Lessons that you can Learn from Infosys Founder Narayana Murthy

By siliconindia   |   Thursday, 19 May 2011, 00:11 IST   |    5 Comments
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Narayana murthy

Bangalore: India's one of the largest software exporter, Infosys, went through a major restructure which saw N.R. Narayana Murthy , the founder of Infosys retire. Narayana Murthy is seen as a man of very high stature and huge respect. The young generation looks up to him as their ideal. For the first time ever, after his retirement he wrote his farewell letter to the share holders, in the company's annual report. In the report Narayana Murthy mentions many precious lessons that he had learned in the course of his journey.

In its glittering speech, Murthy speaks about the lessons he learn from his life and career. We present it for our readers: Assembling a team of extraordinary people who have displayed outstanding capabilities through their value system, competence, low ego and high energy is crucial to the progress of any institution. The difference comes from ideas, and ideas come from bright minds. Therefore, good people are the primary assets of great organization. It is essential to realize that even the best people may not be able to run the entire marathon. Different people run out of endurance and intellectual horse power at different points of time. Some people drop out of the marathon since they do not see any value in the organization when their own time under the arc light is over. A leader's responsibility is to recognize this, provide them opportunities outside the organization, and usher in suitable replacements.

Infosys's journey is replete with many such examples. Many intelligent people possess a high ego and low patience to deal with people less capable than themselves. Leaders have to manage the anomaly very carefully, counsel theses errant people from time to time, and allow them to operate as long as they do not become dysfunctional and start harming the organization. If they do cross the threshold, it takes courage to inform the individual that their time in the organization is over and that they have to leave. However, one aspect that marks out a truly superior organization is the ability of its employees at all levels to be driven by values and ensure adherence and compliance under any circumstance.

 No individual is high or important enough for an organization to put up with non-compliance. Leadership by example is what creates trust in people to follow a leader. As long a leader is able to show his or her sacrifice and commitment to a cause, others will follow him or her. I am glad we decided on respect from stakeholders as the primary objective of the company. A sense of ownership is important among the employees is extremely important to build a long term future for a corporation. Such ownership comes from fair, merit-based and generous sharing of wealth and perquisites among each member of the company.... I do not know any Indian company that has given away as much as 50, 000 crore (at current stock price) of stock options to employees.

Strategy is about ensuring sustained differentiation in a changing environment for the better net income margins. Differentiation without better net income margins is meaningless....leadership is about taking bold and firm decisions with incomplete information in an environment of uncertainty. Leaders who waffle do not inspire confidence in their people. It is important to use much data and modeling as possible to eliminate clearly bad decisions.....Every leader must have a mental model of his or her business with the best five to seven parameters that determine sensitivity to revenue and net- income. It is important to update that model suitably as the business landscape changes.... Scalability is the true test of the endurance of an organization. The ability to grow successfully without losing quality, productivity, employee, investor and customer satisfaction and the spirit of a small company is what it makes Infosys a great company....

Innovation is the best instrument for creating sustained differentiation. However, it must be understood that revenues for a corporation comes from well understood ideas and business models....Customers put food on our table. Therefore, we have to a laser focus on exceeding their expectation, being open and honest with them, and ensuring that they look good in front of their customers. Employees are the only instrument we have to make our customers and investors succeed... The crucial things we have to do in future are: recognize our weakness, be open minded about learning from people better than us, learn from mistakes and not repeat them; be humble, honest and courteous, benchmark with the best in every dimension; use innovation to perform at global level; and create a worthwhile vision and improve every day.