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Jonathan Andrew Wolter

Archive for February, 2010

“No Project Was To Extend Beyond 90 Days”

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Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

PDF LinkMcKinsey has an interview (pdf) with Kundapur Vaman Kamath, ICICI’s award winning MD and CEO from 1996 until 2009. He explains why he had no CIO, it was so strategic he brought it in as the CEO’s responsibilities. (An unusual move, considering the amount of effort two roles would stretch him very thin.) His boldness is evident in the following quote.

[Startups] in Silicon Valley were taking products from concept to market in 90 days, because if they didn’t, somebody else would. So we asked, “Why can’t we?” We made it a rule: no project was to extend beyond 90 days. People were skeptical at first, but it was achievable, and it gave us a huge competitive edge. When I first heard about the 90-day rule at a seminar, we were building a platform for online brokerage almost from scratch. I got on the phone to Bombay from New York and said, “We need to get this done in 90 days.” The project had already been going for 30 days, so in the end I said, “OK, you can have 90 days from today.” The trading platform was up and running 90 days later. It cost us just over $1 million, and with some marginal tweaking–nothing more–it is still operating today.

Imagine that! Every project must go to market in 90 days. What would your organization look like if you instituted such an aggressive policy?

If implemented in most organizations, I predict two outcomes:

  1. Many projects would be canceled, saving millions of dollars.
  2. Surviving projects would release incrementally and progressively. No big up front design, followed by years of waterfall. Instead iterative enhancements and frequent production deployments. You won’t build what you don’t need, and you’ll get customer feedback faster to deliver more of what the customers want.

His other quote was great as well:

We decided to run technology in a radically different way from anyone else, so we don’t have a technology department or a glorious title like chief information officer. There is no CIO. Technology is embedded in every business, and the head of the business runs the technology.

Closer business and technology interaction: a recipe for success.

ICICI is India’s largest private bank, who succeeds primarily because it can rapidly implement technologies giving it a competitive edge, says the bank’s chief executive, K. V. Kamath. Kamath, CEO of the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India, considers information technology so central to the bank’s achievements that he manages it himself, without a CIO. Drawing inspiration from the culture and methodologies of Silicon Valley, Kamath has turned a stodgy industrial lender into a regional powerhouse with assets of $56 billion. Having learned to serve low-income consumers cost-effectively in India, ICICI now is exploring other markets.

Written by Jonathan

February 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 pm