CEO Speak

Looking at the glass half full amidst an economic slowdown

Indian business leaders who have braved many a slowdown and emerged stronger share their lessons on why one should 'Never Waste A Slowdown'

It’s been a bad year, and that’s an understatement. For one, growth has fallen to six-and-a-half-year low and, for another; we don’t know when things will turn around. Yes, more gloom and doom, but there is also another way to look at things. Recently, I came across a Huffington Post article from 2011 which gave a fresh perspective on a slowdown. It is what eventually led to the theme of this year’s Leading Edge conclave — 'Never Waste A Slowdown'.

According to that article, the US went through an estimated 47 recessions from 1790 to 2010. That means, on an average, a slowdown every four-and-a-half years over 220 years. Maybe these figures are just a good approximation. But, what’s interesting is that several iconic companies — right from Procter and Gamble and General Electric to General Motors and IBM — were born in recession years. 

The media has always been damned for spreading pessimism and looking at the glass half empty. But, here we are, looking at the glass half full, with very good reason. Why not believe post this slowdown we will emerge stronger and healthier? Towards that hopeful end, we spoke with trailblazers who have braved many a slowdown with poise. They were generous with their lessons.

Jagdish Khattar, who ran Maruti Suzuki for a decade, did it by constant engagement with his team and ecosystem partners, refusing to be tied down to his AC cabin. While one Tata veteran Ishaat Hussain swears by the importance of having a weathervane of sorts, the other – R Gopalakrishnan goes by his DANDA philosophy to swing into action when faced with the ‘grief’ of a slowdown. And IBM India’s MD Karan Bajwa is surfing over waves of challenges and transforming the revenue DNA of the company right now. 

India Inc has inspiring leadership. The kind that is thoughtful about its employees and smaller partners, and one that can outrun its competition. As these business heads share their wisdom, the current economic climate does not look so foreboding anymore. It actually looks like an opportunity! Moral of the story: Never waste a slowdown.