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Intensity, Clarity, and Purposefulness

by David Brock on October 1st, 2009

This week, I have the privilege of meeting with a number of Ireland’s leading technology executives, thanks to the hard work of Niall Devitt and Donagh Kiernan.  Yesterday, I had the privilege to share the podium with two outstanding CEO’s, Kevin O’Leary of Qumas, and Paddy Holahan of Newbay Software.  Each spoke of building their companies and entering the global markets.  While they are in different businesses and have very different strategies, I was struck by some common themes that served as the foundation to their success.

The first thing that struck me was the absolute clarity of who they, as individuals, are; who/what their companies are; who their customers are and how they serve them; and the types of people they needed to have in place to execute their strategies.  Each had clear visions and goals for what they wanted to achieve.  They articulated them simply and succinctly. They didn’t need lots of charts, with too many words, and lots of contingencies or disclaimers.   There was was no confusion.  There was no “wishy-washiness” or second guessing.  There were no fall back strategies.  They knew where they were going and how they would get there.

Closely related to this was the purposefulness with the way they described what they were doing, how they were executing, and what they needed to do to achieve their goals.  There was no wishful thinking.  Each had carefully analyzed their strategies and what they needed to achieve their goals.  They were very thoughtful about what they were doing, having carefully evaluated alternatives. They carefully analyzed their own strengths and weaknesses, looked at gaps in capability, and took action to fill those gaps.   They clearly knew who their customers were and were not going to be diverted by short term opportunities.  While they didn’t express it this way, they knew the difference between good revenue and bad revenue, focusing their success on pursuing good revenue.  They weren’t random in their choice of strategy.  They focused on process–clearly defined and sharply executed.  They measured everything and had all critical performance metrics at their fingertips.  They ruthlessly protected themselves and their organizations from being diverted from executing their strategies.

Finally, the intensity, passion, and commitment with which they expressed themselves was overwhelming.  Paddy’s description of “staying the course through a ‘nuclear winter.’ ”  His confidence in the strategy and his commitment to give the organization the time to execute the strategies to achieve their vision was compelling.  Kevin’s description of his realization that the way he “sold” would not get them to where they needed to be and getting himself out of the way of his sales organization–empowering them to execute a disciplined sales process was fantastic.  No one could listen to their stories without being moved.  I think even a few of the execs were thinking of polishing up their resumes and looking to join.

Last evening I was reflecting on their talks and why I was so impressed.  I think it’s because I seldom see these three elements–clarity, purposefulness, intensity in organizations—all working at the same time—all working for a long time.  Too often, I see companies with a strategy du jour–a different strategy, priority, direction every day.  I see many organizations with processes in place–but they don’t use h process.  I see organizations with poorly defined metrics, low accountability.I see company’s not knowing who their customer is and how they serve them.  They try to be all things to all people.  They are willing to expend resources and chase every opportunity, even if it has nothing to do with the core strategies—but they probably don’t have any core strategies anyway.  Too many organizations don’t have clear goals and metrics, or there are few consequences for not achieving them.  When things are off, they makes excuses or change directions. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I work with great leaders and organizations that accomplish great things.  I see organizatins with outstanding strategies.  However, when you the intensity of clarity and purposefulness expressed by Kevin and Paddy, it’s inspirational!

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks, Dave.

    I think this article is an inspiration to those who want to make their own niche in the corporate world, as well as make a difference in the entrepreneurial initiatives.

    Keep sharing your helpful ideas!

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