The Dance of Fireflies

Arun Maria , who is currently member of planning commission and who has earlier worked with Boston Consulting Group and TATAs, visualised four scenarios on which path Indian economy will take. To make these 4 scenarios interesting he used animals found in India- Buffalo, Tiger, Wolves, Peacock, Sparrows (on verge of becoming an endangered species) and finally Fireflies.

First scenario is –Wallowing Buffalos, while children are waiting- The leaders of this organisation are like buffalos in mud- relaxed and in no mood to get out of mud. If one of them makes attempt to move out of mud, either presence of others make her difficult to move or any such attempt is resisted by others, so she just give up and status quo is restored. This indecision plays havoc with career of employees, they are waiting for growth to happen, but lack of decision making is taking organisation nowhere.

Second scenario is inspiration from Bollywood- Glamour and Violence.

First part is the glamour- Peacocks strut while small birds are scrambling. The top management like peacocks, keep strutting- taking best of salaries, benefits, while ordinary employees like small birds wait for peacock to leave once they have fed themselves, and then scramble amongst themselves on what is left by peacocks.

Second part is violence- Growling tigers and prowling wolves. Here leaders terrorise the employees to keep control over them. Anyone who disagrees or protests is instantly sacked.

Third scenario is- Dance of fireflies- In organisation there are lot of individuals who on their own  are working on some improvement projects- process improvement, innovations etc. The collective efforts of such individuals take organisation to next level.

You will find one or combination above scenarios in all the organisations. Idea is to move from wallowing buffalos/strutting peacocks/growling tigers to dance of fireflies.


Curt Coffman’s views on Employee Engagement

Attended speech of Curt Coffman on Employee Engagement. It was arranged by Tata Management Training Centre. I had attended his one day seminar in 2009. Research of Curt and Marcus have changed my outlook, earlier I was focused on how to overcome my weakness, paying little attention to my strengths.

With popularity of positive psychology, focus has shifted to what is left within you i.e your strengths.

He started with interesting example. When Steve Jobs launched ipod and unveiled it for first time in front of all the employee, the first question in everyone’s mind was –“Where is mine?”- I want it!

Steve then asked everyone to look below their chair and there was ipod below each chair.

That is engagement- everyone was eager to know where is mine.

He talked on some more points.

  1. Two important questions every employee should ask are
    1. How do I get more customers
    2. How do I retain more customers

They need to have clear line of sight to how their tasks result in organisation getting more customers and retaining more customers.

2.While calculating employee engagement score don’t go for average score, divide score in four categories those below 25th percentile, those between 25th to 50th percentile, those between 50th and 75th percentile and those above 75th percentile. Design different initiatives for each category. Their needs are different. One size fits all will not work here. If scores of these 4 categories are plotted it forms a reverse bell curve.

3.Your boss should be interested in your growth, not just interesting. An interesting boss will only be serving his purpose, while interested boss will be in giving mode.


Can HR professionals do away with psychometric tests?

I remember giving MBTI, DISC etc. tests for recruitment. Till date I have not understood how it has helped organisations in decision making. I am yet to see any study which has conclusively proved that company using tests had more competent managers than those who do not.

Why are HR professionals using these tests? Are they substitute for good old personal interview technique? Or is it strong marketing by agencies owning these tests, who somehow managed to convince HR professionals that these tests can detect something, you will normally miss in interviews? Or is there a commercial interest in promoting these tests? Most of them insist on certification, then force you to give their on line tests and send their report. What is HR’s role in this? – Some-how force fit candidate in one of the 15 or 16 categories.

I feel certifying bodies, certified professionals and HR professionals have created a  myth that tests can detect something, a normal interview will miss ( typically they give example of iceberg- interview sees what is above iceberg and test sees what lies below water).

Poor candidate is branded with four letters- ISTJ, INTJ ESTJ etc or high D, Low S, low I high C etc. If purpose of test is to find his strengths then why is it used to eliminate the candidates? May times candidate is forced to imagine situations to respond, which goes against testing of competencies, competencies can be evaluated based on what happened in past, hypothetical situations have no meaning while testing competency.

I always remember scene from film Deewar, where young Amitabh Bacchan is branded with “Mera Baap Chor Hai” ( my father is a thief) on his hand, something he had to live with.

How can entire population of 7 billion humans be pigeon holed in 15 or 16 boxes?

MBTI has its origin in theory  of Carl Jung, which later was developed administered as test by mother-daughter duo- Briggs and Myers, to help women workforce to find suitable job in World War II era. While DISC has its origin in William Marston’s- Emotions of Normal People. Marston himself is known more for comic strip –Wonder Woman than DISC.

In-depth interview can reveal what these tests can. I feel HR professionals should go back to good old in-depth interview technique or Behavioral events interviews to get right candidates.


What we stand for…

Vivify-viv·i·fy –  Vivify-viv·i·fy
To give or bring life to,enliven

Organisational Change- Is a planned effort to syncronize hardware ( strategy, structure, systems) and software ( motivation, value system, organisational climate) to take organisation to desired state.

Catalyst- A person or thing that precipitates an event or change

At some stage or other energy level of individual or organisation goes down, mindfulness is lost and things move to auto pilot. “Don’t disturb the apple cart” mentality sets in and status quo is seen as desirable.

But to move individual or organisation to new orbit, the status quo has to be questioned, Organisational change initiatives are like rains than vivify barren hills.

Organisational change should take place at two levels

Hardware side- Strategy, Vision and Mission, Core competencies, organisational restructuring, Systems improvement etc.

Software side- Organisational culture, mindset of individuals, Values etc.

They sycronization of two is what makes change a success and takes it to desired level.

In all this the change agent has to be a catalyst, he should initiate the process, enable the individuals to take charge of their or organisation’s fate and then withdraw himself from the process.