Thursday, October 22, 2009

CLOSURE - the secret of moving ahead successfully

Good news my readers! I have stopped using footnotes. I use popups now. Just hover your mouse over the popup link and POP will you see the detailed "footnote" there and then itself. Hope this helps! Caution : some links in posts maybe actual hyperlinks and not popups.

Any experienced CEO, or corporate executive knows the value of "closure". It is deemed to be one of the finest qualities of a leader, manager, MBA or supervisor.

Closure. The beautiful art of putting a FULL-STOP on a transaction. A successful full-stop. A final end to a transaction, or an activity, or a process. Closure is a sign that some process that needed to be finished has been finished, and we are now ready for the next thing.

Any manager who has a high capability of doing "closures" successfully, has these in ample measure - confidence, skills, an achiever's mindset, and authority. Someone who does not, is a champion of procrastination. Of course, if he/she is smart enough, a cool cover of philosophical analysis can always be draped around the delays!

One of the finest minds in management, the late Dr Sumantra Ghoshal had said "only 10% of managers in a company have the right mix of focus & energy that helps them make meaningful decisions, and gives the company its edge in the marketplace".

I fully second this thought of Dr Ghoshal, as I have painfully experienced the losses that accrue to my organisation when decisions are delayed, or when execution on decisions is delayed, or when things just go on and on, without an end. The sticky grease of delay slows down the entire machinery of the organisation.

Being tentative is not a good idea, and especially so when you are running a business, or a part of it. Every second counts! Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE had said "one of the finest qualities in a manager is the capability of saying YES or NO, and not MAYBE". Isn't that beautiful? Yes, or No, and not Maybe!

The losses for an organisation due to improper closures are :
  • tasks and to-do's just remain hanging in air, they do not end
  • a sense of uncertaintly starts getting built up in the minds of those on the receiving end (is something wrong?)
  • the manager's work diary starts getting cluttered
  • it may lead to slowly diminishing sense of self-worth in the manager's mind
  • the big decisions which depend on a lot of small ones get clogged
  • the organisation loses out on time, money and opportunities
Managers will do well to remember the golden words of the big daddy of modern management Dr Peter F Drucker - "Efforts alone are of little use, results must follow".

How to identify someone who is delaying decisions, and not "closing" :
  • always ready with some philosophical explanation of why the world is not turning the way it ought to be
  • always offering reasons related to external environments and changes therein
  • promising to do it "just by tomorrow", and again tripping on it
  • sounding tentative - a typical "ho raha hai" rather that "ho gaya"
  • accepting the limitations, and offering excuses continuously
So how can one start improving on her/his capability to achieve high rates of "closures" on a day-to-day basis? Here are some suggestions :
  1. Always be results-oriented, not efforts or task oriented. Remember what Dr Drucker said.
  2. Never take pride in the amount of hard-work you have put in. Associate pride with final results you obtained in a situation/task.
  3. Create a personal weekly benchmark of closing at least 80% of matters pending at your desk.
  4. Try seeing the big picture. Your decisions add up.
  5. Avoid taking decisions in haste. Avoid closing in a hurry. Let everyone important in a situation have their play to the fullest.
Being successful demands mental agility and constant involvement. "Closures" are one of the best tools to judge whether one possesses this raw matter to be successful. It is every manager's responsibility to ensure that her organisation does not suffer due to small stupidites that aggregate over time.

And let me close this post by sharing with you a golden gem I came across recently. I think this is one of the best examples of non-sensical corporate jargon being vomitted on hapless victims. I was sitting with this rather smart gentleman with years of corporate experience, discussing a delicate problem. After a long pause, he says - "the peculiarity of the situation demands that holistically a solution has to be found in unison without creating disjoint pieces!"   Aaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh


Manish Vaswani said...

Dear Sir,

The post quite nicely depicts the importance of successful closure of any project undertaken.

While reading the article I was able to envisage certain day to day activities {like internal events at PROTON} which, if would have had a better closure, could have given far better output.

I realize, better closure could also help us in longer term.

Great Post.


Bhejabhund (Rahul) said...

Good Morning Sir
i found the blog interesting as many answers were the same i used to give....surely i'll try not to that any more....this article was an elaboration of very old Hindi saying "kaal kare so aaj kar aaj kare so ab........" surely if everybody in an organization works on this philosophy then no body can stop that organization to succeed.... the only thing is the workers and the employees should be rewarded or at least appreciated for their timely performance.... Its no doubt human tendency to delay work until and unless it becomes an urgency but this mentality has to be removed...but first i have to change my own mentality...
Rahul Mundra
Fall 09

A B said...

Respected Sir,
Happy Diwali n Prosperous NewYear

"It is every manager's responsibility to ensure that 'her' organisation does not suffer due to small stupidites that aggregate over time."

While reading i stuck here, in the above paragraph there should be 'her organization' or 'there organization'.

May i know, if i am not correct or mistaken.

Ashu Barjatya
Fall 09

Test said...

Manish - glad that you realise, and have the guts to accept it on a public platform. You'll go far.

Rahul - yes you are indeed right. Appreciation is the core part of any company's basic HR policy. It is not even a "policy" .. it is something fundamental and natural that comes to leaders. Read Sam Walton's "Made in America" to discover how much importance he would attach to "dignity" as a core value.

A B - would you have asked the same question had I used a "he" in place of the "she" ?

As per global norms, we must respect lady managers as much as we recognise male managers. By default, we use a "he" everywhere. But that is not a good idea anymore. The DEFAULT can be a SHE as well.

I really caught you off-guard on this one :-))

I am sure many more will get stuck at that point. Good for illustration and learning.

Dinup Mathew said...

Avoid taking decisions in haste. Avoid closing in a hurry. Let everyone important in a situation have their play to the fullest.

Truer words cannot have been

The most hastily taken decisions are generally those that pertain to inter-personal judgement. Many managers tend to pass judgement on those who are lower in rank without giving them a fair hearing - a sort of kangaroo court! What results is a hasty closure.

The second most hastily taken closure tends to be meeting 'targets'. Under pressure to show 'good' performance, many managers close deals hastily. The net effect of some these deals led to CDO, CDS and the collapse of Lehmann Brothers!

As they say, haste makes waste. A good manager, according to me, will know when to separate the fast closures from the slow closures.

Parixhit A said...

hello sir

I suddenly realize that i sometimes do this at my workplace. I am now going to work hard towards changing myself and become more result-oriented. Thanks to this blog !!!

Vidit Shah said...

Dear Sir,
Truly said by you, many organisations are not able to perform well these days is because of lack of closure in their tasks. Managers are not able to finalize the conclusion for what can be done with the particular task because of lack of authority and responsibility.
I feel its the human tendency to delay the work till it reaches its deadline and because of which work keeps on piling up.
Sir, I feel in any organization there should be daily reporting to the senior level authority and every level should have some authority to close or finish the transaction,if they feel it is successfully done, or no results can be achieved.
Please suggest whether it is implementable or not?
Vidit Shah

Sulabh Muchhal said...


At the end of the day, I often have an unfinished to-do list.

Can you suggest some ways to overcome procrastination.


Test said...

Dinup - thanks for reading. "Haste" is a very loaded term. One must understand that the context defines it the best.

Parixhit - glad to hear that!

Vidit - reporting systems are very important indeed. "What cannot be measured, cannot be managed" is not entirely untrue.

Sulabh - there is nothing wrong in having some pending items in your TO-DO list every night. It may actually prompt you to start early the next day. But the number of pendings should always be under control. Right?

Akhilesh Dubey said...

Dear Sandeep Sir,

Thanks for a precious gift to Corporate and Society-"PROTON".

I started reading your blogs after suggestion of one of the Proton.

This is really a great post which helped me out in my organisation.I am a new enteprenuer and I am a fan of yours from last 3 years when I was in my MBA.I got chances to hear you during my MBA.

Once again Thanks for a wonderfull post.

Akhilesh Dubey
Total HR Solutions...

Test said...

Hey Akhilesh! Great to hear that my posts are of some help. Keep reading! Thanks

Akhilesh Dubey said...

Thanks for your quick reply sir.

sanjay said...

Hi Sir,
Great post! again. You really stand upto what you always preach "Kar Ke Dikhayenge". Truly it is a mark of a manager to have a closure apt and according. There are situtions where you need to catch up the person always using some or the other reasons to cover their lateness. After all we are all living in the world where "survival of the fittest" have always prevailed. At the end you also need to have your to-do list clear.

Insightful one sir, keep us enlightened always


Test said...

Sanjay - thanks for reading and commenting!

Dr. Maneesha Batra said...

Hello sir,
Great words indeed.Thats what even i believe. Closures are neceesary for new beginnings to happen.

Thank u sir for enlightening us and plz continue the same..
Dr. Maneesha Batra.

Test said...

Dear Dr Maneesha - thanks for reading and commenting!

Ashu Barjatya said...

Respected Sir,

Thanks for your valuable insight for my question of using he/she.

Ashu Barjatya