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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Business » No founder's exit is a loss: Mindtree chief

No founder's exit is a loss: Mindtree chief

By Itika Sharma Punit
September 03, 2014 14:53 IST
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Subroto BagchiMid-sized information technology services company Mindtree has, during the past few years, seen the exit of four of its founding team members, including most recently S Janakiraman, president and chief technology officer.

In an email interview with Business Standard, Mindtree’s co-founder and chairman Subroto Bagchi says the company was designed to outlive the founding team and no such departure is a loss.

Edited excerpts. . .

What are the reasons behind the exits of several of Mindtree’s founder members over the past few years, the latest one being that of S Janakiraman?

Mindtree was designed to outlive its founding team. We had it pre-thought.

There were three things we had agreed among the 10 co-founders. One, we were to see ourselves as professionals, and not perpetual owner-managers.

Two, no family member would inherit Mindtree, nor have anything to do with it.

Three, we would always place Mindtree in the most capable hands and not compete with Mindtree’s destiny.

These meant that every founder had to have a fork at some stage.

Do you see the exit of these founding members as a loss to the company? Do you think the loss can be compensated by the existing teams or new leaders?

No, no founder’s exit is a loss.

We had four founders move on until now and each time Mindtree has, with their contribution and goodwill, moved up to the next higher level.

Have the exits of founders been fuelled by differences in opinion?

Differences are inevitable when you are building a company for the future.

That process of building the future requires us to welcome change -- it must be embraced and every change requires us to interpret its true nature.

As leaders, we must express opinions on the choices going forward.

If there are thinking men in the room, there will be and must be more than one opinion.

Mindtree was not designed for false harmony.

Do you think a reason for the exits could be because Mindtree as a company has evolved into something different from the initial vision?

The initial vision abides.

That vision was about creating a Mindtree for three purposes: that we would do aspirational work; that we would create shared wealth and finally, that we would build an enterprise with a social conscience.

That vision has only grown over time and would be alive even in 2025.

Business models will change, leadership will evolve and change.

There must be constancy of the original purpose but dynamism in the way business is conducted.

Without that, we will be in stagnant waters.

Does it worry you that several of those who you had set out to form Mindtree are no longer around?

This is a dangerous idea that only a few people can protect the vision and mission; that only they can understand the objectives and only they work hard.

This is in fact the bane of hundreds of companies that fail to scale because founders live in the falsity that they are indeed the beginning without an end.

In the process, they hold the destiny of their creation hostage to their own limitations.

They believe no one is better than them and their creation one day dwarfs because the founders hit their own limits.

Mindtree was not designed to be that way.

Mindtree was designed for fractal leadership. We believe our dreams are in the hands of 13,000 people.

Image: Subroto Bagchi; Photograph, courtesy: Business Standard

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