The Transformation of Intent

Every successful strategy that has even been executed anywhere has had a strong foundation in intent. This is what requires conviction and courage more than anything else; to be steadfast to ones intent. It essentially demonstrates character and personality; whether of an individual or an organization. The recent decades have not been great advertisements either for corporate or governments globally. Both have sunk further and further from one scam to another scandal. It is ironical that the best of intellectual minds have been wondering and debating about the state of economy and society and proclaiming turnarounds and its messiahs. Is this the edifice of a new global economic order; mass customizing mediocrity to balance the equilibrium of product and waste; consumption and cannibalization?

The courts in India delivered a soft verdict after 26 years against the worst industrial accident in conceivable history against Union Carbide. It killed over 16,000 people and maimed and impaired thousands more for life. Eleven Oil workers were killed and a disastrous environmental disaster is still playing out in the Gulf of Mexico. In both the cases, the CEO’s demonstrated a callous and insensitive attitude to the sufferings caused by them in the society. The Barrack Obama administration has raised the levels of condemnation of BP and its Chief Executive and has obtained huge cash compensation for the victims but has refrained from even empathizing with the Bhopal tragedy and refusing to acknowledge the role of the CEO of Union Carbide in the tragedy. Both the CEO’s may not have been directly responsible for the tragedy but they were leaders who had to take measures that assure safety and security to its own employees and the societies in which they operate. The least that they can do is not flee the accident site and be insensitive to the legitimate concerns of their customer universe. When Barrack Obama deems it appropriate to “kick BP CEO Tony Hayward’s ass” and not have anything to do with the ex-Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson, is this  a show of double standards that belies the mandate of a Change Leader that Obama took upon on assuming Presidency of the United States just two years back?

I was recently acquainted with a business in the publishing / distribution space. The business is privately owned and the owners don’t see a future for the business beyond another five years. They feel they don’t have the energy or the will to create and compete in a world that is increasingly on a digital spiral. So they choose to extract every little ounce of juice in the next five years that the business has to offer before it dies or is allowed to die. In an intellectual debate, this strategy even came across as very “pragmatic” and “innovative”. But the question remains; is commerce and business all about making money even if it is a privately owned business or is there a role for creating wealth? What happens to the loyal employees who have invested their lives and emotions in the company and why should employees continue to be motivated to deliver creativity and productivity to further a one sided interest? However, the question that haunted me most was “how a business would plan for its own death, no matter how imminent, and leave the joy of living in the moment”?

Michael Jackson is worth much more dead than when he was alive is what the business world is leading us to believe. He died in debt but on his first death anniversary, the brand of Michael Jackson has made a 150% profit; something that he did not experience even during his heights of fame.  In the same breath, I was also recently acquainted with a situation where a company invested a lot into the interviewing process of candidates for a leadership position and finally did not select the candidate it found most suitable for its organization – the reason being that this individual could actually contribute to the growth of the organization. So I am wondering, what could be the motive of the business to hire a person for that role, in the first place?  This is still a privately owned business but has been invested heavily upon by a Venture Capital Fund. We have heard for ages about how people and talent are the most valued assets to organizations and societies. So where have we lost the plot?

Today corporations and governments have huge amounts of cash at their disposal to do what they attribute as branding. This, in other words is an effort to create a favorable perception of them and their actions. Perception is the product of interpretation rather than messaging – or has that definition changed too in the context of the new global economic order? The true transformation that the world and society needs to see is the money being invested into the inputs that go into the message rather than the messaging mechanism itself. This is the change or transformation that was expected of Barrack Obama and of other leaders in their respective societies by “right thinking” people who care for us and our future generations. That intent will still drive the transformation but who will be its bearers is the question!

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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One Response to The Transformation of Intent

  1. Feroz says:

    The key is how the intent is communicated down the chain. Often we need to question if the “intent” as communicated is true. The techniques of “5 why?” is very useful, albeit seldom used since we often want to be “good” in the other person’s perception. I was discussing with a CMO who wanted to leverage analytics in his campaigns. He was putting so much constraint around it that I went into my favourite “5 why?” queries. I could see him getting frustrated but I would not stop. Finally, we came to a stage, where I actually told him that to do what he really wants to do, he does not need analytics. The why?s enabled me to get to the point where I realized that he already wanted to do some campaigns and wanted analytics to be engineered in a way that it supports his idea.

    So owning up the true intent and communicating it without mutation is what is the need for successful transformation.

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