Business Today

That which did not kill them

     Print Edition: Aug 5, 2012

Was Friedrich Nietzsche right? A trawl through corporate performances is not known to trigger philosophical ruminations, but that is what happens as you study companies that flirted with disaster and lived to tell the tale. Affirming Nietzsche's theory, that which did not kill them made them stronger.

That is what happened to the country's two biggest carmakers at the start of this century. There were losses, fall in market share, and doubt. Doubt in the minds of those outside as well as those who held the reins. It took an insane amount of cost cutting, a brave bet on new vehicles, and audacious forays into new areas that saved the two companies. And look where they are: still two of the country's biggest car makers.

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But these are well-documented stories. As are the turnaround tales of ICICI Bank, which was on the mat after Lehman Brothers collapsed, Essar Steel, which has not looked back since lenders agreed to restructure its debt, and Wipro, which has bounced back enough to prompt a cover story in BT in February.

What we do in the special package is look at stories which are not yet part of folklore. What's more, the narrators of these stories are people who steered the turnarounds.

At a time like this, when good news is scarce, we do hope that their tribe will grow. Maybe some day we will ask S.D. Shibulal to tell us how he revived Infosys's fortunes. And it may look improbable now but, who knows, one day a Mallya could be talking about how Kingfisher Airlines flew again.

For, as Nietzsche said, "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

 Stories of other companies that faced tough times and emerged stronger, told by the people who were in the thick of things.
 Nitin Paranjpe on HUL Himanshu Kapania on IDEA
 Mahendra Mohan Gupta on Jagran Prakashan Rakesh Jain and Sushil Agarwal on Aditya Birla Nuvo
 Sanjay Lalbhai on Arvind Mills Peter Mukerjea on Star India
 Sanjiv Goenka on CESC Bhavarlal H. Jain on Jain Irrigation Systems
 Govind Shrikhande on Shoppers Stop Sunil Pahilajani on Greaves Cotton
 Anu Aga on Thermax
 Sunil Duggal on Dabur India
 N. Srinivasan on India Cements Arvind Uppal on Whirlpool

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