The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buchanan to grind CEOs

Calcutta, Aug. 7: After a down-under Indian cricket team got some Aussie emotional salve, it’s time for some wicket wisdom from Down Under for Indian corporates.

MBT, a joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and British Telecom, wants Australia cricket coach John M. Buchanan to grind its executives into match-winners.

Management lessons appear to cut no ice in the cut-throat business world of competition anymore. Like in a one-dayer, killer’s instinct is what decides the clinching score in boardrooms.

“Academic management studies alone might prove inadequate at times. So a holistic approach is needed to take care of the physical and mental abilities and aptitude of executives,” sources close to the deal-in-the-making said.

MBT is said to be coughing up Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh for two workshops by Buchanan, a week-long one in Pune tentatively from August 20 and another in London subsequently. The almost 3,000-strong company has a big software development centre in the British capital.

This is the first time an Indian corporate will be hiring a sport professional to tutor its executives. But no one is talking to make things clearer. A “strict confidentiality agreement” binds the main players.

Sources, however, are clear why MBT wants Buchanan and no one else. “The person has given a new dimension, a new orientation to the Australian cricket team. The team is now almost invincible. This is something that corporates need to borrow from cricket,” one of them said.

Earlier, the Indian team had borrowed top sport psychologist and senior lecturer Sandy Gordon from the University of Western Australia in Perth to massage its confidence during the last World Cup campaign.

Sources said the workshop deal is nearly clinched, only “some finer details are being worked out before the formal agreement is signed”. That is likely on Monday.

“His (Buchanan’s) main emphasis in the workshops will be on making the managers professionals of the highest order,” a source said. “He has proved that everybody should have the ability to perform, especially when the situation demands.”

And if Buchanan performs, the man credited with dumping the century-old “tail-ender” concept may be inked in for a longer stint.

MBT professionals daily dabble in churning out software solutions for telecom wireline, wireless, equipment and infrastructure companies. If Buchanan comes on board, they can expect some soul searching.

“We must question everything we do, things that are not working and things that are. We must constantly seek ways of improving (ourselves),” he has been quoted as saying.

The likely corporate coach’s mantra is simple: “Invincibility comes from defence; attack gives you the opportunity for success.” Never mind he never played for his country. He knew what he was talking about when he hired baseball coach Mike Young to make them field better in the World Cup. What the white-collar warriors will get is Buchanan’s deadly winning combination: fielding for defence and bowling-batting for offence.

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