Leaders often ask me how to convert their individual success into organisation one? They often share their desire to convert their thoughts and ideology into organisation, but they could not do it so easily.

If you visit Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), you find red brick structure, lots of Asopalav trees, and its beautiful architecture which gives you idea of something built to last.

But, the founders of IIMA did more than create sold buildings. They laid the foundation for IIMA’s enduring success. Vikram Sarabhai, Ravi Mathai, and few others created a story of institution-building, wherein Mathai played a role of leading actor.

IIMA grew with time, the peer culture, the system of committees, the habit of periodic review, the balance of power between the director and faculty – the foundations of institution building.

Surprisingly, Mathai was only 38 at the time. He did not have advanced academic qualifications. He had obtained his BA (Hons) from Oxford. Over the next seven years, Mathai went on to put IIMA on the map of India as a centre of academic excellence.

The first report for IIMA was prepared in mid-1959 which outlined the organisational form for the proposed institute, the goals of the proposed institute, its policies and programs, facilities required and the costs thereof and a three year programme for development of faculty.

As TT Ram Mohan writes in his book Brick by Red  Brick: Ravi Mathai and the Making of IIM Ahmedabad, “Institutions are not always planned, they just happen.”

Building people was Sarabhai’s forte. He had an unusual ability to connect with people at all levels, a way of making them feel at home. People came away energised from a meeting with him. He was so much essentially an institution builder.

IIMA would have three activities: teaching, research, and consulting.

Teaching would be on three levels: senior executive, junior executive and graduate.

Harvard Business School was selected as academic collaborator.

IIMA operated on a makeshift basis in the initial years. In a bungalow in Shahibaug. The first batch comprised of 60, commenced on July 1, 1964, with just 14 full time faculty members.

As Sarabhai explained that one of distinguishing features of the program was the extent of preparation that went into it – work in the selection and training of faculty, in contacts with industry, case research, techniques of selection, the conduct of the courses and hundred-and-one small details which were involved in it.

He also emphasised the culture at the institute. He felt proud to have established a culture at the institute, which is informal and at the same time, involved major responsibility by the faculty, and an individual teacher.

What IIMA has been teaching is largely because of this culture.

Why don’t you institutionalise such culture in your company?

Dr. Shital Badshah works as Leadership Coach. He can be reached at Shital@GrowthCatalystIndia.com or +91 94284 19021. Give us your details, we will get in touch with you soon.

    Whatsapp us to get in touch with you!