Sunday, October 20, 2013




A few months ago, on a lazy Sunday morning, sitting under the shady trees of the cool green Wakad Park on the banks of Mula River in Pune, a very creative friend of mine, Dhananajay Joshi, an ex navy buddy, told me about his theory that that there are three types of professionals and senior executives:

1. CV Builders

2. Empire Builders

3. Institution Builders

Since he had to rush to Mumbai, he said that he would elaborate more on the subject the next time we meet.

In the meanwhile, I wrote about it briefly in my blog:

This morning, he called me up from Mumbai, and sent me an article on the topic by email.

So, here is a “guest post” - an article by Dhananjay Joshi titled: Running with the “In-Surs” And Hunting with the “A-Surs”

(An Article by Dhananjay Joshi)

I study people in a non-scientific way.

A scientific probe robs people of their colourful humanity.

Maybe, my results lack repeatability, and, cannot be independently validated, but they are as interesting as the people I study.

(Notice I used the word “people” instead of “subjects”)

People in corporations can generally be coloured in two shades of grey:

1. Those who are “in-sur” (musically in-tune) with organizational objectives


2. Those who are “a-sur” (out of tune) with organizational objectives 

It is tough to identify either, because shades of grey blend.

Let’s make this task a little more black and white.

In most corporations, it’s easy to discern three people categories:

1. The CV Builders.  The only reason they work for is because it would look good on their CV. They are like butterflies. After the nectar from a flower is exhausted, they move on to the next. They have great drive and are ambitious. They are totally “in-sur” with themselves. It’s tough to say that they are not “in-sur” with the organization. An “a-sur” masquerading? Shades of grey?

2. The Private Empire Builders.  They love to create private empires with themselves as alternate power-centres. Just like a spider. Any movement in any department is reported to the centre. The spider creates this web, by promoting mediocrity over meritocracy. Mediocrity for ever remains subservient to the central spider. The boss now needs to negotiate with the alternate power centre to execute a project. It’s tough to say that the spiders are not “in-sur” with the organization, but the “a-sur” in them needs to be satiated first.  Shades of grey again.

3. The Organization Builders.  The reason they are still there is because they believe in the organization. These are the guys who actually speak up in meetings. To the “a-surs”, these guys are committing hara-kiri by speaking-up. These guys speak-up because they believe in what they say. They are so involved in the project that, pleasing the boss does not occur to them. They have enormous drive and little personal ambition. They are “in-sur” with the organization’s objectives. Now we are moving to the black and white.

If it is about moving to black and white, let’s look at it from the point of view of drive and personal ambition.

Visually it would look something like this.

The IN-SUR versus A-SUR Grid

Revisiting the CV Builders – they obviously have high drive, which is good for the organization. What differentiates them is that also have very high personal ambition. With high personal ambition comes the need to control and dominate others.  And anybody who finds the need to “enslave” others is “a-sur”. They do not see the need to “enroll” people instead.

The Organization Builders have low personal ambition, which works very well for the organization itself. They find no need to “control” others; what drives them is the ideation process. These guys often undersell themselves, because they do not know the art of hard-sell. The organization values their worth, but does not promote them. They are soft targets for the “a-surs”.

The Private Empire Builders have low to medium drive, but high personal ambition.  Their agenda naturally veers towards filling the drive void. These guys take refuge in being the alternate power centre. Their need for control is satisfied by being the spider.

In this scenario, a CEO has a tough task: – running with the “in-surs” and hunting with the “a-surs”.

(Dhananjay Joshi would love to receive your comments and feedback by email at: )

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