Rhenald Kasali: Transforming a Cat into a Cheetah

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HOW does one map the changes in the 21st century and get out of the comfort zone trap? That is what Rhenald Kasali aims to address in his latest book, Cracking Zone.

Cracking Zone a sequel to his previous book on change management and the 356 page book discusses the changes in the digital era that have given birth to numerous opportunities. However, the problem is that only those with “cracker” capability will be able to see those opportunities.

Rhenald, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics, University of Indonesia, explains that a cracker is someone who can read as well as act according to the codes of ongoing changes. Such a person has the needed flexibility and better acceleration in going through lifestyle transitions in the digital era while opening up millions of opportunities. “Of course there are risks intrinsic to this type of behavior because opportunities are like a double sided sword, so if one is not careful the opportunities can bury him deep down, but if he or she can tame the opportunities they will be very beneficial,” said Rhenald.

According to Rhenald in Indonesia the cracker phenomenon is closely related to various pillars that cause change and first among them is the per capita income here which averages US$3,000 which means that the purchasing power is stronger.

Second, about 180 million people here now use mobile phones while almost half of them are connected through social networks like Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Third, there are cheaper rates in many sectors, with some options in telecommunications even free.

Fourth, the emergence of the connected generation, Gen C. Gen C is not limited to a specific age bracket but is formed by digital technology. C, according to researcher Dan Pankraz of Australia can mean content, connected, digital creative, co creation, customize, curiosity and cyborg. C can also mean cyber, cracker as well as chameleon.

These four factors have an impact on consumer behavior as well as business behavior that result in an increased volume of business. However, the increased business volume will only benefit the cracker. The cracker is able to find and see the niches and turn them to his or her advantage. “A cracker renews the industry and no longer a company, while only a leader renews his or her company,” said Rhenald.

Rhenald, who starter his career as a reporter of a business magazine, emphasized that based on these characteristics it is not surprising that many envy the cracker and competitors regard the cracker as an enemy because they would rather maintain their comfort zone. A cracker works harder than a leader on average, because he revamps the industry tradition as well as its competition structure.

In real life there is a personal cracker and a corporate cracker. He gave one example of a personal cracker, West Java Bank (Jabar) CEO Agus Ruswendi who transformed the regional bank into a major national one; the first regional bank to be listed on the stock exchange.

Another example is Garuda Indonesia CEO Emirsyah Satar who successfully enhanced the international image of the airline. In 2010 Garuda flew to several destinations in Europe. There are still more examples of personal crackers including XL CEO Axiata Hasnul Suhaimi who revolutionized mobile phone rates by offering super cheap rates.

Meanwhile, an example of a corporate cracker is Holcim Indonesia; a cement company that produces not only cement but also offers an entirely new solution for consultation in building homes for customers.

Another example is HM Sampoerna which is pushing for stricter regulations for the cigarette industry as well as implementation of no smoking rules for children, while other cigarette companies are requesting for government protection and for more relaxed regulations.

In the past there were also crackers, for example Sosrodjojo, the founder of Teh Botol Sosro as well as Tirto Utomo, the founder of Aqua, who transformed mineral water into a commercial drink, thereby transforming the beverage industry. Then there was Prawiro Purnomo, the founder of Blue Bird taxis, who was the first to install meters in the company’s fleet and take online bookings. “Notwithstanding the problems he faced Ibnu Sutowo was a cracker. He built Pertamina from zero and introduced various types of gas such as LNG, LPG,” said Rhenald who has a PhD from the University of Illinois, United States.

Rhenald Kasali is probably the leading business writer in the country as he “operates on his topics just like an expert surgeon”. One can find his sharp and direct business articles in numerous media. He has also written dozens of books. And even for the ordinary reader his books and articles are easy to understand.

There is always a new perspective in his books and that is why many have become best sellers, such as Change! (2005), Recode Your Change DNA (2007), Transfer of DNA Powerhouse (2008) as well as Myelin: Mobilization of Intangibles as Power of Changes (2010). “I wish to change the way Indonesians think because they are still bureaucratic and should have more entrepreneurship and leadership,” said the recipient of the Louise A. Young Award (1994) and Alice & Charlotte Biester Award (1995) from the University of Illinois.

In his latest book Cracking Zone, Rhenald writes: “Indonesia has changed. Those who have been fortunate enough in 2010 should be wary and cautious because a cracker may emerge to break your business into pieces. What is required is a change from a cat mentality to cheetah mentality,” emphasized the founder of Rumah Perubahan (House of Change). (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, February 19, 2011

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