Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gardener & the guardian

It was time for getting away from the B School for summer internship. Students got busy with getting their bio-data readied and prepare themselves for Group discussion and personal interviews. If they did a good job during their internship, they may look forward to getting placed in the organization.

Raju Dayani was however not worried because he had his family business to get back to. Still he was asked to find out the nature of his summer project and notify his professor about his area of focus. At first Raju thought he will fabricate something and pass it on to the Professor. On second thoughts, he thought of calling up his Grandfather and asking him to assign a project. He was surprised to hear what his grandfather came up with. He was assigned a project code named ‘Project Green’ that required him to supervise the staff employed by the company to maintain the garden estate surrounding the office premises. Raju was disappointed that while his friends were doing advanced work of market research, business simulation and financial modeling, his genius should be spurned away attending to farm labor.

Raju has always been deferential towards his grandfather and trusted his judgment. Although his grandfather had started his family business of assembling home made Air conditioners just after he passing out of school. He never had the money or the time to attend college. Singlehandedly, he had built up the business from scratch that his father managed now. So why would the Grandfather think of this project for him? Raju chose to talk to him after dinner; being an early riser, his grandfather would retire to bed early, saving him the time. Else, the old man may take the whole morning to explain his rationale for the chosen project.

Me: “ Dadaji, I was wondering if we could talk about the summer job you wanted me to take up,” I asked.

GF: “ Ok, we can talk. What do you want to do “

Me: “ I wanted to do something more substantive involving thinking and financials. Supervising the staff assigned for upkeep of the greenery around me was not going to help me any way. how will I use anything of what I learnt at MBA?”

GF:“Why, what is wrong with it?”

ME: “ My work has to be evaluated and graded for creativity and distinctiveness. This project will give me no scope for that. Honestly, I do not know how my contribution will make any difference to the balance sheet.”

GF: “ There is a lot you can learn from the project work if you are open minded. Let me share with you what they do not teach you in your MBA. did they ever tell you why every organization is like a tree? The very word ‘organization’ comes from the word ‘Organism.’ An organism is anything that has life, grows and bears fruits. You sow seeds, it blooms, flowers and bears the fruits for us to eat. To have good fruits, you need strong roots. Strengthening the roots is the job of the gardener. You will have to provide timely nourishment and ensure that you do not allow the weeds eating away the food supplements.

Do they teach you in MBA where the roots of the organization are? Do they tell you how to distinguish between the seeds and the weeds? Do you get trained on the contents of the nourishment needed to strengthen the organizational roots?

Upon your return from your college with an MBA degree in hand, you will have to work with people only, not the balance sheet. I am not expecting you to keep my books or advise me on how to make more profits. I have enough people already hired to do that. What I need is a HR manager who will be the gardener and the guardian for the people we employ. They are the lifeline of the company. It is the most important function and that is why I want you to earn their respect this summer.

Once you earn their good will, automatically, I can turn the more operational side of the business over to you. Do you think this is not important enough?”

Me: “ Dadaji, you have really thought through this assignment of mine. I will convey this perspective of yours with my guide and ask him to decide upon the criteria for evaluation. Good night.”

Raju returned back to his college to surprise his classmates with the interesting analogy drawn by his grandfather between the organization and the tree.


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