Beyond agenda and plan

June 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Posted in Organizational culture, Scrum and agile | Leave a comment

Last week, I was talking to a friend of mine who is with an NGO in Maharashtra. He narrated an interesting incidence. The commissioner of the city municipal corporation had heard about the work done by the NGO but had no direct contact with them. One day, he was passing by with his entourage when he saw the sign board. Though there was no plan to visit them that day, just on impulse he decided to stop by. He had an informal chat with the members of the NGO and then interacted with the interns. First question that came up was the road in front of the building which was under construction for quite some time. It was quite impossible to walk on it. With approaching monsoon, everybody was worried. The commissioner told his PA to phone the concerned department and make sure that the road is completed on priority. My friend told me that it was ready in next two days.

Next came some more requests which he could easily take care. Once the audience became more comfortable, there were tougher questions and ambitious demands. The commissioner was accompanied by the local MLA. Being a politician, he started making promises which he probably knew that he cannot possibly fulfill. The commissioner cut him short and took charge of the discussions. He explained to the audience the reasons why certain things were not possible; even not desirable in the larger interest. People understood and were quite appreciative of his frankness. As the time for his next scheduled appointment was fast approaching, he thanked everyone and left.

I started thinking after hearing this incidence that there are many lessons from it for us, the managers and leaders.

  • We get so constrained by our overbooked agendas and detailed plans. How often do we go out of the way and act on impulse?
  • Do we look for opportunities to meet new people, hear new ideas and sometimes even be challenged?
  • Do we make best use of the chance for human to human communication and not limit ourselves to exchange of mails and reports only?
  • Would it help us in prioritizing our tasks as some of hidden problems will now stare us in the face and demand attention?
  • Are we frank about what is possible and what is not?
  • Do we take others into confidence especially for things that we have to say “No”? While doing so, are we sensitive to the needs and feelings of others?

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