Mark Stiffler claims that his book on performance management is different from the rest. Dibyajyoti Sarma finds out what makes it so
There was a shoemaker once, and a very skilled one at that. However, he was so busy making shoes for other people that his own children had to go without shoes. Talk to Mark Stiffler, and he will tell you the story, before adding, "I did not want to be the shoemaker’s child." What he means is that he does not believe in empty preaching. "Unless you have done it yourself, you cannot advice people to follow it," he argues. Agreed. Charity begins at home.Mark Stiffler, founder, president and CEO of Synygy Inc, was in the city recently to launch his book on performance management, ‘Performance: Creating the Performance Driven Organization’. You don’t meet a CEO writing a book on management everyday, do you? And that too a young CEO!So, how did the book come up? As a solution provider, for last 15 years Synygy has been associated with top names in business. "I had the opportunity to observe the workings of different companies at close quarters," says Mark. "And what surprised me was the fact that these organisations are doing brisk business even without having a proper management system in place."At Synygy, Stiffler and his team specialise in helping companies turn performance management into a source of strategic advantage. "And you can’t achieve that unless you have tried it itself. At Synygy, we follow the rules every day, at least for last 10 years. The book is all about what we do at Synygy." You can call Stiffler himself an epitome of performance achievement. The only person from his family to visit a college, he not only completed MBA and obtained a degree in civil engineering but also started his own company in 1991, after a brief stint as a management consultant, simply because, he always wanted to open his own company.So what does it takes to start a company? Contacts? Capital? Ideas? No. Stiffler counters. "To start a company, the first thing you need a customer. Other things follow. At least, this is how it happened to me." He recounts how he scribbled out an idea on paper and sold it to a company. And then he went on hiring people from the money he received from the deal.That was 1991. Fifteen years later Synygy is a brand name, with its offices in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Romania and Pune, India, offering global professional services round the clock, giving clients the fastest possible implementation and minimising risks of scheduled overruns.Hence it is not surprising that he decided to launch his book in India, after it hit the US market in April. "India has a global market, to say that least. There may be people who will find the book useful." But who are Stiffler’s target audience? "Yes. The book is not for everyone. But anyone at the managerial level can use it to their benefit."Stiffler considers his book as the only comprehensive book on performance management. Isn’t it a tall claim considering every day we see a new book on management hitting the shelves of the bookshops? Stiffler’s answer is yes and no. "Yes, there are numerous books on management, but most of them cover only one aspect of organisational performance. It’s all in bits and pieces. In my book, I have discussed the issue in its totality." And isn’t it another self-help book? "Self-help yes. I have talked about techniques that can help enhance performance. But my book is not theoretical. It is based on the real life experiences that we encounter every day at Synygy." When it is finally written, the techniques turn something of a rule. So how Stiffler reacts to these rules now that it’s already public. He smiles and says, "Oh, there are so many things in the book that I want to change now. I want to give some more examples."Then, is Stiffler thinking of writing as an alternative career? Certainly not. "I am a very slow writer. I can’t write more than one page at a time. That’s why it took two years to write the book." However, he has been writing on and off for a long time now. "My publisher Wiley and Sons saw one of my papers in a journal and asked me if I can make it a book. I said yes instantly. How hard can it be, I thought. Now that I have finally done it, I can tell you it’s really difficult to write a book." Anything new in the pipeline? "I am planning a book on sales performance. The basic idea is the same as this book. Only that I am focusing exclusively on sales. And when he’s not writing and running his company, Stiffler has a passion for architecture. Finally, what does Synygy means? "Nothing," says Stiffler. It does not mean anything in any language. We were looking for a word that gives us zero hit in Google search. We were looking for a unique brand name.