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Sunday, April 04, 2010

TO WHOM SO EVER IT MAY CONCERN

My thoughts on the present situation in NEHU a central university

2nd April 2010

As I See it…
It was good Friday today, for me it is was a better Friday. Last Friday was on 26th March and we at the department of commerce were all busy with the national seminar on Global Economic Crisis and Indian Industry. It was its first day, and being seminar director it was a very busy Friday for me. So in this context this Friday was better than the earlier Friday. After so many months it was a good family outing. I kept trying getting details of the village called Mawlynnong – the cleanest village. Just thought it is proper time in place to visit this village. Many of us might not have visited. Cleanliness is a virtue, cleansing is closely associated with it. But what to do instead we chose to go to Nartiang Monoliths. They remind us of their rigidity, solidness, and silence all around.

So many things happened between these two Fridays that I thought I should scribble down my thinking on all that I have seen, heard, looked, felt and been communicated. Of course it is difficult or rather impossible to believe one and not believe another one. Everyone has a point of view; every communication has a good in it, everybody shows a sense of belonging to the institution.

Who Am I…
Ever since I joined North-Eastern Hill University in 2002, I have been teaching papers like Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management, and Human Resource Management. I don’t know many things, people, events, equations, affiliations etc etc. I am just an infant of 8 years in this institution of more than 35 years of its existence. There are so many people who have been here for as many as 20-25-30 odd years or more. Their understanding of the issues must be better than mine but of course they might have their own bias as well. Bias, because we are all human beings and human beings are prone to bias.

What do I do here…
Let me talk of the papers and topics that I teach. These papers include so many topics of relevance, rendition and recurrences that I would like to make a mention of some of them like - Basics of Organizations, challenges and opportunities, Ethics and Organizational Behavior, Work Place diversity, Personality, Perception, Attitude & Learning, Foundations of Group behavior, Groups and Teams, Group Dynamics, Communication, Organizational conflict, Conflict Resolution, Transactional Analysis, Negotiation and Inter-group behavior, Leadership and Management, Transformational Leadership, Authentic Leadership, Leadership Styles, Contemporary Issues in Leadership, Power and Politics. the importance of Strategy, Corporate Vision, Mission & Philosophy, Strategic Management in different contexts, Ethics and Social Responsibility, Integration Strategies, Intensive Strategies, Diversification and Differentiation Strategies, Organising Implementation-Staffing, Leading and Job Design. Strategy Implementation for international business, Strategy Evaluation - Techniques of Evaluation & Control, Strikes and lockouts, Unionism, negotiation and collective bargaining etc etc…

The conditions in this university in all these years and more so in last 4 months have provided me a great opportunity to develop some cases and relate the happenings to the subjects I teach. This is just an academic interest; however there are other interests as well which keep my system in fully sensitized mode. I really love reading and writing as all my friends in the university here. I have my point of view on almost everything - from which country should Sania choose to play after her wedding to where should the dustbins be kept in the campus, from who has proved a better President (Kalam Vs Pratibha Patil) to which should be the ideal parking space, how the coupons for patients in nehu clinic should be designed instead of shabby paper tokens; on all small and big happenings, things, objects, people and places. Many a times these point of views are kept just in the diaries and blogs here and there or are expressed in informal chats with the friends, relatives and colleagues. I strongly feel that we must have a point of view, we must have a voice.

Only bad knows the importance of good and they coexist in every system. We get night after day and day after night and both of them have their importance. Honesty is important because there is dishonesty. Pain and pleasure coexist. There is no problem which does not have a solution and there is no solution which is absolute. We get what we deserve, so if we expect good, we need to do good in order to claim what we really deserve. In an ideal situation, the guilty gets punished and the innocent is liberated. But if the system patronizes the guilty, the degree and depth of atrocities and anarchism dominate. The balloon keeps expanding its size. The ‘fews’ only are confided, consulted and kept ignoring fully what Lou Holtz had said – ‘It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test’.

People join or start organizations in order to achieve their individual goals, the match between individual and organizational goal encourages, inspires and motivates individuals to perform their best, otherwise the mismatch creates disaster both for individual as well as for the organization. Personality, Emotion and Perception are so interesting topics to teach. There are so many traits of personality (enduring characteristics that describe an individual’s behavior) that I teach and most relevant of them all is 16 primary traits which have their application in the present situation as they cover many of the individuals fitting in perfection. Otherwise the Big-five model is more popular academically – Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional stability and Openness to experience. So nice, such a strong case, we have all of it. Further there are people of Type A and Type B.

There are major personality attributes influencing organizational behavior like Locus of control, Machiavellianism (degree to which an individual is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance, and believes that ends can justify means), self-esteem (individuals’ degree of liking or disliking themselves), self monitoring (a personality trait that measures an individual’s ability to adjust his or her behavior to external situational factors). Interestingly John Holland’s work on Personality-job fit theory cannot be avoided. When we talk of emotions there is literature on felt versus displayed emotions. Gayatri Bezboruah mentions (The Sentinel, April 4, 2010, melenge p 2) that emotions are full of colors, we are green with envy, red with anger and blue with sorrow. She further mentions types of emotions viz., Joy, Anger, Fear, Affection, Jealousy, Curiosity, Anxiety and Shyness. How true...theoritical as well as practical part of it. There is a Greek term alexithymia meaning ‘lack of emotion’ which tries to guide us on Can people be emotionless? Needless to mention the work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and its relevance and popularity over IQ.

Attribution theory (as part of the topic Perception) of AH Kelly is so appropriate that I cannot ignore but to make just a broad mention – when individuals observe behavior they attempt to determine whether it is internally or externally caused (Internally caused behaviors are those that are believed to be under the personal control of the individual similarly Externally caused behavior is seen as resulting from outside causes; that is, the person is seen as having been forced into the behavior by the situation) is the premise of the theory generated from three interpretations viz., Distinctiveness, Consensus and Consistency having internal/external cause of attribution with high/low degree. There is Fundamental Attribution Error which mostly all of us commit. There is substantial evidence that we have a tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal or personal factors. There is also a tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors such as ability or effort while putting the blame for failure on external factors such as luck. This is called the “self-serving bias” and suggests that feedback provided to employees will be distorted by recipients.

Another mentionable piece on Perception is on Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others. This is a topic which is very important for students appearing for examinations all across the programs, institutions and locations because it is very practical. It is all happening all around the campus these days which is quite visible from the communications. Robbins mentions that an understanding of these shortcuts can be helpful in recognizing when they can result in significant distortions. These shortcuts are Selective Perception (Any characteristic that makes a person, object, or event stand out will increase the probability that it will be perceived), Halo Effect (It occurs when we draw a general impression on the basis of a single characteristic), Contrast Effects (our reaction to one person is influenced by other person whom we recently encountered), Projection (The tendency to attribute one’s own characteristics to other people), and Stereotyping (judging someone on the basis of our perception of the group to which he or she belongs).

Group dynamics is another interesting topic in the study of organizational behavior which includes why do people form groups, how do people communicate in the groups, etc etc. There are formal groups there are informal groups like we have formal communication and informal communication. The 5 stage model of formation of groups is quite apt – forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. There are few alternative models as well. Is conflict bad for an organization, why do organizations encourage conflict, when does conflict become bad…. These are some common questions which are asked from the students and we teach them the theories, may be at times we do practice but very rarely, but still theories remain relevant for the development of literature as well as for providing better basis and rationality. Functional and dysfunctional conflict catches my attention and draws me to the study of the present environment. There are some other types of conflicts as well – Inter-group and intra group conflict, Interpersonal conflict and Intrapersonal conflict. Intrapersonal conflict arises when our heart says something and mind says something different. There are steps to be followed in order to resolve these conflicts. There is remedy but no remedy is perfect.

The literature on leadership, motivation, power and politics can really guide us in many ways. The theories of leadership based on trait, behavior and situation have contributed tremendously for the organizations and their positive development. Contingency theory of leadership is an apt example apart from Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational leadership. Of late there have been new experiments and the nature of leadership has shifted to Authentic Leadership and transformational leadership. Chris Argyris’s Immaturity-maturity theory based on different transformations is still a well cited work. One of my teachers gave me a definition of a leader and I think to all my students once or twice I do not forget to mention leader is a man who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. And I know of many leaders in the organizations that I have worked for, who have virtually followed it religiously, they are great leaders. Of course political leaders are totally different creed for this; however we have some exceptions there as well.

Let me switch over from Organizational behavior to Strategic management. Arthashastra was written by Chanakya in the 3rd BC which talks a lot on strategies and their role in policy making and implementation. In the literature more popular and acceptable work of Carl von Clausewitz in a book form ‘On War’ (the use of combats for the purposes of the war), published in 1832, is remarkable. It is well cited in the works on strategy, though the word strategy is a derivation from greek word strategos which means tactics. In very simple words strategy is a game-plan. It is different from planning. Strategy is required in order to win over competitors. It does not have its existence where there is no competition. Here competition does not necessarily be from individuals, it could be with the situation or time as well. The author of Winning, Jack Welch transformed GE Corporation through his focus on targets and objectives. We all have targets, we all follow strategies. The organizations make strategic choices out of the strategic options available. Integration, Intensive, diversification, differentiation strategies are some of the options available. Integration includes backward as well as forward integration, dealing with supply chain management, developing better systems for supply chaining, intensive strategies are specific to functional areas, diversification is related as well as unrelated, differentiation is related to products and services offered and there are further so many options available. There is horizontal as well as vertical integration and many organizations follow it. As a layman people can understand this integration literally.

In 2004, Kim and Mauborgne wrote a paper in Harvard Business Review on Blue Ocean Strategy, it provided a new thinking for the researchers as well as practitioners to think about developing Blue Oceans. Harvard University Press published the book in the title of Blue Ocean Strategy in 2005. This work focuses on making competition irrelevant. They talk about two types of oceans, Red Ocean and Blue Ocean. Where the products/services compete within (product features, service offerings, price, etc), the competition become intense, the organizations follow all types of tactics in order to compete and it results in lot of bleeding and the blood creates Red ocean. On the other hand when the organizations and individuals think creatively with innovative ideas, they create blue ocean where competition becomes irrelevant. This is a great work and at present many consultants are making fortune out of this. Zunaira who is an US based independent consultant on blue ocean strategy, was in Bangalore in the last month and we just missed her in our seminar. It would have been great had she come, what a difference it could have made. We still need to come out of red ocean and create blue ocean or may be green ocean. There are many other such experiments done in the organizations in order to make them better performing, successful and effective. These organizations are profit making as well as non-profit making.

The environmental analysis is a key element of strategy formulation. There is SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis which is also known as TOWS matrix which helps in order to analyze environment. The individuals have been seen quite busy on these analyses. Strategy evaluation is done before its implementation as well as after implementation and then there are different techniques to do it and strategic audit and control is the most important part of any strategy to transform organizations. A very good strategy without proper implementation makes it a fail, similarly if audit and control is ineffective, the strategy cannot become successful. There is Balanced Scorecard which was developed by Kaplan and Norton for strategic performance measurement. The four focused areas need the attention in our institution as well.

My area of research interest…
It has been more than 10 years that I have been reading literature on satisfaction, happiness and well-being. It is quite interesting and self satisfying. Happiness is an attitude like job satisfaction is a work attitude. It is a momentary response to certain stimuli. The Easterlin Paradox helps us to find the relationship between money and happiness. Money plays an important role but it is not that the nations which are rich are happier than the nations which are poor. (God made man, man made money, and money made the man mad)... There are lots of organizations working on studying and improving well being. Subjective well being as developed by Diener has been studied in Indian settings as well.

We all strive to lead a satisfied and happy life and we follow different pathways in order to attain happiness. Synder of university of Kansas developed Hope Theory, and I am fortunate to have met him and discussed the pathways he suggested in his work, I did not know when I met him that he was suffering from cancer, he died in 2006. His contribution on hope and forgiveness is just amazing. We are all trapped in his web of contributions. Further recently a clinical psychologist, Phil Friedman wrote a book titled The Forgiveness Solution. We have been in communication since last 6 years after we met and exchanged our thinking on happiness. He told me very interesting incidents he encountered when he visited Mumbai way back in early 80s or so. We continue being active facebook friends. He recently gave a lecture on self-forgiveness. Really great thinking.

What I feel…my expressions…
When I registered my profile on facebook, I put a sentence from my personal diary which I scribbled long back and that is still hanging on my profile, every time I write a one liner, I think of changing the earlier one, but somehow stick to the first one it is: If we learn to respect the difference in others, we can deal with any person in any circumstances...It would remain be there and would remain be relevant. I strongly feel that we need to respect the difference. Life is interesting because we are all different. Just imagine had we been same, same in gender, same in color, same in all the expected fields, the life would have been real boring. So life is interesting because we are all different. We have different style of walking and talking, different style of eating and meeting, different style of teaching and cheating, sleeping and slipping, different, different, different. Lets respect this difference and enjoy the difference.
In July 2008 I started a discussion using ning network on What makes an organization happy and the responses were very positive and provided a learning experience for my work. The summary in pdf format is available at : http://organizationalhappiness.ning.com/forum/attachment/download?id=3187054%3AUploadedFi35%3A564. There are so many things that we can learn to make our organization happy. David Zinger started asked a question in one sentence how can we describe Employee Engagement (this is emerging area of research in the field of HRM), I wrote around 6 months back – give them ear, they would give their heart. The one liners are compiled and available on the web on EE network on Ning.

The other day we heard Kaushik Basu and his responses on what happens to the money sent from centre and how much of it really reaches to the intended users. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s view on this is known to almost each one of us. I think all my friends would agree on the honest intention of the government then why these middlemen are allowed to intervene in the process. What is our role as sensitized individuals? At least keep writing on this…. We know 80% of the resources are consumed by 20% of the individuals and 20% of the resources are left for 80% of the population. Are we doing something to bridge up this gap, we talk of equality, equitable distribution and eclecticism, yet we fail in putting the things in proper place and perspective. Is it because of system, I think it is we who make the system.

Last month there was fire in one of the oldest building in the Park Street area of Kolkota, in the building which housed Music World outlet, it is a memorable place for me. I remember it was 30th Dec 2008 morning when I met Amartya Sen in this shop, talked for 2-3 minutes, a towering personality. His photo clip in my mobile shall have a special place for me. I haven’t been able to go through his book The Idea of Justice but title catches my eye, what really is the idea of justice at our workplace. An Argumentative Indian is a treasure in my memory lane where Sen has categorically mentioned that Indian Buddhists had great commitment to discussion as a means of social progress. We have all been discussing so many things, are we on the path to social progress in this system.

The monk who sold his Ferrari, Who will cry when you die and The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma, are three bestsellers in non-fiction category. They are simple, practical and quite convincing works. Robin believes in Culture is King not Singh is King when he suggests to build strong culture. What do we leave behind? Why the hell we keep repeating our mistakes, do we ever bother what are we leaving behind, are we strengthening the culture or weakening it. We need to see through the eyes of understanding as he puts it and concludes that - as you seek the good in people, not only will they want to show up more fully for you, but you will see more good in your world.

We have been talking over security issue but surprisingly it is showing out our insecurities. When hearts are loyal distances make no difference. The learning through the environment and risk analysis is guiding our way towards the actions of tomorrow with the melting of courage and patronizing the respective sides. We need to think as individuals, just as bare individuals with our clear wisdom and honest intention in the interest of the organization/institution that is providing us bread and butter rather than calculating crude comfort and compromising commitment. We have overworked in the last few months in the interest of the institution so that the culture does not get weakened. Conflicts sound functional so far. Better that we are still following insinuations. Modesty demands it.

I attended a session of Shiv Khera around 10 years back. He talked about converting weaknesses into strengths and deriving strength from anger. I still remember his citation of Gandhi on anger when he mentioned that it was the anger of Gandhi which guided and forced him to take the course of action that we all are aware of. We can learn from our mistakes and not repeat them over and over again. There is first for everything, good as well as bad. It has never happened in the history, every day we make history, we don’t need to use shortcuts especially to judge others.

How do I enjoy…on every small thing...seriously small…going deep…
I am looking at the watch and just near it there is my DVD collection, the titles are crazy, crazy for the moment. We are a movie buff family. I am fan of Aamir Khan, have been watching his movies and watched almost all his recent releases. There was a movie Ghazini, which I and my younger brother watched on 24th Dec 2008 at Fun Republic Mall in Lucknow, UP. It was its premier show as the movie got released the next day. What a movie, nice character, short time memory loss, the music was great. I hope this short time memory loss is not going to be followed by many of my friends here, they are going to remember what they have written and raised and would follow it, otherwise short (long) time memory loss should not become an excuse for conveniences. But we all suffer from this interesting syndrome – short time memory loss.

Aamir’s another hit movie was Taare Zameen Par, every child is special, lets respect the difference in others. The title is great and I feel all Taare are Zameen par, but taare are better on sky. Oh.. his latest hit 3 IDIOTS, so much fight between the author and producer, Chetan Bhagat and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, ultimately they resolved their problem by reaching to a mutual agreement. 5 point someone is another good read, if you have read the book first and seen the movie later, there are probabilities that you may not like the way the movie is made. But movie is all together different medium. The title still catches my eye 3 IDIOTS. Aamir’s other hits include, qayamat sey qayamat tak, Dil hai ki manta nahin, Aankheyn.

I belong to a city called Bareilly which is famous for few hindi songs and of course Priyanka Chopra. She was recently given national award for best actress in a film titled Fashion. She came opposite Shahid kapoor in a movie titled Kameeney. Vishal Bharadwaj has been criticized on having such title. My collection of movies have some of these titles, these are interesting titles, just few titles…enjoy the list: Ali baba and 40 thieves, tenalirama, hanumaan (kids collection), Sparsh, Mili, Sadma, Daag, drohkaal, baton baton mein, mukhti, bawandar, do ankhen barah haath, ijaazat, khomoshi, ghayal, ghatak, damini, chitchor, choti si baat, purab aur paschim, upkar, kranti, apna aasmaan, awarapan, the president is coming, dhoop, life mey kabhi kabhi, golmaal, golmaal returns, jab we met, kismet konnection, jannat, laaga chunri mein daag, kabhi alvida naa kehna, rang birangi, dard ka rishta, chalte chalte, amanush, balle balle Amritsar to LA, mithya, road, lakshya, Koi mil gaya, kora kagaz, anurag, kabhi kabhi, sangeet, naram garam, main aur mera hathi, ek ajnabi, dhamal, tom dick and harry, zindagi rocks, gadar, sholay, strangers, yahaan, halla bol, rang de basanti, chamku, ek challis ki last local, phir kabhi, yes boss, chot, drone, kidnap, dostana, rab ney bana di Jodi, salaam namastey, after the sunset, million dollar baby.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a song from LOVE AAJKAL (does this title sound good) love aajkal…..

Song : Dooriyan, Music : Pritam Chakraborty, Lyrics : Irshad Kamil, Singers : Mohit Chauhan

Yeh Dooriyan
Yeh Dooriyan
Yeh Dooriyan

In Raahon Ki Dooriyan
Nigahon Ki Dooriyan
Hum Rahon Ki Dooriyan
Fanah Ho Sabhi Dooriyan

Kyun Koi Paas Hai
Door Hai Kyun Koi
Jaane Na Koi Yahan Pe

Aa Raha Paas Ya Door Mein Ja Raha
Janu Na Mein Hoon Kahan Pe

Yeh Dooriyan

In Raahon Ki Dooriyan
Nigahon Ki Dooriyan
Hum Rahon Ki Dooriyan
Fanah Ho Sabhi Dooriyan

Yeh Dooriyan
Yeh Dooriyan

Kabhi Hua Yeh Bhi
Khali Rahon Pe Bhi
Tu Tha Mere Saath

Kabhi Tujhe Milke Lauta
Mera Dil Yeh Khali Khali Haath
Yeh Bhi Hua Kabhi
Jaise Hua Aabhi
Tujhko Sabhi Mein Paa Liya

Tera Mujhe Kar Jaati Hai Dooriyan
Satati Hain Dooriyan
Tarsati Hain Dooriyan
Fanah Ho Sabhi Dooriyan

Kaha Bhi Na Mene
Nahi Jeena Mene
Tu Jo Na Mila

Tujhe Bhule Se Bhi Na
Bola Na Mene Chahun Fasla

Bas Fasla Rahein
Ban Ke Kasak Jo Kahen
Ho Aur Chahat Yeh Aur Jawan

Teri Meri Mit Jaani Hai Dooriyan
Begani Hai Dooriyan

Hat Jani Dooriyan
Fanah Ho Sabhi Dooriyan

Kyun Koi Paas Hai
Door Hai Kyun Koi
Jaane Na Koi Yahan Pe

Aa Raha Paas Ya Door Mein Ja Raha
Janu Na Mein Hoon Kahan Pe

Yeh Dooriyan

In Raahon Ki Dooriyan
Nigahon Ki Dooriyan
Hum Rahon Ki Dooriyan
Fanah Ho Sabhi Dooriyan

vkshrotryia, 2010
Thursday – the 1st April, Fools day, 2nd April – Good Friday, 3rd April – better Saturday, 4th April – best Sunday…..
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