Posts Tagged ‘corporations’

Do you have a rock star culture in your organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb on January 11, 2010

In a world where heroes are worshiped, superheroes idolized and rock stars treated as gods, somehow it gets lost upon us that the true power lies in high performance teams and not just embodied in one person, however good that person might be. Corporations are in the quest of seeking out individuals who are superstars – you can pick up any job requirement write-up and you’ll see a huge bent towards making sure the person sought after is an expert in at least 5 areas, a one-man-army and then, somewhere down there, in a tiny bullet point you will find a feeble mention that “Candidate must be a good team player”. Am I the only one who sees something amiss here?

Here’s a little story from my early career days:

I worked for a young organization where the team comprised of people who labeled themselves “Rock Stars” (seriously, they used to call themselves that). They were ambitious, competent, competitive, hungry, arrogant and loud. I still remember my first day as a trainee when one of them “Oriented” me on my responsibilities, the product, the customers and the services we provide… all in the space of 2 hours… and I was thrown in the deep waters to sink or swim. When I questioned this process, I was told – “Oh! Everyone has gone through this – after all, we only hire Rock Stars!” Only problem was – I didn’t feel much like a rock star when I was sitting in front of the customer the next day as an expert on the project. As time went by, I saw that my fellow Rock Stars were very talented and savvy but all of them kept “Winging” stuff because the philosophy of being a Rock Star begins with making tall promises (sometimes, unattainable) and then stretching to deliver. Sometimes things worked really well and they returned from projects as Heroes… though, most of the times, projects went awry and there was a lot of “coping” to do… but the label “Rock Stars” stuck to them. The one consequence that mostly all of them faced was they worked very long hours and over time, burned out.

So, what do you do when you see symptoms of a “Rock Star Culture” in your team. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Ask many “How” Questions: This is the part that gets “Winged” most of the time. People make promises based on a “Feeling”. While I am not a total non-believer of this (because sometimes actions need to be committed to before planning – just talk to an entrepreneur, if you want a lively discussion on this one!) BUT many a times, the feeling falls under the area of  a story about things getting done without any thinking on how they will be done and who will do what.
  2. Estimate a little higher: Rock Stars know that in order to retain the mantle, they need to overachieve. Nothing wrong with that – except, sometimes they promise very aggressive estimates and overlook dependencies that are not easily visible at the start of the projects. The little bit of higher estimates gives them room to cope, when unforeseeable situations occur (and they do!).
  3. Make them commit to a Project Plan: A well laid out plan takes care of the concerns around “eating more than you can chew” because it forces you to ask fundamental questions like:
    • What tasks need to be done to achieve the final goal
    • Who will do it
    • What are the dependencies that must be taken care of to complete a task
    • How much effort is needed to complete a task
    • When will it get done
  4. Foster a Team environment: Reward people when they look out for each other, help each other and back each other – all aspects of good teamwork, encourage communication and coordination between team members, Acknowledge individual feats but amplify the team achievements more!

True, teams are made of individuals and the more skillful the individuals comprising the team, the better the capacity of the team… but teams are teams. What we are looking for is “High Performance Teams” and THAT comes not from gathering a bunch of superstars in a group BUT from Focused teams supporting each other at each step of the journey… Yes, by all means, have Rock Stars on your team but in the end what really matters is you need to have a Rocking TEAM!

Five Elements of Corporate Governance

by guest on August 25, 2009

rk-iconsGovernance is everywhere.

As we all know, our universe is governed by 5 elements of nature:

1. Land
2. Water
3. Air
4. Fire and
5. Sky

Without these elements, really, there is no life.

The elements of nature bring in different assets to our existence. Our ancestors have acknowledged these and we all know their importance.

Now, what has this got to do with Governance?

[ Note: Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that you establish in an enterprise to guide, direct, and control how the organization uses technologies to accomplish business goals.]

Before we answer that question let us see what is one of the major driving forces of this world:

It’s the economy.

Opening up of economy ensures that a countries limitations are overcome through partnership and collaboration. This comes with not only an increase in opportunities and challenges but also an increase in the dependencies on each other. These collaborations, partnerships and the numerous opportunities are tempting desires in a philosophical sense and human minds go to great extent to reap those in all possible ways and means. Any disturbance in these balances stand to impact the lives of thousands of people.

One thing that can guide us from all these imbalances is Governance. Governance could be lethal or soothing based on how it is used leading to the thought that “Governance itself needs to be governed!” One way to think about this is using the “elements of nature” framework outlined above.

Let us look at each of the elements of nature in the context of Governance:

1. Land: Being Grounded.

The mass of the universe is land, which we call Mother Earth that holds all living beings. Without land, there is nowhere for us to live.

Organizations can very much manifest the quality of the land in the following ways:

  • Corporates need to be grounded and look at things as others see them.
  • Only when Corporates are grounded, they fuel other elements of corporate governance
  • Fundamentals of Corporate Governance is about dealing with the ground realities from all the stakeholders perspectives including the employees

2. Water: Being Flexible

We can tell from the past human missions that all manned and unmanned missions to other planets are in search of the most precious resource – Water. Water is essential for us to survive. The attributes of water is such that it takes the shape where it’s contained – a lesson in flexibility! Once it occupies the space, one needs to dive-in to understand what is inside. This is the element which brings in the sense of taste.

Corporate governance should take these basic attributes of water and inculcate these in their organizations thus:

  • Being Adaptive and Flexible
  • Understanding matters deeply than looking at its surface
  • Getting the taste of what is being guided and governed

3. Air: Invisible Presence

Governance is all about not knowing that you are being governed. To me, that’s the highest level of governance; it should be as simple as electricity flowing from the switch, water flowing from the taps. No drama! Just silently going through the motions of doing what it does. Governance needs to be invisible yet exist everywhere like air. It should transmit the sounds of governance to the right levels as to the true attribute of air which transmits sound and it will show its color if something is mixed up.

4. Fire : Destroying Evil

This is the ultimate weapon. Fire absorbs the good and destroys the evil. The only attribute of this element is that, it can be seen, Evil forces that act will always see the fire behind them waiting to destroy them. Another quality of fire is it leaves no trace of what it destroys.

Corporations should have the fire to clear the evil forces that hinders the growth of the Organization. The governance should be structured in a way that it is clearly seen as a lethal weapon to all the destructive forces.

5. Sky – Endless possibilities

Even in utmost turmoil, one thing that holds us together is Hope and the endless possibilities. History shows many instances of this quality. If we observe closely, when you try to reach the sky, it expands itself infinitely. Men have traveled farther to moon only to understand the limitless possibilities that sky brings in. We know we cannot capture it we can only appreciate and acknowledge it.

The rule is very simple – The possibilities are endless. Sky is the limit.

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Rajesh Kannan leads the develpment of Odondo. Odondo, an offering from Compassites is a service that helps the Directors and management to listen to real people and feel the pulse of their organization. Odondo’s goal is simple; to facilitate robust communication that feeds into a 360° IT enabled solution. You can follow him on Twitter at @Odondo