Monday, December 24, 2007

Longing for Longevity?

Some random thoughts that beg to be transformed into words on the www. Nothing radically new. Nothing revolutionary. Don't know if there's any organization that's given this serious thought and translated it into hard core business parameters. Don't know if any Management thought-leaders have preached this above everything else.

What would happen if Businesses start focusing on Longevity more than on Revenue, Profits, Cash Flow, EPS, OM, Quarterly Growth etc? And if they are (wow!) kicked about Longevity, what would be the parameters that would reflect the same? Today, business leaders hardly talk about anything beyond the usual quarterly and annual numbers. That's what matters to them, the shareholders and the board of directors. Thanks to some business activists with a social dimension to them, there is some talk about corporate social responsibility, contribution to society, charity etc. But, who cares whether the goose that lays the golden eggs is being killed because of short-term greed?

How many people across the organization do something even when they realize that what they're doing will give the company a benefit in the short-term but kill it in the long-run? How many people are forced to do something just to show the results....NOW! How many people live under a perpetual fear that if they don't prove something now, they will not have an opportunity to prove anything at all. How many people gallop up the ladder because they ruthlessly achieve something in the short-term at an invisible and immeasurable cost in the long-term? How many people are anyways bothered about whether the company will exist 20 years later? How many people are bothered about whether the 'death' or 'disease' of a company will result in the world at large (or at least the various people associated with the company) to suffer? Anyways, what matters most in today's world is the money that gets credited to their bank accounts on the last day of the month. As long as that is happening, very few other things matter. Jumping from one organization to another organization is one of the easiest ways to create a positive difference to the amount that gets credited to one's account. So much so, that even people who are genuinely interested in things other than monetary benefits are not believed when they jump from one place to another for a meagre raise.

If somebody at all is likely to be bothered about the longevity of an organization, it definitely ought to be the founder. So, why don't founders put their foot down and remove the focus from short-term money making and concentrate on other more important parameters? Is it because they believe they wont be alive anyway to see too much of the progress and they'd rather make waves in the first 30-35 years and leave the rest to the future guardians? If a founder were to be genuinely interested in longevity what would be the parameters that would reflect contribution to longevity?

Adapting to change?
Employee and Customer Satisfaction?
Activities outside of making profits - in contribution to bigger entities? - And for reasons outside of creating a favourable reputation from the business perspective...

Reputation and Brand Image?
Parameters considered in the decision-making process?
Business Strategy Planning process?
Recruitment practices?
Corporate jargon and buzzwords? -
Does the term quarterly profits and growth get heard more often or words like vision and learning get heard more often?

What else? Is there any index that reflects such parameters and get consolidated into something that reflects longevity?

I genuinely feel that an organization that focuses on longevity will not make many mistakes. I'll perhaps come back to this post sometime....and make it a point of reflection for the new year :)


Hari said...

Very thought provoking post. There are so many train of thoughts starting as I read this. Will wait for you to revisit this.

Anjali said...
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Anjali said...
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Anjali said...
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Anjali said...

Bingo! this last week some friends and me were discussing business sustenance and long term investment in people. You some up all of that. I observe that what you are at work is only an extension of what you are as a person. Especially when we talk of IT industry where people are known to focus on the near future unlike the non IT sector in the past, where the leader had the vision for building the future rather than a company. Why does IT industry sound like a fly by night sector. It creates so much insecurity in people. I agree with you we don't even think of longetivity. What are our fears?

Nimmy said...

thanks, hari! :) let me see if i can extend my thinking a bit deeper into the theme

anjali....methinks that more than it being a question of probably is about the fact that we can't see beyond a certain point...or even if we can see and realize that there may be problems, we don't care because we believe that we are not going to be a part of the 'future'...or heck...we are just plain stupid