Are you Spinning the Wheels or Changing?

A Maxi Post after a long time. Hope you read through and find value in this experiential piece in  one of my leadership journey

This truly reflected what a particular organisation (hitherto successful) did when they wanted to step up to the next level – with the existing efforts and mindset this was virtually a non-starter. While heritage is a Strength of an organisation, when not harnessed the right way would surely be reduced to a baggage and a heavy one for the whole organisation to haul. This baggage famously known as the Corporate Cholesterol retards agility, creativity and responsiveness of the organisation. Unknowingly, a whole lot of resources would be directed to building of these very fats when things go well. This build-up becomes so intense yet invisible that it takes a heart attack to realise that it got this far.  This is especially so in Corporates torn between “trying to be professional” and “proprietary firm mindset” of old timers.

A change manager was hired by an  organisation (fits the above description to the “T”) to bring in changes to smoothly step to the next level of growth, stagnated for quite a while. He was assigned to head the biggest branch (by stakeholder strength, product spread, turnover and even real estate) and bring about the change here first. This executive with extensive experience in top notch Corporates that had to be technological & physically agile (due to the area of operations) realised pretty soon that it was the “Mindset” that was the Cholesterol primarily built from from the top and layered down to the last employee worth his/her salt. Lack of trust in ability and integrity of people working in this highly “Human Resource” Intensive organisation resulted in centralising all the powers and decision making to a Single person, let us call him the dreaded four lettered word – BOSS! Omnipresence being quality of God, this human BOSS could not watch over everyone’s shoulders all the time (though most of his productive hours went in that pursuit).

This culture was deep ingrained by those reporting to the BOSS that they became the “boss” for people down the line. The recipe for a major Heart Attack was slowly being written – Individual Silos built to protect their turf at various levels ensured that there was no circulation of positive energy flow between layers (laterally and vertically). No one trusted the other (saw this in case of a couple in this organisation, while one grudged the other getting recognised with an award)

Operations in this location started exactly 30 years ago and average service age was 15+ years. Many in the team also believed in this and told the executive as much.

Forget changing mindset of long entrenched, “passenger” mindset of the team. They are comfortable in their own silos and there is enough Cholesterol built up and thick skin too.

 

The first thing this executive did was to establish trust – First between him and his reportees and thereafter with each other. He also ensured that every single person was insulated from any kind of threats or intimidation or interference in his/her work. Excellence in Delivery of the designated and agreed task (agreed by the team member & signed off with their reporting Manager – it was no longer with the BOSS or boss). It did not take much time to see the turn around – less than 90 days. Every behavioural myth was broken.

To borrow from the best seller book “The Fish”, this particular branch from being the “Toxic Energy Dump” was now a darling location for all. Everyone on this campus was an epitome of happiness and vibrancy with positive energy.

Performance soared, people looked forward for sun to rise and rush to work, they considered each other as an excellent support system, professionally, personally, emotionally and spiritually too. A perfect example of Help everyone and Get helped by everyone! It was a ship that sailed perfectly in a still ocean and choppy waves were absorbed effortlessly. Every one became a perfect living example of  Leading from Behind. Boat sailed well, as in the earlier days for 3 long years. Miles were covered, all challenges conquered and were relishing the fruits at every harbor. It was no less than a fairy tale situation, too good to be true and too good to last. Undercurrents began to slowly surface, surprisingly it was not from within the team.

Well entrenched and boss and silos began to be shaken. Cholesterol are known to be stubborn fats – which did not want to release its vice like grip. If you were looking for an example of Parent grudging the success of the Child, here it was. I have referred to as the “Raman Syndrome (nothing to do with Nobel Prize winner)” in another piece Ramans of Work place – Not a Myth! This sense of threat (misplaced one obviously) by the Raman a.k.a the BOSS  made him make the seas choppy. In the name of recognition and growth the bosses who were convinced by leading from behind were moved to different roles – a change just for the sake of change (for ulterior motives, we can say with benefit of hindsight). Cholesterol found pliant fat cells, the Organisational Yes-men, not necessarily horse for the course who were again put in places to dissolve the insulation for the people down the line and create chinks in those armours. An open office is very threatening and challenging to a Manager. Especially those with a historical Type A leadership style which would be a misfit in this Knowledge-worker, Rights-aware, Opportunity-aplenty age. What Raman did not realize that Different types of Leadership like Antique furniture exist for different values as I discuss here Leadership – Antique Value or Utility Value. But then it was desperate times to prove what a child can do it, parent can do it even better. Then came the over-enthusiastic, relocated silo, the new boss who also was shaken out of the cosy comfort of status quo earlier, wanted to prove the BOSS that everything of the intervention was opposite of what original values were. Undoing the gains and getting back to Blue Ocean thinking that it is never going to be Red. Status Quo was comfortable but possibility of Heart Attacks? Worse still, is when fats can turn carcinogenic. Restoration work began in full earnest. It was back to status-quo to prove older methods still can work today. Started using Alcohol as an anaesthetic to prove that it is as effective or better than Xenon – pain became visible and felt by everyone around. To borrow from Change Management Expert Tori Reid :

If you constantly change your to-do app, route to work, lane on the highway, or line at the supermarket, you probably know that at some point you’re just spinning your wheels.

 

Don’t Change for Change Sake & definitely not thoughtlessly

And watching this pile of fats, reminds me of the proverbial over-enthusiastic demolition man – who in trying to impress the BOSS in a demolition spree would end up like the one below. This man has an impressive track record of demolition anything that he touches (atleast 4 instances of near closures) , even without a hammer – the man with SADIM touch

Self-Demolition Man

Would like you to read this piece of mine, when the Jealous & Feels Threatened BOSS, dished out some advise, not only chose wrong example and secondly he understood it grossly wrong (Happens when you love to hear your own voice a lot). Anyone cannot do a job, it requires someone with skill and commitment. The one will real capability will agree and live the dictum “We are not the Doers – What it really means “

 

Clicking on the links will take you additional reading (pieces written by me)

Advertisements

The Quint Squints Again

When the vision gets too squinted in the hatred for the Government and the Prime Minster, it shows up as shoddy work from people.

Here is the screenshot of Hon’ble Minister Smriti Irani’s tweet in question. Unfortunately neither the Trolls nor the Contents team of “The Quint” nor the Editorial Controls saw that all important Punctuation in the Minister’s tweet. Incidentally, The Quint Article has the same Punctuation (?) in their headline. What hate does to people is amazing!!!

Crowd sourcing and publishing stories based on Tweets are fine, Jbut then Editorial Controls is an art that no serious journalism (even for Neo-Media) can forgo. Quint once again failed miserably there and has the audacity to say “Smriti Irani’s Faux Paus”

At the time of writing this piece : Here is the Text paste version of their Column


Srinagar to Leh in 15 Mins? Twitter Mocks Smriti Irani’s Faux Pas

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani committed a faux pas on Friday, 5 January, when she posted a tweet that said ‘Srinagar to Leh in 15 minutes: Cabinet approves Zojila Pass tunnel project’.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The tweet was accompanied by a link to a Times of India article (sourced from PTI), as well as an image of a story, whose headline was the same as her tweet.

Now, a quick glance on the internet reveals that the distance between Srinagar and Leh via NH-1D is more than 400 kms. And what Irani’s tweet seems to be suggesting is that one can go from to Srinagar to Leh in 15 minutes.

400 kms in just 15 minutes? Say, what? The error is all too conspicuous.

Twitter Goes All Scienc-y to Mock Irani’s Faux Pas

The folks on Twitter were quick to mock this faux pas. However, Irani has still not deleted her erroneous tweet.

TOI has fixed the error in its copy, accompanied by a statement reading:

Corrigendum: An earlier version of this agency story wrongly mentioned that the travel time between Srinagar and Leh would be reduced to 15 minutes. The proposed tunnel would reduce the travel time of crossing Zojila Pass from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. The error is regretted.

The Zojila Pass tunnel, whose construction the Union Cabinet approved on 3 January, is touted to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel, and is expected to be constructed in seven years.


So that their Stupidity of Quint is preserved for posterity lest the piece is edited and taken down Here is the Screenshot (re arranged in two columns for readability)

Despite pointing this Gross Error in this piece, those who said, “However, Irani has still not deleted her erroneous tweet” still have their piece published as it is. Something tells me (s)Quint will soon sprint from the scene

Until then! Jain Hind!

 

Squinted view of The Quint

When “The Quint” got it all wrong due to their Squinted Vision. They published a totally unverified report which is definitely Seditious and in gross violation of Official Secrets Act too. Attributing to sources (citing confidentiality is just a ruse). After the damage was done, called out very strongly by the Social Media – They retracted the story for Checking. Yes! Gold Standard rule of the Journalism practiced by The Quint – Publish, damage the Country, When called out, retract and then go for checking veracity of what they published.

 

Text Copy/Paste of the @TheQuint Page as it appeared at 20:43:12 on January 5th 2018 (Screenshot at the end of this report)

Two Ex-RAW Chiefs Did Not Want Kulbhushan Jadhav Recruited As Spy

Senior RAW Officers Were Not in Favour of Jadhav

Speaking to The Quint, two former RAW senior officers, including one secretary who headed India’s external intelligence agency after 2008, said that the “proposal to recruit Jadhav for operations, whatever it’s worth, was ridiculous.”

In any case, a number of RAW sources, some serving and a few who retired over the past seven to eight years, revealed that Jadhav was “not a high-grade” operative with skills that other operatives recruited by the agency in other theatres had and used effectively to obtain intelligence.

Even as two RAW secretaries refused to hire his services, the proposal to recruit Jadhav for specific assignments was finally acceded to by a chief who headed the intelligence agency a few years ago and was subsequently re-employed (after retirement) in an organisation also involved in collecting intelligence.

This was among a few different attempts to launch renewed efforts to use human sources as “deep penetration” agents in Pakistan, where most intelligence assets, both HUMINT and SIGINT, were wound up during the prime ministership of IK Gujral in the late 1990s.

Evidence That Links Jadhav With RAW

While the sources were – understandably – wary about disclosing full details about Jadhav’s recruitment. The proposal to hire him on a temporary basis was prepared by his case officer (of the rank of deputy secretary, who is way below in the hierarchy) on the Pakistan desk. One former RAW officer, however, said that “it could be that the desk handling Iran and Afghanistan” was instrumental in recruiting Jadhav.

In any case, the recruitment was approved by a joint secretary as the supervisory officer. The RAW has a special unit which also undertakes parallel operations in certain crucial target countries for which it seeks out its own recruits.

The clearest evidence that Jadhav operated for the RAW came to the fore only after his cover – as a businessman who would frequent Iran, especially Chabahar – was blown and he was captured by the Pakistan, following which a former RAW chief, besides at least two other senior officers, called his Mumbai-based parents to “advise” them to not speak about their son’s case to anyone.

The other evidence was the second passport, with the name Hussein Mubarak Patel, that he carried, which shows that it was originally issued in 2003 and was renewed in 2014. The second passport (no L9630722) was issued in Thane on 12 May 2014 and was due to expire on 11 May 2024.

While one passport (no E6934766) is in his name, the second one raises more questions, especially the date of its issue and why he signed as Hussein Mubarak Patel to enter into a property deal (with his mother) in Mumbai where he lived with his parents, wife, and children before he was nabbed by the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Born in August 1968, Jadhav did work for the navy but prematurely retired and took to business, which would often take him to Iran. He was spotted as a potential recruit by an undercover RAW officer posted in Iran, who then subsequently shared this with a colleague at the agency’s headquarters. This second officer subsequently moved to send overtures to Jadhav, who accepted the terms and conditions.

How Was Jadhav Caught?

The nabbing of Jadhav, on 3 March 2016, itself throws up several questions, especially because Pakistan has maintained a degree of secrecy, if not ambiguity, about it. While the Pakistani intelligence had initially claimed that he was trapped in Saravan on the Iran-Pakistan border, a Baloch leader by the name Sarfaraz Bugti had disclosed at the time that Jadhav was held near Chaman in Balochistan.

The RAW sources, both former and serving, said that Jadhav would “go on assignments off and on” and he would undergo the mandatory “debriefing” each time he returned to India from his “visits to Balochistan” or when he volunteered to share information. He also went through a three-month training programme when he learned methods and means to transmit and/or send information.

However, sources said, Jadhav’s undoing was based partly on his unprofessionalism and partly because he was not a “career spy.” He did the unthinkable – instead of waiting to communicate with his case officer face-to-face, Jadhav would sometimes use “means over the air waves.” The ISI intercepted some of the communications and were also able to pinpoint his location, making it relatively easy for them to track and then nab him, sources said.

Standard Operating Procedure Skipped

“The botch-up was the result of unprofessionalism not only on the part of Jadhav but also his case officer,” one former special secretary, who conducted operations in some parts of West Asia, said. In this context, a former special secretary who handled the Pakistan desk till a few years ago, besides special operations in India’s neighbourhood, said that “Jadhav was no good” as he was “never in the thick of things, although he would claim he knew a lot of things and had sources in Pakistan.”

However, the former special secretary said that while RAW has many flaws, as a “matter of rule and unstated policy” no case officer should attempt to hire the services of an agent whose background in “tradecraft is not sound enough” and who is given to “bragging.”

In Jadhav’s case, while standard operating procedures may have been relaxed while recruiting him, sources said that his incarceration and the ambiguity surrounding his “work” does “have a lot of benefits.”

Several seasoned RAW hands said that while Jadhav’s case officer (deputy secretary) and the latter’s supervisory officer (joint secretary) recruited him for “reasons best known to them,” the standard practice in spycraft would have been to “have a Baloch or a Pakistani national” do the “intelligence gathering job for us.” He added that it was “foolish for to set an Indian the task to obtain intelligence from a country as hostile as Pakistan.”

Sources said that soon after Jadhav was trapped and caught in March 2016, a few records relating to payments made to him were destroyed, leaving “no trace” of his existence as far the RAW is concerned. But a former agency chief, who retired in the closing years of the previous decade, said, “No professional agency should have recruited him. I cannot even imagine that Jadhav was because it has been a disaster.”

He asked pointedly: “Every operation should have an objective. What huge intelligence or foreign policy objective was to be achieved by tasking Jadhav to operate in Balochitan?”

 

Also Read: Will India’s Raking up of the Shoes Episode Harm Jadhav’s Case?

 

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT in partnership with #MyRightToBreathe to find a solution to pollution. Send in your suggestions to fit@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

 


Screenshot of the Webpage as it appeared at the same time


Rearranged for better readability into two Columns