The Last Mile…. These Boots!!

ShoesI know that it is a funny thing, to have a post featuring my shoes!! But, there is a good reason for this.

Now, when you are out of the corporate world for a while, you rediscover the use of your own legs and feet. I was at the India Composites Show last week, and on the first day of the show, I was wearing shoes that looked good, but could have done better in the comfort department. The second day around, I wore shoes that looked good, but were a lot more comfortable, and afforded me the luxury of looking around as I walked The Last Mile from the Pragati Maidan Station to Pragati Maidan, and the actual trade show.

It is amazing how the rediscovery of your own legs can make you more aware of what happens on the streets, in the trenches so to speak. And, as I walked, and saw the guards lolling around on their chairs, chewing the cud, I started to remember all the wonderful phrases that I learned as a child, and in the corporate world.

Last mile connectivity

Go the last mile“, we are exhorted, as young managers.

Yet, out there in the trenches, a different philosophy prevails. In China, the expression is “Cha Bu Duo” or “Less not More”.

In North India, it is “Unees Bees Ka Farak Hai”, or “The difference between nineteen and twenty”.

I don’t know the expression in Germany, the USA etc, but I am sure similar expressions exist, in the local slang

As long as it is close enough, it is fine. Perfection, closing the gap is not something that is needed. The guard has marked his attendance slip, and the paper trail is complete. The manner in which the duty is performed, is not something that needs to be monitored. This, of course, is a cynical comment. In my younger days in the consumer goods world, we had all sorts of mechanisms to measure whether or not the sales representative is working to the desired performance standards.

Then, you have motivational tools, to motivate people to perform better.

However, perfection is a culture that has to be practiced through the levels of management, and this does not mean that you need to be picky about every little detail. It means that you need to have pride in your work, and that this pride percolates its way down. It does not mean that you heckle people, even though monitoring is essential.

This is a tricky act to pull off – monitoring, without breathing down people’s necks, and getting them to perform because they want to perform.

I have attached a small map of Pragati Maidan, for those who are interested in figuring out where it is.

And, for the ones who’s memories go back to 1966, a song by Nancy Sinatra, just for the fun of it!


  1. A good walk always freshens the mind. In the office you sometimes get too caught-up in work and don’t go out for a break which is a mistake. You can solve many work issues on a 20 min walk, it brings perspective.

    I remember the sight of guards lolling about on chairs very well. Especially around in Connaught Circus in New Delhi.

    Anyway, excellent blog Rajiv and your shoes look well polished! Which is good for an article about perfection and discipline!

  2. I use to have a tendency to nit pick someone on something small and play off the major good they had done. I majored in the minors. They were important, just not majors. Great post, Rajiv.

  3. I try to celebrate the small victories b/c there is so much data and noise that take away from allot of good that occurs everyday. With so much inbound information, there is always improvement that can be achieved but I believe if I constantly fester my direct reports this critical information then it will stifle their development. So it becomes an exercise of priorities. What data is mission critical and what data can be put in the parking lot for another day. There is only so much information they wil be able to digest on a daily basis.

    1. I agree with you on this one. We do live in an age of information or, should I say, data, overload. It can overwhelm, and it is important to be able to retain focus

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