What Corporate India thinks about the Cyrus Mistry ouster?

We did a survey with our audience to find out what corporate India thinks about the recent events at the Tata Group. The questions asked were open-ended and we encouraged our readers to be elaborate in their responses. The findings indicate a nuanced understanding, some perceptions confirmed, some surprises.

Clash of ideologies

77% of the respondents felt that a fundamental reason was the clash of business styles — one, an old school approach of holding on to loss-making ventures with extended turnaround timelines. This also meant minimizing job losses and settling partner disputes amicably without resorting to legal action. As opposed to this, the Cyrus Mistry style indicated a more modern, but perhaps less ‘humane’ approach of cutting losses and exiting unprofitable businesses quickly.

Personality clash

While both Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry portray a level-headed approach at most times, around 60% of respondents felt that a clash of personalities was also responsible for things to have come to the current state of affairs. Part of this was a power battle where Cyrus didn’t feel like he had the power to make decisions while Ratan Tata felt like decisions were being made without his consent.

A more graceful exit?

We asked our readers if the exit could have been handled more gracefully and most agreed that that should have been the case. A few readers indicated that

this was probably attempted and did not work and the sudden ouster was the ‘last resort’.

Others indicated that such a transition would have been embarrassing for Ratan Tata as Cyrus Mistry would have pointed out his mistakes of the past which are being corrected. Well, that doesn’t seem like much of a worry now, as the mud-slinging has become rather public anyway.

The next Chairman

The next Chairman question received the most number of ‘Not sure’ responses (48%).

50% of corporate India thinks it will be an insider.

‘No outsider would like to take up the role, given what happened’.

A couple of names that came up repeatedly were that of TCS CEO Mr Chandrasekharan and Tata Trent CEO (and half-brother of Mr Ratan Tata), Noel Tata.

Lessons learnt

While some remembered a similar ouster of Russi Mody in 1991 from the position of chairman of Tata Steel, others indicated that this will only be a blip in the larger scheme of things. The Tata brand and institution is above any single individual. Several readers urged the senior leadership to give full control to the selected chairman and not interfere in decision-making. Some readers pointed out that perhaps the selection process was too convenient the first time around and needed to be more rigorous this time.

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Gautam Shetty

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Marketer, Techie, Thinker

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