Saturday, December 08, 2012

India, England a story on strategy

So, India lost a test series at home to England. This may not sound like a big deal, but this is a perfect story of how companies lose marketshare.

India thinks it is the big daddy of spin. It invites teams to play on its flat, breaking tracks and gets its spinners to do the job. And generally that works. It also helped that it had an amazing spinner in its ranks until recently. The new spinners are good, but they will take time and persistence for them to become great. But that is not the strategic part. The strategic part is that in the meantime, the other countries have figured out spin while India has not necessarily figured out pace. Or built other spinners are the same pace that they have been planning for the retirement of the veterans.

Cricketers and commentators and analysts have been crying for years that we need grassy fast tracks and grassy outfields where junior prospective bowlers and fielders learn the ropes so that many years later when they are in the big league, India has learnt a few tricks of its own to play pace. But that has not happened - and hence our bowlers and fielders are not getting to the levels that other countries are getting to. Nor are we investing in talent that allows us to seamlessly replace 'A' players.

So, slowly, India lost its advantage, perhaps due to complacency or blind spots or a combination of all of them. And the IPL which is a great way to blood new players has slowly steeped into mediocrity. Nothing is lost yet - something can always be done. But right now, this is where we are.

Very similar to companies. While working on one thing, they are so sure that they want to keep doing something that are good at, that they miss that either the market is changing or the consumer preferences are changing. And they miss the bus and slowly slip into oblivion. And begin to believe in their own greatness and lose to an upstart who does something totally different.

Markets change. Conditions change. That is a reality. The question is, how are you readying for it? Reactively (5 year plan for getting to somewhere 5 years later, which is where the market is now) or Proactively (actively experimenting with new approaches and trying to 'setup' the future)...

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