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Archive for April, 2019

Plumtopia

‘…he [Barmy] would have been the first to agree that he had never been one of those brainy birds whose heads bulge out at the back. Some birds bulged and some birds didn’t, you had to face it, he would have said, and he was one of the birds who didn’t. At Eton everyone had called him Barmy. At Oxford everyone had called him Barmy. And even in the Drones Club, a place where the level of intellect is not high, it was as Barmy that he was habitually addressed.’

Barmy in Wonderland (1952)

1952 Barmy in Wonderland (UK title) mycopyCyril “Barmy” Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced Fungy), a member of Wodehouse’s famed Drones Club, stars in two stories of his own.

‘Tried in the Furnace’ is a short story from Young Men in Spats (1936 UK edition), and a great favourite of mine. Barmy and fellow Drone Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton retire to the country to rehearse their act for…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer 

The rich repertoire of our century-old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani ragas. There is no denying that the reach of Hindi films and Hindi film music in our country is far beyond any other form of music. Therefore instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to a select audience with in-depth knowledge of the technicalities of classical music, our music directors draw inspiration from our vast legacy to compose either semi-classical songs or just touch upon the raga lightly. 

These subtle modifications in the raga allows them to compose apt songs to suit the mood and setting of  the story and the character keeping in mind the visual medium of cinema. Therefore, such compositions not only help to enhance the appeal and reach of these ragas to the large…

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Vision and Mission Statements of corporates adorn their walls and can be readily copied. However, the value system of an organization is not something which can be copied very easily. It permeates the entire organization – its hierarchy, its various divisions or departments. It rubs off on most of its employees. Even service providers and supporting manufacturers get tuned to the same frequency.

Our youth are already reeling under the impact of latest technologies being unleashed on the unsuspecting work-force with gay abandon, leading to drastic changes in the skills required to survive and do well in the times to come. Were they to decide to join an owner-driven smaller business, it would be wise on their part to be aware of the nature of values that such outfits could be following.

Those who get hired by such businesses are the ones who offer willing service and selfless cooperation, even to the extent of taking pay cuts when they are told that business is in the red. They need to be quiet, respectful and deferential by nature. They need to have an adventurous outlook on life and be always prepared to receive a pink slip at a very short notice.

Employees are expected to be timid and behave like worms endowed with a backbone made of cottage cheese. Smarter ones who have backbones made of sterner stuff would be inclined to look for greener pastures within a few months of joining up. Those who somehow survive longer would soon find getting hauled out unceremoniously, much like worms found floating on top of a bowl of chicken soup meant for the Lion King.

While entering the company campus, the employees find it worth their while to leave their ego at the main gate. A doormat-like behaviour alone ensures that they do not suffer the spiritual anguish like that of the person who, having grown accustomed to opening the crackling salary envelope on the first day of each month, reaches out for it one day and finds it empty.

When securing a job offer, only the naïve ones amongst us would expect to be issued a formal appointment letter. As to firing, the axe could fall any time anywhere, irrespective of the length of service. A person who gets fired would do well to not only forget about any parting compensation being shelled out but also give up hopes of ensuring that the money deducted towards provident fund etc has indeed been deposited with the regulatory bodies. 

When asking for leave, they need to deploy tact and delicacy. Long vacations are obviously ruled out, simply because the stiff-upper-lip visage of the Lion King simply discourages such inane requests, work-life balance be damned.

The proceedings are invariably of a nature as to create an inferiority complex amongst its employees. Whenever anything goes wrong, even if the decision had emanated from either the Lion King or a member of his family, they willingly take the rap and get frequently ticked off by the top brass. Over time, they start resembling one of the more shrinking and respectful breeds of rabbit.

One of the values which some owner-driven companies find difficult to imbibe is that of respecting its people. Employees often get treated like chattel, getting hired and fired based on assessments made either in the bedroom or on the dining table of the owner’s abode. If the mood of the Lion King fluctuates in tandem with either the Dow Jones Index or the Sensex, the employees feel as if they are always on a roller coaster ride.

An incoming employee is never permitted to meet the outgoing one, thereby ensuring that negative vibes do not get passed on from the latter to the former. Inevitably, this ensures that past experience continues to get lost. Continuity in systems and procedures becomes a victim. Each incumbent keeps trying to reinvent the wheel.

When a meeting gets called, the Lion King alone presides. When he throws out a statement of opinion, a respectful silence prevails. He looks about him expectantly. This is the cue for the senior Yes-Sheep to say yes. He is followed, in order of precedence, by the middle-rung Yes-Sheep and then the junior Yes-Sheep. Then the turn of all the Nodder-Dormice comes. They simply nod, one after the other.

When the Lion King delineates a new business plan, he merely informs. He directs the Marketing-Monkeys, the Production-Bovines and the Supply-Chain-Management-Goats to get down to their respective tasks without delay. The Human-Resources-Canines are told to take care of their part of the work, while the Finance-Felines are told to keep a sharp eye on the collections against invoices raised by the Marketing-Monkeys. The Research-Pachyderms are exhorted to keep coming up with innovative products and services. The System-Giraffes are advised to ensure that the high-hanging fruits of the latest advances in technology are made available to the team. The Liaison-Fox is tasked to see that all regulatory permissions are in place well within due time.

All this is not to say that all smaller outfits fit the pattern outlined here. There are many others who respect the people who contribute towards their goals. But if one does willy-nilly get stuck with one of the obnoxious kinds, one can work with a sense of true detachment and seek greener pastures at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Working in a smaller outfit has some unique perks as well. Besides being able to observe the core business processes at a close quarter, one is apt to face mighty challenges, thereby growing spiritually. One can pretty soon evolve into a Spiritual Manager who practices detachment and handles tough situations with alacrity and equanimity.

Peter Drucker, the renowned management expert, has this to say about imbibing spiritual values:

‘The individual needs the return to spiritual values, for he can survive in the present human situation only by reaffirming that man is not just a biological and psychological being but also a spiritual being, that is creature, and existing for the purposes of his Creator and subject to Him.’

Different organizations sport different cultures, presenting an interesting rainbow of values. The most prominent colour in such parabolas of joy happens to be black, denoting profits. The most disliked colour is obviously red, a prospect which leaves many a business owner and CEO cold in the feet and shuddering.

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  1. Mahatma Gandhi held that “To remake ourselves as human beings, our greatness lies not so much in remaking the world – which is the myth of atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
  2. Jacquelyn Small, the French psychologist, stated, “We are not small human beings trying to be spiritual, we are spiritual beings practicing to be human”.
  3. Proust: We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
  4. Johann Goethe: Self-knowledge is best learned not by contemplation, but by action. Strive to do your duty and you will soon discover what stuff you are made of.
  5. Albert Einstein: The only source of knowledge is experience.
  6. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr: A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

(Yours truly has contributed some of the chapters in the book and has also edited it.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/some-quotable-quotes-which-appear-in-the-book-on-leader-mindsets-part-2)

 

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