Prem Sunder has a belief
While working on a project for a world leading aerospace and defense company, Prem Sunder, a database professional with HCL Technologies got an idea that he believed would deliver significant value to the client. He quickly got down to work and on his own initiative, spent 18 months developing what came to be known as AQL. By using AQL, the client was able to bring down the time for capturing avionics data from 7 days to just 5 minutes. This outstanding idea was lauded by the client, who has since saved $5.02 million by using it, and is in the process of patenting it.
Prem Sundar is an ideapreneur.
The essence of a unique culture
He is driven by ideas, and the determination to turn them into reality. In HCL every employee is an ideapreneur, driven by HCL’s unique culture of grass-roots, business-driven, customer-focused innovation. This culture of ideapreneurship in HCL is creating a vibrant entrepreneurial atmosphere where employees are taking the lead in finding solutions and ideas and then leading them to fruition.
What happens when employees come first
This culture of ideapreneurship is a result of HCL’s Employees First values, which collectively empower and encourage individual employees at all levels of the organization to come up with innovative solutions to operational and customer challenges.
Employees First emerged as a driving force when HCL was faced with a tremendous challenge in 2005. Though outwardly everything appeared to be fine, the management realized that HCL was on a dangerous path of losing significance. The company was growing slower than its competitors and was losing market share and customer mindshare. It prompted the leadership at HCL to ask themselves some basic questions. The first one, ‘What is the core fundamental of a business?’, brought up the answer that the core of a business is to create value. The next question, ‘Who is creating value?’, had a clear answer, it was the employees. The third and final question, ‘So what should be the role management?’, brought out a simple answer - the management needed to enthuse, encourage and empower employees to create value.
The transformation of 70,000 employees
This was the beginning of a new chapter in HCL marked by the Employees First philosophy. HCL needed to break away from the status quo and leap towards becoming a bold leader. Employees First tuned HCL for perpetual change, and wrought the transformation of more than seventy thousand employees in HCL to make it one India’s top IT services organizations.
Insights into Employees First
The core of the Employees First philosophy lay in its four tenets - mirror-mirror, which created a need for change; trust through transparency, which created the culture for change; inverting the pyramid, which created the structure for change; and recasting the role of the CEO, which transferred the responsibility of change and empowered employees to add value in the zone where they interacted with the client.
The evolution of a philosophy
Employees First lay the foundation of a unique entrepreneurial culture, which over the years led to the evolution of ideapreneurship. A noticeable pattern started to emerge in employee behavior. One akin to the origins of HCL as a garage start-up, but this time it was happening in the grassroots.
Not only were employees evolving into ideapreneurs, there was a distinct move towards an idea centric entrepreneurial atmosphere, that led to institutional and grass-root programs that seeded ideas, mentored creativity and harvested innovation. Amongst them were unique innovation platforms like Value Portal, Mad Jam and Lead Gen.
Today, HCL is an organization of ideapreneurs who are constantly creating value for HCL and its customers. The outcomes of this unique culture of grassroots innovation have been far-reaching and
Ideapreneurship’s business impact
For HCL, there has been a 500% increase in revenues from $750 million in 2005 to $4.2 billion and a 300% growth in market cap from $2.62 billion in 2005 to $8.3 billion. The grassroots revolution spawned 16000 ideas, generated $135 million value and increased the Annual CSAT score from 27.2 in 2005 to 49.64. HCL has also given the global economy over a hundred CEOs, the revenue per employee has grown from 38 k in 2007 to 52 k in 2012 and the attrition rate declined from 17.2% in AMJ 2007 to 14% in AMJ 2012.
Ideapreneurship is the way ahead for HCL and is fast becoming a powerful differentiator that gives the organization a long term competitive edge.