The Message by Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman and Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd., in the inaugural issue of this magazine was significantly entitled The Challenge of Change.
Indeed, since their inception 105 years ago, Godrej have consistently and constantly been agents of change. It has only recently come to light, in papers unearthed after former Chairman Sohrab Godrej’s death, that the pioneer-founder Ardeshir Godrej not only changed from law to surgical instruments, to locks and safes and, in a startling departure, vegetable oil soaps, but also established, and for some time successfully ran, a farm at Nasik, patterned along the lines of agricultural cooperatives in Europe and America. Ardeshir saw the basic need and great potential for the processing and canning industries in a country like India, which is the largest producer of fruit after Brazil and America, and of vegetables after China. Ardeshir didn’t live to see his vision come to fruition.
So, change is in the Godrej blood. Change is what has enabled Godrej to survive with a strong value system and adapt itself to an even faster changing world. In an address on Management of Change to the Indian Merchants?Chamber in 1991, industrialist Harishankar Singhania described how the technology of communication and travel had shrunk the world and how globalisation of production and financial needs had promoted a closer integration of the economies of nations, making the world highly interdependent. In this continual state of flux, "in a world which is becoming multi-polar economically and tending towards uni-polarity politically," change is the only constant and the only resort for us is to keep pace with it, not let it overtake us.
According to Singhania, there are three levels of response to change ?at the national, the industrial/organisational and the personal levels. The so-called socialistic pattern of society, with its highly centralised planning process forced upon reluctant industrialists in the first 45 years of Independence, severely curtailed their individual, organisational and national freedom as well as the ability to respond rationally to change in any form and at any level.
At the level of industry/organisation, too, it was the same. Government policy created a highly regulated industrial regime in which competition was conspicuous by its absence. Insufficient attention was paid to the quality of goods and services. We lacked an outward orientation, and the global stream passed us by.
But our most significant, most dangerous lack of response was at the individual level. Our national trait of resting on past laurels (at one time we were the 10th highest industrial nation in the world), our chalta hai, chalne do attitude, our belief in karma that all is ordained, and our lack of a work culture have irretrievably damaged our present. The increasing lack of individual commitment, our lack of identification with national goals and failures in personal integrity have reduced usto the status of a development-striving but poverty-stricken nation.
As J. Watson Wilson profoundly understood: "If you dig deeply into any problem, you will get to ‘people?" We as "people" were the losers, yet "people" remain our only hope.
Singhania aptly concluded: "Let us vow not to be the proverbial wheelbarrows, which go only as far as they are pushed, but instead forge ahead like spaceships into the known and yet unexplored destinations with a dynamism that is the need of the hour."
We have so many examples to learn from and to follow. Take just one ?the Rs. 650 crore TTK Group "with business interests ranging from pressure cookers to condoms, atlases and maps to gripe water and surgical gloves". In a recent interview published in The Times of India, TTK’s Chairman, T.T. Jagannathan, recalled how the Company’s pressure cookers became a leading brand in India, with thriving exports to the U.S. as well. But post-1998 U.S. and European exports plummeted from Rs. 25 crore to a mere Rs. 10 crore. Meanwhile in India, too, smaller players started making cheaper products. TTK were hard hit. They learned their lesson in good time, closed down six factories and concentrated on consumer products such as kitchen appliances, fast-moving consumer goods and fee-based services like medical care for elderly parents of NRIs, collection of rent on their behalf, planning their travel itineraries, facilitating cashless hospital entry in emergencies, and so on: "Every company has to change with the times. If you don’t, you are doomed. There is nothing wrong in exiting unviable areas of business."
Even more dramatic were the changes in Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. and then Godrej Soaps Ltd., subsequently renamed Godrej Industries Ltd. The need was felt for a renewed and conscious drive towards a strong human culture which led to the launching of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement. Actually TQM started in Japan in the late fifties, spread to Europe and America in the seventies and has come to India in the last decade: Godrej had unconsciously been practising the five key components of TQM as tabulated in Terry Ehresman’s Small Business Success Through TQM: Practical Methods to Improve Your Organisation’s Performance ?ensuring consumer satisfaction for the simple reason that consumers are why one is in business; managing process, changing from relying on detecting errors to preventing errors; continuously improving in the belief that there is always room for improvement not only with big improvements but also with small incremental improvements; working together as a Team, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts; and encouraging personal initiative, with employees fired by the knowledge, skill and desire to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organisational success. All these were formalised into a movement by 1988.
Along with the objective side of TQM ?technology, product and process improvement ?embarked upon from the worker level upwards, there was the subjective aspect of TQM implying nurturing of the quality of mind on a person-to-person basis. Prof. S.K. Chakraborty, a senior professor of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, who had been spearheading the work in this field, offered Godrej a plan to ensure that a balance was maintained between new ideas and enduring wisdom, especially on the human side of the enterprise. Godrej accepted the plan, sensing that it was both innovative and timely.
The challenge was to adapt and communicate the timeless elements of classical Indian psycho-philosophy to all groups of employees in Godrej, top management, staff associations, unionised employees and Udayachal School teachers. This was sought to be met by a series of intense education programmes with full staff participation, workshops and follow-up sessions. The keynote of these programmes was chittashuddhi, the specific Sanskrit term for mind/heart purification. This purification was to be achieved through three concepts which in Indian thought are the principal foundation of human character formation ?guna to motivate pure understanding and avoid sloth, karma to explain the cause and effect chain implicit in all human action and samskara to drive home that every conscious action (thought, word or deed) leaves behind a residual impression. These impressions, lofty or low, are so powerful that under their influence the individual often acts against his rational, logical, self-suggesting reasoning.
This was the first step to sensitise Godrej managers to the goal of ‘‘pure mind’’. Plenty of illustrations, mythological and contemporary, were introduced by Prof. Chakraborty into the discussions on all these themes so as to get the managers deeply involved in exploring their meaning and implications for their working life. The second step, theory and method of work, was inspired by the nishkam karma theory of the Gita, to work for a cause higher than one’s ego. The motivation behind the last step was the classical Indian social theory of man, that life is meant to be a process of discharging one’s debts to those segments of society that have made his existence a reality. The emphasis was that the duties-obligations orientation amongst workers is more relevant for catalysing healthier human values than the rights-claims thrust.
Judging by the personal accounts of transformational experiences included in Chakraborty’s book, Managerial Transformation by Values, the workshops seem to have had a vivid and direct effect on all levels of management. This was confirmed by an independent, externally commissioned, social science researcher who interviewed several managers in the Company. The transformational experiences recorded and the benefits to have accrued included overcoming mental fatigue, controlling anger, handling conflicts in a mature manner, understanding consumer needs better, improving productivity through better teamwork and several others to make for better workers and better men.
Subsequently ANAAR, as consultants, facilitated the scientific application of values like customers being the focus of everything, continuous improvement as essential to success, total employee involvement, dealers and suppliers to be considered as partners and never compromising integrity ?values which over time have become part of the Godrej philosophy.
A recently published book, The Customer Revolution, by Patricia B. Seybold analyses how customers today are taking control of industries and reshaping them from the outside in. Thanks to the Internet and to mobile wireless devices, both business and customers are demanding that industries change their pricing structure, their distribution channels and the way they design and deliver products and services. They demand that your business must be transformed so that it is completely customer-centric, or you will be out of business.
Writes Seybold: "Many try to characterise the changes taking place as the New Economy, the Internet Economy, or the information, knowledge, or bio-economy. There’s a grain of truth in all these descriptions, but they fail to get to the heart of the changes taking place. Simply put, what we now have is a customer economy and it’s going to result in changes that you would not have thought possible even a few short years ago."
Customers no longer expect quality, they demand it. Change in this context will involve the adoption of a whole range of "best practices" ?streamlining industrial / organisational structures to promote quicker decision-making and more effective implementation at all levels; managing industrial relations so as to effect improvements in productivity; establishing constructive government-industry coordination to enable effective and speedier response to change; identifying those capable of making the change management programme a success; selecting certain key activities to be taken up for change management; listing and distributing the criteria for a professional change team member; developing the most effective method of making known the success stories in the change management programme ?and above all, believing in change as a way to grow, develop, explore and expand.
Realising this need, Godrej adopted Partnership 2000 as a further step, a fresh initiative to meet the diverse needs of a wide variety of businesses across the Godrej organisation. In terms of attracting, motivating and retaining talent while remaining focused on performance, it is one more bold step on the long journey of forging partnerships with "people", who are our biggest asset. It involves a moving away from a too closed supervisory attitude to a more open-minded, trusting one, the driving motto being "Entrust and Empower".
Above all, quality continues to be the watchword. "Exceeding the expectations of the consumer" is for Jamshyd one of the best definitions of quality he has come across: "Expectations are psychological and to that extent Quality has a philosophical connotation ? The challenge is not so much in reducing the defect rates. It is in manufacturing, engineering, marketing and design with all the elements that describe a product and how that is going to affect it in the market."
Jamshyd’s words take us back over a hundred years when, working in a lowly shed in the crowded recesses of Lalbaug, young Ardeshir Godrej, lawyer turned talachaviwalla, devised a lock that provided better value than all the locks then being made in the country ?a lock that was unpickable, that didn’t rust because its springs had been replaced by levers and that could be opened only by its own key. He was the innovator. He set the trend. What was then becoming a household name was transformed by his successors into a strong brand name.
Change Management in Godrej today is going to call for all Jamshyd’s reserves of personal fortitude. We too, being empowered, have to join in. For the rewards are rich ?renewal, reinvigoration.
All boils down to Values (moral) and Value (business). It is not enough for the incumbent management to preserve and cherish the values laid down by our forefathers who made Godrej a household name and then a strong brand name ?it has constantly to question itself as to what value it is adding for the Company’s growth and development.
Pooja Saxena, Assistant Manager, Human Resources Department, makes a case for Riding On The Wings Of Change.
A leading management guru believes
that there are two primary reasons for the
a) inability to escape from past success and glory, and
b) inability to invent/anticipate the future.
Both these causes can be attributed to a failure of leadership. It is leadership that drives change, and the success or failure of a company depends on the direction of change and how it is managed.
As many a leader or "driver of change" will have found, commitment to and acceptance of change seldom comes about as soon as it is introduced. Commitment to the process of change follows from the experience of carrying it out or being a part of it. Commitment is the result of action. The leadership must, however, have the capacity for tolerance and respect, as well as a spirit of adventure, as these are essential for the growth of a social organisation.
First things first, they say…When we desire to transform a firm or organisation from one culture to another, we must recognise that every change starts with personal transformation. A prerequisite for this is personal examination, which starts with an in-depth exploration of personal beliefs, unconscious assumptions, values regarding the nature of management, the organisation, purposes of work and the effectiveness of technology. It also involves an examination of alternative visions of the future. Effective leaders are motivated by an inner vision, purpose and mission. This is an authentic expression of their own being and not a persona they develop to prove to others that they are effective. These individuals define themselves on the basis of "being" rather than "doing".
Everyone, from economists to psychologists, tries to understand change. Nowadays people also try to measure change from the turbulence created in the atmosphere. However, exploring the nature of change is not a new challenge. Just as change requires new ways of thinking, it also involves a rethinking of the "architecture" of organisational structures and relationships.
We do not hear much any more about overcoming resistance to change, which 10 or 15 years ago was one of the most popular topics of management books and management seminars. Everybody accepts that change is unavoidable. But unless an organisation sees that its task is to lead change, that organisation ?whether a business, a university, or a hospital ?will not survive. In a period of rapid structural change the only organisations that survive are the "change leaders".
Organisational change has many sides to it. It is both subtle and dramatic: On the surface, many organisations appear to be stable, unified and generally efficient in their day-to-day operations. Yet beneath the cover, the effects of continuous change are creating new patterns and structures, changing the way organisations define themselves and how they respond to customers, etc.
Organisational change can be planned or unplanned, formal or informal, directed or non-directed, fast or slow, conscious or subconscious, negative or positive, visible or invisible.
?/b> Involves contradictions. The effective management of the process of change starts as organisations begin to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, the contradictions and gaps and also the dysfunctional aspects of the system and culture that might act as a facilitator or barrier to growth and development. Contradictions can energize and distort the change process. The balance between control and innovation, cost and profit, competition and cooperation are some elements that play a role in motivating the sometimes subtle process of change.
?/b> Is a continuous process. To paraphrase a common communication axiom, "You cannot not communicate", we might also conclude that "An organisation cannot not change". The organisation is always changing in some way or the other, in a directed or non-directed manner on different levels. If continuous change is not integrated with strategic goals, then disorganisation and chaos can occur. As they say, "There is no place to stand anymore." Everything seems to be shifting and there is no stable ground or quiet place to observe or ignore the changing world. The only thing that is essential for continuous change is a clear comprehension of both directed and non-directed processes.
?/b> Is interrupted through perceptions and interactions of people. For the better understanding of the change that is taking place in an organisation, one should ask:
?/b> What does this change mean to the owner of the company?
?/b> What are the organisational benefits of this change?
?/b> What are the activities and behaviour related to this change?
?/b> What are the objectives of this directed change?
?/b> How is this change aligned to the mission and vision of the organisation?
?/b> What is the level of awareness of this change and what is its objective?
If change is imposed, it can bring uncertainty, anxiety and frustration for people throughout the organisation. Change imposed by competition and diversity and the desire for the organisation to become more customer oriented and quality driven at low cost may require an adjustment of cultural norms at informal levels. From a psychological point of view, change is exciting and frightening. Yet even if change is focused and directed, there can still be a substantial amount of ambiguity and uncertainty. For many in the organisation, change can bring "a trapeze feeling" as a performer must leave one safe place to land on another that is equally secure.
?/b> Can be facilitated through collaborative inquiry and teamwork. Organisational change is a group activity and better understood and dealt with from the perspective of "we" rather than "I".
Change can be managed best when the process is coordinated through the energy and resources of people at every level of the organisation, informed and motivated, working as a cooperative team, processing data and taking decisions and actions towards organisational goals and results. This also means having a "Shared Vision", seeing it together and working together to achieve it. Be a team!
For the benefit of readers, there is a case study given below of an MNC. For the sake of confidentiality, the corporation will hereinafter be referred to as X.
Organisations have always been wary of drastic change. Taking an organisation through the change process, with the help of experts and at a steady pace, gives employees the necessary momentum and prepares them for the future. That was how X Co. was salvaged.
Organisations have always viewed change with trepidation. Change usually involves uncertainties. Employees are reluctant to make any drastic changes as they find their routine comfortable. So, organisations either force the change on them or avoid making any serious changes.
However, certain organisations take a middle road. These organisations implement the change at a steady pace, based on the pulse of the employees.
The ailing giant X
X Co. was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was running at a huge loss, costs were beyond control, stocks had hit a dangerous low, key employees were looking for lifeboats and accounts were under regulatory scrutiny. In short, X’s core business was in a shambles.
AMM took over as President of X Co. after his predecessor was unable to prevent the organisation’s downward spiral. Chairman PA and AMM took it on themselves to set the ailing company back on its feet.
They believed that moving the company too fast could be more harmful than moving it too slowly. So they set the right pace for change.
First, they made a thorough
assessment of their organisation. It included a critical
They took decisions that had far-reaching impact ?expenses were slashed by $600 million, businesses were shut down, assets were disposed of, 7,000 employees were laid off, manufacturing was outsourced and $1 billion was spent on restructuring.
Being associated with the organisation over a long period earned the President and Chairman much credibility. Awareness of the history and relationships of employees also gave them a better understanding while dealing with layoffs, handling diverse opinions and making balanced judgments, winning the approval of employees regarding certain decisions and finding the best possible solution as quickly as possible under pressure.
Their leadership qualities also helped them smoothen the decision-making process. They reached out to their 80,000 employees to assuage the confusion created by the media regarding bankruptcy. They infused confidence and credibility through telephone conversations and massive town meetings during the crisis. They kept employees abreast of the progress they were making and enlisted their support for the changes involved in reviving the organisation. AMM and PA plan to move the organisation from breaking even to creating a new X with innovative operational styles to scale new heights.
Organisations can embrace change without apprehension and learn a valuable lesson from the experience of X Co., which rose like a phoenix from the ashes.
V. Raji Iyer, Regional Office (West), Plant - 11, is one of the many employees of the Company who visited the Brahma Kumaris Academy for a Better World, "Gyan Sarovar", at Mt. Abu, where lectures on topics such as Managing Change, Leadership Attitudes and Behaviour, Life Management, Stress Management, etc. were held. One of the topics that interested her the most was Managing Change.
Raji shares with readers not only what she learned, but also how the programme has helped her.
Life is an adventure. There are a lot of undercurrents and sharks deep below, which we cannot fathom. What is required is presence of mind to overcome hurdles. Similarly, in our personal and professional life, we have sharks trying to pull us down every time we progress, apart from a lot of other uncertainties. Again, it is our presence of mind that will enable us to win.
Complexity is on the increase and change is inevitable. We have to change our inner thoughts if we are to survive this competition without compromising our Values. We have to learn to control our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Become a better leader through better self-understanding and take responsibility for our life.
Basic requirements for self-understanding
?/b> Knowledge ?What to change? Why to change?
?/b> Skills ?How to change?
?/b> Desire ?Want to change.
How do these requirements help us in self-understanding?
Every event demands a response. The response should be positive. It is positive response that influences our behaviour. Behaviour is like an input that goes into the event, whether good or bad.
Seven lessons to Manage Change
1. Make sure that people are properly informed.
2. Clarify what people have to gain.
3. Make sure that people realise that the old way is not going to work any longer.
4. Help people to readjust their way of thinking.
5. Be sensitive to people’s feelings. Respect those who resist change. There are probably good reasons for it.
6. Permit people to set their own goals.
7. Don’t try to change people. Give them the information and the inspiration to change themselves.
Change is automatically taking place thanks to the changing trends and access to latest technology at our doorsteps as also our keen desire to adapt to globalisation, which is fast turning into localisation. No wonder then, on the personal front, we have seen a sea change in the outlook of our kids who have become more demanding! This is because they are better placed in terms of knowledge, technology and the latest trends. We as parents also want the best for them and hence encourage them in whatever they undertake in today’s competitive world. They thus grow up having their own mindset, which we respect, and thus adapt to change for their betterment in society.
Companies today seek change for sustenance. Professionally, I have adapted to change positively and realistically. Though coming from the old school of thought and having my own set of principles that I have so far lived up to successfully and gracefully, yet, to sustain those high standards, not only have I to change but have also to work as a cementing factor, simply for the position I hold, between my peers and my boss. To achieve this, I sincerely and honestly put in my best efforts keeping the Company’s interests in mind, and, at times, even counsel my peers and try to bring them on the correct path. However, no organisation can really bring about change merely by changing one or two individuals. Change is a two-way affair.
Our organisation will have to think generously and not selectively about this because I firmly believe that we have to be more forthright and quick in our actions. Delay at any level breeds discontentment and demotivation, especially when the Company expects each and every member to put in their best. The Company too should pass on benefits accruing to employees whenever and wherever due. This is bound to promote inter-human relationships and bring out the best in each and every employee.