good Finance professional is one who has a track record of keeping a team with him or her. Every one of our line managers who has a proven track record of creating and maintaining good teams recruit for our clients.

The bulk of recruitment is done as a natural offshoot of consulting engagements. In many cases we are more paranoid than the client to get the right person in because the success of our engagement depends on it. The other differentiator is that we like to keep track of our recruitments. Did they perform well, did we make a mistake, did they get a good deal? This helps us get a feedback loop working on the interventions made by us. Another vital practice is to ensure that some key recruitments in a particular function are not made by us. This ensures diversity and elimination of confirmation bias in recruitments and intervention logic.
CXO Services
Each of our practice leaders and other senior staff double up as CXO's because we believe that we deliver greatest value by leading from the front for our clients so that we are in full control of delivering value to our clients. For a chemical manufacturing company we took over the Finance function for six months, set the processes right, did a half yearly close and then hired a bright young manager and transitioned the department to her care.

All this is predicated on trust that we win from our clients, where they are sure that not only will we add value but also make the crucial transition to a full time CXO when the company gains scale or is out of the rough patch. "Virtual Organization" and "Virtual Leadership" are our products in delivering CXO Services.
Virtual Leadership
Companies who have pulled into the medium league and face off with the big boys realize that they lack big company leadership skills for most of their support functions. An advertising company which was all set to raise equity investment and debt realized that their financial consultant took a long time in turning around a potential investment situation because they lacked inhouse skils. More importantly they realized that they could have been more investment ready had certain structural decisions been taken or not taken during the life of the company.

We got our CFO in who set up the team and guided the company to a successful fund raise. We believe that the functions best suited for Virtual Leadership are Finance and IT followed by Strategy and HR in that order. The model works on a fairly straightforward monthly fee tied to clear deliverables. For a PE funded start up we deployed a CFO who in a span of six months set up the entire Finance Department across five regions, the shared service center for accounting, the billing and collection system and finalization of accounts.
For small organizations we can step in as the Finance team, set up the function, grow it by hiring and developing front line staff

In a span of 3 to 9 months we would pull out and leave the execution to the team.

We could continue as Virtual Leaders for another six to 18 months.
Mid sized organizations trying to make the leap to the big league need big company leadership which is costly besides the almost inevitable incompatibility of a big company leader with a mid sized company set up.
Our big company leaders know what it takes to work in an emerging company set up and make herself slowly redundant
Virtual Organization
For small companies and start ups who realize that the need to scale up can be met effectively by strengthening the Support function, we provide the entire Support system, or parts of the support system as required. Our approach to costs is a function of revenue. We have a crack team of people who under the guidance of our CXO's are able to deliver quality support functions with clear deliverables. For instance for a client in the Tooling industry we took charge of the HR, Finance and Admin function by deploying a team of two of our staff and bringing our IT partner to the mix. From a cost perspective the arrangement worked out to 3% of the revenues as against the original 2.4%. The next year this cost though increased in absolute terms still came to only 2% of revenues.
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