Posts Tagged ‘excellence’

It is said that Mr. R. M. Lala, an editor, writer and publisher of repute, once commented to Mr. J. R. D. Tata that the latter believed in excellence. The great man is said to have retorted thus: “Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection; you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.”

But even achieving excellence is not a cake walk. Many leaders are not clear how to go about doing it. The mirage of excellence is elusive, and most often, it is not a surrogate for achieving outstanding business performance alone by measuring and surpassing business results. There is more to it than what meets the eye.

Satyendra Kumar’s book endeavors to answer this question.

The author shares distilled insights from his four decades of accumulated learning from various organisations to portray the fundamentals — that are often elusive —in building organisational excellence. 

This book is a valuable treasure trove of insights. It has the potential to enable as well as enrich the thinking process of business leaders when it comes to achieving excellence in a sustainable manner.

Elusive Secrets in Seven Chapters

The book etches out seven steps to facilitate the process of achieving excellence, each step being covered in a separate chapter.

The Foundation is obviously laid by a leader’s spark of genius beyond intelligence, evoking intuitive facets to nurture essentials that fuel a never-ending appetite for learning.

This leads to the concept of Learning Forever, which, in turn, instills a norm of Measurement and Predictability.  

A climate of learning and measurement provides an impetus for Productive Working that leads to a build-up of confidence across teams and groups entrusted with the task of achieving business goals. 

This brings out the criticality of The People Factor which is an important ingredient in creating a Culture of Improvement and Transformation.  

Last, but not the least, is the Invisible Backdrop of a deep purpose guided by values and ethics that the author presents as it loops back to the very essence in the acts towards building the Foundation.

Each chapter progressively enhances the value of the conversation with an elevated level of awareness, thereby igniting the intuitive mind to grasp what is relevant and necessary.

Every company eager to protect its soul and spirit for worthy outcomes could benefit from reading this book.

Author’s Profile

Satyendra Kumar has enhanced the quality systems for world-class global organisations with his contributions for over 40 years. He has served on several industry bodies and has received numerous awards in shaping the conversation for progress with his deep understanding of the systems view of an organisation that is a precondition for nurturing a culture of excellence.

Kumar today continues his passion by helping organisations strengthen their systems maturity by providing his rich experience as an Independent Advisor and Consultant to several large and medium-scale institutions and enterprises since 2013. Kumar was the Global Head and Senior Vice President – Productivity & Quality, Technology Tools & Software Reuse at Infosys Limited (2000 – 2013). He has worked as Vice President at IMR Global, the USA, between 1998 and 2000. As Deputy Chief Executive for Tata Quality Management Services – Tata Group between 1996 and 1998, he provided an intellectual impetus in laying the foundation for instituting the Tata business excellence initiative. Kumar’s rich experience spans his consulting expertise to over 50 national and multi-national clients in areas of Business Excellence, Operational Efficiency, Customer Satisfaction Management, Business Continuity Management, Project and Programme Management, and Quality Management.

He has served on many Boards and Panels such as Board member (QuEST USA), On the Panel of Judges – Wisconsin State Award (USA), Administrative Reforms Committee of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and Chief Technical Advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry – Institute of Quality. Has been a recipient of the IEEE-Software Engineering Institute (Carnegie Mellon University) International award (2011) and honoured with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Quality and Business Excellence” by an IT industry association.

Some Accolades

Satyendra Kumar’s relentless and unfettered focus on excellence played an important role in the high percentage of repeat business Infosys obtained from customers. This book is a distilled wisdom of his impactful journey at Infosys during 2000 – 2013 and many other companies during his professional career. I recommend this book to leaders, managers, and development professionals in any company to read it, learn from it, and deploy the lessons.

Co-founder Infosys Ltd

Satyendra and I worked together at Infosys till 2009 … I believe his relentless pursuit of excellence played a seminal role in the evolution of Infosys. As you read through this book, you will get a glimpse of what I believe are the fundamentals that need to be put into place to aspire for excellence. The best part is that you will hear them from Satyendra first-hand! I hope that the next generation of leaders invests time and patience to learn from this work and find ways to incorporate it into their leadership, culture, and the basic fabric of their organisations.


Chairman and co-founder Infosys Ltd, Chairman and co-founder EkStep Foundation

Achieving excellence in business is an arduous journey. One has to design for quality and innovation, and plan for longevity, a truer measure of business success. Satyendra Kumar, with his experience in steering quality movement in the IT industry, provides a practical guide for future leaders in building organisational excellence.

Former CEO and Co-Founder Infosys Ltd, Chairman Axilor Ventures

Satyendra Kumar’s book bestows upon the reader his wisdom, expertise, and countless years of professional and personal experience. We are fortunate that Kumar has taken the time to document his life’s work. One will learn from his many incredible successes and will also learn how to avoid or overcome difficulties he encountered over time. I enthusiastically recommend and endorse this book.


Retired senior executive, leadership coach.

I have seen Satyendra Kumar in action for three decades. His unwavering focus on building a culture of learning and improvement with long term focus is amazing. This book elegantly reflects his experiences and should be leveraged by start-ups or established companies to instill these great practices for long term success.


President and the Mentor, US Technologies Global Ltd

Despite the enormous body of literature from the academic and consulting worlds, Organizational Excellence is still elusive to most people. This book precisely addresses this issue through interesting anecdotes, case studies, and experiential stories. It reflects — how organisational learning, people caring, and ethical governance can lead to long-term organisational excellence and sustenance. Satyendra Kumar has nicely brought out many hidden facets that business owners and leaders born or made, and passionate entrepreneurs should read and take advantage of.

Former Director General, STQC, Ministry of IT, Govt of India

A powerful and elegantly written book with deeper insights.

EVP Coforge Ltd

Satyendra Kumar has written an interesting book backed by years of experience. His narrative is experiential, giving guidance and insights into systems, implementation, and achieving organisational excellence. I recommend this book to everyone in the corporate world who wish to focus on organisational excellence.


Former CEO and Co-Founder Infosys Ltd

Satyendra Kumar as a practitioner and leader brings three decades of his rich experience relevant to businesses and business leaders of various types. Quality is not just a buzz word but is about its leaders, their values or ethos and purpose imbibed through a long journey is well brought out.  It was a pleasure for me to have been part of leading this journey with him in Infosys as well as relive that journey on reading it.

Chairman AHT Foundation and Co-founder Infosys Ltd.

Satyendra Kumar has distilled into this book, decades of his experience in creating a culture of excellence in some of the worlds most successful corporations. His incisive and yet simple principles are relevant equally for large corporations and young start-ups. I have seen him passionately inculcate excellence in every aspect of business at Infosys and I am confident that the book will be a key guide for leaders navigating an increasingly competitive world. Each chapter of the book provides a vivid road map for creating excellence through pragmatic steps. A must read for leaders who aspire to create world-class organizations!

Chairman, Catamaran Ventures, Independent Director, HDFC Bank

For Additional Information


Links to Acquire a Copy of the Book

USA: https://a.co/d/3EDMaCy

INDIA: https://amzn.eu/d/crfISyg

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Unlike a “should” guy who is a philosopher, and a “would” guy who is a politician, a good manager is a “could” guy. He is aware of the constraints of resources at his disposal, and get things done accordingly.

He is the first one to come in and the last one to go from office. No job is too small for him; he is a true hands-on guy, but develops his team by delegation.

He defines and respects the invisible boundary of professional distance between himself and his key team players. When his team members are attacked, he behaves like a lioness out to protect her cubs. His team just loves him!


An ever-changing discipline, though surely not the only one. When conceived and described by Philip Kotler, it consisted of the famous 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. With due respects to the great man, one may safely add one more P – Password (used for viral marketing).

With the advent of internet has come a virtual democracy in information. Changes in technology have brought in a new way the customers and brands interact. Marketing has undergone a sea change and will continue to do so in future as well, what with social re-engineering leading to a greater degree of inclusion in the economy, with hordes of new customers from a so-far underprivileged social milieu joining the market. Persons with access to internet now research the brands before making a decision. They are increasingly welcoming fresh content rather than repetitive ads.

Take note of the mini packs of biscuits, noodles and other consumer items being marketed at price points of Rs. 5 and below. Thirty years back, Indians had to wait for years to get to ride their own “Hamara Bajaj”. On the car front, there were hardly three suppliers in the fray then. Now, we see global brands wooing the customer and competing cheek and jowl for a slice of the market pie.

The Customer has now become a more empowered king!


Meetings to decide strategic issues are best held off campus, though not necessarily in exotic locales.

Meetings to review operations are best kept short, held in the standing mode, at regular intervals (like TV news) without prior intimation, kept crisp by ruthlessly disallowing inter-departmental issues getting discussed while all others gape in horror and ignorance, ending much before the deadline and minutes being circulated by the end of the day with clear responsibilities defined in respect of targets to be met and respective deadlines.

It is generally accepted that the probability of a meeting taking place is inversely proportional to the number of participants.

Parkinson’s Law of Meetings states that “To a certain degree, the time spent in a meeting on an item is inversely proportional to its value”.


Always aim for perfection! It is said that Mr. R. M. Lala, an editor, writer and publisher of repute, once commented to Mr. J. R. D. Tata that the latter believed in excellence. The great man is said to have retorted thus: “Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection, you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.”

Rabindranath Tagore, in his Gitanjali, captures the same concept thus: “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”. Even though “perfection” may not be attainable in reality, what matters is the “tireless striving”, which could well prove to be a reward in itself. “Perfection”, like happiness, need not be a station one arrives at, but a mode of travel, making the journey interesting and worthwhile.MICROMANAGING

To improve our personal capacity utilization, our basic struggle needs to be attitudinal – to adopt a Culture of Perfection and to give up the Culture of Mediocrity.  Our collective chalta hai attitude is passé.


A sure way of becoming a liability for your team and also for your employers is to micromanage – getting into the nitty-gritty of each and every aspect of the task at hand. Learn to delegate and allow your team members to make mistakes. Demand results, but develop your people in the long run.


As an individual, say sorry. Say it openly. Add a dash of humor and laugh at yourself publically. Avoid a buck passing posture. Do a root cause analysis. Suggest and work on a solution to rectify the mistake. Try to avoid a recurrence.

As a corporate, get your PR to handle the issue well. Take demonstrable steps to set the record straight. During June 2011, Toyota globally recalled as many as 1,06,000 vehicles, offering to replace front right hand shaft in selected vehicles. During 2007, Mattel announced a recall of over 19 million toys fearing that the toys had powerful magnets which could come loose and be swallowed by infants. Their brand recall value only shot up.

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During the course of the last decade, Indians appeared to have regained some of their pride and self-confidence as a nation which is the culmination of a 5,000 years old civilization steeped in values of tolerance, openness and adaptability. Right from the evolution of Zero to the genius of Ramanujam, from the profound concepts enumerated in the Vedas to the spiritual wisdom expounded by the likes of Swami Vivekananda and Shri Aurobindo, from the literary depth of Sage Vyasa to the artistic achievements of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, from the invincible arrows of Lord Rama to today’s Brahmos missiles, from the evocative poetry penned by Kalidasa to the genius of Satyajit Ray – our repertoire as a nation is pretty rich.  

There is absolutely no harm in enjoying the limelight and speaking high of our true strengths. If the world looks upon us for spiritual wisdom, we have an inexhaustible supply of it. If we offer a unique marketing opportunity of this century to the world at large, we might as well bask in the glory of the moment, derive maximum advantage of it and be better prepared to delight our customers.

But the risk is that of becoming complacent and leading ourselves into a lull, which could well boomerang and lead us into a phase of decadence. The need of the hour is to be objective about ourselves, plan our affairs accordingly and set our house in order.

The World Bank ranks India at the bottom of its list of countries in terms of ease of doing business. We can count on our finger tips the number of home-grown brands that have emerged out of India in the last sixty years or so. Admittedly, there are marketing innovations and truly home-grown solutions, but these are the exception and not the rule.

It is an open secret that as many as 70 percent of our so-called educated youth are not employable. Our prestigious management institutes continue aping management models adapted from the west. The wisdom contained in the words of our seers – like Chanakya, Tiruvalluvar and Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few – is equally applicable to the area of management. But it remains a neglected domain the time for which is yet to come.

Our cities are bursting at the seams. In terms of creation of fresh infrastructure, we not only lack vision and resources but also the will to implement schemes which could make them truly world-class. Garbage segregation at source, its effective treatment and handling remains a distant dream.

If we host a sports extravaganza of an international stature, thereby investing in our civic infrastructure, our corrupt ministers and babus ensure that their pockets get thickly lined up. Corruption is on everyone’s mind these days, so the lesser we talk about it, the better it might be. Gone are the days when a Minister would resign owning moral responsibility for a lapse in the area of his concern. The norm today is to cling on to one’s seat until one is proved guilty and is literally hounded out of office.

Our railways rarely run on time. There is not even a single railway station which can be called world-class. In place of Bullet trains, we boast of many Rajdhanis and Durontos. However, the sight of people defecating in the open on the side of our railway tracks is a very sobering one. Barring a few Metros that we have to show, public transport is in a shambles.

On the farm front, the long-term perspective is rather grim. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide. But we have still not woken up to the reality that the Green Revolution essentially favored rice and wheat, neglecting healthier millets, jowar and bajra. Ground water tables have plummeted all across, and our dependence on the south-west monsoon continues unabated.

At the end of the food chain, we now have an epidemic of sorts in place, with an exponential increase in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiac complications. With rising levels of affluence, incorrect eating habits and unhealthy life styles have become the norm; this alone threatens to retard our progress on the economic front.

As a country which aspires to make it to the top league in the decades to come, what we need to gift to ourselves is a vision and a will power. The government, the political class, the business houses and the society at large – all need to put their heads together and work towards achieving perfection in their respective fields. Being satisfied with the second or the third best would no longer do!

It is said that Mr. R. M. Lala, an editor, writer and publisher of repute, once commented to Mr. J. R. D. Tata that the latter believed in excellence. The great man is said to have retorted thus: “Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection, you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.”

Rabindranath Tagore, in his Gitanjali, captures the same concept thus: “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”. Even though “perfection” may not be attainable in reality, what matters is the “tireless striving”, which could well prove to be a reward in itself. “Perfection”, like happiness, need not be a station one arrives at, but a mode of travel, making the journey worthwhile.

As a country, we have a lot of positive developments and accomplishments to claim credit for. We now have an opportunity to build on the same by stretching our capabilities and by managing our limitations, with a clear vision to succeed in our mission. Our basic struggle is attitudinal – to adopt a Culture of Perfection and to give up the Culture of Mediocrity. Our collective chalta hai attitude is passé.

On the occasion of the upcoming Independence Day, let us rededicate ourselves to shun mediocrity. Let us demand perfection from ourselves and from those around us in all spheres of our lives.


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