High on ambition, low on execution, is the fate of many a corporate plans
By Meha Mathur
I can hear someone sobbing and sighing behind my workstation and I am feeling miserable about it. After all, I am partially the cause of it.
I joined a news agency to head their content development process for the revamp of a leading University’s website, after spending nine years in another publication outfit, bringing out three cute and creative, but low-on-sale publications – Educare, Management Compass and SKills Ahead.
Well, I was to head a ‘team’ for the project, but where is the team? Not a single person has been inducted, as, I am told, English writing skills are going down by the day. The other side of the story, however, is, that website content for a university would primarily entail info on programmes, their eligibility and fee. Now, which starry-eyed younster would like to sully his CV with that kind of work profile?
And so, today, on my insistence for a team, a helpless youngster from another, much more creative, department, was shifted to my department, totally agaisnt her wishes, within a few seconds. Coming from a benign setup, I am both happy and stunned. Happy, to see decisions being taken like this. Stunned, to see a dream being shatered.
But which brings me to the crux. Why do organisations pick up mega projects, promising the moon and being promised mega-bucks, when they don’t have the wherewithal? Usually, most of the projects are pretty drab and require data entry jobs, which youngsters don’t want to touch. So, once the deal has been struck between two big partners, begins the search for executioners at ground level. And that is where projects fail. Because it’s not just important to think big, it’s important to go into small details at the time of execution. God, after all, lies in execution. God is in details.
PS: Let me end this piece by an earlier experience. Somebody in previous office often chided at me and my editorial team – believers in execution – for thinking small. In one specific instance, on the occasion of Expressions 2007, a well-thought out essay-writing competition that we conducted, he insisted on a mega auditorium for the award ceremony.
We had received wonderful entries from B-schools across the country, our evaluation had been rigorous, the winners emerged from as illustrious and varied backgrouds as ISB-Hyderabad and Hindu College-Delhi, and we intended to wrap up the event with a small, cozy award function at a venue we had already decided upon at ASSOCHAM, with limited capacity. On this colleague’s insistence, we cancelled that booking, booked a bigger hall, and multiplied our preparation manifold.
The result was disastrous. In a hall with sitting capacity of 250, there were not more than 50. The speakers on the podium – a leading journalist, a corproate honcho and a founder director of an IIM – outweighted the audience. Thinking big backfired that day, because while the grand vision had been given, the executing team was missing. I had begun the event by conceptualising the theme, deciding on the panel of judges and deciding on the prize money.
I, and a few ‘executioner’ colleagues, ended up trying filling up that massive hall, distributing invites to all and sundry. One colleague, Shailesh, got three Qualis-full of friends from his IAS study circle on the promise of a samosa party.
The gentleman who had insisted on a mega event with his penchant for ‘think big’ watched the tamasha from the side rings.