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Auto Rickshaw Drivers and Corporate Strategy

November 11, 2018

I live and work in Hyderabad, India and commute everyday to an area called HITEC City, which is the hub for Tech companies in the city. The traffic is pretty bad both in the mornings and the evenings, and it takes me close to an hour each way.

On a particularly bad morning, I had already done an hour in traffic and it looked like another 15-20 minutes were still needed to reach office. As I was waiting patiently, behind a sea of cars, to turn right at the signal, I saw a couple of auto rickshaw (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_rickshaw) drivers zig-zagging through the traffic. I got interested and, with nothing better to do, started watching them. They just drove wherever they could find an inch of space and finally managed to take the right turn way before I could (I had to wait for another traffic signal before managing the turn). Now, please do not get me wrong, I am not condoning their driving styles or anything, but still it got me thinking.

As entrepreneurs we spend a lot of time and effort in trying to define the strategy of our organizations, and for good reasons. We want to be pretty clear about the general direction our organizations are moving in. But then, what about the tactical opportunities that come our way? Taking the auto rickshaw driver analogy again, even though the driver knew he had to turn right, he did not hesitate going left for some distance when he saw that there was an opportunity to move forward!

In the present times, change is everywhere and it’s pace is only accelerating. Business models are being rendered obsolete in years rather than decades. No one is really sure anymore. What if our strategy is only to take on opportunities as they arise? We may still have a general direction (for example, work in the healthcare IT space or Waste Management space), but the specifics will be dictated by the available opportunities.

What if the winning strategy of the future is to just keep your eyes and ears open, and react to market opportunities as they present themselves? What if all the strategy that we really need is to prepare ourselves internally so that we can grab an opportunity as it arises?

Just some thoughts that I had over the last few days. Please feel free to leave any comments / suggestions. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read.