Saturday, June 22, 2013

Better Than The Best?

Think you are the best in business? I don't know what to tell you, old chap. On second thoughts, I do. You are behind times. Really! Being the best in business is a prehistoric proposition that every enterprise worth its best practices have told you since one man accidentally coined that phrase. The man in question was probably something of a head-hunting hitman from the 30s with a penchant for PR that was at least 73 years ahead of time. From the days when businesses were run in ramshackle warehouses, and when the top management not only wore suits, but also carried Tommy rifles. To be the best in business, you only had to be good enough to kill the man at the top.

Times may have changed, but cliches remain the same. Everybody and their Facebook fans from Timbuktu claims to be the best in business. Even those who have no business to use that phrase. Just check out, search for management books, and count the number of times you hear the words "excellence", "best", "leadership"and "great". Oh and did you also notice that each of the aforementioned words are "bestsellers"? "Seven Habits Of Really Great People, " How To Win Friends And Become Great", " How To Hold On To Great, And Save Your Organisation From Being Reduced To Merely Good", " How To Protect Great With A Secure Payment Gateway So That Chinese Hackers Cannot Steal Your Great Ideas And Come Up With Great Imitations?"

I wonder what all this means. So are we to believe that good is not good enough. Is "good" a word that you'll only use to describe your bowel movement in the morning? Is it because there is no room for good in our lives? Have we transformed into beasts that only demand the best? The kinds who'd tell a certain artist from Venice, " While your work is impressive, you'll have to do something about that smile. The Target Group has no time to ponder over the question of whether it's a half-smile, or half-scowl. And can we please change the name from Mona Lisa to something that strikes a chord with the youth of today. For any product to come alive, it needs to be something that the youth want to be associated with, and whose pictures they'd share on Facebook and Twitter. So please carry out the changes that are suggested. And can you mail me the revised work tonight? I'd like to check it out first thing the morning."

I  believe this "striving for the best" is a creature that has also taken control of our lives, because we seem to settle for nothing less. When we buy a TV, it's the best. When we tune into a sports channel, it's the best. When we fix a match, it's the best...our money can buy.

The case is much stronger when people turn into parents. They only want the best for their child. Best school. Best fast food. Best dentists. Why, parents want the best for their children even before they are born. The minute they hear of pregnancy, expecting mothers stop doing things they normally do, like go to the best bars, drink the best booze, and nurse the best hangovers. Instead, they'd do things that are better, like go to the best restaurants, eat the best chocolates, and play the best word games on their smartphones. The belief being that when they are born, their babies will come fully prepared to take the GRE. But you don't have to take my word for it. Because I can't really call myself the best in business.