Insider vs Outsiders

Commander VK Jaitly

This month I had the opportunity of being a part of the biggest gathering of the world – the Simhasth Kumbh-2016 at Ujjain. It was my first experience and a great one too. Arrangements were excellent keeping in view the quantum of task. While most of the connecting roads were excellent, some of the small ones inside the pandals were highly uneven and full of rubble, stones and even small craters. But with a reasonably good pair of shoes one could manage through the worst of these roads.

Quite obviously, we had to walk a lot. And at one instance, one very small pebble entered my right shoe and made walking almost impossible. The pandal where we had to stop for lunch was hardly 100 meters away. I thought of carrying on with this peanut sized pebble in my shoe till our destination but well, a few more steps and I just couldn’t go further. The little pebble made walking so uncomfortable that I was left with no choice but to stop.

My three team members and I halted so I could remove my shoe and throw out the tiny culprit. We started our walk again through the uneven path of pebbles, stones and craters, some even bigger than the one I had just removed. But luckily, we did not face any further problem and were able to manoeuvre our way to reach the pandal for a delicious and wholesome lunch.

While having lunch, my mind drifted towards that one small pebble that forced me to stop from moving ahead while so many other bigger and much sharper stones failed to do so. Surprisingly, the bigger ones were of no importance and of negligible relevance in front of the simple shoes that I was wearing.

Similarly, we have many people in and around us in any organization who are trouble creators. Those who are outside the organization and creating impediments for you are easier to handle than those sitting inside the organization. According to me this principle in general holds true for all organizations and at all levels.

Let me admit that I have been a great fan of our PM, Sh Narendra Modi since his days as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. So, when he became the Prime Minister, I was very glad that India has got a great leader. A leader who is honest to the core and whose heart beats for India and its crores of people. He has a clear thinking of the problems that plague our country and the worst of his critics appreciate the speed with which he works.

But if I were to ask him, how he feels at the end of his two year tenure, his response may be that he spends a large amount of his time managing the pebbles. Pebbles that crop up time and again and force him to stop the ongoing progress. Modi ji can manage all the problems created by outside agencies or even ignore them at times. But what about the problems created by the insiders? Insiders who are used to working in a typical babu style at a snail’s speed and are not ready to pick the pace of Modi’s functioning.

Modi has inherited a system that has been working like this since 1947. It is just next to impossible to demolish and dismantle this infrastructure totally. He has to manage with the best 20% performers and not to ignore the balance lethargic 80%. He needs a team of people who can reverse this Pareto 80/20 ratio with 80% performers and 20% lethargic on lookers.

It is the inactive insiders that are slowing the pace of progress of the Modi government and for that matter any other government. It is not the outsider agencies and factors, since they are easier to handle. Similarly, there is a lot of stress on any new CEO to set his house in order, before he/she starts competing with the competitors in the market. Everyday, we keep hearing stories in the corporate world how an important tender went to the competitor because of an invisible pebble in the organization who disclosed the quoted rates.

If we go back a bit in the history of the world or even India, it is full of stories where some insider was responsible for the downfall of the empire or the state. Bhibishana can be considered the insider responsible for the downfall of Ravana’s Lanka, King Ambisaar sided with Alexander that resulted into defeat of Porus and Jaichand became responsible for the defeat of the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, Prithviraj Chouhan. Mir Jafar was an insider who conspired with the Britishers against Siraj-ud-ullah, the Nawab of Bengal that laid the foundation of British Empire in India.

It is important that we focus on the people in our organization. Make sure that they have the ownership mentality and the desire and will to sacrifice their personal comfort, time and energy for the continuous growth of the organization. They should feel themselves as the integral part of the system and the organization and no amount of outside incentive or allurement is able to shake their stand under the severest of the sever circumstances.

Remember that the simplest of the shoes available in the market will enable you to walk on the roughest roads and even the hilly areas but the best of the costliest shoes will be of no use once a single small pebble gets inside the shoe. You will have to stop, remove the rogue and then enjoy your journey even on the uneven paths of life