Industry Update
Opinion Article13 July 2017

Business Succes: Excellence lies in the grey...

By Indrajeet Banerjee, Associate Vice President - Sales & Marketing at The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts

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The concept of uncertainty is not new to the business. The only aspect that is certain in the business environment today is the uncertainty attached to it. A scenario most popularly described as the VUCA world. "A military acronym describing the markets we operate in today as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous."


In the last 25 years, having lead Sales & Marketing, I have seen businesses and teams walk through economic downturns, stock market crash, oversupply leading to price wars, distorted vision of brand positioning, stress on the share of the pie and the shrinking bottom line.

My thoughts in this article are not with those who survived and managed to stay afloat. My introspection is on them, who shined the brightest in the extreme of such adversities. My salute is to them, who emerged as winners' in spite of and not in the absence of volatility.

I have remained deeply inspired by the traits of these professionals and often questioned myself - what drives them to rise above while the rest barely managed to hang in there?... and each time my learning shook the solid pillars of logic.

These were crazy guys! They believed they can make things happen. And, they actually did.

They read probability as a possibility. These were professionals who refused to allow adverse statistics to stand in the way of their vision. While the rest operated between the safety guidelines of the statistical evidence about performance history and its derived forecast, and very correctly so, these were individuals who knew the trick lied in the unwritten. Today, delays in the name of information-gathering and procrastination in the name of reducing risk are increasing the risk of failure. While the rest sacrificed their probability to excel to the never ending paralysis of analysis; these were professionals who gambled on every splint of possibility and raised a whole damn fire out of it. They saw what others did not. They saw tomorrow.

Does this mean they never failed? They did, and much more times than the rest and their fall was much harder compared to the ones who played safe. But failure for them was never a reason to go back to the drawing board questioning their conviction. They were people who were possessed with the positive. Their vision was larger than the obstacle. Hence they went back to the jungle the next day and fought harder. They believed mountains do move!

Perhaps, that is why some of the history's greatest success stories are also stories of great failures!

In the age of automation explosion and data tsunami, creating a scientific strategy roadmap is no longer a difficult task. Digitalization delivers micro markets, customer and segmentation statistics at the click of a button. Hence, planning is far easier today. Having said so, then why do organizations and teams continue to fail in delivering the desired objectives? The answer lies hidden in the space between planning and the outcome. A vacuum human eye does not see. The gap of implementation! The performers who stood out were always the ones who were brutal with implementation, once the strategy was in place. Hence, the strike rate in most cases was almost a 100%.

They read tomorrow earlier than the rest - hence predicted the fall of power centered around brand positioning and the rise of the people philosophy as the winning edge of tomorrow. Arriving at a business decision by micro mining of customer segmentation, buying behavior, sources, channels, etc., etc. were statistical guidelines only. The emotional quotient attached to people was above them, and business is people. They reversed the sales process; they were brand ambassadors of the customers and not the organization…. business automatically happened. They built as humans and lived the emotions of their clients. Hence, friends always returned to buy from friends.

They knew the big lied in the small. While the stereotypical's were still busy studying the competition behavior, these guys understood the rule of the jungle that ….when the sun is up you can either be the lion and hunt or be the rest and run. Hence, when conventional approach demanded a multi-dimensional strategy, these individuals walked away from the broad strokes and worked with a needle point approach towards filtering the information and identify that one single lever which had the greatest impact. They hit where it hurt the most. When the rest would be busy spreading thin, they were focused on planning that one single move. The homework was intense. They focused on the target, observed the opponent, identified the winning edge and then delivered the master stroke.

These were professional who knew the future would be different, so they held tomorrow by its collar. In search of excellence, they misbehaved with logic. They were obsessed with their vision hence the bold, scientific lines of the market dynamics did not exist for them. While others turned the page to understand & evaluate the risks involved, these guys burned the book. They refused to adapt, so came across as stubborn and… the universe bowed to these unreasonable.

These were truly crazy guys! Whom I was supposed to lead as per the conventional framework of sales processes and operate within the norms of the right and wrongs of doing business. Instead, they taught me the greatest lesson of my life – that when the vision is sorted, excellence lies in the grey!


The salute: My thoughts are dedicated to the many brilliant minds which I have had the privilege to work with & learn. Tomorrow & the world belongs to these un-named heroes and the unreasonable souls who inspired this article.
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Indrajeet Banerjee

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