Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Past Comes to the Future?

I was having a lunch meeting in a 'very happening' mall when a young thing walked in. She wore clothes which...well she had some clothes! She did get a dekko from me, but nothing more than that!

I was wondering whether something was wrong with me. I looked around and I found I was normal, even others gave her a glance (a long one at that) and went back to what they were doing. This kind of body show had become commonplace, atleast to all of us sitting at Palladium!

Which got me thinking, the are going back to those days when people wore less clothes! Or are we actually adopting lifestyles/ habits which our forefathers practiced?

Our forefathers believed in promiscuity and there were no inhibitions around it. In the present context, the numbers of the promiscuity audience are increasing. Sex outside of marriage has become accepted. All forms of  sexual behavior  -Hetorosexuality/ Bisexuality/ Homosexuality are being increasingly accepted.   Just like the good old days! Adam and Eve - I think I know what you were upto.!

Organic food has become a fashion and a necessity. Long long ago, there were no artificial fertilizers, no booster shots, no chemical products....every thing was grown the natural way. More a necessity than a choice though! We seem to make big brouhaha about organic food and actually charge a premium for it. If only our forefathers knew!

At the rate people seem to be killing each other, I do wonder if anarchy has set in, just like our ancestors did, Killing was commonplace and with the increasing murder rate is an indicator of our 'back to the past' days.

There are other examples However I do believe that these are primarily in the social  & interpersonal space.

These maybe some indicators of the changing social barometer.  While we look to the future we seem to increasingly look back and go back too. This can also mean that we are going to a society bereft of many social values - good or bad I don't know!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Absurdity of SOPs

For any organization to survive, systems and processes are required. The larger the organization gets the more the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure). The more the number of  SOPs the more complex it gets and the more complex it gets - the more ridiculous it gets

A very simple formula:
Increase in  size of organization = Increase in number of  SOPs = Increase in Complexities = Increase in absurdity

A few years back I used to work in a MNC which had a great number  of  processes. Infact the organization took pride in it. Coming in from an ' Indian' company I was pretty much in awe of them!

A month or two when I was in the thick of things, I happened to be in a meeting where we had guests from other organizations. This meeting was of significant importance and this had important business ramifications for all of us.

Being the wonderful host that we were, we decided to offer our guests some hot beverages. We called the service staff and asked them to serve our guests the beverages. Pretty simple - all they needed to do was pick some tea & coffee from the nearest vending machine and serve it our guests (infact it was a part of their job). Much to our surprise and shock, the voice from the other side pointed out that 'according to the SOP you were supposed to  order for tea and coffee 24 hours in advance. Since this was not done the service cannot be done'

Shocked faces, followed by peals of laughter was the result. We had to sheepishly ask our guests to walk across to the vending machine and help themselves to tea and coffee. But surprises never end - when we reached our destination, we saw the same service staff enjoying themselves to same beverages!

SOPs can be a great provider of mirth. The other day I received the millionth call from a loan provider stating that 'since I had an excellent credit record I could avail myself of a 'huge' loan'. To which I replied that I would be delighted to avail it at 0% for an indefinite period.   Ooops! Not part of the script (SOP)! the reply I got was stutters , shock and finally ' how can we do that?' End of call.

There are many examples where all of us encounter such situations. And somehow this is only increasing.

I do respect SOPs and do understand the importance but there are certain limitations. They are good for things mechanical and technical. However it is not a panacea for all systemic flaws. Somehow SOPs have been used as a convenient tool of excuses, incompetence, procrastination and avoid decisions.

Organizations need to differentiate and understand the usage of SOPs. Use it where necessary and do away with it when it is not needed. Maybe that itself will call for another SOP !!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hypocrisy of Corporate Ethics?

Some years back a large MNC took an altruistic stance of terminating the services the employees who had arguably resorted to 'not so fair' measures to cut down on their taxes. For e.g. take a driver's salary when there was none, so on and so forth.

This was and is a common practice in India and I am sure many corporates turn a blind eye to such doings.

Looking at what the MNC did it was truly commendable and taking the moral high ground.

Around the same time the European Commission conducted an inquiry and concluded that the same company was abusing its dominance over the market it catered to. The company, it is said engaged in anti competitive actions thereby denying competition a fair marketplace and also the end consumer a better choice. A penalty which was by far the highest was levied on the company.

As far as memory goes, I did not see any member of the company resigning due to this. But in my eyes there was big misdeed and the fine levied was even bigger to show the enormity of the issue but no one terminated!

The organisation either has a skewed view of ethics or amnesia or a policy of convenience. If there is a law prevalent - it is to be followed in the letter and spirit and without exception. It reeks of hypocrisy and double standards.

The Age of Distrust and The Age for Trust

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