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Catch Someone Doing Right !! Moid Siddiqui,
Managing Director, Intellects Biz

Positive role of Vigilance in PSU's…

‘Oh God! Don’t put me to test for I shall not be able to bear it,’ once said Christ the saviour who bore the load of Cross in forbearance.

When it comes to test through Vigilance of righteousness of an honest manager, the prayer of the noble Christ resounds in my ears as a humble HRDian. Even the most upright manager cannot bear the vigilance test if it comes to catching someone doing wrong, I bet my last penny. Based on my experience of three decades in PSUs with an untainted track record of excellence I dare say what I said.

Much depends on the vigilance approach – negative or positive! There’s a distinct difference between cutting the malign tumour and the risk-taking muscle of a manager; both the kinds of ‘cutting’ is done with a surgeon’s knife, though.

The first and the foremost thing that comes to my mind is, It is time for CVC to get the vigilance chiefs equipped with a well blended ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘investigating’ competencies – mere the latter is not enough today. Mostly we go astray at this point of convergence.

The surgeon must know the difference between the malign tumour and the risk-taking muscle. It takes time for HRD to bring the managers from the Play-safe syndrome to risk-taking dwellings by help developing their Risk-taking entrepreneurial muscles – a single case of a mediocre-surgery is enough to cause a retreat and send them back to stay at rest under the turtle’s hard outer covering. A turtle may live hundreds of years, but it moves only when it sticks out its head! And if sticking one’s head out turns out to be injurious, the choice is obvious – live on hundreds of years safely under the hard shell. This bears more relevance to PSU managers who are by and large groomed to play-safe. The concept of 20-80 is an ill-starred fact in PSUs – 20% hi-fliers take risks while pulling the cart that carries 80% passengers who believe in ‘safe-play’. My divine concern is for this scarce noble creature that forms a small segment.

There have got to be the guys who dare challenge the systems, override the bureaucratic inertia and tear down every institutional barriers that slows down the pace. People must be encouraged with a clear understanding: The wings that flap to reach unknown heights to discover new horizons will not be clipped.

In a contrast situation, the bureaucrat focus would be exclusively on rulebooks and rule-games. People would get to work on time and go home in time doing their normal work steadfast to ‘play-safe’. They would hate mistakes and prefer being ‘precisely wrong’ than ‘vaguely’ correct.

You can’t expect your people to fly high and scale the heights in the sky like geese by clipping their feathers or grooming them in a winter restrictive environment and treating them like a herd of buffaloes. A manager can develop the courage to come out with ground-breaking ideas and implement the path-breaking strategies only if he is trusted, supported and protected even when he does a mistake with a bonafide intention. Catching someone doing wrong by setting the snares, is a simple but a costly practice. ‘Costly’ in the sense that if people are punished for risk-taking in the interest of the organization, they will just sulk next time.

It happens; I have used the words setting the snares consciously and purposefully. I have seen and experienced the bloodhounds playing NIGYSOB – Now I Got You Son Of … Games are dishonest and must not be allowed even for the sacred cause of showing the gate to the dishonest employees. Honest and bold practices should be followed for a good cause – good means for good ends. There can’t be a right way for doing a wrong thing! Likewise a wrong way should not be accepted for doing a right thing. If it is done in a wrong way, end-result can’t be right.

I strongly condemn the tool used by some of the vigilance people – managing anonymous letters. Writing anonymous letters is an act of cowardice and worst can happen if such cowardice act is cognized and encouraged. The anonymous letters must find their place in the dustbin, lest the Beelzebub should find space to raise his head and create havoc. If encouraged, the authors of anonymous letters will trade over and thrive for seeking sadistic pleasure by harassing some innocent guys. Picking up of holes is not difficult! You tell the name, one can always fix him if it comes to taking, what is colloquially known, ‘Pangga’ – a word that stand out beyond translation!

Ricardo the author of Maverick and the CEO of Semco in Brazil has gone on records to show how the entrepreneurial environment was created in his company. One simple technique that he used was Catching the authors of anonymous letters first. He first showed them the gate for their cowardice tactics and polluting the environment. What he didn’t tolerate was, the banana eating the monkey! How a coward can be allowed to flex his muscles for cutting the risk-taking muscles of others. For one genuine anonymous letter out of many, a dishonest practice cannot be adopted or tolerated, let alone supporting it for entrepreneurial cause. On contrarily, in one of the organizations that I served recently, one senior guy shared with me in confidence that the Chief Boss pays ‘backbiting’ allowance to those who carry some interesting tales.

Yet, uprights are not extinct…

Honest and righteous people are not out of stock; they are scarce and in short supply, though. But such stock can be upgraded by creating right environment, supportive systems and a new mindset – above all by inbreeding the feeling that someone is there to protect such honest guy if he is caught committing a bonafide mistake. The worst mistake of all is ‘The Do-No-Mistake’!

As they say, If you don’t risk, you risk even more! But when it comes to getting into the jaws for taking risk for the sake of business, ‘Play-safe’ attracts. Having suffered once for taking a genuine risk no one would like to burn his fingers twice. My concern is for such scarce segment.

Predictive and Preventive Vigilance is perhaps the only homogenous mixture. Like TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), one can try TPV (Total Productive Vigilance). Creation of the desired work ethos and the management culture could be a cross-functional purpose of HRD and Vigilance – the Yin and Yang in Chinese Tai-chi Tu’!

It is the era of joint ventures…

HRD and Vigilance can jointly carry the mission to create awareness – Purpose of being is surely more meaningful than material wellbeing. In fact, material wellbeing is the by-product of purpose of being – values and illustrious virtues.

Jointly it can be sermonized…

Those who believe too much in material gains must know that the Rupee or the Dollar that comes from different sources is not of the same worth; in terms of purchase-value it may weigh the same economic value, though. How one earns the Rupee and where it comes from, matters a lot! One can learn the lessons from the present condition of Bollywood – the Rupee that started coming in the industry from the underworld has worsen the film industry which was already suffering from the sours of black-money resource. The sufferings of the industry that could be calm-posed earlier have now turned into bloodshed. Believe me, it is no hollow HRD sermon – it is a hard fact. Values are important in business; moneymaking could be through harlotry as well. Moneymaking does not warrant forfeiting one’s honour. Some people change their values to win and sustain the positions. But there are some people who change the positions to win and sustain the values.

Today, what lack are the visible role models…!

Each scam we hear seems to be setting a new benchmark. The members of august houses of legislature also do not serve the required needs when someone looks at them as the guiding stars. The entrepreneurial stocks of visible leadership, along with, seem to be in emptiness – the JRDs are no more today. Yet, there are scores and scores of honest CEOs, business leaders, bureaucrats and some politicians who can be projected as visible role models but it needs the media-support. When it comes to highlighting the PSU achievements and the PSU leaderships, media always seems to be leaning against. Why? I really don’t know. Adding sauces to savouries is no public service; it is a disservice, rather!

Predictive and Preventive Vigilance is not only operable but is also the need of the day. The business environment is changing fast with the pace of Nano and Pico seconds, and shall gallop with the next cockcrow in terms of Femto and Atto seconds – second, millisecond and microsecond was the speed of 80’s.

In EDS – a global company that offers Information System consultancy, Sullivan was first entrusted a team leadership assignment and told to select his team. Later, his boss came up with a list of five candidates that he had selected for Sullivan. “Too late,” Sullivan told his boss, “I have already got my team.” Obviously, he didn’t wait for instructions from his boss – he had gone out and recruited five members in his team the same forenoon.

No fairytales; I have quoted this from Tom Peters’ experiences that he narrated in his famous book, ‘Liberation Management’. I am not expecting such spine-chilling practices in PSUs. But can we at least uncomplicate our systems and create some space to move, if not faster, with a snail-pace, following what is called KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

I recall, in good old school days at Hyderabad I was afraid of going to Abids – the posh market place – on my cycle. The reason was simple! Whenever I dare enter the posh street I was caught by the traffic constable and my cycle was seized and thrown on the heap that use to swell higher than my height by the sundown. I was not a bad cycle-rider nor my cycle was defective nor I was totally ignorant of traffic rules. Yet, I couldn’t find escape for the traffic guy would never heed to any excuse. Later I made an unexplored discovery! The traffic constables were given certain targets and the poor chaps had no option but to watch, wait, and pray for the prey entering the posh street riding the cycle so that he can tick-off one of the codes from his rule-book and book him. After all meeting the day’s target was of cardinal value for his survival as well as for making his career.

Today when I have grown up with a bit of learning, I evaluate the attitude of those traffic constables who earned my curses every time I was caught for one reason or the other. Today I can say with a bit of authority that nothing was wrong with them. The systems were faulty! If targets are fixed for witch-hunting, the bones shall be earned. The equation is simple!

In Japan pedestrians who commit traffic offences, such as failure to use pedestrian crossings, are taught to cross properly by being made to use a pedestrian crossing in front of a police station a number of times, depending on the number of times the offence was committed.

What an audible-gulp gap between the attitudes of two traffic constables! If someone cares to analyze the two situations – the Abids Street of yesteryears and today’s Japan’s Zebra Crossing – everything would zero down to ‘attitudes’, ‘approach’ and ‘systems’. Rather systems should be condemned first for they cast and recast the mindset. Thus and so, if systems are supportive of predictive and preventive vigilance, things would change for better where not even a single innocent manager will need to sweat for jumping the fence or flouting the rules, procedures or systems in his anxiety to meet the fast changing entrepreneurial requirements. The business needs and the marketing trend gallop faster than the need that is felt by the corporate bureaucrats to amend the rules or streamline the systems – even the premier titanic companies cannot keep the pace with the fast changing business trends, let alone the PSUs which work under constraints.

Change is needed; making change is difficult, though.

‘Oh God! Give me, the courage to change what I can; the serenity to accept what I can’t; and the wisdom to accept to know the difference,’ said Swami Vivekananda long ago.

The solution that worked yesterday is only slightly appropriate today and will be irrelevant tomorrow. The conventional role of vigilance in PSUs can’t seek exception to this phenomenon.

It is time to look for a positive role of Vigilance in the PSUs by developing and re-strengthening the risk-taking muscles and cutting the malign tumour with least loss of blood. Painless and bloodless surgery is considered as the best type of excision.

Today while new business trends and the violent winds of change are biting into the foundations and most of the business organization stand on the shaken soil, it is time to be vigilant against such external megatrends – the conventional role of vigilance is not adequate. In the present times everyone needs to contribute his bit. The days have gone when the disciplines like Internal Audit or Vigilance could sit in the visitors’ gallery watching the game. Today both of them are active partners as team members – visitors’ gallery is no more their constituency.

The assets that to be guarded no more confine to money, material, machinery or financial kickbacks. Time and Intellectual capital and many such soft assets form the integral part of company’s assets. Not contribution of the intellectual and emotional investment or playing vilification with Time may incur the cost any company may ill-afford. The vigilance net needs to be widened, of course with a positive bent of mind and constructive and supportive approach. After all we live amongst the human beings, and not among the hardcore criminals. Trust begets trust and mistrust generates mistrust. Again, a simple but unrealized equation!

‘Y’ profile of the human side in the industry has to be believed somewhere sometimes… The premise ‘suspicion’ has no bounds doesn’t jell well where the Corporate Values vouch for honesty and integrity of human assets.

In Singapore the vehicle owners are really taken as the customers by the traffic police – they book for defaults with humility, making the charged driver feel that rash-driving was owing to some inescapable urgency. The traffic police follow the entrepreneurial norms.

It is time for the CVOs to fathom the business matters and provide a buttress in support of PSUs who are moving shakily owing to the heavy load of social responsibilities that they carry on their broad but time-weakened shoulders. If such support does not come from each discipline, including vigilance, they may simply fall like a withered tree with a single bout that will suffice to imbalance their equilibrium.

It is time to learn the true meaning of vigilance from Lao Tzu, the Old Master who lived values in 6th century BC.

Watchful, like men crossing winter streams!
Alert, like men aware of dangers!
Courteous, like visiting guests!
Yielding, like ice about to melt!
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood!
Hallow, like caves!
Opaque, like muddy pools!

They must develop patience and wait quietly until the mud settles down and clarity emerges. They should develop the feminine forbearance and remain in stillness doing their best in converting a Satan into a Sage, unless and until the moment of action arrives, calling for the final shot.

Corporate Code of Conduct for each PSU will go in a long way for creating the required awareness about Corporate Values, to be articulated by each company, keeping its strategic vision is view. A common code of conduct that would be designed through the external resource may lack the ownership; it may simply stay frozen in the files as one another guideline! Corporate values if worked out carefully owning them as sacred as their faith in the respective religions, shall cleanse up the heart and the soul as well as what they call Corporate conscience.

When I was working as Director (HR) in BEML, I had defined its strategic vision as ‘Passion for a balanced growth’ and formulated the corporate values that would be uncompromising in any situation and would provide confidence at the times of real tests. The word passion stands for a specific meaning and includes emotional investment and intellectual integrity as well. Transparency, vendor-support, customer-satisfaction, concern for shareholders’ stakes, development of core competencies, faith in human assets etceteras are a few to quote off-the-cuff. These core values are integrated to strategic vision and corporate mission, what we call – BEML’s Vision.

People perform best when they are caught doing something right! Can Vigilance counterbalance its age-old functions by sometimes catching someone doing Right. Catch the good guys doing the good things and project them larger than their life-size. Such exaggeration is sometimes required. Create a new brand of good guys and let others watch, rush and fall to get into the fold

I would pray for everyone:

Oh God!
Show us the straight path…
The Path of those on whom Thou hast
Bestowed Thy Grace, those whose portion
Is not wrath, and who go not astray.


Catch someone doing Right!

Quick Links


New Book "The Acrobatics of Change" Released - For more Details Click Here !!

"The Acrobatics of Change" - Book Review, Business Line (The Hindu) - For more details Click Here !!

9th book "Smart Crow Never Goes Thirsty" Released - For more Details Click Here !!

Moid Siddiqui's Interview (The Hindu Newspaper) on his book "Corporate Soul"- For more details Click Here !!

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