Sunday, May 18, 2008

People without Vision Perish

My idea of a company I would like to work for is what I have been trying to materialize through Zyxware. A company which would give its employees a lot of freedom and flexibility in what they do and when they do; a company where people would have infinite potential for growth; a company where people could have all the opportunities to learn whatever they wanted to learn; a company where people would have the freedom to fit their abilities to the opportunities available; a company where capability would be rewarded more than anything else; a company where friends work together for the heck of it; a company where working is fun; a company where employees share the profits.

Since inception we have hired a total of 15 people at Zyxware. Of these 6 have already left the company. In spite of my best efforts, which have been quite aligned with my vision described above, people have left the company. I am neither angry nor sad nor depressed that these people have left the company. Even though I had mentioned about a 2 year bond at the time of signing up these people I had not actually made them sign an agreement for the bond. The reason was simple. If I cannot hold a person in the company just with the vision, the work ethics, the environment and the actual work involved, then there is no point in holding them back with a bond.

Working for a small company is a risky proposition. The only way the risk can be mitigated is to work for the quick growth of the company. The company has been growing quite steadily in terms of market reach, internal capabilities, internal processes, brand value, brand recognition, generation of opportunities. Working for a small company is like digging an oil well. You have to work really hard with little or no returns on your effort until you strike oil. You wouldn't know when you are going to strike oil and once it does it would take only very little effort to get the oil out. The faster you dig the earlier you strike oil. If you quit before you strike oil, it would be tragic if you were only inches from the oil when you quit.

I am very confident about my vision and the possibilities of Zyxware. I know that it is just going to be a matter of time before we strike oil. It is one thing to dream about something and it is quite something else to make another person dream the same thing. I have been trying very hard to infuse this into the employees of Zyxware. I know that I have succeeded partially with this (only partially, as suggested by the attrition). One particular factor that I have identified as a common reason for employees (in most of the cases) leaving the company was the immense pressure from the families and friends of the people who have quit because they had no clue about the vision behind the company nor the prospects of making money in the Internet domain.

I am very confident about my oratorial abilities and I have seen sparks of excitement whenever I had shared my vision with my team. However from the attrition rate I can see that this vision has not quite managed to percolate in any level to their parents or friends. It is sad that even in circa 2008 people in Kerala make collective decisions about careers even in the case of people as old as 28. Again it should be noted that nobody is truly fully not responsible for their decisions. Friends and family can only influence decision making. Decisions have to be ultimately made by the people themselves. This again points to another peculiarity of Kerala culture. Most people are easily influenced and most people do not have solid convictions or opinions on their own.

There is a verse in The Bible that goes "People without vision perish". This is what I have to say to the youth of today. You have to have a vision and then follow your vision with your passion. You would already have increased your chances of phenomenal success, several fold by this single point of action itself. Life is not just about the mean, it is also about the extremes, because without the extremes the mean would have been something else. It is always better to be a leader than to be a follower. But then you will always need followers for leaders to exist. So we need both leaders and followers. Those of you who think that you should be leaders should try their hand at it and those of you who think that they are not suited to be leaders they should rather not and just be good followers.

I am not at all dejected by the fact that these people have quit the company. I hope that once the company gains a little more brand recognition, the possibility of grand success would reach the family and friends of my employees and in turn bias the decision making in the company's favor rather than against it.


  1. Hi
    It is difficult to take a critical look at one's own brainchild. Reading the first two paragraphs of this blog, you have done that. It always gives a sense of balance in what one is doing to have a periodical critical look (or should i call it self introspection ?) at what one is doing to have a good appreciation of where one wants to reach.

    Then ,the other comment about not having firm conviction about the ideas. I would not call it peculiar kerala phenomenon as you have described. I would rather put it as the dilemma of the younger generation (starting from late teens to early thirties. Afterwards it matters little). But keep the flame burning to light the way for scores of youngsters!


  2. @Srikanth

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. Regarding the vision problem in the young generation, I would attribute it more to social conditioning than an age related issue.

    Take the simple case of a young man/woman living with his parents. The young fellow will not have to take any critical decisions under such a scenario. So how in the world will he ever learn to do that?

    Vision is also similar. Unless you let your mind roam free, you will not get that. Under restrictive environments that does not happen.

    Yet another problem is the collective decision making habits. Yes, these systems provide a safety net for young people by preventing extreme failures but at the same time it will prevent extreme successes as well.

  3. I like ur guts,people like u should win,all the best :)

  4. @Gov - Thanks for the wishes. Perhaps you might want to take a look at this post on wishes :)


  6. U r right, teenagers should be given there space to make decisions.

  7. Not sure whether providing all opportunities to learn and freedom to map abilities to opportunities etc were the causes. Sorry, I don't mean to hurt your Vision in any way.
    My experience is also similar. I think, Employees working in smaller companies in technology sector, have a very fast learning curve since they have all opportunities to learn. When they reach threshold of learning, suddenly they think about their market worth and forget about Vision / Mission etc.
    Youngsters do not have the patience to wait & see. (Vision problem)

  8. @Harry,
    Yes it is a vision problem. More than that, the problem I see is that, as mentioned in the post, people allow their parents and relatives to take decisions for them and override their personal vision. The root cause, I guess, would be that their vision was not strong in the first place :-)

  9. People without vision perish, unless they switch to a blind desktop, like blinux, oralux, orca, and so on.
    people without hearing perish, unless they learn to read lips and sign language. that is a vision, a linux distro to learn to read lips and sing language.

  10. You have a very flexible outlook and flexible values so the kind of people you attract are going to be flexible types and not committed types. You need to re evaluate your values as a company. You attract who ARE not who you WANT.