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Case In Point

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ASOKE K. LAHA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, INTERRA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES INC.
The Art Of Influencing People
Abhay should read the book ‘Execution’, authored by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck!
 
Abhay Mathur should withdraw his resignation immediately and not think of starting his own company. He has a bright future and can be successful. However, he should be realistic and learn the art of influencing people, developing business plans and most importantly, execution. Abhay should read the book ‘Execution’, authored by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck. Instead of becoming emotional about not getting credit, he should ask himself the questions: why was he not given the credit, did he develop a detailed business plan rather than simply conveying ideas to Rajiv and Rakesh, and if he had a mentor in the organisation. He must be patient, and should identify mentors in the organisation, who can help him to grow.

He should be careful while accepting the three-fold salary increase. Will his responsibilities be increased after this, that is, will it be a real promotion for him? Or will he get a glorified title with the same job responsibilities? If the latter is the case, then the management would simply have bought him out. He will get nowhere close to the same salary if he looks for employment with another company. The management will not forget that he is being paid the higher salary because he threatened to resign. His loyalty will be questioned forever. His services are likely to be terminated as soon as the company finds a replacement.

Abhay should not think of starting his own company immediately. If he accepts external funding from venture capitalists (VCs), for all practical purposes he will become an employee of the VC. The VC will be much more ruthless in dealing with him, and I have met a number of young idealists whose VCs replaced these idealists with their own management team.

I have also met lots of Rajesh Khuranas, and Rajiv Menons; people who take credit for the work done by their subordinates. That is reality, and one has to be patient. If Abhay had developed a mentorship relation with either of them, he could have learnt about business plans, and how to sell them to the CEO and Board of Directors. A detailed business plan includes budgets, revenue projections, expenses, and risk analysis. The plans must be of excellent quality and articulated effectively. The Board must have enough confidence in the management team and its execution capability, so that the right person is made in-charge. Both Rajesh and Rajiv had put their careers and their professional reputations on the line for their respective projects. Therefore, I can understand why they took all credit for the successful execution. Abhay should focus on learning such skills of execution.

Nine out of ten startup companies at Silicon Valley fail, despite getting VC funding. This is so because, although the idea is important, the ability to execute is primary. While Microsoft Excel is recognised as the most important spreadsheet software, VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 were the applications that originated the idea of spreadsheet software.

 
According to Larry Bossidy, one can easily rent strategies from consulting firms. Leaders place too much emphasis on ‘high-level strategy’, on ‘intellectualising and philosophising’, and not enough on implementation. Execution is a systemic process of rigorously discussing ‘how’ and ‘what’, questioning and tenaciously following through, and ensuring accountability. It includes making assumptions about the business environment, assessing organisational capabilities, linking strategy to operations and people, and rewards to outcomes. It also includes mechanisms for changing assumptions as the business environment changes and upgrading the company’s capabilities to meet the challenges of an ambitious strategy. Last week Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old British singer, was praised lavishly by media throughout the world. She had been looking for the right break all her life, and when she got an opportunity to appear before a British TV talent contest, she overwhelmed the audience with the song, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’:

“... I dreamed a dream in time gone by,
When hope was high,
And life worth living,
I dreamed that love would never die,
I dreamed that God would be forgiving ...”

If Susan Boyle can fulfill her dreams at the age of 47, so can Abhay. He just needs to be patient, keep learning and stay positive.
          
 
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