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ashokbhatia

A culture which is rooted in Consciousness does not throw up hapless leaders who keep burning the proverbial midnight oil in their relentless pursuit of commercial goals only, while shoving concerns such as the environment, the society and human resources under the corporate carpet.   It does not merely mean that our marketing honchos are doing their best in servicing our customers effectively and efficiently; instead, it implies that they do so while ensuring that the product/service as well as its packaging is environment-friendly.

It means that those toiling on the operations side design the processes in such a way that the carbon footprints are at least neutral, if not positive; that our financial wizards keep nudging the organization towards maximizing returns to all its stakeholders; and the human resource executives keep burning the midnight oil to ensure that people and processes respect human values and dignity, while keeping the costs…

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It is said that Mr. R. M. Lala, an editor, writer and publisher of repute, once commented to Mr. J. R. D. Tata that the latter believed in excellence. The great man is said to have retorted thus: “Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection; you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.”

But even achieving excellence is not a cake walk. Many leaders are not clear how to go about doing it. The mirage of excellence is elusive, and most often, it is not a surrogate for achieving outstanding business performance alone by measuring and surpassing business results. There is more to it than what meets the eye.

Satyendra Kumar’s book endeavors to answer this question.

The author shares distilled insights from his four decades of accumulated learning from various organisations to portray the fundamentals — that are often elusive —in building organisational excellence. 

This book is a valuable treasure trove of insights. It has the potential to enable as well as enrich the thinking process of business leaders when it comes to achieving excellence in a sustainable manner.

Elusive Secrets in Seven Chapters

The book etches out seven steps to facilitate the process of achieving excellence, each step being covered in a separate chapter.

The Foundation is obviously laid by a leader’s spark of genius beyond intelligence, evoking intuitive facets to nurture essentials that fuel a never-ending appetite for learning.

This leads to the concept of Learning Forever, which, in turn, instills a norm of Measurement and Predictability.  

A climate of learning and measurement provides an impetus for Productive Working that leads to a build-up of confidence across teams and groups entrusted with the task of achieving business goals. 

This brings out the criticality of The People Factor which is an important ingredient in creating a Culture of Improvement and Transformation.  

Last, but not the least, is the Invisible Backdrop of a deep purpose guided by values and ethics that the author presents as it loops back to the very essence in the acts towards building the Foundation.

Each chapter progressively enhances the value of the conversation with an elevated level of awareness, thereby igniting the intuitive mind to grasp what is relevant and necessary.

Every company eager to protect its soul and spirit for worthy outcomes could benefit from reading this book.

Author’s Profile

Satyendra Kumar has enhanced the quality systems for world-class global organisations with his contributions for over 40 years. He has served on several industry bodies and has received numerous awards in shaping the conversation for progress with his deep understanding of the systems view of an organisation that is a precondition for nurturing a culture of excellence.

Kumar today continues his passion by helping organisations strengthen their systems maturity by providing his rich experience as an Independent Advisor and Consultant to several large and medium-scale institutions and enterprises since 2013. Kumar was the Global Head and Senior Vice President – Productivity & Quality, Technology Tools & Software Reuse at Infosys Limited (2000 – 2013). He has worked as Vice President at IMR Global, the USA, between 1998 and 2000. As Deputy Chief Executive for Tata Quality Management Services – Tata Group between 1996 and 1998, he provided an intellectual impetus in laying the foundation for instituting the Tata business excellence initiative. Kumar’s rich experience spans his consulting expertise to over 50 national and multi-national clients in areas of Business Excellence, Operational Efficiency, Customer Satisfaction Management, Business Continuity Management, Project and Programme Management, and Quality Management.

He has served on many Boards and Panels such as Board member (QuEST USA), On the Panel of Judges – Wisconsin State Award (USA), Administrative Reforms Committee of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and Chief Technical Advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry – Institute of Quality. Has been a recipient of the IEEE-Software Engineering Institute (Carnegie Mellon University) International award (2011) and honoured with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Quality and Business Excellence” by an IT industry association.

Some Accolades

Satyendra Kumar’s relentless and unfettered focus on excellence played an important role in the high percentage of repeat business Infosys obtained from customers. This book is a distilled wisdom of his impactful journey at Infosys during 2000 – 2013 and many other companies during his professional career. I recommend this book to leaders, managers, and development professionals in any company to read it, learn from it, and deploy the lessons.

— N.R. NARAYANA MURTHY
Co-founder Infosys Ltd

Satyendra and I worked together at Infosys till 2009 … I believe his relentless pursuit of excellence played a seminal role in the evolution of Infosys. As you read through this book, you will get a glimpse of what I believe are the fundamentals that need to be put into place to aspire for excellence. The best part is that you will hear them from Satyendra first-hand! I hope that the next generation of leaders invests time and patience to learn from this work and find ways to incorporate it into their leadership, culture, and the basic fabric of their organisations.

— NANDAN NILEKANI

Chairman and co-founder Infosys Ltd, Chairman and co-founder EkStep Foundation

Achieving excellence in business is an arduous journey. One has to design for quality and innovation, and plan for longevity, a truer measure of business success. Satyendra Kumar, with his experience in steering quality movement in the IT industry, provides a practical guide for future leaders in building organisational excellence.

—  KRIS GOPALAKRISHNAN,
Former CEO and Co-Founder Infosys Ltd, Chairman Axilor Ventures

Satyendra Kumar’s book bestows upon the reader his wisdom, expertise, and countless years of professional and personal experience. We are fortunate that Kumar has taken the time to document his life’s work. One will learn from his many incredible successes and will also learn how to avoid or overcome difficulties he encountered over time. I enthusiastically recommend and endorse this book.

— STEVEN HOISINGTON,

Retired senior executive, leadership coach.

I have seen Satyendra Kumar in action for three decades. His unwavering focus on building a culture of learning and improvement with long term focus is amazing. This book elegantly reflects his experiences and should be leveraged by start-ups or established companies to instill these great practices for long term success.

— ARUN NARAYANAN, 

President and the Mentor, US Technologies Global Ltd

Despite the enormous body of literature from the academic and consulting worlds, Organizational Excellence is still elusive to most people. This book precisely addresses this issue through interesting anecdotes, case studies, and experiential stories. It reflects — how organisational learning, people caring, and ethical governance can lead to long-term organisational excellence and sustenance. Satyendra Kumar has nicely brought out many hidden facets that business owners and leaders born or made, and passionate entrepreneurs should read and take advantage of.

— MITALI CHATTERJEE,
Former Director General, STQC, Ministry of IT, Govt of India

A powerful and elegantly written book with deeper insights.

— MADAN MOHAN,
EVP Coforge Ltd

Satyendra Kumar has written an interesting book backed by years of experience. His narrative is experiential, giving guidance and insights into systems, implementation, and achieving organisational excellence. I recommend this book to everyone in the corporate world who wish to focus on organisational excellence.

— S.D. SHIBULAL,

Former CEO and Co-Founder Infosys Ltd

Satyendra Kumar as a practitioner and leader brings three decades of his rich experience relevant to businesses and business leaders of various types. Quality is not just a buzz word but is about its leaders, their values or ethos and purpose imbibed through a long journey is well brought out.  It was a pleasure for me to have been part of leading this journey with him in Infosys as well as relive that journey on reading it.

— K. DINESH,
Chairman AHT Foundation and Co-founder Infosys Ltd.

Satyendra Kumar has distilled into this book, decades of his experience in creating a culture of excellence in some of the worlds most successful corporations. His incisive and yet simple principles are relevant equally for large corporations and young start-ups. I have seen him passionately inculcate excellence in every aspect of business at Infosys and I am confident that the book will be a key guide for leaders navigating an increasingly competitive world. Each chapter of the book provides a vivid road map for creating excellence through pragmatic steps. A must read for leaders who aspire to create world-class organizations!

— M.D. RANGANATH,
Chairman, Catamaran Ventures, Independent Director, HDFC Bank

For Additional Information

https://striking-ideas.com/elusive-secrets

Links to Acquire a Copy of the Book

USA: https://a.co/d/3EDMaCy

INDIA: https://amzn.eu/d/crfISyg

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Can the works of P. G. Wodehouse impart some lessons to CEOs and managers in managing their affairs better? His fans are always eager to relive the moments of mirth and bliss experienced by them while going through his books and stories. However, those of you who are from the realm of management and are dimly aware of the existence of a British humourist known as P. G. Wodehouse would by now be shaking your heads in disbelief wondering how something dished out by way of making one chuckle, guffaw and laugh could have anything to do with the stiff-upper-lip discipline of management.

To the latter, one would say that humour is serious business indeed. It is bound to make us feel lighter but cannot be taken lightly. In the past, we have examined in some detail the question if humour is serious business and have found an answer in the affirmative. In an earlier post, we also touched upon the way management theories and practices have evolved over the past century and checked if there are any common points between such theories and what Plum dishes out by means of his scintillating works.

The Intellectual Halo Around Seriousness

The deeper reality is that we value seriousness and tragedy over humour and laughter. Our minds boss over our hearts. Seriousness somehow makes us sound more intellectual. Most of the times, anything humorous is treated by us as being frivolous and perhaps fit to be scoffed at on the intellectual plane. On campuses of high-brow seats of learning, it is easy for us to visualize absent-minded professors going about with a heavy tome or two clutched in their hands, with a morose look on their faces, as if they were just being led by an invisible hand to the gallows. At management seminars and conclaves, serious talks get applauded while a speaker conveying a plain vanilla message coated in delectable humour gets ridiculed for playing to the gallery. In companies, at board meetings, detailed power point presentations of a serious kind get appreciated, whereas anything said in a lighter vein runs the risk of being greeted with healthy scorn.

One admires such management thinkers as C. Northcote Parkinson, Sharu Rangnekar and Laurence J. Peter who have broken this glass ceiling and given us rich management lessons in a humorous manner.

In their book Humour, Seriously, Naomi Bagdonas and Jennifer Aaker debunk the myth that humour has no place at the work place. In an interview, Jennifer Aaker opines that leaders with a sense of humour are seen as 27% more motivating; their teams are more than likely twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge. When leaders use humour in their interactions with their team members, they signal humility and humanity, thereby reducing the status barrier between themselves and their audience. The goal of humour at the work place is not merely to make others laugh; it is to put people at ease, thereby enabling them to be more open and candid in sharing their opinions.  

Humour in Brand Management  

Consider the innovative way humour gets deployed by a few brands of repute to keep their images shining bright.

Since 1946, the Air India Maharajah has been representing India with charm and dignity, making the company more visible to its customers all over the world. Created by Bobby Kooka along with Umesh Rao of J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, it has kept pace with the times – as a lover boy in Paris, a sumo wrestler in Tokyo, a Romeo in Rome and even a guru of transcendental meditation in Rishikesh.

Likewise, we have the case of the Amul girl. The mascot was created as a response to Amul’s rival brand Polson’s butter-girl. The idea was conceived in 1967 once ASP (Advertising, Sales and Promotion) clinched the brand portfolio from the previous agency FCB Ulka. It was executed by Mr. Sylvester Da Cunha, the owner of the agency and his art director Eustace Fernandes on hoardings, painted bus panels and posters in Mumbai. The mascot, since then, has been mobilized to comment on many events of national and political importance.

Not to forget some of our politicos who have risen from the ranks after having been successful comedians, managing countries and motivating their denizens to stand up to bullying by oversized neighbours waging wars so as to widen their sphere of influence.  

If a lay manager were to pick up such books by P. G. Wodehouse as Psmith in the City, Blandings Castle and Elsewhere and Something Fresh and put them under a managerial lens, she is surely apt to discover a treasure trove of precious lessons in such diverse fields as marketing, entrepreneurship, operations, systems and procedures and human resources.

When it comes to the art and science of managing bosses, Rupert Psmith, Reginald Jeeves and Ashe Marson have created a few templates for a manager to follow.

The higher the level of entropy of our business environment, the higher would be the need for humour in business. As we march into the future, a Wodehousean approach to Management could help CEOs and managers in more ways than one.

(Illustration courtesy R. K. Laxman)

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  1. Introduction

“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of the work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for Inaction”. These are some of prominent verses of Shri Bhagavad Gita, which essentially convey the most significant human values that we must inculcate within us throughout this journey of life.

In this era of 21st century, where employees in the organizations are in a constant competitive space, trying to fulfil their individual and organizational goals, basic values which make up the human are often getting ignored. As Samuel Johnson, one of the prolific English writers quoted, ‘The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good’, explains the true quality that every human being should possess.

Values are basically the beliefs that refer to desirable goals that drive action. Our values are extremely important as they help us to grow and develop in the desired way. They help us to create the future we desire to experience. Every organization and the individuals working there are involved in making hundreds of decisions every day. These decisions are the reflection of our own values and beliefs and they are always directed towards a specific purpose. Thus, this purpose serves as the satisfaction of our individual or collective needs.

2. Present context in organizations

Technology is now ingrained at each and every step of our lives. Organizations have been keen on leveraging the maximum usage of these technological advancements and, thus, are looking out to a better diversification of their businesses. Start-ups have been rising at a tremendous pace, not only creating a competition to the established entities but also offering wide opportunities to the working employees’ segment. Thus, with such hustle and bustle in the outside world, most of the employees at any level or designation are today being compelled to only think about the results and achieving recognition in the market. While achieving the results is, undoubtedly significant, but focussing on processes is equally important. Today, in the quest of achieving more, higher managements can often be seen setting goals which seem impractical to achieve and employees while striving to achieve the same are seen as being being ruthless to their subordinates. According a study by Gallop across 27 million employees and over 2.5 million work units, it was seen that only 30% of the employees in US are actually engaged at work and only around 13% around the globe are engaged in the work at their workplaces.

3. Significance of Human Values in Organizations

Values are significant as they guide our beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. Realising, understanding, and staying true to our values is, therefore, one of the most important efforts that any human being can make. The same applies to our work places where the importance of values cannot be ignored.

When we say values in organizations, these can be perceived through two perspectives. One belongs to ‘Leadership Values’ which pertains to values possessed by the higher management in the organizations. The second one is the ‘Employee Values’ which is associated with the values possessed by the employees working in any organization.         

a. Leadership Values

i. Compassion and Patience

The higher management and managers in the organizations, today, should necessarily inculcate a sense of compassion and patience within them. Though the company’s goals and targets are equally important, at the same time, leaders must also realise that the employees working towards it should not get overburdened. A true leader must always have an understanding of employee capabilities and interests and thus taking these factors into account, one should shape one’s expectations from them accordingly.

Patience is another human value which gets ignored these days while getting the things get done. Leaders should precisely consider the work efforts required for a particular task and should also consider the employee constraints while working on it. Thus, having a perfect balance of compassion and patience, leaders in the organization will be able to achieve the results as desired without disturbing the employee morale.

ii. Self Confidence and Trust in Employees

In this rapidly changing technological environment, leaders often come across situations where they need to adopt or develop a completely new emerging application based on the requirements. In such cases, the leaders have to rely upon their past experience and have to find out ways in which the new application can be developed.

A sense of trust has to be built among the employees and higher management, where it is ensured that the employees do not feel exploited by the company. At the same time the management has to also ensure that they express their trust towards employees by offering them the required and expected rewards and entitlements.

b. Employee Values

i. Adaptability and Inclusivity

The value of adaptability can be seen as one of the most influencing factors in the organizations. The ability of any employee to adjust with his/her fellow colleagues drives not only that particular employee but also the overall team. Employees, when they join a new organization or a new team, often find it challenging to bond with the new colleagues. But the quality of ‘accepting people as they are’ is extremely necessary in such cases.

When it comes to solving the problems in the organizations, the value of inclusivity ensures every team member is given the required value and their opinions are equally respected. This provides a freedom for the employees to express their views and promotes the feeling of ‘every thought is precious.’

ii. Love, Care and Respect towards Subordinates

Staying competitive in business is obviously important. However, the value of loving, caring and respecting the subordinates is no less important and critical. Today, it can be seen that employees, either to mark their prominence, betray their subordinates by taking the credit or create hurdles for them in achieving their goals.

The values of love, care and respect for employees, will not only help their subordinates in achieving the goals, but in turn, they themselves will be benefitted in their work, as a sense of positivity will be running through their veins

4. Conclusion

As conveyed by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, ‘the human intent behind any act always matters’. It follows that employees should always posses the intent of accomplishing their tasks in the best possible way, while helping anyone whom they meet in their journey. Employees in the organizations, today, should not develop a sense of either “I am Everything’ or ‘I am Nothing’. Instead, they need to develop an attitude of ‘I am Something’, which induces the self-confidence within them and also at the same time reminds them that there is lot of scope for them to learn and grow.

Having these essential values makes the working environment very conducive to new ideas and innovations, where every employee does not only feel valued, but they work at their fullest potential in order to make their organizations reach newer heights. Thus, in this era of fierce competition, human values combined with right skills to work will not only make the organizations thrive and be successful, but also add much required strength to humanity and make this planet a much better place to live.

Introducing the Author:

Ankur Sharad Mahajan is 27 years young and is currently pursuing my MBA in Operations at K J Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai, India.

He is an Instrumentation Engineer and worked at Tata Consultancy Services before joining his MBA. His hobbies include writing articles and poems, chanting Sanskrit Hymns and playing cricket, table-tennis and chess. Participating in various article writing competitions has always been his core interest. He is happy to have availed the opportunity provided by SPANDAN of expressing his views on a topic that he believes is most relevant and important in the present context.

Notes:

  1. Permission of SPANDAN to reproduce this essay here is gratefully acknowledged.
  2. This essay is a winning entry in an Essay Contest organized by SPANDAN recently.

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“Carrots and sticks are well alive and well within the change canon, and some businesses forgo the carrots”

The dominant paradigm, particularly in today’s world, is that organizations are there to principally generate shareholder value and profit. When profit is threatened, laying off workers; and when profit is surplus and so is demand, then skill-scale-speed followed by HRs as an optimum variable in the recruitment, has become an uncontroversial norm. In both of these cases, human values take a backseat and that won’t do. While this archetype has been further reinforced by the pandemic, it doesn’t hurt to reevaluate the same while visiting some of the catastrophic consequences in the 20th century that coercion and neglect of human rights had on organizations and nations at large. While the unions and strikes against some marginalisation and enslavement based on extreme structures, like that of the US Plantation Economy or the Atlantic slave trade, have resulted in the enactment of labor laws, formulation of code of conduct and structuring the blueprint of corporates, methods inculcating humanistic values including self-actualization, dignity and purpose are still a far cry.

Organizations might have evolved around structure, policy, culture and technology but the need to centralize business through human intrinsic values still holds relevance. Now is the time that we start devising structural plans to align the present day organizations with human values and most importantly take cognisance of its relevance in all kinds of setups.

The stepping stone to understand the relevance and eventuate the same would revolve around redefining the role of HRs, understanding the core values that remains the same irrespective of the changes in organizational set up, the importance of adhering to the human values in the ever changing world around AI and envisioning the implications on stakeholders outside the organization while formulating any plan.

HR = Human Resilience

Industry stalwarts like Ajeet Bajaj are now defining resilience as an important attribute of HR. In this ever changing dynamic and diversity of the business world, employees are expected to emerge as a winner no matter what. They are expected to manage boundaries, conflicts, transitions, and deliver sustainable results. In short, they are expected to be resilient along with holding competence. However, more than physical and mental strength, resilience is a person’s emotional response to the situation, says Former MD & CEO of National Skills Development Corporation. And to harbour that level of emotional resilience, we can’t expect this term “HR” to be merely referred to as “Human Resources” but there is a need to redefine it as “Human Resilience”, there is a need to see humans as more than just well-oiled machines. HR is a profession that identifies the potential of people, nurtures the talent, facilitates self discovery and incentivises talent multiplication. And all of this is imperative to an organization’s success.

The pandemic however has made HRs respond reactively rather than proactively that further libeled them as “Termination Trays”. To break this notion, it would require organizations to diverge from “profit maximization to value maximization” and to bring about the change, HRs remaining at the very apex of it. This would involve HRs to undertake fundamental research about people in the context of governments, societies, corporate sector, villages, districts, talukas, so that they have a shared vision and value with humans coming from all walks of life. This, in turn, empathetically guides them towards the path of passion-purpose-positivity and revert back the setback brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic through a knack of bringing out the best in them amid crisis situations. And in this process, the resilience and adaptability fostered by human values remains innate as a key functionality in the ongoing digital revolution, an era that surely demands even more inclusivity, employee engagement and innovation. In short, it demands us to be more human.

THE CORE REMAINS THE SAME!

In recent times, we have seen massive changes in the corporate scenario which is an amalgamation of reconstruction driven by the digital revolution. Needless to say, the dimension and scope of hybrid culture, remote work, and most importantly startups gets much larger.

Having said that, there is a greater need for organizations to enhance competitiveness everyday. But, the core principle that makes an organization competitive remains the same regardless of the dimension and its setup. It is mostly a reflection of human characteristics such as adaptability, ethics and resilience.

The increased number of startups and ventures has made the stakeholders enamoured and obsessed with the products and services but the rate of success still revolves around business intent, customer connection, and employee experience. This requires us to make work more relational than transactional. When investors at times push a firm to professionalize and strive to fulfil market demands, companies tend to take a superficial approach and neglect what truly matters to the venture. But the successful examples of ventures like Nike, Netflix, Study Sapuri has taught us that the root of successful businesses can always be traced back to Employee Experience, customer satisfaction and organizational spirit.

The most consistent and flexible of them has been Netflix. It worked relentlessly to retain its soul of helping best content creators around the world get a wider audience and became the best global distributor. It epitomizes the concept of human values and organizational profit going hand in hand while perfectly complementing each other.

And some recent examples like that of the Google employees demanding the tech giant to shelve plans to stifle dissent in China in 2018 show that organizations and employees are still willing to place human values above profit even for the stakeholders outside the ambit of organization. And in today’s world of automation and digitization, we surely need more such examples to set precedents and instill a sense of oneness.

CHANGED MANAGEMENT (AUTOMATION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE)

While the world is leapfrogging towards Artificial Intelligence and Automation, it is incumbent upon us to practice it with utmost care and for the service of humanity and not against it. Some of the notable uses of AI for wildlife conservation or climate change through unmanned aerial vehicles and Machine Learning informatics are truly praiseworthy. But, we need to exercise wariness when we bring AI to the organizational setup. Taking a human centric approach would help the use of AI and automation intelligibly and proportionately. For that, it’s important that we have open and inclusive discussions about human values across diverse communities so as to avoid reinforcing unfair bias and create more innovative and representative uses of AI.

CONCLUSION

All of the three stepping stones including redefinition of HR’s role, Core values, Changed Management and automation help us to delve into the deeper trenches of the relevance and applicability of human values in present day organizations. To further augment all the three, there is a need to democratize businesses in order to envision the implications of our decisions that the stakeholders even outside the immediate sphere of an organization face. This would help us reevaluate some of the disastrous decisions including patent policy, jacking up the prices of life saving drugs and working against environmental protections that the organizations took lately in the light of shareholders profit.

While a transition to this self realization is surely difficult, observers suggest the main deterrence to the transition is our own mindset which is informed by a set of global narrative of how business is supposed to be. It has deepened the narrative of “dog eats dog” as a successful model of business. But, successful models like”Twin win” and “human chain” can be the silver lining to the ever evolving relationship between an organization’s success and the human values it professes.

And let’s remember that business and organization are the places where experience and insights came first and theories later. And in order to keep evolving and formulating new successful theories it is important to treat the significance of human values as being foundational, so as to solidify the ever evolving superstructures including business models and organizational cultures.

REFERENCES

www.investopedia.com/insights/history-of-us-monopolies

Harvard Business Review : https://hbr.org/2019/07/the-soul-of-a-start-up

Uses of AI: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery

SHRM, South Asia,

https://blog.shrm.org/sasia/blog/resilience-an-attribute-important-to-hr

  • Human Dignity and Welfare Systems: Chicago University Press
  • Wilson, On human nature: Harvard University Press
  • Humanizing Business : EY
  • Kelly Sikkema-Medium.com

https://medium.com/swlh/have-we-overlooked-our-human-values-in-the-business-of-valu e-creation-dc52ef8ff26c

Introducing The Author:

Shreya is 21 years young and a 3rd year Chemistry (Hons) student from Patna women’s college, Bihar. She has been active in the field of debating and speaking and has won awards at both national and international levels.

Some of these are:

1. “international conventional debate, Nimbus, DU” 2020

2. Jashn e abhivyakti, National debate competition, Satyawati college 2021
3. JIMS Kalkaji National Debate, 2021 
4. Evaluation contest winner, Toastmasters International 2020

Besides, she is an avid reader, writer with experience in the field of management, education and writing. She aspires to form a community of like minded people while always striving to learn more. 

Notes:

  1. Permission of SPANDAN to reproduce this essay here is gratefully acknowledged.
  2. This essay is a winning entry in an Essay Contest organized by SPANDAN recently.

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UNDERSTANDING HUMAN VALUES

Values can be defined as abstract and conceptual beliefs which act as a guideline in the lives of humans and influence the ways in which people and events are evaluated. The values of honesty, integrity, love, and happiness are termed as destination values whereas the values of health, status, intelligence are path values which help attain destination values.

While the destination values remain constant and act as a guiding light towards higher order goals, the path values are temporary and help achieve lower-order goals for humans. Humans are a mix of both types of values which are reinforced by the culture and environment in which they grow.

Where Do Values come from?

Values cannot exist in isolation from society. Every value can be referred to as a ‘goodness’ that exists in one’s mind, which in turn, exists as a sociometer construct that guides both collective and individual action.

Values can be formed biologically, determined by human needs, wants, and desires, and following one’s birth, they are formed from particular social groups, whose core values are determined by its purpose.

HUMAN VALUES AND ORGANIZATIONS

One can hardly glance at the front page of a newspaper without being confronted by a story of misconduct or unethical behavior in organizations. With this world becoming more and more profit centered, the relevance of value-based lens in this world of materialism is getting blurred.

For a vehicle to perform efficiently, it needs both an engine for power and a steering system for guidance. A similar analogy can be applied to any organization as well; the purpose or vision is the engine that propels it forward and the human values act as the steering system which guides it.

Just as it is important to be able to identify with an organization’s purpose, it is also important to align with its values. Organizations that authentically define their values show employees how to align their behaviors with the things that matter to the organization.

MAKING VALUES EFFECTIVE

An organization’s core values only have power when – and to the extent that – the humans in and around the organization feel a connection to them. When human values and organizational values overlap for employees, that’s when they are truly connected to their workplace.

The three ingredients that actually make values effective in an organization setup can be termed as follows:

Make Values Operationalized: Every organization can come up with a fancy set of value system that they follow. However, in order to make it effective it is important that similar values are reflected in the way the organization, its departments, teams and individual employees’ work on a day to day basis, propelled by actions and decisions.

Start from the Top: Leadership group of every organization must live up to the values that they stand for. Developing such value driven organizations always flows from the actions and decisions at the top level. An employee always idolizes his boss, so it is important that people at the top level are able to practice what they preach.

Communicate Values: Using content to communicate one’s value helps to develop a virtuous cycle. The content connects the organization to its values, keeping the values at the top of the mind for each team member when they are making decisions or crafting processes as a part of their daily tasks.

HUMAN VALUES AND RELEVANCE FOR ORGANIZATION STAKEHOLDERS

Values are an indispensable component of a healthy workplace culture. These provide a framework within which the organization can test its decisions, accomplish tasks, and interact with outside stakeholders.

Values and Organization: When organizations explicitly define their values and beliefs, they provide immediate clarity for decision making. Upholding human values helps create boundaries that show staff and clients where the organization is headed to.

A recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum highlighted how the organizations that nurtured a value system making it a part of their brand appeal without being single-mindedly focused on profit making were the ones which actually generated the most value and attained market leadership position.

The best example within the Indian context is that of the Tata Group. The guiding principles of the TATA group evolve from its rich value system and traditions of trusteeship as a way to redistribute the wealth created by the industrial society kept aside exclusively for the benefit of people at large.

Values and Leadership: Many leading thinkers and business practitioners advocate that true leadership is best expressed through the lens of values and beliefs of an organisation’s senior management, which serve to mould the broader organisation’s core identity and mindset. Values distinguish an able leader from a mere instructor.

As per the definition given by Busch and Murdock (2014), value-based leadership is considered as goal-setting, language-creating, problem-solving, and value-developing interaction, which is an integral part of any organization’s human values and very high ethical standards.

Following a value-driven path not only brings about clarity but also facilitates better decision making and goal accomplishment on the part of a leader. Value-driven decision making makes the leader standout and leave an everlasting imprint.

Values and Employees: Any business is as value-driven as the value systems of its individual employees. Value-driven employees not only turn into a long-term asset for the organization but also end up doing well in their lives and careers.

According to Maslow’s Need Hierarchy theory, human needs can be broadly categorized under five categories. Of these, Self Actualization needs come at the top of the pyramid. This clearly highlights how an employee – being a social animal – wants much more than monetary satisfaction.

Various studies show how employees are positively impacted when involved in CSR initiatives or when they follow their value system, rather than when driven by greed. Human values can act as a guiding light towards a better professional and personal life for an employee.

FINAL REMARKS

Business Ethics is a recent buzzword in modern organizations which constitutes the different human values and goes much beyond the materialistic business objective of profitability and growth. As most of the organization decisions are based upon values, the long-term sustenance of any organization is not possible without a robust value system.

With the increasing needs of different stakeholders, the modern organizations demand a more value-based approach of decision making. Value alignment not only helps in better decision making but also help organizations develop a feeling of trust with external stakeholders – like customers – ultimately leading to improved business performance.

Human Values can be considered as the soul of any modern organization. These act like the binding thread that integrates the organization with individual employees leading to holistic growth of the organization and the associated stakeholders.

Introducing the Author:

Vasu Garg (22 Years) is a 2nd-year student at MDI Gurgaon specializing in the field of Finance and Marketing. Prior to this, he completed his B.com (Hons) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi.

Despite no past experience in a corporate environment as a full-time employee, he has gained a certain level of exposure to the corporate world through a range of internships with organizations like Nomura, PharmEasy, UrbanCompany, IIFL, etc.

In terms of hobbies, he is passionate about participating in social work and playing cricket.

Notes:

  1. Permission of SPANDAN to reproduce this essay here is gratefully acknowledged.
  2. This essay is the top winning entry in an Essay Contest organized by SPANDAN recently.

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Winners were recently announced in respect of a pan-India essay competition on Human Values in Present Day Organizations. The competition was organized by Spandan, a NGO which aims to spread the criticality of human values in management.

Vasu Garg of the Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurugram, Shreya Kumari of Patna Women’s College and Ankur Mahajan of KJ Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai, were declared winners of the first three positions, respectively.

Spandan: A Brief Note

Spandan Foundation for Human Values in Management and Society (Spandan in short) originated as a result of the academic and research interest of Prof G P Rao. It had been formed about two decades back. It is supported by a small group of industrial organizations, management institutions and individuals.

The word Spandan is drawn from the Sanskrit language. It means heartbeat, vibration, pulsation and echo. As a concept, the term is meant to convey that faith in the basic goodness and intrinsic altruism of human beings have both always been the driving force for human existence, growth and development.

The Mission

Propagation and inculcation of human values in education, management and society.

The Vision

‘Humanising self through a communion of hearts’.

The Belief

Businesses deliver suboptimal results when their ‘Results’ are viewed as being at odds to their ‘Relations’ with different stakeholders. An optimal balance between ‘Results’ and ‘Relations’ needs to be struck; this alone can enable an organization to achieve its goals effectively and efficiently on a sustainable basis.

The team at Spandan strongly feels that the need of the hour is to create Functionally Humane Organizations – a committed group of human beings doing their best in the interests of various stakeholders.

The Essay Contest (2021-22)

The contest was steered by Satish Sekhri, a senior management professional. Scholars and students from more than 100 management institutes were invited to participate. Fifty-eight entries from different institutes were received for the competition.  

Of these, fourteen entries were short-listed and referred to a jury comprising Prof. Varun Arya, Founder Director of Aravali School of Ignited Minds, and Ashok Bhatia, a management thinker and author. The jury zeroed in onto five finalists. The criteria for evaluation were: The emphasis on human values, language and approach to the subject, and the practicality of the suggestions made.

The five short-listed essays were finally evaluated by Mr. Virender Singh, a former Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court. Thereafter, the three winners mentioned above were announced at a virtual event in the presence of Chief Justice Mr. Virender Singh, Jagesh Khaitan, who is the chairman of Kuantum Papers and of  Spandan, and Anil Kohli, the NGO’s honorary secretary.

The winners were given cash rewards of ₹50,000, ₹30,000 and ₹20,000 respectively.   

Future Activities

A series of lectures by eminent experts in the field of human values are on the anvil. As and when the dates are finalized, necessary details would be available at the Spandan website: spandanfhv.com.

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If you are looking for a book imparting management lessons backed by some shimmering jargon and quotes from famous experts in the field adorning its pages, this one is bound to disappoint you.

In case you have a researcher’s attitude and are hoping to unearth some new facts or discovering new management theories, you will find nothing here that may excite you or whet your appetite for a scholastic understanding of the science and art of management. 

However, if you believe that the real world of management has lot of experiential learning to offer and that values and ethics play a crucial role in the sustained success of a business organization, you would be delighted to have come across this book, entitled Practical Lessons from Great Managers.

By the time you devour this plain vanilla offering, you would have realized that a formal management degree is but a launching pad of sorts. It is not essential to achieve success in one’s career. It may be merely desirable so as to advance your career prospects, especially given the corporate world’s preference for formal degrees.

The author of the book, Mr. Ramesh Subramaniam, offers keen insights into the practice of management. Based on his five decades long experience in the leather footwear industry and in industrial promotion, he shares his experiences in a very lucid manner. The narrative has an easy flow and touches upon various concepts, drawn from his observations about the kind of situations and challenges faced from time to time. The book is arranged in 14 chapters and runs into 104 odd pages. The presentation is not chronological in order. Rather, it takes up a concept and develops it across the entire span of his career.

Written to impart acquired knowledge, the book categorically deals with such facets of management like communication, strategy, integrity, customer relations, leadership, policies, innovation and the like. The underlying messages are very clear – the importance of training one’s mind, decision making based on sound values and cultivating a passion for continuous learning. This is akin to Stephen R. Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, exhorting managers to always keep their ‘saw sharpened.’

One of the typical practices which define a manufacturing mindset of yesteryears is brought out rather clearly in the book – that of employers taking a jaundiced view of employees taking leaves! Yet another is that of treating physical availability as a sign of higher productivity. In the current pandemic driven operations, where work-from-home has proved its value, albeit in other sectors of the economy, some of these notions may not be relevant.   

I confess I had the good fortune of working with the author of the book for close to five years when we were together at the Footwear Division of Tata International. He was thorough in whatever he took up, was a good teacher and always encouraged me to maintain two diaries – one for routine work, another to keep a meticulous record of new things learnt on the job.

If you wish to learn creative problem-solving in such organizations as Bata, Tata, FDDI and Sri City, this is precisely the book you are looking for. If you are curious to know how such organizations follow ethics and values and how managers therein resolve the dilemmas inherent in such cases, it is a must-read.

Going through a pragmatic book of this kind, penned by a management veteran, is a pleasure. It would surely be a worthwhile journey for those who aspire to survive and excel in the corporate jungle! 

 

(Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/dp/1636401961
Flipkart: https://www.flipkart.com/practical-lessons-great-managers/p/itmaf7071c6a6eb8?pid=9781636401966)

      



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ashokbhatia

 A Tribute to Swami Vivekananda: Leader Extraordinary

“On the seventh of August 1941, in the city of Calcutta, a man died. His mortal remains perished but he left behind a legacy… that no fire can ever consume…”

That was the baritone, sonorous voice of Satyajit Ray in his documentary titled ‘Rabindranath’ created as a tribute to Rabindranath (a project mandated on Ray, the genius in film making, arts and literature, commissioned by Ministry of Culture, Government of India) on the occasion of the birth centenary of the another genius, Rabindranath Tagore the Nobel laureate poet, musician, novelist, dramatist, artist and philosopher. The first scene of the documentary depicted the last and final journey of Tagore to the burning ghat (crematorium).

Ray’s portrayal of Tagore began with the scene finale. But where do we start in our odyssey with the volcanic monk of India whose 150th birth anniversary we celebrated…

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Practising managers have had a look at it. Entrepreneurs – of the social as well as the anti-social kind – have gone through it. Management consultants have flipped through it. Eminent personalities have browsed through it. Academicians have devoured it.

Here are some of the comments received so far in respect of the book Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’.

“Behind the veil of humour and punch – there is a message. As the human drama unfolds itself in the corporate jungle, the best and worst of human natures battle for space.  Sure enough, the early warnings in the book might help the hapless to survive and the smart to succeed. However, buried in the crevices of the chapters lies a deeper secret. The secret of an inner tuning – developing an inner compass based on personal values that not just protects you but also guides you towards happiness…

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