Corporate Resolutions

Seeing the ripples created by public figures coming out with their resolutions for the new year to much acclaim, large corporations, in time-honoured tradition, lost no time in copying a successful innovation and jumped in, with both eyes firmly shut, promising to make bigger, smarter resolutions. Sensitive to the needs of the marketplace and their employees, they promised to make these two constituencies the centre-piece of their respective resolutions.

Now, no self-respecting corporation can make an announcement of this magnitude without due deliberation. And due deliberation cannot be done in the stifling confines of an office. Large corporations, showing the way to the other, smaller ones, lost no time in arranging weeklong offsites to ponder over suitable resolutions for the year, though it was no longer new. The year we mean. In any case, when have such trifles dented the steely resolve of large corporations, especially when the resolutions are to be made at an offsite.

Companies with their head-offices in the cold north, yearning for sunny climes, booked offsites on beaches in the southern parts, the main criteria being that distance travelled should be the greatest and also that they could come back and complain about the hot and humid weather.

Great minds think alike they say. Companies with their head-offices in the sunny south, missing out on the bite of the cold and frosty north, booked offsites on mountain-tops and hillsides in the shivering north, the main criteria being that distance travelled should be the greatest and also that they could come back and crib about the bitter cold.

Many a reputation was made or marred during these week-long deliberations that were often heated and emotional, owing to the importance of the matter at hand. It often required introspection, an activity that most were totally clueless about. Many a searching question about past performance was asked and answered with a resolute “I don’t know”, regardless of who it was addressed to, putting an indelible seal of belongingness on the person answering and adding to the bonhomie that is an essential prerequisite to the success of a gruelling offsite.

Setting the ball rolling, a leading newspaper publishing company has resolved to reduce the news to less than 10% of the space available in the paper. In a joint declaration, the entire senior management has apologised to their readers and accepted responsibility for having permitted almost 20% of the space to news in the past year. In a further indication of the seriousness of their intent, they will only publish news with the clause “this was first reported in this paper three weeks back”, even if the news happened for the first time ever on that day. In yet another demonstration of their intent, they have also resolved to provide meaningless and sensationalistic interpretations to all the news published.

Their main competitor, upon hearing their resolution, has decided to shut shop. For many years they battled against gossip and pictures of celebrities, they battled against misreporting and sensationalisation of news, they battled against customer distaste for reading news, and lots more, in the interest of providing fair, impartial news to people. But this new onslaught, of creating newspapers almost without any news, has taken the wind out of their sails. They have no means of coping. “You cannot fight genius”, they have reasoned, and shut down.

Meanwhile, at another upscale resort at a nearby beach location, a leading bank gathered for their resolutions meeting, has been besieged by health issues. Not used to working a full day, unless punctuated by long lunches, leisurely coffee breaks, and deep-breathing while pontificating on the future of the financial system which never comes true, many senior staff gathered for the meeting have had breakdowns. Not known to buckle down in the face of adversity, they have stuck to the task and shifted their massage tables to the beachside so that the brainstorming sessions can continue uninterrupted. And, in a typically aggressive, though slightly unexpected move, they have resolved to fix one of their biggest issues of the past year. Under pressure for the escalating NPAs (non-performing assets, typically loans that do not get paid back), they have resolved that henceforth they will only lend money to people who don’t need it. As it requires an entirely new skill-set, they have also resolved to upend their entire management team and induct new people who will be able to identify borrowers who don’t need to borrow money. They hope that by so doing, NPAs will marginally reduce. The Central Bank has come out lauding their resolution.

The nation’s leading telco has resolved to take customer service to the next level through the introduction of a new VRU (Interactive Voice Response Unit) that does not even need the caller to listen to the automated command. When a person calls for service, he will be greeted by a command “Press any key to continue”. Naturally, the caller will press any key to continue. The next command will be “Press any key to continue”. At each pressing of “any key” the same command will be heard. Soon, the customer will not need to listen to the command to “press any key”. Development has been initiated, at great cost, on the software that will enable this facility.

A leading Call Centre, bogged down for years in the mediocrity of billing only 100% of the hours logged by agents, to the client, has resolved to break free of the pack and get out of the rut. They have resolved to ignore the voice of their conscience and bill the client at least 125% of the actual hours logged by their agents. The market has cheered. Their stock-price has gone through the roof.

A leading Life Insurance company, whose management team came to the offsite with high hopes, has struggled to make a resolution. All worthwhile things their company could do, like selling Life Insurance, have already been done. Many times over. Not willing to accept defeat, and not prepared to go back empty handed, they have finally agreed to resolve to keep spending money foolishly and keeping costs high so that employees can be constantly kept on their toes and frequently upbraided for the deteriorating financial situation of the company. Demonstrating steely intent and speed, even before departing from the offsite location, they have hired a leading consultant to run a workshop to teach employees how to spend money foolishly.

It is not that resolutions can only be made only by companies doing work. Even consulting companies were there, keeping tabs on every resolution being made and changing the language to make it their own. A leading management consulting company has come out with resolutions for each and every industry. But this company struggled to come up with a resolution for their own business. Last year they had pulled out all stops and given the slogan “the power of one” to the industry to help turn their businesses around from profits to losses. This year, after much analysis and presentations, they have finally resolved to recommend the addition of the word “global” to the name of their clients to help turn their businesses around.