01Nov2014

Standards for Sustainable Profitable Growth

I have been going to various companies from various industries like, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, commodities, etc. in the last the one and a half years and I see that one of the common areas of concern, mainly with the bigger companies, is that the freshers are not industry ready. On the other hand for the smaller companies the challenge is to get everyone across the hierarchy to perform as the owner or promoter intents, thus providing consistent quality and on-time delivery products and services to the customers. The challenge in the case of the smaller companies becomes extremely intense, especially when the next generation of the founder needs to take over. 

In this regard I had some thoughts. I see across all companies that neither valid up-to-date standards pertaining to every role, product and service nor appropriate self-learning materials are available. Additionally the handful of "Experts" in every company are always very busy with no quality time to empower others to perform equally well. Therefore the only possibility of self-learning is generally through trial and error, which is a costly one - high rejects, low productivity, increased throughput! 

I would now like to go to a totally different aspect regarding the freshers. Even when I graduated almost three decades back, the biggest ability that one would have acquired through formal "spoon fed Guides/Notes" education would be to reproduce the learning with precision, of course with some analysis and judgement, since the popular way of testing is largely during the examinations lasting a couple of hours. This ability surprisingly matches the need to reproduce consistently in almost all the roles in any industry. 

Now putting these two together on the one hand most of the roles in a company need just consistent reproduction for developing, planning and delivering on-time quality products and services and to do this the freshers have the right qualification and mindset but on the other hand the companies don't have valid and up-to-date "Guides/Notes for spoon feeding" and expect the freshers to learn by observing, questioning and practicing - "Trial/Error". Will just creating Guides/Notes for spoon feeding every role, product/service specialties, etc. solve the dilemma??? 

I believe making the education system more industry specific first of all may not really be necessary and secondly may NOT BE POSSIBLE since every industry has its own specialties and every company have their core competencies, which cannot be and will not be imparted to public at large. This is what made me take a different approach to a win-win solution for this dilemma. 

In my leadership roles in various countries, I have noted that the employees from countries with well-structured and disciplined societies are generally very good in performing few tasks with almost perfection and feel quite insecure to do others they believe they are not good at. In India and to some extent in Brazil, it is different though. The employees from these not so well-structured and disciplined societies are intrinsically self-confident in performing any kind of role after overcoming many obstacles in life, provided the racial discrimination deterrent to free expression is absent. Not only are they self-confident but can improvise a lot to succeed which results in lesser persistence and superficial expertise. 

Therefore in societies not so well-structured and disciplined the need for Guides/Notes for spoon feeding every role, product/service specialties, etc. is extremely important for the employees not to learn based only on the Trial/Error strategy, which one would be intrinsically motivated to do! Additionally, since they are self-confident they will be more open to self-learning through Guides/Notes and then to experiment - possibly the most desirable condition in a learning organisation. 

I want to thus conclude by encouraging every company to solve this huge competency gap by proactively creating valid standards and appropriate self-learning Audio-Visual Guides/Notes for performing every role and creating every product/service. This approach not only will resolve the dilemma that I had mentioned earlier, but also ensure sustainable, profitable growth through continuous learning.