Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dhirubhai’s Gravest Error?

Dhirubhai’s Gravest Error?

Its that time of the year once again when most of us sit down to think about the year gone by. I was doing the same. And other than all the personal happenings that affected me this year, one of the most news worthy events was the public spat between the Ambani brothers of the Reliance group.

At stake is the ownership and control of the mammoth Reliance group – the one founded by their father Dhirubhai Ambani – a petrol station worker. Under Dhirubhai‘s leadership, the Reliance group flourished and starting from scratch became the largest private sector company of India, also finding a mention in the coveted Fortune 500 list.

Dhirubhai was a great man who had great accomplishments during his lifetime. Where perhaps he faltered was that he did not plan his succession. So, it was only a matter of time that his two sons – Mukesh and Anil – started fighting over the empire.

So, where everyone eulogises Dhirubhai, I believe his one error of judgement has done great damage to his reputation, one that he had spent decades to build. While no one talks about Dhirubhai anymore and people are just taking sides based on their personal stakes in this issue, I believe that this single issue has already had, and will continue to have great ramifications in the future. We have already seen Rahul Bajaj taking the cue and deciding on the structure of his empire between his two sons. I will not be surprised if others follow suit and draw a clear roadmap for the future for their own business enterprises, because as long as there are multiple siblings, there is bound to be issues of control between them.

So, although Dhirubhai’s gravest error has cost Reliance dearly, it has helped the others to learn from his mistake.

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