A Promoter’s Dilema : MSME Special!

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Prologue:

Transforming organization might appear to be an overwhelming responsibility for a business owner, but that is because the outlook of majority of  entrepreneurs toward transformation is flawed. For transformation to be effective and enduring, promoters must  learn to first change themselves. My recommendation to entrepreneurs is to first unobtrusively introspect and engage in self transformation. This is one thing they have in complete control and can change it fastest.

 

If you desire to transform your organization, start with yourself first…

 

Personal transformation is all about learning to change our own character, values, and dogmas to become a more responsive individuals. It is an “emptying process” of letting go of ego, diffidence and fastidiousness. The detoxifying transcendental journey of self-transformation is steered for ‘Being Different’.

Yet, easier said than done!

 

The episode:

In a  teak-sculpted lavish boardroom with an arresting oceanic view surreptitiously peering between the folds of overlapping heavy drapes — there rested on an ornate chair, Mr. Doshi, the aging owner of an emergent mid-sized company. Just few minutes back, very reluctantly he whispered a delicate question to me which left me with tangled threads of limited vulnerable probabilities.

For long, Mr. Doshi was harbouring a serious thought of replacing his only son with a high-profile professional from the same industry and was deeply troubled that the issue would end up in an ugly family turbulence. His close confidants warned him to rather initially induct him in the system reporting to his son so as to circumvent the vexing resistance from family front.

He mulishly probed me, “So…what do you think? It is high time to run this company in professionalized way.”

I had heard a lot about his son who was something of a fable around the company corridors for his tempestuousness and stony attitude. Many senior members were often critical of his unwanted imposition. After years of frolicking as accompaniment to his father, he was unfailingly pitching himself for the top role at every occasion.

Regrettably, most of the promoters take succession as an unavoidable and difficult chapter in their life that unwillingly takes place on some undefined day. Whereas the entire progression plan can rather be implemented as a well thought-out qualifying process over a defined period of time. Majority of patriarchs never retire because they never plan. It is evident that progenies born with affluence are often improvised to manage complexities of the business. At times, their lack of accountability and casual approach towards critical business judgements puts the business in difficulties. 

Often, I vehemently advocate to my clients that a family member may acquire a position in the family business as a gift from the family, but role obligations attached to that position needs to be ‘hard earned’ by him over a period of time. Succession is a process and not an event. 

There is something naturally fascinating about Indian entrepreneurs…

Typically, most of the first generation business owners, deep within, are convinced that only they can successfully lead the organization . They are right also. An organization is nothing but dream realization of a founder’s vision, insights, and character.  I have always admired their struggle to keep the business buoyant through absolute hard work and ingenuity. However with time and growth, they often have to learn to give up the control over the organization. Few do it very willingly and effortlessly, whereas others go through a elongated learning curve and embarrassingly disturbing experiences.

Professionalism is not an experiment…

In my consulting assignments, the most common mandate from promoters is to infuse “professionalization” in their business. unfortunately, the closest definition of professionalization for most of promoters is to hire professionals to run the company. I think, every business owner, at some time in his business journey, nurtures a fantasy of professionalizing his family firm without realizing that inducting  professionals is just one potential constituent of professionalizing a family business. Besides, professionalism is not person specific. It is an integrated and all-inclusive approach towards dealing with business realities. Yet, in the race to prove the point, they run after big names in the industry for heading their key functions without realizing that it demands significantly modifying their own approach and behaviour. In majority of cases, their entire struggle is to possess few trophies just for its ornamental value. Initial changeover happens with a ‘grand show’ but soon business owners start tagging those assembled crowns as over-expensive and non-contributing outsiders. With every passing day , the feeling propagates into a serious doubt over their expediency, further unduly shadowed by questions on their level of commitment and loyalty. On the other hand, a professional also feels utterly out of place in that environment where major decisions are owner-centric, ad hoc, and purely on gut feelings. The mutual antipathy lingers for a while till either of them resolve to call it a day. I have seen many such organizations with long reeking trail of parcelled-crowns. Paradoxically, promoters always take such planned-parting as personal insult to them. But the reality is that it’s going to happen.

In most of MSMEs, professionals leave jobs for only one reason: Adjustment issues with the promoter… 

In most family businesses, either there is (often) limited autonomy offered to a professional or he is loaded with completely renounced expectations (It is like an empty duty – responsibility without authority). Moreover, owners directly reach out to the lower-level employees with exhaustive commands, thus undermining and further pulverizing the legitimate position of the professional  in the given hierarchy. The fortuitous blend of external professionals with family ownership/ inner-circle employees inevitably creates rumbling hitches. Both of them have hyper tendency to evaluate each other. The inner-team would always have some lucidly articulated justifications to prove their own rectitude against the professionals. Actually it unfolds in many ways – the unconcealed and specific issue-based mutual intolerance to a company wide organized encoded dissent. Most of the time inner-circle employees and old cronies, surreptitiously but systematically, traduce against the professionals. They would never let a professional feel included in the organization.

Are you launching a professional with unstated internal antipathy to fail him… 

A family business is less likely to be successful with external professionals till business owners learn to give-up and are willing to surrender abundant space for experimentation with necessary margin of errors. To achieve a long-term growth and sustainability, a well-timed induction of professionals in the company is essential. Business owners have to consciously overcome the myopic approach towards inclusion of professionals to stay ahead of the competition. On the other hand, they should objectively evaluate the premeditatedly lodged tittle-tattle by inner circles for deceitful purposes.

Often, first generation patriarchs don’t let go that easily. For them, every addition is weighed on cost-benefit ratio. They get into some sort of personalized competition to prove professionals wrong. On the contrary, I find many second generation entrepreneurs much more open about welcoming professionals in the organization.  They are more educated, organized, technology savvy, and process driven to mentally equate with the professionals.

First, accept…

As a business owner, it is critical to realize that success needs a rich fusion of professionals and family employees. The professionals do have an ability to bring an objectively detached perspective to the company’s decision making without unjustifiably prejudiced by their own personal agenda. They would have an independent approach towards important matters and that may not possibly echo the company’s traditional mentality. It is always a conscious trade-off between inducting a potential professional or continue with an incompatible family member. It certainly takes thoughtful contemplation and preparedness. 

With accelerated growth, there is no better option for a business owner but to consider inclusion of right professionals into their family ‘inner circle’. The real challenge is to cultivate an environment of vulnerable trust that endures even inadequacies of the incumbents. An environment, where a professional feels like investing his entire energy towards the objectives of the company.

Self-Aggrandizers: Wake-Up!

“Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.” 
– Chogyam Trungpa

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The corporate corridors are chockfull of Self-aggrandizers.

The self-absorbed professionals, menacingly proclaiming their own exaggerated importance, power, or reputation. They evaluate their prominence by the immensity and pull of their fiefdom. Their ego surreptitiously entraps them tightly. Even brilliant professionals, unknowingly reach to a stage where they stop listening to any inputs. They strongly and only believe in their own views.They severely suffer from a ghoulish “I-Me-Mine” syndrome.

The unappealing manifested symptoms of such distorted tendencies are so obvious and all around at our work places. Today, it is almost like an epidemic. The only branded method of decreeing our dominance over others. At times, it is masked and tacitly refined. In certain cases, the magnified individuality, also genuinely drive them crazy so as to show off their supremacy to others. When professionals are so obsessed with their own gainful projections, they are likely to misplace their focus on expected role commitments.

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Invoke Planet Pluto!

I love metaphors!

A metaphor enigmatically whispers a connection.

For me, Pluto is an apt allegory for Transformation.

 

Astrologically, Pluto is associated with renewal and rebirth. Pluto conveys releasing of dormant power. Pluto is planet of expiration and resurgence…redeeming our own existence and emerging out as much resilient being. It represents endings and new beginnings, as well as transcendental growth and reawakening.

 

Traditionally, many dynamic entrepreneurs have set the golden path for the “entrepreneurial upsurge” in our country. Unquestionably, today the same “entrepreneurial spirit” is being acknowledged as the momentous driving force of the Indian economy. However, the changing business environment has overturned all professed successful business practices of the past. The changing scenario is increasingly demanding an altogether different approach towards sustaining successful business enterprises. Interestingly, transforming such archaic entrepreneurial convictions, is becoming the most decisive factor for the survivability and progression of an enterprise in the global environment.

 

Indian Promoters are extremely good at generating revenue and managing complexities of the business, but are like a “walking catastrophe” at leaving behind an evolved organizational legacy. Today, MSMEs just can’t relax with incremental developments, they must drastically re-evaluate their strategy to grow, sustain, and remain. Many do not even realize their own growth potential.

 

If an enterprise is not ready to embrace desired changes needed to survive, it will inescapably collapse.Even a deep entrenched MSME, when faced with major disruptive challenges, cannot change the course that swiftly. I believe, majority of MSMEs need redemption.

 

Yes! It is time for MSME universe to invoke its planet Pluto…the sphere of transformation.

A simple check list for all the entrepreneurs, who are contemplating to jump into big next growth orbit, is given below:

 

Evaluate if your business frequently airs following manifestations?

  • Frequently shifting business priorities

  • Dwindling behind competition without any justifiable reason

  • Finding skills/knowledge of existing employees too short for the futuristic dynamic growth dreams.

  • Sluggish and faltered execution of significant growth projects.

  • Stretched unplanned twirls of deliberations followed by highly hectic pressure for overnight realization of results.

  • Never-ending meetings with kaleidoscopic focus on business realities.

  • Excessively restrained and fortified for experimentation.

  • Facing high attrition of star professionals with large residual mass of old deadwoods.

  • Unenthusiastic about integrating new technology initiatives

  • Highly centralized at top. Every decision needs final approval.

  • Suffering from silos of functional empires.

  • Lots of time invested in crisis resolution and unproductive activities.

  • When you exactly know “what”, but unable to envisage the “how” part.

  • Apparent complacency and indecisiveness prevails in the culture

  • Every time team fails to meet panned and agreed monthly business targets without any palpable rational

  • Decision making grinds to a halt in absence of senior functional leaders.

  • Customers appreciate your intentions but unhappy with your actual service/product.

  • Essentially employees are indifferent towards company’s failure or success.

Picturize your company and evaluate…even if 30 % of the statements are reflecting true reality of your business…it is time for you to embrace the transformation.

Realize your warning signals!

Change is inevitable in an organization’s life. A caterpillar has no idea what is to become of it. Often it can be difficult to know where transformation will lead us until after it is complete. Transformation suggests significant shifts in an organization’s thinking, behavior, systems, and culture. But, many enterprises, undervaluing the significant gap between current business thinking and a transformed entrepreneurial approach, are strained for continued existence in competitive arena.

How to transform an organization?

What are the constituents of the transformation and how do leaders lead their organization through the change processes?

Next Orbit is a boutique consulting firm, capable of amalgamating rich professional experiences and exclusively designed transformational processes for MSMEs.

Next Orbit provides MSMEs with transformation, advisory and consulting services across multiple industry sectors.

We, at Next Orbit, are equipped to bridge the gap between an entrepreneur’s dream and the business realities. We help an entrepreneur in building his/her transformational leadership skills and driving expected results.

Regardless of your business complexities, offering tangible business impact is our promise.

(The author is Managing Partner at Next Orbit Consulting LLP and can be contacted at babayagnik@gmail.com/www.bhagwatyagnik.com)

 

Next Orbit : Visioning Change

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Translate Your Future with us and Evolve…!

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Bhagwat Yagnik
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The Uncompromisable Leadership Obligations

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”

~ John Scully

Phoenix-emperor.wikia.com

Last week at Udaipur, the cloudy grey morning with unbroken pelting of rain, confided me (providentially to a picturesque lake-side log-hut) from my otherwise intended second round of leadership intervention for a client organization. The accidental day off and solitary caging led me to think about apparent leadership compromises in one of my client organizations. Over the past few consulting years, I have observed the agonising disintegration in the quality of leadership courage in several Indian enterprises. Quarantined in my room, I got sufficient time to expediently introspect about the essential leadership debts. Their indispensable obligations, like, rendering of vision into reality, people engagement, achievement focus, and many more.  

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Cultural Transformation: Don’t Miss The Blindingly Obvious!

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day”

– Frances Hesselbein


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Regrettably, almost 75% of organizational transformations downright fail.

I remember advising on this topic to a large “top-down” jaundiced client organization, best known in Industry for arbitrarily thrusting tactical commands upon dispassionate employees. Often that led to poorly executed projects, brusquely frenzied debates, unintended delays, and duplications. Leadership of the company was never in sync with the unfulfilled employees and their real issues. Customarily, culture in that company, remained an underleveraged cog in the revenue generating wheel.

Unexpectedly, most of the business leaders, hardly appreciate the incredible clout of an energized culture while dealing with the increased business complexities. It is not that easy to comprehend how to leverage and transform prevailing culture to enhance the success on the ground. It needs conjuring of an elusive “wake-up” intuition that the culture of a company can chew away the best crafted strategies. Largely, leaders of such organizations are far-off with regard to what they assume as their culture and the ground level realities.Probably, they try and acclimatize with the looming challenges by taking chances.

The first preparatory step in a culture change initiative is to find out what is “working” and “not working” in the organisation. Following tips are critical for attaining cultural advantage in any business. The pointers might sound obvious but are all exceptionally important.

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(Finally, you need to be tolerant. Transformation initiatives do take time. Even in the face of obvious reasons for transformation, an organization can be impervious to change. Prevalent culture in any organization is a familiar fusing medium for employees. Therefore, any change is perceived as intimidating)

When you objectively study the culture of an organization, you will realize that  it is (loosely) both- an independent (or causal or dispositional) and also a dependent variable. If it can seriously power and ignite the committed performance of the people,  enhances obedience towards formal systems & processes in the organization, it can equally be “energized” by constructive behaviour, respect for formal systems & processes, overall performance of the organization, and so on.

It is animatedly intertwined!

I hope that you will find this piece useful and that you will not commit similar slip-ups. Please bounce back your ideas and plans in case you too are embarking on similar journey.

Half-Baked Change: An Episodic Approach Towards Organizational Transformation Clouds Its Purpose.

People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed!

– Peter Senge

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One of my client organizations when began to work at weighing various possible alternatives to fast-swell their growth objectives, the congenital promoter, obsessively pitched for the idea of acquisition. It took sensible time to convince him not to hasten such moves to avoid a disappointing bearing over the already hard-won achievements. Providentially, after collective deliberations for days together, the entire apex team could recognize that any acquisition at that stage would be suicidal for the financial health of the organization. Rather, enterprise-wide business process reengineering was a much more relevant option to sharpen the blunt edges of the organizational systems at that time.

Any failed transformational initiative often offers an occasion to the people to be contemptuous and cynical about the whole thing. A change program usually takes long time and is not an unobtrusive process. With increasing business complexities, change is getting harder. It is exactly like the folklore of elephant and blind men. We all talk about transformation but very few actually know “What it is and How to do it”. Our distinctive choices can be ‘correct’ from our individual perspectives, but characteristically restricted by our inability to apprehend the totality of the truth. My current blog is about Change management. How an episodic approach towards organizational transformation clouds its purpose. Continue reading