Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Strategist of the Year 2010 – CKP

Happy New Year to our readers, both from the west and the east alike!

With us all getting ready to welcome the year 2011, I see quite a few news clips from various organizations bestowing the “person of the year/decade” awards to those individuals who have influenced certain fields in an outstanding way. More specifically, some of the professional awards include, but not limited to are – artist of the year, scientist of the year, engineer of the year, architect of the year, physician of the year and so on and so forth.

As I was looking at this list, I was surprised to see that there is no award called – “strategist of the year” – and so, wondered if it makes sense to propose a “STRATEGIST OF THE YEAR” award as part of our 2010 year-end blog. As I tossed this idea to my wife – she chuckled –“You aren’t creating an award for yourself? Are you?” Well… although I never meant it that way, it sounded like a good idea as well – given the 2010 career slogan being ”if you do not get the job you wanted – go and create the one for yourself”.

With all the pun aside, we decided to propose the “strategist of the year” idea to our fellow readers – with a noble goal of honoring the legendary strategists who have helped to shape the strategy agenda in the last few decades. As it turned out, developing the selection process to choose the top strategist from the list of 50+ legendary pearls – is not an easy task at all. But, then we remembered the song “no turning back” and so, created a mini panel (with me and my wife as members) and quickly scanned through the profiles of the top 50 legendary strategists from various sources (we have listed few links at the bottom of the page for your perusal as well) within the last 10+ years or so.The only key criteria we used was to honor those strategists whose thinking have helped to shape the world’s purpose agenda - given the theme of our blog being “ strategy with purpose” promoting the “collaboration driven purpose innovation”( http://strategywithapurpose.blogspot.com/2010/10/transforming-so-what-opposites-in-to-so.html).

To our surprise, we quickly learned that the list of renowned strategists who have been repeatedly being ranked in the top 50 list, year after year – by and large remained the same, except for few who have changed their positions relative to others depending upon the criteria in which they have been evaluated in those years.The question however is how to trickle down to the finalist - and that indeed turned out to be even more daunting task than agreeing on the process itself!

This is where we applied our intuition and decided to make the process simple – i.e. decided to honor C.K.Prahalad, who was called home in the year 2010. Although he might qualify to be the “strategist of the year” on his own merits- we decided to bestow the award – primarily based on the fact that he was the only one in the top 50 list who happen to be called home in the year 2010. And so, the Grammy goes to... Oops! the “Strategist of the year 2010” award goes to C.K. Prahalad. I hope you all agree with our intuition as well.

As part of showing our respect to CKP, we decided to re-publish the tribute I had published in Harvard Business Review blog earlier this year, with some minor tweaks. May I request you to observe a minute of silence and recite this poem in the honor of the legendary strategist CKP, the strategist of the year 2010.

Twas the day of a solemn note!

‘Twas the Sunday morning like any other day, (April 18, 2010)
There stuck a solemn note in my heart as the news reverberated far and wide,
Stilling the clatter and traffic of the business world – and made them to pause and look around,
A new sense of new world order, at least for the time being- a new world without CKP,
In its sorrow - yet with its splendor, in its moment of loss -yet with its fortitude.

The light is gone, yet I whispered to myself - I wish I was wrong,
For the strategic light that shone the world was no ordinary light,
That strategy light that illumined this world for these many years,
Will continue to illumine this world for many more years to come,
And hundred years from now, I am sure, that
light will still be seen around the world.

Not an ordinary one, the light that
redefined the word strategy...
The praja that made strategy relevant for the
bottom of the pyramid,
That gravitas that drew us away from the conventional thinking,
That compassionate heart that reminded us to do the right thing,
That simple soul that took the strategic thinking altogether to the new level –
strategy with purpose!

The strategy Guru with his spectacled charm and of happy nature,
The champion of the once alien concept “
core competencies” along with Gary Hamel
Among his virtues, sense of duty still stands out tall –
as teacher and a servant
His courage to go against the odds with
stronger conviction,
That is the character that won the glint of admiration.

That innovator who planted the resource based view (RBV) seed for the swallow-tails
And the milkweed plants where strategists of yester years would lay,
To make this April meadow grass green and the next round of
caterpillar generation to grow
Beckoning the world
to watch the mystery unfold
The metamorphosis of translucent prodigies (us?) giving our golden service for the needy.

The immigrant star smiling with his trademark embed spectacled eyes (from his place of resting)
Like a
immortal who refused to be a mortal,
Realizing how quickly his insights are going to be consumed (for the betterment of the world)
Resting in peace with the assurance of
his prodigies fulfilling his purpose,
Yet, rolling over from his grave once in a while (reminding us that purpose) with his spectacled smile indeed!

PS: The inspiration for this poetry tribute came from the scripture verse– “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do we light a candle, and put it under a bushel”




  1. Charles Prabakar,

    This is a touchy and human post. It discusses in a smart way the need to acknowledge the role of strategists in opening our eyes to the future possibilities. As you rightly said, selecting the winner is a formidable task. I agree with your nomination and support your aim of making an annual prize for strategist.

    Since strategists look for possibilities- why not simplify your heavy task by nominating two people for the prize. People like Gerald Nanninga and yourself would stand a good chance of being nominated.

    The poetry! It is touching and emotionally-moving

    I salute you for your attempt to give strategist their overlooked rights of nomination as stars and achievers of the year. These people sail in foggy weather to find the way and lead us into a brighter future

  2. A very apt comment for the occasion Ali! While CKP qualifies for the “strategist of the year 2010” award on his own merits (& more specifically because of the fact he was called home in 2010)- I agree that someone of Gerald Nanninga caliber (to whom you and I have had the privilege of collaborating together in the recent months) will definitely qualify for the award nomination as well.

    Gerald being the alumni of Michigan perhaps qualifies ( more than us) as the prodigy/student of CKP as I had alluded in my poem – and so, within the context of that spirit- let us start preparing ourselves to honor Gerald next year.

    On the same token – I have the same utmost respect for your caliber as well, and so, apart from the top 50 list, I would also nominate you and few other strategists to whom we have come to collaborate together in the recent months within slide share as well.