Organizational development

Indigo Fracas – Flawed Disciplinary Action

Indigo Airlines flew directly into a storm kicked up on the ground! Two Indigo staffers were caught on video trying to pin down an abrasive passenger. This was a fight more common among kids at school. Not at an airport. The incident happened in mid-October. The video, shot by an Indigo cargo handler, came out in November. Curiously enough, the cargo handler was removed from the job. As per Indigo’s public statement, he had instigated the other crew and was directly responsible for things coming to a head. Still, no matter what the cargo handler did, there is no way the people who actually got physical can be let off the hook. This is where Indigo seems to have gone completely off the radar. Let us accept for now that the cargo handler was the instigator. Even if that was the case,were the two other staffers such mindless automatons that they would just follow someone’s bidding, even if that be of their own supposedly senior colleague. Indigo claims the staffers used force to rein in an out of bounds passenger as a matter of…

The Elphinstone Stampede – Getting back on our feet

On 29th September 2017, an overcrowded foot over bridge at Elphinstone railway station, Mumbai witnessed a horrific stampede. 23 people died. What can we, as a society of organizations, do in the aftermath of the Elphinstone stampede? Let us explore the way forward using systems thinking. It might be a good idea to start with a description of the mental model we carry in our collective consciousness. Mental models are the very foundation, the source of how we create our own social reality. Mental Models Here is an articulation of the current mental models as I perceive them. ” Mumbai is the city of dreams. The financial capital. The corporate hub. Everything worth striving for is in Mumbai. We must go to work where the offices and establishments are. The best way to travel? The Mumbai locals – hands down. Cheaper & faster than anything else. Sure, it’s risky. Rush-hour.Packed trains, people falling off, getting run over. Part of the deal. We have made peace with it. Brave everything you encounter because there is a job to be done and food to…

Why clarifying stakeholder expectations matters to HR

Every organization talks about people being its most important asset. If they walk their talk, the HR ( Human Resources) function would also be the most important function. Why? because everybody assumes, HR -as the name suggests – is all about people. The reality is that HR is nowhere secure about it’s presence in the scheme of things. Clarifying stakeholder expectations is a good way to plot HR on the map. Here is a Q&A format exploration of the same. Have taken HR in the public sector as an example – with three primary stakeholders – employees, officers and unions. HR in A Public Sector Undertaking What is the Fundamental expectation of all stakeholders? Answer: Make it easy for us to perform our core task & validate the very reason why we exist. Why do the stakeholders expect this from HR? Answer: Human beings are the life-giving element of any enterprise. All capital,equipment & resources are deadwood unless human beings engineer sparks of performance by working together. HR as a function begins its work on this premise. This helps HR…

Why Feedback falters

“So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.” – Peter Drucker As a trainer, as you grow older, you may not become wiser. But you begin to think and wonder if you ever thought about things before! What was I thinking of when I asked people to use ‘sandwich technique’ for feedback years ago?! Praise first, Criticise again, End with Praise. Who was I kidding when I asked people to not focus on the person, but focus on the behaviour. That keeps it specific and makes a person less defensive, I said. Both are specific suggestions, much lauded. Both reduce things to a formula. And formulas and human interaction; never have the twain met! What is wrong with the ‘sandwich technique’?  As a feedback recipient, do you consider yourself a thinking person, someone who observes, learns and predicts? If you do, you know soon enough that here is a practiced technique on its way. Mechanical, contrived, and utterly predictable. And once you know what’s coming, you stop listening. I can very well…

The Number One Reason a Successful Founder-Leader does not Invest in Learning & Development

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few                                                                                                                          –  Shunryu Suzuki If a successful founder-leader is not willing to invest in learning & development (L&D) even after the organization has a settled look, this unwillingness can be traced to one’s own life-experience. These leaders successfully built an organization from the bottom-up and a full-fledged L&D set-up had nothing to do with it. As a result, the leaders reason thus : “If I could learn by doing, isn’t that the best way to learn. The results are there for all to see. What is the need for L&D” Such founder-leaders miss two important points. First. As business founders, they were explorers in virgin territory that held all…

A green office lawn gives me the blues

“Whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” – Jonathan Swift, Gullivers travels As I walked past the lush green office lawn, I felt nothing. Here was this pristine, manicured and lush carpet of grass. So well maintained.  Why did I not delight in the beauty of the whole thing? I soon realized. The sameness of it all put me off. All offices that have the luxury of surrounding space have a green lawn. A majority keep it completely off limits to maintain the picturepostcard look. What does it convey? What does it instill? Just across the lawn behind the glass facade are people being asked to deliver on disruptive innovation.  As they sit across their desks or move towards the window, they see a patch of green being kept the same. It is a hallowed piece of turf – sacred, not to be trampled…

Why organizations underachieve in leadership development

The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same – Colin R. Davis A recent report pointed how India Inc. spends so much on leadership development and succession planning, and still ends up importing CEOs from the outside. This is especially true of the technology sector. A lot of money and resources are going down the drain. Why does this happen? My assertion is this : The very context that organizations create for leadership development within their walls is dragging them down. Leadership development efforts are structured for 1) ensuring self-contained internal success. 2) escaping every stage, ongoing feedback from an external environment. And this creates a spiral of inconsistencies that feed off each other and jeopardise leadership development. We will examine five inconsistencies that flow from how leadership development efforts are structured for ensuring success and escaping feedback from an external environment. 1)  A Predictable hierarchy that has no bearing on unpredictable success. Leadership development requires a set hierarchy, a ladder with clear rungs visible to everybody from the bottom up. People need to see how they are going to…