There are innovations which have an irresistible mass appeal. A brand name thus ends up becoming a generic name of a product class. Xerox is a ready example in the same genre. All those who take creativity and innovation seriously would notice that such developments happen only because someone identifies a latent demand and proceeds to do something about it. An organization culture which enables such endeavours deserves to be complimented and replicated.
X, Y and Z
The art of managing people has been analyzed in great detail by theorists in the past, and commendably so. McGregor was bang on target when he came up with the X and Y approach to managing people. Also, Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton came up with their Management Grid concept, where the X axis has “Concern for Production” and the Y axis has “Concern for People”. This proved to be a very useful tool to classify leadership styles.
With due respects to the brilliant work done by those mentioned above, one would like to make the concept of a Management Grid more contemporary by adding a new dimension, Z. This axis covers our “Concern for Ethics”.
When it comes to corporate governance, most businesses are driven more by greed than by the norms of propriety. Compliance with statutory provisions and indulging in tax avoidance rather than blatant tax evasion are given a short shrift. As a repercussion, we end up having more controls and complex laws, thereby making non-compliance even more attractive.
The good news is that there are indeed enlightened businesses and right thinking managers who score high on the Z axis as well. Such businesses have been around for more than a century and have done well for themselves; they have also given back to society in terms of advanced medical facilities, support to fine arts and sports and several other CSR initiatives.
They are to be found in all spheres of life. They have perfected the art of boosting the sagging morale and ego of their superiors, thereby securing better perks and intangible benefits for themselves. Due to close proximity to their bosses – whether perceived or real – they end up being king makers.
Smart bosses easily figure out how to remain at an arm’s length from them. The tricks they use to steer clear of yes-men: a discouraging body language, asking for hard evidence for all the charges being levied against someone who is absent and generally berating them on select occasions in public.
A vast majority of professionals decide to be ‘passengers’ and not ‘drivers’ in their careers. They are happy to behave like headless chickens, strutting about sounding very busy but with meagre results to show. Typically, they outsource the thinking part to brainy birds around them and lead a mentally sedentary but self-contented life-style.
Call them file-pushers, clock-watchers, head clerks or what you will – they do serve a useful purpose in keeping big bureaucracies running like well-oiled machines. They can also be groomed to become devoted followers for charismatic and dynamic leaders.
Organizations where the top management believes that any suggestion for improvement in a department emanating from another department amounts to interference and sacrilege tend to become like zoological parks. All subject experts get confined to their ‘cages’ or ‘enclosures’. Forays into another’s territory are frowned upon. This is a sure shot recipe for nipping creativity and innovation at the work place.
The biggest casualty of course is the hapless customer who has had the misfortune of buying a product which turns out to be defective. The incessant running from pillar to post he/she is subjected to ends up creating a market ambassador the organization could surely do without.