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It was while working on the manufacturing plant shop floor along with his gifted father Naval, that Jamshyd realised the focus for survival and global competitiveness. It was there that he dreamed of making Godrej a world-class company. This dream led to a commitment to change ?radically changing the mindsets of those in positions of authority, while at the same time ensuring the trickle-down effect. Jamshyd realises this is a time-consuming, long-drawn-out, extremely difficult process. But the process has begun on a note of promise, notwithstanding the occasional failures. Jamshyd is not judgemental, but understanding and patient. His faith is calm and strong.

“My contribution is Empowerment?br> J.N. Godrej, Chairman and Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.,
to B.K. Karanjia

Pheroza and Jamshyd Godrej, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, on the occasion of the release of Kekoo Naoroji’s Himalayan Vignettes. (See pages 10 & 11)


Ch. You studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Subsequently you gained considerable experience from your father (“the strongest influence in my life? on the shop floor which stood you in good stead for, with the market opening up, there was need for change in keeping with the fast-moving times. Along with external consultants and an internal team you decided that, in a highly centralised Company, creating several product divisions as profit centres was the only solution. How did you change the mindset of a somewhat staid and conservative organi-sation to accept this? Looking back, would you say that Divisionalisation met with a fair measure of success?

JNG. The reason for Divisionalisation was that there was a general feeling among the manufacturing units and the manufacturing heads that their products were not getting enough attention. Clubbing all products under one head was hampering progress. The functional approach was found wanting. As the marketing organisation was one, the tendency of the organisation in a Branch would be to sell what is easiest to sell. For example, when there was a demand for safes, safes continued to sell. Plant Managers felt that in order to give more attention to other products, it was necessary to go in for Divisionalisation so that then they could focus on each of several products. The logic was that if we focus, we get more growth and then we can take care of the cost. But the growth has to be rapid.

Ch. Wasn’t the growth to your satisfaction?

JNG. No. What happened was that businesses certainly got more attention, but the growth was not as rapid as I had expected due to which the cost aspect did not turn out to be at a favourable ratio. Costs should have actually come down, but they went up significantly because of the individual structures of each Division. So unless the businesses grew rapidly, the extra cost of having Sales Managers for various products at each Branch increased manifold. Had the businesses grown a lot faster, the experiment would have been more successful.


Ch. You have from the very inception laid emphasis on quality, “exceeding the expectations of the customer? In an article for the Bombay Management Association around that time, you remarked about people who go the extra mile: “There are no codes of conduct written in the procedure manuals. They come from within the hearts of such people. The quality we are talking about is intricately woven in the hearts of the people.?Is this applicable to workers in Godrej?

JNG. If you ask anybody in Godrej, today or earlier, employees have always been conscious about quality, it was not something new to them. But I think that consistent quality requires things to be done in a systematic manner. It was that systematic observance of design codes and procedures of following certain manufacturing processes strictly that was lacking. The reason was that we depended greatly on individuals who themselves took on the role of seeing to it that the quality of products was good. These individuals did things in their own way, but unsystematically, so that in their absence, quality suffered. There was a lot of expert knowledge in individuals, but they kept that knowledge to themselves. Have you heard about the mistri (mason) culture? Well, we had the mistri culture. The mistris controlled everything ?the entire knowledge of the product and process was in their charge. If they were not around, the quality suffered. There was quality consciousness, but concentrated among a few individuals who knew the product inside out. But they did not share their knowledge with others, so that the latter did not become involved.


Jamshyd Godrej escorted by (l-r) Vijay Salaskar, Joint Secretary, Godrej & Boyce Shramik Sangh, Anil Mathur, Vice President, Storwel Division, and Anil Gopale, Vice Chairman, Central Works Committee.


Ch. You stated in the same article that just as the eighties were dominated by quality, the nineties would be dominated by speed. Speed is therefore “a growing competition differentiator because of the shrinking life cycle of our production? You added that “flexibility along with quality and speed opened up new vistas for growth and prosperity? How far is this relevant to Godrej?

JNG. The difference between the life cycle of a product today compared to yesteryears is huge. In the old days you could make a product and it would have a shelf life for a number of years. The need for repeated change was not felt because consumers were quite happy to buy products that were standardised and available. Gradually, consumers became more demanding, wanting more choices and repeated changes in models. The speed at which you bring a product to the market becomes very important. Today, people want mass customisation ? you make things in large volume, but each product is different from the other and that is where customisation comes in. Flexibility goes along with making large volumes and meeting the needs of consumers. If you don’t have flexible production systems, you cannot meet market requirements. In the earlier days you could plan your production in advance in the knowledge that your product would sell. Today, you need to know what the customer wants, be quick in meeting the customer’s needs and expectations, provide flexibility to the product for variations the customer may want, etc.


Ch. At a seminar on Strategy for Quality (under CII’s auspices) you emphasized that we needed the involvement of the political leadership in a nationwide quality movement: “Quality needs to be brought into the ministries, into all Government agencies and authorities, departments and autonomous corporations. A start could be made by each Ministry having an official-level Quality Committee to bring in quality concepts into a Ministry. This could be followed by others, including schools, colleges, hospitals, statutory authorities and even the judiciary.?My question to you not as corporate head but as conscious citizen is: would you agree that the quality of governance, generally, has deteriorated?

JNG. There are two aspects. If organisations which are for the public good such as schools, colleges, hospitals, statutory authorities, etc., are not focused on the needs of their customers, then they should be pressured to deliver high quality service at the right price and at the right place. One of the reasons why Indian schools, for instance, are not up to the mark is the lack of competition. People don’t have much of a choice. If they had a choice, they would not go to a school or college that gives inferior education. If the monopolistic organisation does not actually provide high quality services, then we have a difficulty. Similarly, if the Government decides to be sensitive to the needs of its citizens, then quality has to be brought into all the Government departments, ministries, corporations, etc. A start could be made by each Ministry having an official-level Quality Committee to bring in quality control into a Ministry. This could be followed by others, including schools, colleges, hospitals, statutory authorities, and even the judiciary.

There used to be a general criticism that industry is not responsive to the needs of customers, but at the same time it is very obvious that Government departments are not responsive to the citizens. People living in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

It is no wonder then that the quality of governance has deteriorated.


Ch. Along with Divisionalisation, the need was felt for a renewed and conscious drive towards a vibrant human culture. A major outcome of this was the Total Quality Management Movement. Professor Chakraborty’s Managerial Transformation by Values pleads for the achieving of a balance between new ideas and enduring wisdom, especially on the human side of the enterprise. Now, coming down to one of the key components of TQM, would you say that our employees are “fired by the knowledge, skill and desire to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organisational success?

JNG. This is the most important aspect of TQM. You have to involve each and every person in the organisation whether he is a worker or a salesman or a manager. The knowledge of how to do things, what to do, when to do it, most often resides in the people who actually do it. If you do not tap that knowledge base, then you are missing out on knowledge that already exists with you.

In the past we had some senior plant managers who openly said to employees that you are employed to bring your hands to the job and not your brain: ?i>A hushiyari maarva kone kahi!? (“Who told you to act smart?? They were not open to new ideas from their subordinates.

Jamshyd Godrej at the pooja site during the Diwali Celebration function on 1 November, 2002.


Ch. Yes, I remember this was so in the fifties when I was in Godrej.

JNG. Why, even in the sixties, seventies and eighties it was there! The managers forgot that everybody has something to contribute by way of doing things in a better way. Then why not harness that energy? You are paying them, so you might as well take full advantage of the ideas they have. It is said that in Japan every individual comes up with 300 to 400 suggestions every year. Even if one per cent of those suggestions are implemented, the organisation’s savings could be enormous. You must use the knowledge that is already with your workers. The philosophy of TQM is that every employee, including a sweeper, can contribute. He will know which is a better broom, how to use that broom, and so on.


Ch. How would you view Prof. Chakraborty’s contention that the orientation towards self-centred careerism was causing breaches in the traditional bonds of trust, which the owner-top management group had always enjoyed with Godrej & Boyce employees at all levels ?particularly as an internally conducted survey in 1990 had come to the same conclusion about a perceptible decline in “the quality of mind?in Godrej & Boyce?

JNG. It is all very well to say that you should have trust and closeness among employees. But employees must also have ambition. Ambition could help build an organisation, and ambition could also be destructive. When people have creative ambition, their career depends to some degree on their own initiative, drive and will to succeed. But when it is destructive, problems can arise. It is a good thing for people to feel that they can make a difference, but to do so they need to have a collective creative energy rather than a destructive one.


Ch. New growth opportunities have to be created and exploited to achieve radical performance improvement. However, marketing Industrial Products was a different ball game for a Company like ours which had been selling consumer durables. How did Godrej adapt and what is your assessment of Godrej achievement in this sphere?

JNG. Selling Industrial Products is totally different from selling consumer durables. In Industrial Products your depth of knowledge has to be much greater with much deeper understanding of the customer’s needs. It is a different orientation. You need to know exactly what the customer wants. You have to make customisations. Whereas selling consumer durables has a different orientation such as understanding the needs of dealers, etc. For example, if you are selling refrigerators to a dealer, what you say to a dealer as a sales person is completely different from what you say to a Plant Manager who is buying your machine worth crores of rupees.


Ch. At the inauguration of the Business Forum of the G-15 meeting in 1994 under CII auspices, you as the then President pinpointed the areas of concern such as huge burden of debt, high rate of inflation, negative capital formation, and so on. You spoke of the advantage of cooperation in trading to find collective solutions to problems, complementing each other’s strengths and covering each other’s weaknesses, of the pooling of resources, and suggested that such cooperation would help to exploit comparative advantages, improve efficiency, create new opportunities and bring about a higher level of growth for all. What is the extent of the cooperation thus achieved in corporate India?

JNG. Trade among the G-15 countries is very low. We don’t try to sell to Ethiopia. We prefer to sell to the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany, etc. Can we identify areas among developing countries where we can cooperate for trade, technology, etc.? It is truly an external issue. But, in a way, Godrej was involved in this. When we opened our factory in Malaysia, the country was way behind India as far as development is concerned. That was a good example of developing countries working with each other when we invested in Malaysia.


Ch. How do you estimate the contribution of ANAAR in changing the day-to-day working of Godrej? How far has the emphasis on Processes-orientation Thinking helped? What about Becoming Globally Competitive, which crystallises ANAAR’s philosophy? How far has this helped Godrej?

JNG. Nirdosh and Asha Reddy were trying to talk to groups of people on what makes an organisation performance-oriented. There was also an element of motivation. They had a whole philosophy of approaches that if you organise your work in a systematic manner, then you will not be spending your whole day fighting fires, then things would move smoothly. To explain this, they used certain tools: quality control, measurement tools, statistical methods... Both Nirdosh and Asha were followers of Deming’s philosophy.


Ch. You mean the 14 points that show Deming’s way “Out of the Crisis?

JNG. Yes. Nirdosh and Asha were strong proponents of Deming, and their methods were akin to the philosophy of Deming ?that facts are most important. Decisions have to be fact-based, measurement-based, repetitive and with a scientific approach. Their philosophy explains to managers, workers, etc. that if you are systematic and organised, then the product that you make will be right the very first time. There will be no need to rework and there will be no rejections.

The second thing they talked about was their feeling that we had not unleashed the potential of our employees. Nirdosh did motivate them and told them that if you do things this way, then you can actually double your business, which was a very good approach. They put emphasis on small group activities and constant improvements. If thousands of people keep making small improvements, they add up to something substantial. The mistri culture was not properly documented and organised. Nirdosh and Asha were working on how to change that culture and bring in a new culture that is fact-based, scientific, repetitive and gives much more pleasure to employees. They did a lot of good for the people in the Company and certainly helped in changing their attitudes.

Towards the end of their work with us, at our request, Asha used to spend a lot of time with union leaders explaining to them what true leadership means, etc. Being a Maharashtrian, she could communicate with them in Marathi. Nirdosh was a Reddy, from Andhra. They brought a total transformation in the union’s approach towards their work. By demonstration, they were able to explain to workers that it is in their own interest to increase productivity and improve quality, that that is what the market demanded. They significantly helped in changing attitudes and approaches.

Any consultant, after spending a certain amount of time with any organisation, has to leave. There is something called a law of diminishing returns. Nirdosh and Asha had other things to do. Ten years was a long time and they moved on.


Family photo: Jamshyd and Pheroza Godrej with children Raika and Navroze. May 1994.


Ch. Partnership 2000, which followed ANAAR, was a further step taken by you towards self-improvement, achieving a sharper focus. In your inaugural speech you laid particular emphasis on the Partnership’s key feature, to entrust and empower. Will you please specify the extent of the empowerment?

JNG. Empowerment goes together with responsibility. In fact it implies a much higher level of responsibility. You have to empower people at every level. For example an employee may not write down how many pieces of a particular product his subordinate is making every day. But tomorrow if the subordinate suddenly brings down the level of production, then empowerment is being abused.


Ch. Since empowerment does not imply total abdication of responsibility, how far have senior managers guided and helped workers to give of their best? Have those you have empowered fulfilled your expectations of them?

JNG. To a very large extent, we have been successful. There is no other alternative. You have to empower them, give them more responsibility and give them higher standards. Just because a few people may abuse that, it doesn’t mean the end of it. It means that you have to reemphasise that empowerment and responsibility go hand in hand.


Ch. Management guru Sumantra Ghoshal believes that the fundamental requirement for leading change ?and the most difficult ?is to change people’s mindsets. In a deregulated competitive economy, driven by the current logic of markets, a company that fails to change falls by the wayside. At the same time, such an economy offers to a determined management the opportunity to transform itself. In the BMA article referred to earlier, you stated: “The root of our difficulties is our mindset. We need to change our focus from routine to improvement, from profits to customer and profits, from results to process and results, and from specifications to satisfaction.?You further complained that our infrastructure of communication, transport, power and water fall far short of what world-class organisations have come to expect as their right. In your considered opinion and in spite of so many handicaps, has the mindset, particularly of the Vice Presidents and other senior executives changed radically to avail of this opportunity?

JNG. There has been a very large change in mindsets. There is no doubt at all that people at the top level understand the need for a different orientation and a different mindset. Very often the frustration that they may face in the process is that they have to take people along with them. You can’t say that there is change of mindset only at the apex point. That is not going to drive the organisation. Change in mindset starts at the top and percolates down, and to a large extent it has percolated down.


Ch. But is it just a surface change?

JNG. In many cases, the change is quite radical. Attitudes today are very different. There is a much greater acceptance and understanding of the needs of consumers and customers, internal and external. This is an unending process. By definition changing people’s mindsets is a slow process. It has to be constantly promoted at every level. Even if we talk 10 years from now, the matter is still the same. The mindsets have to be attuned. So it is an unending quest. But if you say to what extent it has been successful, then there is a good understanding and awareness of that issue. The implementation is at various levels. A lot depends upon the person at the top. In those Divisions which are doing well, you will see that change is much more apparent. Those who are laggards have to be pushed to change their ways or, failing, they have to be replaced.


Jamshyd Godrej with Kerse Naoroji attending a Navgani function at Pirojshanagar.


Ch. Changing people’s mindsets is closely associated with Human Resources Development (HRD). It is believed that this development rests on four important pillars, namely competency building (through training), commitment building (through personality development of an individual), culture and system building (by building structures and processes to enable dissemination of knowledge and culture ? libraries, game sets, etc.). How far has HRD as functioning in Godrej helped the organisation?

JNG. The Human Resources Department’s role is very central to the organisation because the whole organisational transformation that has to be done to make the organisation more performance-oriented is the role of the HRD. They have to spearhead, guide and lead this process through the right type of initiatives, promises, etc. It is very much our responsibility to do this.


Ch. Since HRD has to deal with people, and certain training is needed to understand people, the Brahma Kumari movement can help, as they have in other corporations. Is it true, then, that the Brahma Kumaris will shortly be having special daily sessions, morning and evening, with workers at Pirojshanagar?

JNG. A number of our employees have been to Mt. Abu where they are immersed in their experience of the Brahma Kumari movement, which is one of devotion, looking inwards. It certainly helps employees to transform the way we see others and see the organisation. It has helped in making employees much more responsive to the needs of the organisation. It has to be constantly rejuvenated because complacency can set in. It is human nature to fall back.


Ch. However, we have heard of employees complaining that they do not feel much of a difference at the workplace after returning from Mt. Abu.

JNG. Employees have different ways of working. It is important to get a critical number of employees transformed in this manner so that they can help transform others with them. Even if they pick up the elements of what the Brahma Kumaris have to teach, it will help them ultimately.


Ch. I have always been surprised at the lack of a Public Relations (PR) Department in Godrej & Boyce. Why, you don’t even have a PR Officer! I wonder, could this be an inheritance from your father who shunned publicity? No doubt, PR can be a force for good. Recently, however, I’ve seen it being grossly manipulated, particularly in business papers and on television. So one is in two minds. What is your personal approach to this question?

JNG. Is PR about saying something that is there or that is not there? Our products have to speak for themselves. A PR Officer cannot do the job that the products and services are supposed to do. It brings the doers into prominence. If you are in the public eye, then obviously people recognise you and they’ll want to know more about the person than the Company.

Publicity has to have some good reason. If you have done something good you can publicise it. For example, if Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. has a press conference declaring profits, it gets a good rub-off effect in the organisation. That is a genuine achievement. Whereas, if it is just a fashion show that you are seen at, that should not be written about.

There’s also another problem. The Press is not that thorough in doing its research. We are using PR now for very specific events. For example, when the Security Equipment Division completed a hundred years, we organised several roadshows across the country. We had hired a PR agency to publicise that and it did help us. Basically, the idea of PR is to reach out to our target audience. Also, in the case of refrigerators, we have appointed a PR agency to get a good story of the Company, find out where we are doing well, what our market share is, etc. We do use PR. It is much better to do PR of individual products than to do group PR. Our Business Heads do get interviewed by the Press. But it is all focused towards what we are doing. For instance, there was a big article on Pirojshanagar in the Property Times with Maneck Engineer’s interview on the Godrej Garden Enclave we are coming up with. PR has to be used for a specific purpose and not for personal publicity. Besides, personal publicity also has a negative aspect as even with the public you have to speak up about yourself rather than let the organisation speak for itself.


Ch. I agree about the negative effect of personal publicity. But I’m thinking of PR in a much broader sense. Let me give you an example. Recently, an Indian lady working for the BBC approached me saying that the BBC was doing a programme on Godrej and that they wanted me to feature in it as the author of the Godrej books. On discussing the matter with her, I was shocked to learn that she had not done the homework which a reputed organisation like the BBC ought to have its creative people do. For example, she was not even aware about the existence of the Godrej & Boyce Company and the fact that it was the holding company. As a result, she made some last-minute patchwork efforts and these showed up in the documentary when it was released. My point is that had there been a PR Department in Godrej, the lady could at least have learnt the facts about Godrej! Again, had there been a PRO, certain shortcomings of the documentary could have been pointed out so that such things do not recur.

JNG. That may have been an unfortunate case. But it is an exception.


Ch. You, too, had a dream. Making Godrej a world-class organisation. In your mind you were quite clear about what was needed ?being totally consumer-driven, continuously improving, with evolving targets and goals, always exceeding the expectations of consumers?At the Auto Expo 1993 inaugural ceremony you declared: “We have to strive now to achieve our potential and the message I want to convey, strongly, is that we now see on the horizon a realisation of our field potential as a people and as a nation.?How near ?or how far, considering recent setbacks ?is the realisation of your dream?

JNG. There are organisations which are world class. There are organisations which have done exceptionally good work in terms of the products they make, the level of quality, the customer satisfaction, etc. My point is that if you are going to think negative, then you are not going to be world class. Despite all handicaps (corruption, lack of infrastructure, etc.) we have the ability to be world class. If we are customer-driven, there should not be any reason why we should not be world class. We should have the will, the mindset, the ambition and the drive to make ourselves world class. Otherwise, everything else is an excuse for not doing what we should be doing. There are ways of doing it and people are doing it.


Ch. There’s a touching quality about Godrej that I first noticed when I worked as Publicity Manager from 1954 to 1961. Whenever there is a happy moment in the life of a manager, salesman, dealer, whoever, a senior officer will always attend. But when there’s a sad or tragic event, a family member will make it a point to be present. There seems to me to be a seed in this of a bond, a transformation from a power-based relationship between management and workers to what has been described as a “shared destiny relationship? The worker regards the Company as his own, his destiny inextricably linked with the Company’s destiny. Would this constitute a part of your dream?

JNG. An organisation is made up of individuals. If individuals don’t feel that they are wanted, they are loved, they are important, obviously you are not going to get them to perform and give of their best. “Shared destiny?is very much a part of their living today. Those managers, departmental heads and others who take personal interest in the personal events or life or problems of those who report to them, will always find that those people are far more responsive to their needs. It is very clear that if you don’t engage yourself in the other person’s problems and try to be helpful and solve them, you are not really going to get a response. There are some employees who often make excuses ?bring false telegrams that my mother is dying, and go on leave. That may not be the truth. I understand that superiors do get a little jaded about that. But one has to understand that when there is a genuine problem, one has to get involved. All employees are expected to be honest and truthful.


Ch. Your wife Pheroza speaks glowingly of the help, advice and encouragement you gave her during the researching, writing and publishing of her opus, A Zoroastrian Tapestry. Pheroza, too, in turn must be helping in various ways to lighten your burden. Will you say a few words about this, please?

JNG. (Laughing): I’ve got nothing to do with A Zoroastrian Tapestry. It’s just PR on her part. There is no doubt that a wife can be extremely helpful and understanding. Pheroza is very much interested in certain things and spends her time on them.


Ch. But how does she lighten your burden? I got to know so much about you from her when I was researching for Volume II of Godrej: A Hundred Years.

JNG. I am not the type of person who brings problems home or discusses office issues at home. That’s the way it is.

She knows that I have to get away to Mandwa and she is very responsive to what I feel, that I have to do it for my own relaxation. She is a very cooperative and supportive wife.


Ch. The burden you carry is an extraordinarily heavy one. How do you relax, apart from sailing?

JNG. My work is fairly compartmentalised, such as issues connected to the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Worldwide Fund for Nature ?India, etc. I don’t let myself be overburdened and don’t let business problems keep me awake at night.


Ch. So you do have a good night’s sleep.

JNG. Yes, of course. Besides, I enjoy sailing, swimming and reading. But the most relaxing of all is getting away on the weekends to Mandwa.


Corporate Lessons

So, we will be going through change.
Here are three lessons from large corporations to help you survive change...

Lesson 1
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day.
A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him: “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long??br> The crow answered: “Sure, why not.?br> So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.
All of a sudden, a fox appeared,
jumped on the rabbit... and ate it.

The moral of the story is...

To sit and do nothing you must sit
very, very high up.

The second and third lessons will be published in forthcoming issues.

Via e-mail