PM Essence
Climbing Up the Corporate Ladder
– Author Preferred to remain anonymous

The author is aware that there are books and articles galore on the subject, each one professing to give useful tips and a series of lists of DOs and DON’Ts, life histories of successful people and the factors which enabled them to achieve their success. For instance Stephen Covey’s “7 habits” (or “7 mantras” as Madhavan Rao, Independent PM Consultant and author of ‘Steering Projects to Success’ would have put it!), and success stories of academic drop-outs such as Larry Ellison or Sir Richard Bronson are all inspirational reading material. This is not an attempt to add to this list, for it would the most preposterous thing to do, particularly by a person who never made it to the top in his active career, and is therefore least qualified to give advice to others. It is just an observation, made in a lighter vein (and therefore not to be taken seriously!) from one’s experience in the corporate world. 

It is noticed that one’s success in an Organization is conditioned by three ‘A’ factors, viz. – Ability, Ambition and last, but not the least, Ambience. The last term is meant to refer to what is known in common parlance as “having a Godfather”. Representing these factors as the three mutually perpendicular axes in a three-dimensional figure, A person located at the origin, who has neither the ability, nor the ambition, nor anybody to “pull him up” the ladder in the Organization, is a total Wash-Out (“WO”). It is a wonder how he got in at all,. He may either have to get out soon, or if at all he manages to remain, shall remain an “also ran” throughout his career.

However, if he enjoys the patronage of the higher-ups (“ambience”) in spite of having neither the ability nor any personal ambition, he would go up at least to the height allowed by the Peter Principle. Ultimately, when the ambience changes, he would inevitably get thrown out. Till then, he would remain a Fat Ulcer (FU”) in the Organization.

Next, we have the case of one with only ambition, but neither the ability nor the ambience to help him realize his ambition. He may also not last long, but while he is there, he will remain only as a Day Dreamer (“DD”).

Then, take the case of the type sitting in the third axis, viz. one who only has ability, but neither the ambition nor the ambience to help him. He, would be content to remain a Shelf- Sitter (“SS”). The Management would be happy to retain him for his ability, but when the time comes to hand out the rewards, he would be ignored for the most part.

Moving on to the “plane” people from the “axis” ones, a person who does not have the ability, but has the ambience to favour him, and at the same time found not wanting in personal ambition would be the Blue-Eyed Boy (‘BEB”). Like the Fat Ulcer, he would also be the object of justifiable envy from others, but since his strength is also ambience-based, he shall be displaced, just as Chairmen of Housing and other such Boards invariably are when political power changes hands.

Let us next consider the person, who has the ability as well as ambition, but lacks the “ambience”. It is obvious he is a Misfit (“MF”) in the organization. The sooner he quits, the better it is for him. He should look out for openings elsewhere or wait till the “ambience” changes in his favour.

How about the person who has the ability, and the necessary ambience as well, but is not ambitious enough? Someone wake him up, please, for he is the Sleeping Hanuman (“SH”), not knowing his own strength.

Finally, we have the person who is the most successful, the High Flier (“HF”), who possesses all the three attributes. He is the one who would go places. Since he is “flying” all the time, and cannot be represented in a two-dimensional sheet of paper, he has been marked with a circle. Are you one of this type?