The Satisfactory Underperformance / The Zero Error Syndrome

S Bera
S Bera / 6 yrs ago /

Satisfactory Under performance / The 'Zero Error Syndrome'


By luck , chance or foresight and courage a company develops an effective and successful business strategy. The strategy fits the then market demand and matches the companies strength. As a result the company becomes highly competitive with growth and profits start showering in. Every other day the company creates records and history. The company booms into a stardom.


With growth and profits come recognition and celebration. Top managers of the company start seeing their face on the covers of the business journals. The big business schools write a case of their success. Soon they start believing all that is being said of them – They are the best managers , They are the star company. For comparison they look up some second class companies around. They start thinking that it is their brilliance that caused it all. They go on the lecture circuit to tell how they did it, despite great odds.


Sometimes second class industries call upon them for sharing their experiences , giving them heroic stature.


With growth comes the perceived need for better control. After all if they did it all ,they must continue to do it all to protect the success and build upon it.


As the company becomes bigger , to manage it all they need support. To collect all the information , to bring all the important choices and decisions to them they need subordinates. So they hire layers of staff as instruments to leverage their own brilliance in expanded organization.


The staff joins the business press in telling them how good they are , and it all becomes a positive reinforce cycle.


Being the best gives the managers the right to be arrogant not only with subordinates but also with the customers and suppliers. Why make a fuss if some little things go wrong ?. Don't you understand what a privilege you have in dealing the best ? The executives who used to take calculated risks quite often start believing in systems and rules. Lots of forms and formats are generated to set the company going steady. The bane of success starts damaging the fighting spirit. The fear of failure sets in.


The senior executives without understanding the pulse keep on telling 'Don't to get complacent by the success' but in the heart of heart they in fact are the most complacent one. They are afraid of taking decision. They have stopped exploring the uncharted land.


External arrogance and a focus on internal control soon stifle all initiatives and enthusiasm at the operating levels of the company. Those who can manage the politics progress , those who side with customers or employees or raise uncomfortable questions are seen as obstacles and are soon sidelined or better still , pushed overboard.


Compliance and fear take over from enthusiasm and passion. Employee starts feeling fear for making mistakes. Mistakes / Errors are taken very seriously by the seniors. This is the beginning of 'Zero Error Syndrome' . The proposals for big things / big initiatives / big risks goes into the hierarchical layers for approval never gets the nod as nobody dares to put the decisions. It becomes an atmosphere where people will prefer not to take decisions than taking a decision and face the music of censure and criticism in case it becomes a wrong decision.


Work is no longer fun. The growth literally halts. Gradually the company slips fast into satisfactory under performance and finally into acute crisis of 'Zero Error Syndrome'.


S. Bera


Ref: Prof. Sumantra Ghosal

S Bera / / 6 yrs ago
S Bera

first of all thank you sir for your comment.

my answer is:

if the passion for work is still left then there is high chance that the organization will move forward provided you (the leader or the ceo ) develop a concept or define a new working zone where three things will meet,

employees' passion for work , core competency of the organization & finance.

the passion spectrum will be little reduced, the core competency will be little reduced and finance will take a different shape to get into the band.

just like three overlapping circles and i am talking about and the common shaded area among these circles will be the new operating zone.

the whole organization will start operating from these intersecting zone. once done the organization will start rolling like a roaring river.

growth and roce both will start moving up.

on the contrary.
only passionate work will not be able to help . it will create more frustration and eventually they will withdraw.



DSampath / / 6 yrs ago

dear bera, 

the issue 

then is 

 how do 

you keep the oragnisation empowred 

where people love their work 

and perform not out of fear or greed .

 but out of their love 

for their work 

with passion.


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