Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Latest Management Technique By Dr. Hans TenDam

An audience listens enchanted to a wise and brilliant speaker. They leave in a daze, no idea what to do next. (Management by fads)

Nails are hammered in a huge wooden plate. Threads are stretched and wound between them. It doesn’t result in a recognizable picture. Grown-ups play children’s games without pleasure. (Unthinking application of management techniques)

These two belong together, though the first one is the province of empty-headed top people and the second one is the province of lightweights one or two levels lower.

Of course, most of these techniques are useful, few are useless. But usually they have a much more limited application than their champions advertise, especially those about leadership and motivation. There are as few recipes for keeping employees happy and productive as there are recipes for marital felicity. Even sensible approaches can be misapplied and become nonsensical. I have seen overhead ratios brought back and the percentage of productive functions increased to the detriment of over-all productivity. The once famous 7-S model of McKinsey was nothing more than a checklist with a gimmick. Again, even simple checklist can be useful if they draw attention to underestimated aspects of organizational health, but applying techniques without real knowledge of the work processes involved leads astray. With knowledge, interest and judgment in place, most new techniques perform. Without knowledge, interest and judgment even proven techniques lead to sham success.

Management literature is replete with reinventing the wheel, but now with a fashionable twist. Even one of the most worthwhile endeavors - applied system dynamics - can lead nowhere when the analysis is too broad or too limited. I saw a system dynamics analysis of the American intervention in Afghanistan that convinced me that the intervention was bound to fail. And what about strategic planning that doesn't show even an inkling of what a stable desirable situation could look like? I have heard brilliant negotiation experts rattling away their precious (at least expensive) teachings without any notion of the factual conditions of the negotiations the audience was involved in.

Enthusiastic proponents of new management techniques are most successful when they interface with critical and seasoned practitioners. That interaction is key to success. But often the prophets are into a conversion game, not a practical improvement game. When a company trading in building materials took over supermarkets for do-it-yourself stuff, they applied rigidly their proven success formula: to go for margin. They eliminated all articles that to them had ridiculous low margins. Within a year they had to sell their acquisition with great loss. They didn't understand that in such shops turn-over speed is a much more important indicator than margin. And they didn't understand that buyers leave when they have to visit several shops to get what they want. One-stop shopping is important for people involved in maintenance and repair and in home improvement.

See new management techniques for what they usually are: a new methodical viewpoint that gives a new and possibly useful view. But without knowledge and judgment of the products, services and activities involved it is just icing without a cake.

And why do I consider this a systemic problem? Because underlying is the decoupling of management from effort and responsibility, from the real world. There is no methodical solution to that problem, only a gross cleansing of all management layers, especially the higher ones. That only happens in Neverland. What happens in reality is bankruptcy in the private sector and what is euphemistically called restructuring in the public sector.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Life, Travel and Stories

Being so busy that a break feels awkward. Travelling so much that your city doesn't feel like home anymore. Then where is home? what do we want? Why do we work so much? What's the ultimate motive of everything? Questions questions. With lame answers. Rather, stereotypical answers. There are so many things we want to do. Or don't want to do. Money - whether you agree or not, at least to earn bread and have a roof on our head. And to travel. Yes. That's very important.

Travel. Gather stories. There are so many stories in different cities, different towns. Every person is a story walking on two feet. At times four. wherever you go. And they teach you so many things. They teach you to live, to be happy, to be content. They teach you something you never knew or imagined its existence. They teach you the difference between the good you and the bad you. They teach you to be you. 

You are taking a walk in some strange city, or sipping tea at a quiet joint in some small town. You see women and children passing by, or playing. A kid is selling tea, a woman is rolling a bidi, a priest is doing pooja for some foreigners, a man is breeding bees for honey, someone is distributing clothes and food in the temple, some people are feeding the pigeons - you notice this while sitting at one of the ghats in pushkar. The lady rolling the bidi offers you one too as she sees you staring at her. The priest can't help giving you a cunning smile when he sees that you are observing the rituals. The kid sees a tea cup in your hand, thus doesn't come near you. 

But most of the people around you are curious. Because you are sitting there alone, doing nothing. You are talking to strangers, letting them cheat the foreigners, sharing their simple life, eating from their plate, letting them see your so called fancy phone, buying one more tea as the kid passes by again. Yeah fuck acidity, that smile is worth anything. The pigeons stink but they still give you a perfect picture when they all fly together - hundreds of them. 

Yes, it's a different life. Something you wish you had had. They might also be wanting your life. Just might. Or maybe not. They are happy sharing their story. Don't ask you yours. Even if they do, it's never about your life. And why do we want their kinda life? Because we see happiness lurking around there. And that content feeling. And peace. And for all these things you travel. And gather stories. To learn something from them. To learn how to live. And be happy. You take the learnings and go back home.

Happiness and Peace - That's our ultimate motive. For that we can go to any extent. We may cry, laugh, stay alone, go out, travel, drink, smoke - anything. And yet it runs away from us. We may get it for a while but that's that. It lasts like a temporary phase. After that you are again chasing the peace. You again travel to a new location. You go back to get some new learnings, to find a new kinda happiness and a new way to attain peace. And life goes on.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

#GhantaWriter – A Contest



CampusGhanta brings to you a very exciting contest - #GhantaWriter. It's very simple to participate in it and some exciting prizes to be won.

Our themes are:

Music
Politics

For Music: Tell us about your most favourite music genre and/or artist, your favourite artist/band if you have any and why you love them, what are your favourite tracks by that artist/in that genre, why do you think they are what they are.

For Politics: Your political views - left, right or any other. We are an unbiased site.

The above given explanation is just an idea as to what you can write about in those topics. You are free to choose your own style of writing. Infographic articles are allowed. Share your story/article/graphic with Campusghanta.

If you can write, get rewarded for your writing. Participate. Share. Spread the word.

To participate and know the rules, please visit - http://www.campusghanta.com/latest/ghantawriter-contest 
 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Trust

It's been so long since I wrote something on this blog. I don't even feel like calling this a blog anymore. It's more like a "taken for granted" device for me. I come here, rant, vent out and leave. Without bothering about who reads it, what people think. Not that I write something offensive or malign anyone here, but still, writing senseless things all the time is worse than writing a hate post. At least a hate post will be worth reading.

People change. I say it every time in different words and tone when I write my thoughts. Yes, people change. Differently. But the impact is mostly the same. Every time someone misquotes you, you get angry. And lose trust. The cycle gets repeated. Every time something happens, you realise that there exists a new kind of trust. It was always there in you but you never realised it. You never realised it until it broke. And it cannot be mended again. 

You be with a person for years. At times the relationship does not remain at the same level. You have your own set of differences and priorities in life. But yet you are connected. There are some things you would want the person to tell you. There are some things you would want to know no matter what kind of relationship you share with them. Just because you have had a special bond in the past. You deserve to know some things. And when you find out that they were hidden from you, you lose that trust. 

The impact of losing trust can only be felt. It can never be described. You scream, you cry, but there is no way you will get it back. The worst thing is, you will no longer get it in anyone else. It kinda dies at that moment. And never comes back. 

When I look back in life, and think about all the incidents when my trust broke, and just for the sake of respecting the relationship, I ask myself what if the person comes back to me seeking forgiveness? Well, the person must think he is wrong to seek forgiveness at the first place. But still, being highly optimistic, if that's the case then what will I do? Will I forgive and let go? Or will I be firm about the decision that I have taken? My mind favours the latter. But the heart is still a bit partial towards the former. The reason is simple - if I am getting the thought then somewhere it's still there in my heart. All I need to do is let one agree to another. 

We set boundaries for ourselves in our mind. There is a tolerance point for everything. Most of the times people around you know that point. In some cases they are too dumb to realise it. But when you come across the specie that knows exactly what the point is, and yet pushes you beyond it, then dude you are screwed. And if you give in, then that's the end of the life you once dreamt. The person will step over you from hereon. Again and again. And you won't be able to do anything about it. Till he does something irreparable. And that will affect you more than it will affect him. He is just losing you, but you will lose something more than him. You will lose the trusting ability. And that's the end of one aspect of your life, forever.

There is no solution to this situation. I have rotten in it, so will you. I am trying to mend myself. If I do, I will let you know how I did it. If you have done it already, wait for a while before telling me. I am not yet ready for it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Duryodhana - Villain or Victim?

"What do you think about Duryodhana?"

"He was a bad guy."

When asked, this was the only answer I got to hear from people who have read/watched Mahabharata. We see what we have been asked to see. The good and the bad are defined well in advance. Everything comes in a box format. A box of right things, a box of all the things wrong. We choose what belongs to which box as per our convenience. We are easily scared. We call our threats bad or wrong.

Every villain was a victim first. Some chose the difficult path of trying to change what others thought about them. Parashurama was one such person who chose to change the world in the right way and became God. Most chose the easier route of Adharma that caused wars and destruction. Their acts have been defined as results of their karma and every outcome has been called Niyati (destiny). If you believe in this theory, then not a single person was a villain or a saint. Karma and Destiny chose them as scapegoats and humans ended up hating or worshiping them. Just to ensure that people kept worshiping the gods, they called themselves destiny. 

Every era had a villain loathed by people. Gods were born to kill them. Every Indian epic talks about one (or more) such villains. These villains were as intelligent, knowledgeable, learned and strong as gods. But they were the victims of injustice and partiality. Thus they chose the wrong path. Ravana, Karna, Hiranyakashipu, Duryodhana, Shakuni - name them and you will find the references about why and how they were the bad guys. Many authors have written about Ravana and Karna and tried to justify their actions. Most of these books call them good guys. Jain Ramayana in fact talks about how Ravana ended being reborn as their first tirthankara.

Mahabharata is probably the only Indian epic that has plenty of key characters with black, white and grey shades that changed the course of history. There have been plenty of books written by various authors about Krishna, Draupadi, Arjuna, Karna and the war of Kurukshetra. In each book, Duryodhana's adharma was highlighted. But what really made him a bad guy is overshadowed by his actions. Duryodhana was the reason why the great war of Kurukshetra took place. He manipulated in the game of dice with the help of his paternal uncle Shakuni due to which Pandavas lost everything including their wife Draupadi. But what was really his story? Why and how did he choose the path of Adharma over Dharma in spite of living among people who knew and preached Dharma. 

Duryodhana was the eldest of Kauravas. He was born to Gandhari and Dhritarashtra. When Gandhari accepted the marriage proposal, she was unaware about Dhritarashtra's blindness. She accepted her fate and went ahead with her decision, blindfolding herself forever. Gandhari's brother was unhappy with her marriage to a blind man, but kept quiet as his sister was going to be the queen of Hastinapuri post marriage. When the time came to choose the King, Dhritarashtra, who in spite of being the eldest son of the King Vichitravirya, denied the throne of Hastinapuri because he was born blind and Pandu was made the King instead. Shakuni, Gandhari's brother felt betrayed and swore to destroy Hastinapuri's prosperity and peace.

Time changed, Pandu went to a forest for hunting and ended up killing a sage and was cursed that he would die the moment he touched any female. He decided to renounce the kingdom and live in the forest as a hermit with his two wives Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra was the king now. Pandu would never bear any children through his wives due to the curse and it was certain that Dhritarashtra's child will be the next king. But again, destiny had something else in store. Kunti's son was born first and as per the rules he would be made the king when he grew up. 

This was the beginning of shaping up of Duryodhana's future. Pandu succeeding yet again agitated Dhritarashtra and Shakuni. Shakuni, the biggest manipulator, decided to create hatred in Duryodhana's head towards his cousins Pandavas. Duryodhana and his brothers bullied Pandavas, tried to kill them, humiliate them from time and again. Shakuni always told Duryodhana how Pandu and his children are the reasons he would never be the king. How Dhritarashtra was incapable as a king as he was blind and if Duryodhana didn't get rid of Pandavas, he would lose the throne to Yudhishthira.

At each stage of his life, he was fed with hatred, jealousy and envy. When Yudhishtira became the king of Indraprastha and Draupadi's palace was created, Duryodhana was filled with envy. His humiliation upon falling into the trap of one of the illusions of the palace made him hate Draupadi and he decided to take his revenge. 

At first, he tried to duplicate Draupadi's palace and failed. It irked him further. He was ready to attack Indraprastha when Shakuni stopped him and said that he had a better idea that will not only make Duryodhana the king of Indraprastha, but also make Draupadi his servant. 

Disrobing of Draupadi was the gravest sin that was committed by Duryodhana and supported by Karna. Some of the books say that Karna was the one who suggested that Draupadi should be disrobed while Duryodhana ordered her to sit on his lap. A lady could sit on the lap of only her father and husband. It was considered an insult if another man invited a lady to sit on his lap. After Dushassana's attempt to disrobe Draupadi, she cursed the Kauravas that all of them will be killed in the great war of Kurukshetra. 

The war was fought, Duryodhana was manipulated by his Uncle Shakuni through the war. By this point, he was blinded by his ego and power. He didn't fear anything as he was confident that he would win the war. He had strength by his side. Greatest warriors had sworn to protect him. These warriors were invincible. But slowly they all died. On 17th day of the war, Duryodhana was left alone. All his brothers were dead, Karna was dead, Bhishma was on the bed of arrows, Drona was dead. When Gandhari decided to make Duryodhana invincible, Krishna manipulated. That resulted into Duryodhana's defeat. 

Draupadi cursed the Kauravas that they would die and rot in hell. But a lesser known fact is that Duryodhana goes to heaven after his death. When Balarama comes to know how Bheem defeats Duryodhana in the mace fight, he curses Bheem to rot in hell for breaking the most important law of mace fighting that a fighter cannot hit his opponent below the waist area. He tells Duryodhana that he will go to heaven as his death was caused by committing adharma. 

If you think about his life, if you look at it from his point of view, he was nothing but a mere scapegoat even before he was born. His father supported all his actions, never stopped him from committing wrong. The blind king never bothered to create cordial relationship between his sons and the sons of Pandu who were his responsibility after Pandu's death. His Uncle Shakuni became the reason of his death just because he felt cheated when his sister was married to a blind man. The war of Kurukshetra was inevitable, but he became the key reason behind it. His entire life he was made believe that he was being victimised. He was a mere puppet in the hands of those with ambitions, hatred, grudges and manipulations. Because he was born for that and because he was destined to be so.

Was he a bad guy? Maybe he was, but he was made one and not born one. Karma and Destiny played their parts in changing his life from what it could have been to what it was. He committed adharmas, but you cannot overlook what led him to commit those. Again, it's not a justification to one's actions. It can never be. He was a puppet, in the hands of what was already destined.

PS: This post was originally published on CampusGhanta.