March - April 2002   
  Vol. 2 No.2   
 
Know Your Founders Oddities, Eccentricities, Etc. Of Enduring Interest Corporate Commentary Back to Main Page Editorial
Ch.
MF.

 


Tell us something about your career so far.
I established my own consultancy agency in 1984 in Paris, called “Optim Om Alpha”. In fact I grew up in the world of Human Resources because my mother was a great HR woman, one of the first in France, and just observing her was a lifetime lesson for me. I did so for 15 years. These years, I feel, equipped me for life.

 

Ch.
MF.

What made you come to India?
India (laughs). But, seriously, I started my professional career in India in 1990, although the first time I visited India was in 1981. I was fascinated by Indian philosophy and had come here to learn meditation. I wanted to know more about the ancient rajyoga and I got to know about the Brahma Kumaris who have since greatly influenced me. I believe in the philosophy: before you set out to rule the kingdom, you first have to learn to rule yourself. I got interested in different spiritual approaches like Shankaracharya’s, Shivananda’s, Aurobindo’s as also Pascal’s… We can cross so many bridges with the help of different philosophies. One of my dreams has been to create a sangam between eastern and western cultures. I kept totally focused on the Brahma Kumaris. Since the past 20 years I have been learning, learning, delving even deeper into this philosophy. That is why I came to India. Yes, Brahma Kumaris brought me to India. Every year I come to India, and in the past 10 years I have spent almost 7 years in India.

 

Ch.






MF.

Tell me something. No doubt the Brahma Kumaris teach us great values like peace of mind, amity, goodwill, stillness of spirit, calm. But the question which troubles me is that to achieve great things in this fiercely competitive world, you need a different sort of values — a sort of aggressiveness, loads of ambition, even a certain ruthlessness, which do not figure in the Brahma Kumari lexicom.
I see what you mean. To become successful is to become an achiever. Mind you, following the guiding precepts of Brahma Kumaris requires a lot of strength, determination, willpower. The challenge, as I said earlier, is to rule yourself. To be able to rule your thinking process, emotions, which requires a lot of self-control and practice. This means undergoing a different lifestyle, a special diet, meditating… 

 

 

The Spirit here is to work as a team. 
Very rarely I react with one one person at a time.

 

Ch.









MF.






Agreed. Still, history teaches us that great achievers like Napoleon Bonaparte who was both conquerer and codifier of law, Alexander the Great, Emperor Ashoka or, coming down to modern times, men like Roosevelt and Churchill would hardly fall in the category of Brahma Kumaris. Even Mahatma Gandhi had on several occasions to become aggressive, as on the occasion of the Dandi Salt March. Why, even our founder Ardeshir had to adopt an aggressive attitude against the British rulers by propagating that until India beat the British at their own game by making goods as good as, if not better than, the British variety, India could never become free.
No doubt there is a special type of people, exceptional people, who find their own means to achieve their ends. Brahma Kumari is meant for the ordinary, normal human being. It gives him a certain strength to perform the role allotted to him. It frees him from anxiety and torment and ensures him peace of mind. It makes him a better, happier, calmer and therefore more efficient human being.

To me what is important is success, fulfilment. Some people will use a particular virtue to get to the point. Others will use some other virtues. What is important is to have a vision and fulfil it. And what I liked in Godrej is the values of this Company. I feel very much in tune with them. They are values for our very survival.

 

Ch.

















MF.

Talking of the past, I am in the singular position of having worked in Godrej from 1954-1961 and then again from 1992 onwards. I find a great contrast in the methods of working then and now. There were no MBAs in those days, none of the modern management systems. The managers learnt the hard way by example and experience, imbibed Pirojsha’s deep-rooted belief of fairplay in all business dealings. They helped him consolidate his gains and, in the process, developed a business philosophy that was ahead of the time and uniquely Godrej’s. The problems then were grave too. Grave shortage of steel, a socialistic pattern that favoured the inefficient and the corrupt against the efficient and the dedicated. One particular difference I noticed was that these managers were hardly ever as busy meeting other managers as they are today! They did meet, but for brief spells early every morning. Now, everybody is busy in meetings and these meetings seem to last all day. The bosses’ Secretaries have a standard reply to all enquiries: “Mr. so-and-so is busy in a meeting”. The result is that they are almost inaccessible. Is this a healthy way of working?
I know, this is a new culture of having meetings. This has to change (ponders for a while). My perception is that today this Company has to go through a drastic change. What we have to deal with today are some traces of British administrative traits as well as some leftovers of communism. The structure of Godrej is that of a pyramid, which was required for stable growth. At that time, employees used to come with their hands, they had engineers to think for them, saying: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” There was permanent growth. In the seventies and eighties, things changed. The American management style made its entry. There was the gas crisis, the Middle East crisis … Then, the Japanese came with TQM asking people to come with hands, but also with their minds. Quality Circles were formed. For the past 20 years we’ve been working with this. Now we’re talking about ownership, commitment, involvement … Now, the challenge comes with your hands, minds and hearts, all together. How can we achieve this? The situation is very complex. Until we bring together the hands, minds and hearts of our employees, we cannot manage change. Then, too, our life cycle is getting faster and faster. 



Ch.
MF.

What then is the solution?
The solution is leadership. It means that every one knows exactly what he/she has to do, what is the purpose, what are his/her values supporting the purpose, what is his/her vision, what does he/she want to achieve, how is he/she going to set about it — and all this has to be consistent with the purpose of the Company and the Department to which he/she belongs. This is what I’m trying to do here.

Mr. Jamshyd Godrej said: “My focus is to entrust and to empower.” This is totally consistent, according to me. If we do not entrust people, how can we empower them? We need to trust people and, most importantly, we need to trust ourselves. 

Let us take the concept of some important deities, for example, Vishnu. Lord Vishnu has four attributes: Sudarshan Chakra i.e. self-realisation, the gada i.e. yoga, the dharna i.e. lotus flower and the shankh i.e. seva. I like this. For me He is the comprehensive image of sangam. Once you understand, you start practising, your attitude changes, and you implement the change. Where’s the sangam here in Godrej? Business performance is absolutely required. So is organisational and managerial performance to support and complete it, and people performance development is most important. Sangam is at this level. They cannot be disconnected. I found a tremendous potential untapped in Godrej.

 

Ch.
MF.

How do you plan to bring about a performance leadership culture?
Who is a leader? For me a leader is not somebody who is creating followers, he is the one who is creating leaders. Helping and supporting people to do what we have to do in the best way, supporting people to bring out their best potential, this is leadership. We are not dealing with external or peripheral things or acquired things. We are dealing with the innate personality, with the core sanskars of the personality. Only then we can achieve everything we want to achieve. Values mean focus, integrity, commitment, but these are universal values. Personally, I feel we need some aggressiveness in these 
things, a strong determination to get on with it, and today the purpose of Partnership 2000 (P2K) is to bring this concept of speed, of changing fast, not being reactive, but always proactive to become a leader. We target to bring this leadership spirit by:

* Observing: which requires time and peace of mind.
* Assessing: to assess fairly from your observation.
* Acting: to act decisively.

These are the three steps of leadership.

Jamshyd Godrej has in him the Godrej spiritual DNA. I can feel his deep concern for the betterment of his business, for the welfare of his employees and welfare of the country. He has a great vision, perfectly in tune with the vision of his forebears.

 

We need to trust people and most importantly,
we need to trust ourselves. 
How can I trust people if  I do not trust myself? 
This is how leadership can be created

 

Ch.
MF.

Isn’t this a step away from the Brahma Kumari culture?
Let me clarify that I am not here to bring the Brahma Kumari culture, I am here as a professional and also as a human being. As a professional I will not give up the implementation of P2K, it is absolutely important. Jamshyd has trusted me. I in turn trust people, also work with them, and it has to be done according to what has been decided. It is said that to be an example is not the best way, it is the only way. Leadership is to lead by example, there’s no other way. The top management is really willing and committed to do that.

Ch.





MF.

Yes, I think that Entrustment and Empowerment is happening in the Company. For me, personally, this is a wonderful, wonderful change. Kalwachia entrusted me with the job of bringing out this magazine. He empowered me totally because he had full faith in me. In fact this was a spur to me and my assistants to give of our best.
There you are. You worked faster and with a greater sense of responsibility. You didn’t wait for 10 days or 10 weeks to get decisions. You took the decisions. The result is there for everybody to cherish, a fine magazine. Yes, the philosophy works.

 

Ch.

MF.

 

The empowered too have to prove themselves worthy of the trust reposed in them.
It is a fact that people here have a wrong understanding of empowerment. It doesn’t mean delegation without control. As you’ve said, you have to be good enough to be empowered. First, you have to know people, their weaknesses, their strengths, have in-depth talks with them. One of the main management tools is Performance Development Meeting (PDM) where the boss and the subordinate meet and agree together on the purpose of the latter’s job, his Key Result Areas, goals, actions to be taken, time allocated, means required, training required … Once the boundaries of responsibilities are clearly laid down, at this point of time the subordinate is fully empowered to take everything that is inside the territory.

 

Ch.

MF.

 

Do you think people generally are capable of being entrusted and empowered in Godrej?
There is an immense majority of people here who are capable. People are basically good over here, which is very important. They are clear about their territory, but being clear doesn’t mean that they have done their job. At the same time, being clear about my own territory and forgetting about others means having chicken-sight. You have to learn to have eagle-sight: this is my partner, these are my colleagues, my subordinates, my boss, my suppliers, my customers … Having a holistic picture in mind all the time is very important. 

The beauty of P2K is that it is designed by people themselves, not by Marc Fourcade. We apply the same processes of working, top down, the way we frame the strategy of the Company, each department, each business, each individual, is the same. That ensures consistency of the process. There are no two ways of working. We have to implement it by three key parameters: implementation, implementation and implementation.

 

Ch.
MF.

 

Then, what about the previous ideas of BaaN, ANAAR and TQM?
All these ideas, including Takao’s are good. But the best of systems, if not implemented, is nothing. P2K is not here to bulldoze what has been done so far. It is here to create a sangam of good things, the best from the past, but also to bring the best from the future and the present.

We try to club three different streams of energy:
* To get the best management business practices.
* To get the best scientific researches, scientific approaches, the latest ones.
* Indian ethos. I do believe that Indian ethos is what the world is looking for and doesn’t know about it. 

I met Mr. Kalwachia through the Brahma Kumaris. He asked me to come in 1994 and meet the then Chairman, the late Mr. S. P. Godrej. Mr. Godrej requested me to start with this Company. Kalwachia at that time was in charge of Locks Division, so I started with that Division. I am working for the business I believe in. It is important for me to be in tune with the values of the Company.

 

Ch.




MF.

 

I believe Indian tradition has a nice way of merging aggression in business with Brahma Kumari principles. Take an outstanding example — G. D. Birla. He established various highly successful industries and late in life became almost an ascetic, took up religious pursuits, built temples, and so on.
It is a very complex question. Even Ardeshir Godrej, as you emphasized earlier, was aggressive and we, too, need to be aggressive. Like a sportsman playing for self-fulfilment, for satisfaction, for progress. We have to be like that. In foreign countries people understand that in order to get aggressive, the mindset of the Company should change. It’s not the machinery, the money or the structure that is important. It is the people. The Company’s main asset is its people. And the main asset of people is not competency, hard work, time, it is their mind and their heart. To be sensible and to be enthused by what they are doing. 

The competitive advantage between two competitors is the commitment of people. Both will have the same product, same quality, same price. Who will win? As you say, the man with a “seductive smile” will win. Today performance starts when a smile begins. You win over people. You make them give of their best. My dream as Consultant is to create smiles on the faces of the vast Godrej family — not only family members, but Executive Directors, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, managers, staff and, last but not the least, the workers.

 



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