Thursday, 13 March 2014

Company, Politics and The Human Body

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"You can't negotiate with, threaten or blackmail a person who has nothing to lose"

If you observe, you'll see several similarities between a company and the human body. Just like organ systems, you have teams. And just like complicated interactions among organ systems, you have interactions among teams. All these interactions need to happen very smoothly. The final objective is the survival and growth of the overall entity - The company or the body.

I remember an old story, perhaps from Aesop's Fables - Where all the organs fight among themselves. The heart says it is the greatest, for it helps pump blood all over the place. Without blood, what can you do? The stomach says that it is the greatest, for it digests food and gives energy. Without energy, the heart cannot pump. The limbs say they are the greatest, for they get food - without which you can't digest. The brain says that it is the greatest for making all of this possible, and so on. They all get angry and decide to stop working. The man dies... And along with him, they all do too. The moral of the story is simple. Every one of those organs are important, and every one of those organs are interdependent. Even if one fails, the major entity fails.

Companies are exactly like that - Every team is equally important for the smooth working of the organisation. If one of them fails, then the major entity works. Therefore, it becomes important that everybody works for the success of the entity.

You are often asked not to exercise after eating food. Why do you think that is? Blood is an important resource, but the body has only a certain amount of blood. When you run, your muscles need blood to be supplied to it. When your food is getting digested, blood needs to be supplied to it. If you have two operations at the same time, and a limited resource, one of the two systems will fail - Either you get muscle cramps or you will vomit. Either case, there is damage. It is the same with companies - You cannot drive resources beyond a certain point - It leads to issues.

Another point about companies that everyone needs to remember, is that it is nobody's personal fiefdom. Everybody's goal should be similar, betterment of the organisation, for only that will improve everyone's position even within. The same is the case about a country. If politicians treat their areas as their personal fiefdom, the country will never prosper.

All employees work for one or more of the following

  • Salary - obvious reason, and want it to grow continuously
  • Position - so that there is a sense of growth
  • Self worth - They appreciate themselves and feel they are contributing
  • Recognition - They feel good when others appreciate them
A person who does not get at least one of the above four will start showing tendencies of changing jobs. A person who doesn't get any of the above four will definitely quit.

If you make a person do something against his will, he will begin to treat his work like a job - where it simply becomes a task for him to complete and get done with. He will stop being passionate and you will notice a growing sense of frustration in him. This is especially true with creative teams where any attempts to stifle creativity will result in absurdly poor outputs.

If clear lines of hierarchy are not marked, there is a tendency for interference. Imagine the lungs digesting food. You instinctively know that it will not result in anything good. If these things are not clearly defined, especially at times when there is a growing sense of resentment, things will begin to snowball. These are all subtle things that are happening around you all the time, and you will begin to see them clearly with every passing day if you stop and pay some attention.

I believe that start ups should etch these thoughts into their core. Start ups are organisations where teams should work smoothly together. If at any point of time people forget that and try to intimidate others by marking people in "cc" and think that this is going to get things done, they ought to be thoroughly reprimanded for these actions, for it is against the very principle of a start up - A start up is an organisation where people will work very hard to get things done because they want to do a good job at the end of the day, not because they are scared.

To summarise, the more ego you have, lesser the respect you get. People might smile on your face, but all that is just that - smile in front of you. Don't take bullshit and don't give bullshit. Work to deliver the best possible output. And mind your business. Do this well, and you will be rewarded. You should... Otherwise, there are plenty of other companies out there and plenty of other people out there. Good luck...

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