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Don’t do the favour of running your organization!

Long ago, in my early employment career, my employer had hired an experienced consultant to improve the efficiency of the organization. I used to indirectly report to him. He was a retired professional who worked in top managements of India’s few big Auto OEMs. I was in my 20’s and he was in his 60’s. He was kind & generous enough to let me grow closer to him, so that I could learn few gems of wisdom.

In one of our conversations, he illustrated an experience of his. He was head of operations reporting to the CEO. He reported to his boss about something great he did, mostly expecting that his boss would appreciate him. To his shock rather, boss said “Please don’t do the favour of running this organization. Please help putting in place the processes to run it.” It was a great learning for my boss as well as for me.

Then there is one of my favourite stories. It goes like this: A family used to an annual ‘pooja’ ritual. They had a strange custom of tying a cat to the pillar at home while the ritual is performed. One year they had hard time to find a cat for tying to the pillar. A young boy in the family asked his father, “...but why should the cat be tied to the pillar”. Father said, “I don’t know, I am following what my father used to practice. It’s a custom that must be followed. I wasn’t a disobedient son like you do dare asking my father like this”. As could be reasoned, grandfather of the boy had the need of tying the pet cat to the pillar to prevent it from causing disturbance while performing the pooja! His son, blindly “mimicked” the practice thoughtlessly. I learned another gem of wisdom from this story.

So, we need to put in place the processes and should monitor & update the processes to prevent them from being customs.

I have also learned that “a leader’s job is to make oneself REDUNDANT”. This is essentially simple way of telling my first narration. An organization which doesn’t do this, will not grow and survive for long. Such organizations’ growth and longevity depend on the favours of service of the few.

 

A typical well-drawn organization (Non Profit or For Profit) looks like above chart where there is deputy (“redundancy”) for each main role. Primary responsible person is usually an experienced person while the deputy is a young & potential one. Deputy isn’t just a ‘stand by’ but the one who intended to be groomed to fill the main role in the near future.

Usually, organizations make a mistake of seeing deputy roles as redundancies (back-up) created for the main roles. It should be actually, other way round. Main role should make itself redundant! This is possible when all the work expected from each main role will be actually “hands-on” done by the respective deputy roles.

I try to practice this more and more, and keep exploring the opportunities to “automate, delegate and eliminate” to make myself redundant, so that I can move on to the next thing or next level.

 

About the Author: Girish Kodashettar, CFP,  is an entrepreneur and proprietor of Hornmerchant, a Financial Services firm. He is a member of the COFP.

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