Vision, Sight, Motivation, Big Hairy Audacious Goals and Arvind Kejriwal

Last evening in an interview Arnab Goswami tried to probe the reason why Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) seeks to achieve. And Arvind responded by saying that he/we are there to change the politics of this country. It is not just that Arvind Kejriwal but most of the other prominent AAP members generally repeat the same sentiment whenever they are asked about their reason for coming into existence. What do we get out this statement and what do we infer about their organization.

Most of the great firms are uniquely differentiated in terms of visionary leader and vision. Consider great firms like IBM, HP, Kellogg’s, J&J, Southwest, FedEx and Marriot.   In their book, Built to Last, Collin and Porras attempted to find out what makes the exceptional companies different form their counter parts.  According to them the visionary companies use BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) to motivate their people. Commitment to BHAG is critical; it is where rubber meets the road. The goals are perceived to be audacious by outsiders but not insiders who take up the challenge to achieve these. Like Kejriwal, leaders have self-belief that they can do what they have taken upon themselves to achieving. Consider Boeing’s decision to develop the 707 (they were not leader then) it was a BHAG and required huge commitment. GE ‘s vision statement read, ‘Be number 1 or number 2 in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have speed and agility of a small enterprise’. It was a compelling idea clearly stated which propelled people into action.

The moon mission of the US achieved what it could primarily because of the motivational power of BHAG articulated by Kennedy,  “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal,
before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and
returning him safely to the earth.” Arvind’s statement about his reason for coming into politics is like a BHAG, clear compelling idea which has huge motivational force. Most organizations come into existence for some reason. But reasons differ in their motivational effects. Some simply get the people to work, some get the people to work better some get people to perform passionately with a sense of ownership and commitment. It is here one need to ponder over whether reason/vision strikes a chord with body, mind or soul. It is the soul connection that can only make a person to achieve extraordinary feat in ordinary situation. It is not the fear of reprimand that should guide behavior rather a sense of higher order achievement. It all depends on what mission a leader gives to its people to be a part of?

Voting is a job, a chore, a time consuming act. But to be a participant in transforming existing rotten political system into something just, equitable, corruption free is really a mission everyone would like to be a part of. It is like putting a man on the moon or to serve ‘rab de bande’ (people) by polishing shoes of devotees in a gurudwara. Consider how a menial job of cleaning shoes assumes higher order relevance and gives soul satisfaction in a place of worship. I am reminded of an anecdotal story of three mansions at the cathedral:

Three men were cutting granite from a large rock. The first one looked unhappy and restless and when he was asked what was he doing. He replied coldly that I was cutting the rock. The second one appeared to be little more engrossed in his job and was cutting the rock with more diligently. When inquired as to what he was doing, he responded by saying that I am cutting the stone out of the rock to make bricks for the wall. The third one who seemed to be engaged and appeared to be in love with what he was doing. Upon asking what he was doing, he replied that I am building a cathedral.  The moral of the story is that the job done by these men was the same but the attitude, emotion and passion differed depending upon what mission were these men perceived to be a part of.  

Cutting a stone or rock is less inspiring and lowest in the motivational force compared to constructing a wall but being part of a higher order mission of constructing a cathedral score on top. It is the job of the leader to give reason for doing a thing. When Arvind Kejriwal says that he or his party is here to change the politics or democracy of this country, he is giving an ordinary citizen to become part of an extraordinary mission.

The results of Delhi’s elections demonstrate the power of vision and mission


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