In The Journey Of Growth, “Perfection” Isn’t A Milestone!
I started my career in an automobile major, in the house of the Tatas. It was only natural that pictures of JRD Tata and Ratan Tata adorned the walls and their words defined the air. I found myself staring at this huge poster of JRD in the office. The accompanying quote said - “Always aim at perfection, for only then will you achieve excellence”. Every now and then, leaders would refer to this quote, inspiring us to keep on striving for perfection and excellence.
I soaked in the spirit. “Do it right, the first time” become my mantra. Quality had to be above everything else, even time or cost. Of course, being the culture there it was, I was appreciated for this attitude and thrived well.
Cut to 5 years later, I stepped to the Coke Side of Life and had my first brush with the beverage industry. The shift was immense. Average value of the product being sold went from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 20, and the time to market went from 3 years to 3 months! Life in HCCB was fast, decisions were taken quickly and executed even more rapidly. Of course, being the perfectionist, I strolled with my usual speed; delivering work that was perhaps high in quality but likely inapt in the super-fast world of FMCG.
This went on for a few months, until my exasperated manager called for a discussion.
After a long conversation and some reflection, I realized we are in an industry where the consumer won’t wait for another minute, let alone days for consuming a beverage. A delayed opportunity is a lost sale. Beverage purchase happens by the instant, and loss of today’s sale does not imply tomorrow’s success. In such a case, there isn’t always time or even the need to wait for perfection.
What is required is a continuous drive to take it to the next level, always. Do what is best today and know that it still won’t be best tomorrow. Even a top-quality output will have scope for a V2.0. It is immaterial if one is in sales or support functions, our actions together impact the speed of HCCB’s field execution.
The world is evolving so fast, that perfection has become the elusive illusion. We can keep on chasing our definition of perfection, only to realize by the time it is attained, it has become obsolete. Blackberry, Nokia, Xerox, Kodak, Yahoo, Orkut are all world-famous examples that were market leaders in their own domains and then abruptly became irrelevant, only because they chose to rest on their laurels and bask in the glory of perfection, while ignoring how dynamically world changed around them.
And that’s because perfection isn’t a milestone anymore. It’s a journey of its own…on which we must keep progressing, day by day, bit by bit.
Talent and Performance Management @ HCCB