Conversation with the author — Mr. Ravi Gopaldas Kathuria
Success is directly proportional to an organization’s clarity and cohesion
How Cohesive is your Company? — A Leadership Parable
Top-notch business performance is impossible until you cohesively align mission, vision, goals, strategies, execution & culture
Why did you write the book?
Every company that I worked for as an employee, every company that I served as an independent consultant/coach, and every organization that I served as a volunteer, had major internal challenges.
There was lack of clarity about what was important in the business. People had different interpretations about the strategy, and different expectations and vision for the company. Politics and ego-conflicts were the underlying current in the organization. Things routinely fell through the cracks, and because the organization failed to connect together its critical strategic aspects, there was no cohesion.
These challenges are non-trivial. I wrote this book to help managers and leaders, address these challenges.
What is the writing style?
I have written this business book in a story format. It is a parable. And, the whole story unfolds as seen through the eyes of the protagonist. In most movies and novels, the viewer has the “God” perspective, i.e. the viewer sees everything that is happening with all the characters. In this parable, the reader only sees what the main character sees and is experiencing, it as if there is a camera on the shoulder of the protagonist. It makes for a more real and experiential reading. You experience and feel what the character is feeling.
How is this book different from other business books?
A majority of the business books are written as a textbook. They offer a lot of theory. But when you apply the theory in practice, you realize how difficult it is.
This book is written in the backdrop of an intensely realistic background, capturing the politics, the management conflicts, the relationship and organizational challenges that exist in companies. That way the reader gets a true appreciation of how to make things work in the real-world.
Many of the business books written in a story format are superficial in their handling of the subject. Business is complex, and this book addresses the difficult issues that you the reader find routinely in your business.
It is a book about day-to-day practical issues in an organization.
What is the main value/message of the book?
1. Successful companies have two common traits – clarity and cohesion. Unless your company ensures clarity and cohesion, it will find it very difficult to sustain success. Clarity and cohesion may seem as simple and uninteresting, but the more you understand and appreciate their value, the better you will lead and manage your team. Achieving clarity and cohesion is much harder than you realize. You may feel you know how to do it, but only when you read the book do you realize how much you are missing.
2. Most business books focus on one aspect such as strategy, execution, culture, work processes, etc. Few business books tie it altogether. As a manager and a leader, your biggest challenge, and biggest contribution to the organization, is to connect all the pieces. That is what this book does masterfully. You will appreciate the simplicity with which it connects mission, philosophies, vision, goals, strategy, work processes, roles and responsibilities, culture, execution and measurement. This book provides a succinct, proven, and acclaimed, business management method that previous readers of the book have rushed to implement in their organization.
3. For a company to succeed you need both business transformation and personal transformation. This book offers the roadmap for business transformation but also shows how executives must transform personally.
How long is the book? How much time does it take to read it?
The book has about seventy thousand words, 320 pages (uses an easy-to-read sized font). It takes about six to seven hours to read. People who have read it, say it is a fast-read and is a page-turner.
How long did it take to write the book? How much effort?
It took me ten months to write the book. I loved writing it. At that point it was more than 100,000 words. Then it took me sixteen months of hard, grueling work to edit the book. More than fifty people, including senior executives, reviewed the book. Incorporating the feedback and editing down to 70,000 words was the hardest part. But incorporating the feedback and the multiple editing cycles has made the book easy-to-follow and implement.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I had originally thought the book will be done in one year. I was way off in my estimate of the work involved.
What is the story in the book?
It is the story of a VP of sales, Trent Wertheimer. The story begins with Trent complaining about the customer service and engineering teams. He feels they are not pulling their weight and it is adversely affecting sales. The VPs of customer service and engineering, and the CEO, of course believe, the sales team is not working hard enough.
Then the board appoints Trent as CEO, and he now has to lead the team. The team resents him; Trent thinks he is perfect. It is the perfect backdrop for a train wreck. The harder Trent tries, the deeper he digs himself a hole, until the situation escalates into a meltdown, with Trent looking down the metaphorical precipice.
This is the story of the business transformation of the company, but it is also the story of how Trent has to undergo personal transformation to regain the credibility of his team and the board. It is the story of his two steps forward, one step backward learning experience.
Where is the story based? Why?
The story is based in Houston,Texas. I have lived in Houston for twenty years, and love it here. I feel as many Houstonians feel, Houston deserves far more credit as a vibrant and large business/economic center than it receives. By setting the story in Houston, in my small way, I want to bring a little more attention to Houston.
Will the book apply to product and service companies?
Yes, the principles and the method discussed in the book will apply to both product and service companies.
Which size companies is the book written for?
This book applies to all organizations, whether it is a Fortune 500 corporation, a small business, a non-profit, a division or a team in a company, or even an individual. And, it applies to companies across industry sectors.
How can the same method apply to organizations of all sizes and industries?
This book is about business fundamentals. All these organizations have one thing in common — people. It is people, who have to buy-in to the goals and participate. People and human nature is the same, regardless of the organization.
Who is the intended audience?
Managers and leaders at all levels in the organization, from the CEO to the team leaders, will find valuable wisdom and practical takeaways in this book.
The three main segments are:
1. University students who are getting ready to join the workforce, so they can get a better appreciation for how organizations work.
2. Corporate managers and leaders, so they can help their organization perform better, and they can appreciate how they might need to transform personally.
3. Small and mid-size business owners, so they can understand the fundamentals of managing the critical aspects of their business, and cohesively tying together those aspects.
“Kathuria has eloquently captured a number of very specific examples of how a meaningful strategy and a strong focus on execution can create significant long term value in an organization. More importantly, he has demonstrated how a lack of a clear strategy and a lack of execution can have negative consequences that continue to hurt any organization.”
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
“HOW COHESIVE IS YOUR COMPANY? takes the fuzzy and often messy strategic planning process and transforms it into a clear, easily implementable, step-by-step methodology.”
ANNE S. DAVIS, PhD
FORMER ASSOCIATE DEAN, HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY; FORMER MANAGEMENT CHAIR,
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
“HOW COHESIVE IS YOUR COMPANY? takes on the difficult issues facing corporations by realistically depicting the environment and the challenges. This book provides a distillation of the concepts critical for effective strategic planning and execution.
“Every executive should understand and appreciate the concepts in this book to eliminate ambiguity and confusion in their organization. It will help improve focus on the critical drivers for the business, and improve alignment among teams and team members.”
GLOBAL VICE PRESIDENT
“HOW COHESIVE IS YOUR COMPANY? offers valuable, practical insights into developing and executing strategy. Anyone who has had to be a change agent in a company with set ways will benefit from the concepts presented, particularly with respect to the impact required on the organization’s culture.”
PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE DIRECTORS, HOUSTON CHAPTER
CHAIRMAN AND CEO, OMNIFLIGHT