When the Maggi crisis hit Nestle last May it was caught off guard. Its flagship product was scrutinised by regulatory authorities across the globe. And negotiations with the Indian authorities failed to turn things in its favour.
One year since, Nestle has learnt its lessons. The company is undergoing a transformation in its commercial structure and decision-making. Nestle has also ramped up its feedback mechanism.
"Earlier, there used to be different points of taking a decision. Now we are simplifying it. Today, fewer people take key decisions. That is the first realignment we have effected," said Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director, Nestle India.
The initiatives are aimed at cutting down layers of decision-making and reaching conclusions faster. It helps Nestle judge and manage the business environment better.
As a result, the pace of product launches has accelerated. Earlier, it used to take nearly 12 months to launch a product, but Nestle has cut that by half.
Narayanan, who came on board as managing director of Nestle India amid the Maggi controversy last August, is heading the changes. When attempt to plug the hole failed to take off, the world's largest food company by annual revenue - Nestle found its new leader in Narayanan for the Indian subsidiary. The 56 years old Narayanan, who was posted in Philippines during the Maggi ban, is the first Indian since 1998 to head Nestle India. And since, his appointment, Maggi noodles re-entered the market in November 2015 and regained leadership position within five months.
"Sensing the environment is very important. During the past year, our engagement with consumers has improved and teams in states have been beefed up. Today we are the only company that collects information 24x7 through multiple media," he said.
Nestle's revamped customer engagement service receives 1,200 items of feedback a day compared to seven three years ago. While the project was conceived some time ago, the fiasco speeded up the process.
The crisis, which had the potential to grow even bigger, also let Narayanan "do things which otherwise someone would not try".
"It gave us an opportunity to rethink our strategy and come back stronger. When you are in trouble you try to come up with new ideas and try new things. Some may work some may not," he said.