Monday, February 19, 2007

Vision And Execution

I was the client CIO all hand meeting a few days ago. The man's reputation precedes him and the reasons became self evident within minutes of him starting his presentation. The two hundred something in attendance that represented almost everyone in his food chain was spellbound. The one thing he reiterated was the importance of disseminating and living the vision at all levels of the organization, every single day. When faced with conflicting priorities every one of us should ask ourselves which of them is the best aligned with the vision statement and let the answer determine what our top priority should be.

In the majority of the Fortune 500 types I have consulted for, the people who craft the organizational vision have the greatest ideas. Unfortunately, the nitty-gritty of implementing the operating details of that vision falls to their direct and indirect reports. The greater the number of layers, the more significant are the transmission losses. The vision erodes in successive translations and what little is left over is nuked in its presumed execution. In the trenches fire drills continue unabated, the focus is on the wrong things for the wrong reasons. The vision statement is taped on the whiteboard along with pictures from the offsite fun event.

From what I have seen, boutique consulting and product development shops or startups operating from basements fare a lot better in their ability to live and act their corporate vision. It must have to do with degrees of separation and between C level management and the rank and file worker bees.

The ET interview with Murthy and Premji offers an amazing insight into the minds of the two visionaries who gave Indian IT industry its global footprint. Back in the day when I graduated from engineering school, landing a job in Infosys had a certain cachet due to a demanding job interview process that ensured they recruited the best talent that was out there. Wipro was a lot easier and therefore lacked in status.

When someone introduced themselves as in Infosysian, they commanded respect instantly. I must have been stuck in the 90s time warp in having held on to my antiquated notions about the typical Infosysian. A lot must have changed in the past decade because I never see that kind of quality in their offshore resources or maybe they save the scarce best for their top three clients of whose organizations I have never been a part.

Having a great vision and strategy is all good but having folks in the trenches floundering from cluelessness about what that vision means for them and being unable further the cause of the brand is akin to having termites eating at the foundation even as the edifice grows grander. The good news for the likes of Infosys and Wipro is that a lot of their clients don't have the ability to quantify their dissatisfaction with the vendor engagement. The metrics simply do not exist. Qualitative discontent is always easy to soothe over with generous doses of fluff.

5 comments:

Ricercar said...

I have some questions about this - I have wondered ever since my days with TCS. Can I as you?

Heartcrossings said...

Hey Prenona - Sure. Do ask. TCS is tarred with the same brush as Infy, Wipro, Patni et al :)

Ricercar said...

I'll email you. Thanks

R.

cheti said...

HC

Can you name some organisations that are not tarred with the same brush ;)

I guess its part of large organisations which loose their focus and passion during the learning phases !

I have seen this theme recurring in your writings : best for onsite and the rest for offshore .. but really do you think it will work that way ? Can it sustain ? Isnt it self defeating !?

Heartcrossings said...

cheti - No personal experience but I've heard good things about Virtusa. But then they don't play in the space as Infy, Wipro, Sapient, Patni, TCS et al.

Not sure about the theme in my writings about outsourcing. The vendors typically use their best talent to get a foot in the door.

After that things head south rapidly. The disarray in the client's organization help them get away with substandard work.