Dr. Balaji Krishnamurthy is a veteran corporate executive with more than 30 years of corporate experience, having run 16 different businesses in his career. With a Ph.D. in computer science and a strong technology background, he has run a variety of service and manufacturing based, private and public technology businesses ranging from millions of dollars to a billion dollars. As president and CEO of Planar Systems from 1999 to 2005, he led the company’s transformation from a sleepy technology company to a leading player in the flat-panel display market. Even as the technology industry collapsed, annual sales of this Nasdaq high-tech company more than doubled under his watch to $256 million. TIME magazine recognized him as one of 25 Global Business Influentials, and national publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, have featured Balaji and his innovative concepts as representing a new genre of corporate leadership.
Although Balaji has five advanced degrees from prestigious institutions, his concepts of leadership are shaped from the laboratory of corporate experience rather than the classrooms of academic learning. Yet, his academic training has caused him to structure his experience into practical models and tools that he has used and taught throughout his career and now teaches to corporate executives. Currently, as the Chairman of Think Shift, Balaji communicates his decades of corporate leadership experience through provocative logic and passionate delivery. Known for his innovative and thought provoking concepts on corporate leadership, Balaji works with CEOs to develop organic leadership through an intentional corporate culture.
Q. What is the difference between brand and culture? A. Brand is the outsiders’ view of the company. It is the perception of your company as held by your customers. Brand is not what you say it is, it is what your customers say it is. In contrast, culture is the insiders’ view of the company. It is the perception of your company as held by your employees. Culture is not what you say it is, but what your employees say it is. So, quit shouting out to your employees what your culture is with posters plastered on the wall with motherhood and apple pie: Honesty, Teamwork, Respect, etc. Instead ask yourself, what do you do – so unique and so different – that your employees are caused to talk about it at their backyard barbecues?
Developing Leadership through an Intentional Corporate Culture
The most common limiting agent for a growing small corporation is neither market opportunity nor investment capacity; it is usually the limited leadership talent below the CEO. Senior leadership can focus so exclusively on growing the company that internal leadership, the fuel for continued growth, is neglected. Though thought-provoking logic, Balaji causes the audience to examine their own unique style of leadership. This style must then be translated into an intentional corporate culture, which becomes a source for developing internal leadership consistent with the company's core values. The audience leaves with concrete tools to analyze a soft subject like corporate culture and develop leadership from within.
Consensus is a Road to Mediocrity
Decision-making is the most common activity of management. Yet, most corporations neither have a defined methodology for making decisions, nor do their employees understand how and when a decision has been made. As a result, decisions linger and there is a lack of organizational alignment. Balaji discusses the science, art and culture surrounding four styles of decision-making. He makes the point that consensus decision-making, often revered for its consultative and inclusive style, often leads to mediocrity. People confuse consensus as being synonymous with consultative. Balaji offers a clear style of decision-making that empowers an organization, and discusses its art form and cultural impacts with the audience. A large collection of tools is offered to institute the type of decision-making culture they wish to create in their organization.