Sunday, October 30, 2011

Driving enterprise growth

In what follows, I could give numerous examples but the post would not end and the main purpose not served. Arguments noted are meant to support the notion that "bad behaviour is representative of bad attitude, it can be changed, it must be changed if we are to drive enterprise growth." I may add more to this post later. This is just a streaming thought kind of post.

Almost every day, and definitely every day that I am on the road, I see drivers and pedestrians that make me want to hurt them. Badly.
My reaction is not atypical of many others. Some of whom also drive badly.
My reaction is also not typical of many others.

1) People on our (indian) roads take their life into their hands. They are not even seeking divine intervention when they do that. They just seem to think they can get away with it.

Those who talk of that much-lauded Indian quality of creating something with meager resources or of achieving something in the face of daunting obstacles (often red-tape) may even view this risk-taking on the road as a positive thing. The dead or maimed person on the road being merely the object of speculation as to how they might have got hurt or died - a symbol of failed risk. After all, is not the natural order of things? Take a risk and not always succeed.

There is another dimension. The sense that "I can get away with it". Like many who indulge in a forbidden activity, getting away with a misdemeanor is a thrill. One gets a high from it. A thrill. Natural then to try one more. Pretty soon its standard practice. This is not specific to any particular socio-economic strata. This attitude is widely-accepted in India. Perhaps not when it is at one's expense but generally so.

This is the only one of the 4 aspects that can have some remotely possible positive quality - if one can call it that.

2) People on our roads are very quick to blame the other person even when the mistake was obviously theirs.

3) People on our roads are selfish. Give way to someone even when it makes perfect sense to do so and at zero cost? Of course not. Enter a road aggressively and then slow down in the middle of it so no once can safely overtake? Why of course!

4) People on our roads are slovenly. They meander, talk on their phones, think nothing of spoiling it.

There are more aspects but many fall broadly into the above categories.

Lately I have got to thinking that this is a reflection of the general attitude of the person. I cannot imagine such a person going into work and giving his/her best. Of being a good team player. Of being interested in really serving the customer. Of doing their job because it is needed to be done and done well as opposed to doing their job simply to impress someone higher up so they can move up in life. Of paying attention to detail - even when no when is watching!

Cannot resist one example. A person (not saying at which of the organizations I am/have been associated with since it is not important for this purpose) said that Google gave their staff dried fruits, fresh fruits, etc. and added that some staff misused this practice by stuffing their bags with fruit to take home to family and friends. A "senior" member of the group stated to this more "junior" person that there was nothing wrong with that. "When I give my maid left-over food I do not mind whether she eats it right then or takes it home". "Moreover, one person may eat ten apples. So why cannot one person take home 10 apples?". I was gobsmacked by what I had heard to say the least. That the "senior" could not see what was wrong with the argument was chilling. I can only hope that such logic is rare but I am afraid I am wrong.

Here is my recommendation and my challenge to people. Question my recommendation below, but also  be honest, and if you agree then rather than say "its been tried and failed" or "good theory, won't work"; apply your mind to the solution - be bold, be creative. Its far less risky than driving on our roads!! Lets start somewhere!

We should change peoples attitudes and behaviour at work by getting them to drive better. Get vehicle dealerships to require that every customer must see a well-made video on road etiquette; graphic images of the horrors of poor use of our roads; heavily punitive fines for over-loading, driving on the wrong side of the road etc.; mandatory inspection of vehicles more than 5 years old; muezzin, priests, god-men to sermonize on the importance of proper road usage and etiquette; frequent radio and TV shows (will beat some of the inane debates we see hosted in the name of intelligent activity). Get the picture. Flood the minds with good road use and etiquette.
My suspicion is that bad behaviour will be unlearnt, good behaviour will be practiced, people's attitudes will change (see how much they have changed towards caste or towards being rich in just the past 2 decades - so yes, beliefs and attitudes can change); they will start taking more pride in their work; and they will get to work faster and in a better mood.

If you believe this, +1 it, add to it, twitter it - go and spread the word. India will then truly be both incredible and rising! We would have, together literally driven better enterprise.

Best wishes, Vishnu.