In “Built to last”, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras explored the fundamental idiosyncrasies of visionary companies. In their view, all the visionary companies shared few characteristics that have made them truly visionary.
1) Clock building, not time telling:
While great companies master ‘time telling’, successful and visionary companies have built clocks that last forever, clocks that extend into the future, for the progeny to admire the beauty of clock making and as a source of inspiration.
‘Great Lakes’ in this regard is a true ‘clock maker’. The institute has designed a truly inspiring model- fusion of global mindset and Indian roots. The institute’s philosophy is promptly embraced by all the guest lecturers that visit the campus. It is all pervasive in the campus, the cultural roots are displayed conspicuously, for the institute acknowledges the beauty of Indian culture. The institute’s founder Dr. Bala Balachandran is a firm believer of ‘clock building’. The philosophical doctrines of the institute are the clocks, one only has to approach the clocks at times of indecision and the message is clear.
“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong”-Ayn Rand
At Great lakes, when confronted with contradictions, we check our clocks.
2) No tyranny of the “or”:
All the visionary companies have presented to the world, an erosion of “or”. Where good companies were plagued with choice making, between ‘change or sustainability’, ‘low cost or quality’, visionary companies with their superior philosophies have succeeded in lifting themselves up holding the balance by its lever.
‘Great lakes’ with its strong philosophical ground achieved this feat of phenomenal breadth. While the ‘global mindset’ held the lever, pulling the balance into higher echelons of triumphs, the ‘Indian roots’ made sure that the pans were balanced. These grounds led the previous five batches to decimate the era of “or” and confront the ever burgeoning hypocrisy of “impossible”. Today, the institute has successfully achieved ‘breadth of subjects and depth of subjects’, ‘placement focused and research oriented’, ‘change and sustainability’
“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” –Bertrand Russell.
3) Big Hairy Audacious Goals:
While the competitors made rational choices and played safe, visionary companies were audacious enough to pass edicts to the world at large. Their steps were frowned upon, logic was mocked at, and vision thought inconceivable. But, the visionary companies marched into the future with the weight of audacious decisions weighing on them, and eventually they won the race. They left every other company behind.
Today, Great Lakes is a success story, but the visionary institute’s goals were, in retrospect, all audacious, all mathematically improbable situations. Within five years, Great lakes has achieved the rank of some of the best B-schools in India. The institute is also keen in differentiating itself staking on the very philosophy that built it to last forever. The ‘Karma Yoga’ project, the ‘Empirical Study’, and the institute for ‘Marketing’ are some such pivotal grounds that the institute stands on, to gain the unique and distinguished status in the realm of management studies.
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”- Bob Dylan
4) Cult-like cultures:
All the visionary companies are known to suffuse their employees’ stream with cult-like cultures. An established framework at the heart of the company churns out positive energy that suffuses the work force to an extent that the company acts like a giant organism with all the employees completing its body.
Great Lakes is a family in the truest sense. The founder is deeply adored by the students, and is lovingly referred to as ‘Uncle Bala’. The staff is forthcoming; the guest lecturers are surprised at the subtle nuances in the framework of the college that makes it truly cult-like.
“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”-Carl sagan
5) The end of the beginning:
Statements of vision don’t make visionary companies. It is the implementation; it is the thorough application of the statements in every day work that makes visionary statements. In fact, most of the visionary companies did not set out with statements of vision; the statements emerged in the process of attaining the visionary status.
Great lakes, in the last five years has attained the status of a unique college with a distinguished and superior philosophy. The institute’s founder Dr Bala Balachandran’s conscientious endeavor to achieve higher plateaus of success has made it possible to draw visionary statements. ‘Global mindset, Indian roots’ has catapulted the institute into a growth pattern hitherto inconceivable. It was all possible not because the visionary statements were carved on every pillar inside the campus, but because, the vision was shared by all of us, because the vision was put to work.
Although, it is of great honor and pride for the institute, Dr Bala, in his humility, shies away from accepting it. For him, we are improvising with every passing day and it is just the end of the beginning.
“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”- Winston Churchill