A tribute to Dr. C.K. Prahalad

Thornton Wilder expressed that “The highest tribute is not grief but gratitude.”  True to his word , the footprints of a great man , Dr. C.K Prahald will remain in every mind that thinks ahead of its time. It was his ideas and words that made him one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

He was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu in 1941 to a scholar in Sanskrit. He had completed B.SC, Physics from University of Madras and worked in Union Carbide for four years. From there he went ahead to study at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad followed by a PhD from Harvard. He taught in various business schools across continents.

He wrote ‘Competing for the Future’ with Gary Hamel on management transition where he focussed on the core competencies rather than re-engineering. He encouraged companies to shift from Control – Command model to the focus on newer avenues. This book was followed by ‘The Future of competition ‘ with Venkat Ramaswamy. Here he mapped the inabilities of a company to understand the rules and the players of globalization. According to him, values require to be co-created with customers as the information system makes a customer an active agent in business transaction. He deciphered building the strategic capital by understanding the business as customer does it, selectively access competence on demand to reconfigure it and collaborate to co-create experience. His next book was ‘Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid’ which he wrote to find a solution to the world’s poverty. He researched and found that world’s poor was a potential market untapped by the corporate which may account to a $13 trillion dollar every year. He emphasised the idea through examples from Hindustan lever, where products were sold in smaller and cheaper units  distributed through newer channels .

He co-founded and headed ‘Prajaa ‘ based on BOP Philosophy in 1997, wherein he focussed to transform internet from information based content to an experiential medium. It was later sold to TIBCO .

His death may mark an end to his actions , but his thought and ideas would continue to guide organization in the years to come . In his own words ‘”If you want new ideas, you have to push yourself into the periphery,” We salute the Guru who not only prophise but lived by his  ideals.