Books and Me: Doing What Is Right: The CRISIL Story

Book Title:  Doing What is right: The CRISIL Story

Authors: Hemanth Gorur and Sumit Chowdhury 9789382618072

The services component of India’s economy is on the rise. What seemed primarily as IT and IT enabled services, is now truly spreading to a wider and healthy representation. While most of the success stories in services have been from information technology, the CRISIL story stands as an useful example to aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs in the services space.  The CRISIL story is also inspiring for people who look to build service businesses with a domestic focus as against the predominant export focused IT examples.

Being in the services business myself,  I wished to learn how a pure play services start-up orchaestrated its early years, how it created service offerings, how it marketed and sold its efforts and how it has sustained its success for over a quarter of a century.  While I could have wished the book to be longer and more detailed about each of these aspects, I was definitely not disappointed.

The CRISIL story is more of a case for intrapreneurship than entrepreneurship. At the same time it is also an example to highlight why the process of starting and growing an enterprise is almost the same in both cases.  The opportunity identification by the founding members of CRISIL their creative thought process of introducing a very new solution to the target market, quickly figuring out the make or break parameter/factor for their economic success as ‘TRUST’ speaks volumes about the importance of having focus, clear goals, well designed products, a good guiding policy and coherent actions.

The aspect of communicating value to the identified target market through fair cost but highly effective methods is worth noting. The business design of distributing these services during the early years by signing up partners is also an useful lesson for scaling services organization.  CRISIL Story is also about values and character. It has interesting and powerful metaphors for why sticking to values and principles and living them makes immense business sense.  It has not only enabled CRISIL attract great talent but also allow for the creation of systems that enable the growth of talent. One of the biggest take-aways of the CRISIL story is that of a talent enabling ecosystem. Every transition of leadership even at the top of the institution seems to have been smooth and natural. Core teams have worked with each other on various engagements over time. Retention of good talent through non-monetary incentives such as giving freedom, powers of decision making, people friendly policies and a culture of transparency provides interesting thoughts.

The company has also managed to retain the entrepreneurial spirit which is enabling it to identify and adapt itself for the next round of growth .  This reaffirms how important culture is not only for the sustenance but also the growth of the enterprise. Every service businesses in India can take a page or two from the CRISIL story to re-look at their own set-up!

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