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Authentic Excellence Moid Siddiqui,
Managing Director, Intellects Biz

Authentic Excellence in new age.

Focus on excellence is the key to performance!

But what we really mean by excellence? The perception is undergoing a change with the changing business scenario. There are two aspects: one is human perception or thinking pattern about business – ‘business ideology’ and the other is how exactly business is carried out in practice – ‘business character’. The new age shall see a matching makeup of ‘business ideology’ and ‘business character’.
So far the ‘business ideology’ has been compromising with the ‘business character’ – the ideology has been compromising with technology that is the dominating factor in building ‘business character’. I don’t see this happening tomorrow. The banana will not eat the monkey anymore. The human thinking pattern will dictate and design the business character in new age.

With the new awakening about ‘spirituality’ and ‘values’, business will be required to readjust both its ideology and character. With the emergence of matching makeup of ‘business ideology’ and ‘business character’, new ‘business systems’ and ‘business processes’ will be developed suiting to new perspectives.

Hello! I am not referring to conventional BPR where ‘multi-functions’ are simply restructured into ‘process groups’ without understanding either the ‘human ideology’ or the ‘business character’. These exercises are carried out at a ‘physical level’ with a physical perspective – the lowest level of organizational consciousness. These mechanical processes are spiritually empty, value-wise shallow and not akin to human ideology. Such re-alignment is no alignment at first place. What is required in new age is VBR – Value Based Re-engineering and not BPR – Business Process Re-engineering.

Today our entire focus is on ‘end-results’ vis-à-vis the key result areas (KRAs) and critical strategic issues (CSIs). Besides these milestones and signposts, the timeframe is considered another critical issue in determining excellence. ‘What is achieved’ and ‘within what timeframe’ are the broader parameters of performance, of course with focus on quality. The end-result is considered as ‘excellence’ today!

To my mind, today excellence stands in isolation! It doesn’t stay in togetherness with ‘values’ – what the business stands for? The linear representation on two axes forms the following pattern of excellence:

Our perception of excellence doesn’t have any connectivity with or relevance to ‘team-performance’. It rather impedes team performance. ‘Incentive system’ is mostly seen like a ‘dangling apple’ shown to the individuals. One can jump, bite or swallow the apple depending on one’s individual potential expended for the ‘end-results’. Such perception of ‘excellence’ encourages competition ‘within’ the team, which is bad and can cause disaster. Once the individuals are encouraged to compete with each other in the team, they learn the tricks of the trade. They discover that the only key to success is, ‘kiss the one above you; kick the one follows you.’ Don’t allow others to succeed. Let me win and let the team and team-task go to the south way! Thus, even when the team fails, the individuals are rewarded for their standalone excellence in the present pattern of excellence. Again, the recognition is for ‘what you have achieved?’ not bothered even to know, ‘how you have achieved?’ This ‘How’ is going to be the hallmark in new age.

Peter Drucker as usual blows the bugle and makes a melodious noise to shake us and wake us. This time the clarion call is much louder and clear: “We are at the end of one period of building ‘Modern Organizations’, and at the beginning of a ‘New Period’.” New Age!
New Age will witness the matching makeup of ‘ideology’ and ‘business character’. The ‘purity of purpose’ will determine the quality of excellence!

Purpose is powerful! Find the purpose the means will follow. Both time and direction are in-built in purpose. Purpose is like a propeller of the airplane – it pulls the organization towards the destined direction.

Purity comes from value, virtue and wisdom. Purpose without purity is no purpose. It is not enough ‘what you have achieved?’ More important parameter is ‘how did you achieve?’ This ‘how’ determines the purity of purpose.

“The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain,” says a Sufi of Lebanon, Kahlil Gibran. Tomorrow, constancy will find precedence over effectiveness. Your noble efforts carried out with emotional investments will no more be discounted only for the reason that the desired results couldn’t be achieved! The sincerity of efforts towards fulfillment of the purpose will be recognized for attaining excellence, without linking them with the net output and the ‘end-results’.

How many of us really understand and believe that in the will of man is a unique power of longing which is so strong that it can turn mist in you into a fireball! How then, we can accept a system or a measure, which doesn’t take into consideration the power of longing? Alas! Longing has no place in today’s measurement of excellence.

Our mind is a sponge and the soul an ocean. A sponge sucks; sucking is easy. To cross the ocean one is required to swim and while doing so one may sink as well. Obviously, the second option is much difficult. No wonder today we have chosen the easy option of sucking and gone with our mind. Going with the soul is not that easy. Who knows what happens when one tries to cross the ocean! So ‘thumb-sucking’ has become our habit today. ‘Authentic Excellence’ is achieved only when you swim in the ocean of soul. Human soul is but a part of burning torch, which God separated from Himself at creation! Pursuit of excellence in any physical area is meaningless and short-lived unless the emotional and spiritual side of our lives is developed to fullest potential.

Those who go with individual target settings in pursuit of excellence operate from the lower level of consciousness with a physical perspective. I am a witness to many such unhealthy practices that spring from such systems. Then we blame people when they indulge in playing games with each other to gain the cutting-edge. Why to blame them? The systems create the environment. If you keep focus on individuals you cannot mould people in an integrated team. When one sows the seed of jackfruit only a fool can expect apples to grow!

In one of the organizations where my prime responsibility or rather the ‘purpose of my being’ as the Group Vice President, Human Potential was to strengthen a ‘value-based’ foundation, I found that people of my own team did not have any faith in values. They were found playing games with each other to gain personal favours by climbing others’ shoulders or even pushing them down and going up over their bodies. What surprised me most was that they were nice, intelligent, highly qualified and polished guys. Each of them was professionally competent and had good potential to grow. There was enough space where each of them could have found his career-path to gain heights without kicking down others. I observed that they were afraid and apprehensive of others’ talents. The high-level competencies were taken as a threat rather than strength of the department!

It didn’t take much time to discover the root-cause. I detected that the real ‘culprit’ was the performance management system, what they used to call ‘PMS’. It was linked to incentive and career growth. The amount of incentive that the ‘Excellent’ guy could get through PMS was as high as $ 5,000! The lowest slab was $ 500. The gap between the highest slab and the next lower was also quite wide. The scheme had a ‘rider’; ‘in each function-group there cannot be rated more than 5 % as excellent performer’. So if all the twenty guys are excellent, only one will reach the highest slab. Since the gap between the highest and the next lower slab was substantial, the guy who is competing neck-to-neck in the rat race finds no option but to win ‘by hook or by crook’. And when one can’t win ‘by hook’, he goes crooked to win ‘by crook’. This is what the ‘phrase’ stands for! Why to blame the guys; blame the system and the meaning that is attached to ‘excellence’.

I understand, diagonally opposite is a system followed in one of the world-class companies – Monsanto! The ‘kitty’ is much huge than what I explained above, but it doesn’t go to individuals. The system is so designed and ‘excellence’ is so defined that not individuals but teams win the kitty not only for ‘what they performed’ but also ‘how they performed’. I am told that when a particular team earns the kitty, the team members meet and decide, ‘how they should share the gains?’ They know everyone’s contribution and accordingly they distribute the money among themselves not equally but judiciously. It is not ‘individual’ or ‘team’, it is ‘individual’ and team’ pattern. It is not important ‘what I heard about the particular company is authentic’ what is vital is, ‘if it is authentic, shall we follow it?’

Values, virtue and wisdom dwell in our Heart. Intellectual impulses are the product of the mind. Only when the heart joins the mind, can one understand the new paradigm of excellence.

Not ‘what you have achieved’, but ‘what you long for’ and not ‘what you plan to achieve in isolation’ but ‘how you intend to achieve in togetherness’, will decide the quality of excellence tomorrow. ‘What you achieve’ is not enough; ‘How you achieve’ will be tomorrow’s business character. There is no right way to do a wrong thing. Today the word ‘excellence’ is skewed. When the very focus of excellence is defocused there is no point in keeping ‘focus on excellence’.

First locate meaning in excellence then pursue!


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