‘ISRO biz to zoom if units converted into separate entities’

The sum of the turnover of Indian space agency’s various divisions if spun off into different business entities will surpass that of its behemoth parent owing to focused leadership and innovation, said a senior official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

He said the best of the efforts in innovation in such a large industry, the conversion in product outputs are meagre to the extent of 5 to 10 per cent.

“If ISRO is restructured in terms of smaller single focus business entities like payload, satellite, rocket engine production, launcher integration and launch services, tracking and satellite maintenance services, the sum of turnovers of these individual entities will surpass substantially in comparison to the same by the ISRO behemoth,” said Tapan Misra, Senior Advisor, ISRO and former Director, Space Applications Centre, ISRO.

“The reason for improvement will be the encouragement of innovation by single focus leaderships. Many mammoth MNCs like Google, Microsoft, Space X, Boeing and many others co-opt or fund or usurp innovative startups to create and absorb innovations. In India to reach this level, we may have to wait a few more years,” Misra said.

He said every industry will come to a saturation point in terms of product output and even an increase in input resource-capital and manpower, there will be hardly any increase in output beyond saturation point.

“Innovation in business processes or manufacturing methods and strategies can improve efficiency. It means the saturation point can be achieved with lesser input resources. On the other hand, innovation on simplification of product design or bringing in more productive capital goods, i.e., the more efficient machinery to manufacture the products will raise the saturation output at same or lesser resources,” Misra said.

Behemoths like ISRO with multiple focus points will be resistant to innovations owing to inertia and occupation of leaders’ mind, to run the behemoth industry itself in the present avatar, he added.

Pointing out technology will become stagnant and innovations discouraged in the absence of competition, Misra said that monopoly does not incentivise emergence of capable, forward looking and risk taking innovative leadership.

According to him, many of the monopolies were established, with sagacious minds as leaders, with an aim to bring the country in the front line of strategic sectors.

“Unfortunately, many wise men prefer less competent subordinates and successors in order to satisfy their desire of stranglehold in the organisation when in service and out of service. This leads to gradual degradation of the leadership quality with successive transitions, leading to stagnation in technology and services,” he said.

Market forces can play a role in promoting effective leadership as the profit and expansion are the prime motivation. It leads to re-emphasis of merit and leads to a better innovative environment.