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Sunday, March 10, 2013


I have always been an output focused person,a Machiavellian who believes ends justifies means.Maybe I am wrong , or my approach on the borderline ethical but nobody can be the judge of that.

A couple of weeks earlier some events transpired that were very  insightful.

I bumped into someone during lunch who seemed to be in the vicinity of my age. I am forever, seeing people in this place whose experience spans more than the time I have been on this earth so I was kind of curious to know what this guy did as he was definitely not looking like a misguided research associate or a tired doctoral student.

And rightly so, he was neither

He was an opportunist like me who was hired to set up a new initiative within the system. The system where I work is smart enough to realize that any new work of setting and running something cannot come from a resource within so they hire fixers (like me and him).

I could relate to an organization on the outside that would be of use to this guy and also benefit themselves, so I patched them up for a meeting.

The meeting was confirmed and I was not informed of it. However the guy inside told me about it. 

I was a trifle surprised as to why I wasn’t informed byt the organization  about the interaction which I initiated but I let it pass. In my place at the system I get to know of everything mostly sooner than later.

I however have a good friend who is presently doing pro bono work for the organization( the reason why I referred them in the first place) I set the meeting for, so I causally called him and passed on this information and also made evident my surprise at not being intimated about it.

Anyway the meeting was concluded and I again wasn’t in the loop. Worse the organization head did not feel it worth the while to even call me up and have a round of tea discussion. I let it go this time as well.

The guy inside however was smart and he immediately intimated me about the success of the first round of discussions with the organization I referred.

I dutifully pushed this information out to my friend the social servant .Then I called him up again and asked as to why there seemed to be an obvious lack of business sense and in the organization he was working for. If I could help set up a meeting, I could also influence decision pre or post the meeting. He was at a loss but he promised to get me in the inside soon.

Now, the serendipitous part of it, I was informed by my boss that I need to create a mechanism for this new initiative to function. I am used to getting these mandates from him; after all I am the man Friday he hired.

This information again was relayed to my friend, and on the basis of this he managed to secure a first discussion with the organization head.

We had a quick lunch discussion. I had some insights on the proposed association which I wanted to share offline; however it wasn’t clear to me if the first meeting would be the right platform, so I did not get it out.
I was right; the organization head wasn’t relay gung ho about the entire thing. I did not intend to push it either and now I am clear that I will do no more free work for them so the chapter is closed.

This is the second time in my tenure at this organization that I am seeing a lack of focus on output or to use modern colloquialism a lack of the drive “to getting it done” in non-manufacturing sectors. 

I someone had given me a lead, I would have pushed pulled, coaxed, cajoled to get the initiative moving. First of all before meeting the recommended contact I would have called the person referring conveyed my thanks and asked his views about what it was all about. His perspective from the periphery of the system would have been much valued. That perspective coupled with history on the person I was supposed to meet would have decided the agenda of my discussion. The day of the meeting, I would have again patched up with the contact and conveyed the highlights. It pays to have a lobbying resource inside. Meanwhile, I would have then given an interim update to the contact of the progress of our discussion and tried to get him into an informal setting for an informal discussion.

The above entire cycle of events is what develops business. Presentations, mails are useless. Competency as a critical ingredient for getting business or being successful is highly overrated.60% competency and 40% relational impact is what drives business on a subjective. No organization can thrive only on the basis of superior competency as a differentiators.

I guess when you are in the business of services the subjectivity of the service rendered kind of lowers the focus on getting it done. 

For instance consider a manufacturing entity. There is a final product which you can feel and touch at the end of all the process of presentations, meetings, and spreadsheet (yeah… the entire arsenal of the MBA constructs). Since the output is measurable, tangible there seems to be a mental drive on the subconscious level on getting it.

On the other hand consider a services entity, say for instance a consulting firm. The output is a thought often hidden under a bunch of shiny papers and charts. But it is just a thought, you may or not relate to it but you definitely can’t feel it.

Maybe in both the cases I had seen, the association on offer was not an immediate requirement of the external organization. Somehow that does not sound like a convincing argument. Who does not want some brand association or better still money from a good government brand? And for services firms isn’t perception more important than an output?