Someone has to ring the bell
“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” Voltaire
Since a long time, I thought it’d be unfair to draw such comparisons. How can one compare patterns of social behavior of terrorists with that of the organisations. However, owing to information I have, I think it is sadly time I wear this black hat, especially since no one wants to be the bad apple. The intent of this article is to project a picture that may be frightening, even scary…and if possible, (if at all) to bring about a shift in the way organizations think. Whatever be it, I am hopeful; organizations at least have the power to change.
Traits of terrorists
Intolerance against any set of beliefs other than their own: Well our organizations also have ‘intolerance’ towards things that are against their own set(s) of beliefs. They disallow syndicates to function in the name of work, no opposite points of view. Here is a list of intolerances any organization, learning or otherwise, proudly boasts:
Behaviors, e.g. talking against managers
Ethics (this is subjective)
Integrity (when organizations fail here, it is not questioned, who will even dare)
Countless other things
For the terrorists, attrition from life is considered as ‘desired’ (they give a high-five to each other when millions die on the streets with unfinished stories). Organizations go for layoffs and people who are responsible for layoffs are given hikes and promotions when thousand plague on the streets like rats.
Guns and weapons
Terrorists terrorize innocent people with guns and other weapons. Organizations terrorize the workforce with processes; threaten people with dire consequences that are worse than weapons.
Clients and GOD
Terrorists can do anything for their GOD, organizations can for their clients. For example, Indian and APAC workforce should work at night shifts, graveyard shifts to cater to the clients. It is hard to find anyone from the ‘first world’ do the same.
Terrorists merge in the crowd, gain people’s faith and belief and shoot them. Managers do exactly the same
Terrorists hurl abuses to non-believers. Organizations hurl abuses at their workforce. You have to carefully see how managers are trained to talk, their body language is aggressive, their tone bossy; as a linguist I find this vastly interesting.
Death and Prison
Terrorists kill. Organizations threaten their workforce with legal consequences, they have put many people behind the bars.
Jihad and Evaluation
Anything is possible. Any employee who has the misfortune of saying (maybe out of anger OR out of irritation) ‘I am done with this blessed organisation’, and the ardent follower-managers will issue a Jihad against that employee, he will be thrown out, no matter what – this is just one example.
It is hide and seek. Terrorists hide..mostly in the dark; organizations hide in broad daylight, like the protagonist Balram of The White Tiger.
Both teams have stalwarts and geniuses. Here I have some questions. How does the education function? We see saints, or almost saints turning into terrorists on one hand and those blue-eyed dreamy toppers who’d be determined to do good for society turning into deadly managers. Who or what is transforming these souls. Those who could be healers turn into killers. Where is it that we are lacking? I think there is one belief system that plays havoc in society and that is ‘theory and practice are poles apart’, otherwise how does the soft and tender boy, a gold medalist from college do not even think before backstabbing their colleagues, where is this belief system coming from which endorses this as ‘normal’ or even worse ‘a part of the game’. I think the world, the whole world needs one month to weep together for the collective sins it has done to his own stakeholders, one month of weeping can perhaps wash the sins, if at all.
Terrorists are also beheld as patriots by many because of their sacrifice. Organizations also have CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) to gain points in society. Some of them become very powerful and can also influence the governments or political parties as the case may be.
Thoughts are things
Terrorists think they are NOT doing anything wrong; they are killing innocent people for a reason. About organizations, less said the better.
Fear, mistrust and power
Both are fear and mistrust breeders and power seekers. I could have dealt separately with these three traits that are common in both, but I thought it would be nice if I kept them together; if later, I write elaborately on this with case studies, I will take it up. While one says ‘Fear God’, the other says on no uncertain terms ‘Fear the Organization’; the tone is exactly the same. Mistrust is the next common factor…this is obvious, isn’t it? The plastic infrastructure of all corporate offices is becoming increasingly claustrophobic; it’s understandable when you do not trust outsiders, but it is surprising when you find project specific gates where only project specific employees are given access; this is to gain the confidence of the clients. I find this sad because the employees are learning to mistrust through the very processes of the organization. The security system, internal and external, is bound to collapse in the long run, we are not realizing this because the frog can still withstand the temperature in which it is afloat. Both vie for power; I think this is one virus that is slowly pervading the business domain and making it unnecessarily sicker every day. I will end with a Chaplin quote on power before I go on to the conclusion. ‘You need power only when you want to do something harmful otherwise Love is enough to get everything done.’
So finally I have come to the conclusion. With this article, I find myself like Meuresault, the protagonist of ‘The Outsider‘; I do not plead innocence, but I know I permanently go into the bad books of any organization, learning or otherwise. However, I am hopeful that social behaviorists might take this in the right spirit and work out a way to see how it is possible for organizations to actually go through a metamorphosis.