Whose call is it?

May 24, 2010 at 10:02 am | Posted in Organizational culture, Systems Improvement, Systems Thinking | Leave a comment

Yesterday a little before noon, I was driving from M.G.Road to Nath Mandir when I saw a marriage procession. The bridegroom was on a horse all decked up and loaded with garlands. There were a few seniors with suits & turbans walking solemnly and perspiring profusely. Ladies in flashing saris and in all their finery were following the horse. Enthusiastic boys & girls were dancing and the band was providing some standard tunes played at such occasions.

May be all of them were enjoying their procession in the Sun at 44 C (112 F). But I just wondered in case any of them were not, what choice they had. The bridegroom would not have liked to miss a chance of a lifetime but surely might have preferred late evening. His father might be concerned about what the relatives will say. The ladies would be worried about breaking a tradition and poor members of the band had no choice unless they were prepared to give up their livelihood. Why then do we get involved in such rituals blindly, afraid to question? And who would be first to raise such a question?

We see similar situations in the organizations as well. Once certain traditions or conventions are established over time, its not easy to change them. Such system structures are invisible yet very powerful. Over a period of a few years in case of organizations (and over centuries for cultures), they build a momentum and provide the life force. But at the same time, they have lot of inertia and anybody wishing to change finds heavy resistance, not only from members but the system itself.

Whose call could it be? I feel anybody who feels strongly about it. Once he raises an issue and keeps raising with patience perseverance and with a positive approach, others will slowly start questioning, look for the reasons why such traditions were initially found useful and whether they still makes sense. Then more and more people would join the band wagon and ultimately we will see a new convention new tradition becoming commonplace. The person who started it all may be forgotten by that time, but he is still around he may feel a deep sense of satisfaction.

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