Sunday, June 15, 2014

Exiting with grace

Once one's time is up, one should quit gracefully. This is a time-tested principle that ensures that one's reputation is intact. Adherence to this principle is often an indication of professionalism. Non-compliance arises from unrealistic self-images.

No one can deny that Narayana Murthy contributed in a big way to the success of Infosys 1.0 However, his second incarnation in the company was an avoidable mishap. In particular, his utterances while severing his connections with the company (save of course his share-holding) are difficult to justify.

In his farewell address, he claimed that he had completed his twin mandate of setting things right at the company and of helping find a new CEO. Is Infosys better off today than when Murthy made his second entry? How many top-level executives have departed in the meanwhile? Is this his vision of setting the company right? Is he not merely trying to justify what he has done or more precisely what he has failed to do in the last one year?

He defended his decision to let go employees emphasising that 'some of them were low performers'. This defence is inappropriate at two levels. One, he did not let them go. Rather, they chose to leave. It is despotic to imagine that they needed his permission to depart. The Board should introspect why managers left in droves. Secondly, accusing the departees of 'poor performance' is sour-grapeism.

Murthy also spoke of his bold initiatives that will help the company in the long term. A person of his caliber and achievements can afford to boast less. He praised  his son as the author of his recent moves. If Rohan Murthy has indeed played such a prominent role in management, this is contrary to what was assured when Murthy brought his son along.

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