A Platform For New Ideas – Shadow Board
13 years ago, Anand Mahindra asked young employees to express themselves as CEOs of the company. Today, ‘Shadow Boards’ have become an integral part in shaping the success of the organization.
The world of manufacturing business thrives on great ideas. Working in such an industry is all about creating, building and growing. Be it product developments, improved customer service or the people working in this industry, the industry is always growing in some aspect.
Business decisions become really crucial to this growth and the senior management is always on their toes when it comes to making such decisions. However, in this everyday hullabaloo, how vital is what the younger generation thinks about the business? Especially in a huge organization, how does one make sure that everyone feels like a part of this decision-making?
Anand Mahindra wanted to “hear the voice of the young”. So, in 2003, he added a new circle in the organization structure of Mahindra companies to give young managers a voice at the highest levels of decision-making. ‘Shadow boards’, it was called.
What are Shadow Boards?
Shadow Boards are a group of promising young managers that formulate new business ideas, put forward their opinions, and give their suggestions to grow the business in all forms. With this idea in mind, Mahindra AFS has been inspiring young employees to collaborate and propose strategic business suggestions to bring a change in the organization. This initiative has not only significantly stimulated the functioning of the sector, but has also given fresh ideas a distinguished place within the organization.
Interaction with Leaders
The shadow boards from diverse Mahindra sectors get a chance to present their business case analysis to the Group Executive Board Members (GEB) of Mahindra. Shadow boards have also been ascertained as an ideal platform for young employees to interact with their leaders in the organization and tide over through their budding stage.
The success of Shadow Board depends a lot on the involvement of the top level management. At Mahindra AFS, the leaders are always receptive to fresh ideas and give enthusiastic individuals a chance to put forward their opinion.
“You can’t do this unless the top leadership commits their time to interact with the shadow boards,” Mr. Mahindra adds.
Success of a Shadow Board
The idea has been successful in recognizing exceptional performance, public appreciation for teams or individuals, sharing best practices across teams, sectors, leadership and inviting suggestions for making the business larger than life!
A shadow board presentation in 2006 simulated a strategy session which played a vital role in influencing the top management, because of which Mahindra AFS has been successfully able to take over businesses that form a crucial part of the group now.
One of the best examples of the success of shadow board would be when Mahindra was not keen on bidding for Punjab Tractors. At an annual conference, during these Shadow Board presentations, one of the groups did a very interesting skit. They pretended that they were from a competitor, and they play-acted as if they had bought over Punjab Tractors. They demonstrated that if they bought it and Mahindra didn’t, what would happen in the market.
Shadow boards have brought out suggestions like diversification into commercial vehicles like Mahindra trucks, a round-the-clock helpline, attracting farmer’s children to brand Mahindra AFS, a more personal approach to distributing increments, and even a leap into a bold acquisition!
Many of the young managers who have been a part of shadow boards have seen their careers fast-tracked. Back in 2004, Mr. Karandikar was the brand head for a utility vehicle, Bolero. Today, he is the head of product development and marketing for the group’s international business. Harish Chavan is currently the COO of the Farm Division business at Mahindra AFS.
Arathi Ponangi, a shadow board member said “It feels great to be a part of shadow board. I always wanted to be a part of change. The shadow board is giving me a unique opportunity to not only be a part of change but also contribute towards change.”
“Young managers want an ecosystem where they can make a difference, where they are encouraged to take risks within limits and where they feel empowered,” says Rajeev Dubey, President, Group HR and after-market, M&M.
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