Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Be Happy – Build Up Your Own Team.

Time is gone when a person used to think himself independent. In the beginning, in our life we had got very limited requirements. But as the civilization progressed, our dependence on the others to meet our various needs grew and today, we can live in isolation. We have to help each other, do something to meet other’s requirements and expect others to do what we require.

With the passage of time, the concept of labour division and individual entrepreneurship developed and people gathered to carry out the production on mass level. They categorized themselves in the category of employees, self-employed consultants, businessmen and investors. In each category too, the people form teams and each member of the team is assigned a specific responsibility to carry out. There takes place a chain of process and one step brings changes in the properties of the production carried out by the previous step. It goes on to get a common goal. For that, you need to have a team.

When you envisage some goal or project, you identify the critical activities to accomplish and for such activities, you need to organize a team of the persons having expertise for such activities. As you start to work to conceptualize a goal or project, you imagine a structure of team in which you would like to involve the persons. You may meet them individually or collectively or in the teams of two-three or more persons. For a purposeful working, you need to involve everyone in the decision-making process.

Decision Making is a difficult Process but an essential part of your goal achievement working. Suppose, you have organized all the resources essential for your project and you've just brought your team together to kick-off a new project. But, you quickly run into problems agreeing the right way forward.

During the discussions, a most dominant member of your team, immediately makes a suggestion and starts talking about its benefits. Other member begins arguing with him, claiming that his idea is more efficient. The third one who often has brilliant ideas, is too overwhelmed by both persons to speak up. Soon, you feel mess and become ready to abandon the meeting!

If you have been working in a team, then this scenario may sound familiar. It can be difficult to get a team of people to reach consensus on a decision, especially when personalities, viewpoints, and attitudes clash with each other. In some situations, you can cut through these problems with decisive leadership or, you need to find another way forward. You need to solve the problem very methodically. You may take the following steps.

  • Framing the problem.
  • Having an open discussion.
  • Identifying underlying concerns.
  • Developing proposals.
  • Choosing a direction.
  • Developing a preferred solution.
  • Closing.

This way, you can get everyone in the team involved in developing a solution, so that each person feels ownership of the final decision. This process may help you to build up a more productive and committed team. It also encourages people to come up with creative ideas without fear of being judged and helps the team develop better solutions and make better decisions by consensus. It may be most useful for complex projects and problems, where you need to decide on the best way forward, and where the solution to your problem isn't clear. You may remember that consensus means general agreement, not total agreement. Although this process allows everyone to participate in developing solutions, not everyone will always agree with the final decision.

Step 1: Framing the Problem

In this first step, you need to ensure that you have the right people involved in the process, and that everyone has the information, tools, and resources needed to come up with good ideas.

As part of this, identify and define the problem that you need to address, if necessary using tools such as Cause and Effect Analysis and Root Cause Analysis.

You also need to decide how your team will choose between options in later stages. For instance, do you want everyone in the team to agree on the final decision unanimously, or will a simple majority suffice? You may mention this option before the team.

Step 2: Having an Open Discussion

Next, meet with the team, present the problem again, and encourage an open discussion. Your goal here is to generate as many initial ideas or solutions to the problem as possible.

If the discussion seems to be in a rut or your team is generating only "safe" ideas, use creative thinking techniques to encourage people to come up with fresh ideas.

Remember that your objective is to get people to think creatively and encourage all ideas, even if these seem impractical at this stage.

As you work through this step, note down all ideas, removing any duplicates. You'll return to this list in step 4.

An alternative approach is to ask people to submit their initial ideas and solutions anonymously, before you meet face-to-face.

Step 3: Identifying Underlying Concerns

The next step is to identify "underlying concerns" – these are the constraints that you need to meet, and the problems that you want to solve, once you've made a decision. You'll then use this analysis to come up with and improve solutions in the next step of the process.

Start by exploring what these concerns are with your team.

Then, identify key stakeholders (including people outside your organization) who are affected by the decision. (Depending on your situation, you can do this by simply brainstorming stakeholders, or you can conduct a formal stakeholder analysis.)

Talk to these stakeholders, or brainstorm and list possible underlying concerns for each of them, again ensuring that everyone in the team participates in the discussion.

Here, you must not confuse underlying concerns with solutions in this step. For example, if the problem you're trying to solve is to increase the quality of a product, a solution might be to use better components. However, underlying concerns might be to keep costs to a minimum (for shareholders), or to be able to use the product for longer (for customers).

Step 4: Developing Proposals

Now, using the initial ideas that you came up with in step 2, your team can come up with proposals that address the underlying concerns identified in the previous step. To do this, go through each idea in turn, and encourage everyone in the team to contribute to developing it into a possible solution. Again, it's important that everyone is open-minded about the discussion, that everyone focuses on one idea at a time, and that people don't criticize any ideas.

By the end of this step, you will have developed initial ideas into more-detailed proposals that you can take forward. Don't dismiss any proposals yet.

Step 5: Choosing a Direction

You now need to decide on the best proposal to take forward. Begin by going through each proposal in turn, asking team members to highlight what they think are the pros and cons of each one. Again, make sure that everyone is involved in the discussion.

Finally, decide on the best proposal to take forward, using the "decision rule" that you agreed on in step 1.

Step 6: Developing a Preferred Solution

The aim of this step it to look for ways to improve the final proposal further.

As part of this, look back at the underlying concerns that you identified in step 3. If there are any concerns that you haven't addressed, look for ways in which you can improve the proposal.

Again, encourage team members to raise any further issues, and amend the final proposal to address these.

If you're developing a solution for a complex project, it may take a while to refine and amend your proposal and project documents. Depending on the type of decision, it may still not be worth going ahead with the best proposal. See our article on Go/No-Go Decision-Making for more on this.

Step 7: Closing

By now, you should have a solution that most people in the team are happy with. To confirm this, use the "decision rule" that you identified in step 1 to ensure that there is still consensus to move forward with your decision.

Depending on your situation, you can also use this step as an opportunity to ask for everyone's cooperation in implementing the final decision. This cooperation can be anything from simply supporting others as they implement the solution, through to providing resources and expertise.

In whole process of decision making, you need to be flexible in how you apply each step of the process. As highlighted earlier, in some situations it may not be necessary to work through each step in detail. You also need to be prepared to move back to previous steps, if you cannot decide on an appropriate solution.

While seeking consensus within a team is important, you must be aware that people may use consensus as a way to avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions or decisions. Don't allow this to happen.

Be Happy – Build Up Your Own Team.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Be Happy - We must Fight Against Corruption.

Why Should We Support Anna Hazare and Ram Dev in their crusade against Corruption?

Some time ago, Anna Hazare and Ram Dev had all of sudden become so significant in the millions of Indian minds that all problems such as price-hike, unemployment etc. were out of their think-tank. Why so? They had taken up a noble cause for the revival of the society, they were exhorting the people to fight against the root of all the evils, that is CORRUPTION. Their purpose is pious notwithstanding the fact their working methods be different or same.

Corruption as we usually define is moral perversion; depravity or you can say it is perversion of integrity. You do some job or abstain from doing the same and take money or some other consideration, for that act beyond reasonable remuneration. Corruption is a misuse of power. It undermines political, social and economic stability and damages trust in institutions and authorities. It also fuels transnational crime. Terrorists and organized criminals are aided in their illegal activities by the complicity of corrupt public officials. Corruption is of particular concern for the world’s police and judicial systems, as corruption in one country can compromise an entire international investigation.

Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is clear recognition by the international community that further work to enhance co-operation between law enforcement authorities, which is needed in order to co-ordinate global action against corruption.

Unfortunately, corruption has prevailed from time immemorial in one form or the other. It is a result of the connection between bureaucrats, politicians and criminals. Earlier, bribes were paid for getting wrong things done, but now bribe is paid for getting right things done at right time. Apart from financial corruption, social corruption like less weighing of products, adulteration in edible items, and bribery of various kind have incessantly prevailed in the society.

In today’s scenario, if a person wants a government job he has to pay handsome bribe to the higher officials irrespective of satisfying all the eligibility criteria. In every office one has either to give money to the employee concerned or arrange for some sources to get work done. There is adulteration and duplicate weighing of products in food and civil supplies department by unscrupulous workers who cheat the consumers by playing with the health and lives of the people. In the assessment of property tax the officers charge money even if the building is built properly according to the Government rules and regulations.

Political corruption is prevalent everywhere in some form. The major cause of concern is that corruption is weakening the political body and damaging the supreme importance of the law governing the society. Nowadays politics is only for criminals and criminals are meant to be in politics. Elections in many democracies have become associated with a host of criminal activities.

Tax evasion is one of the most popular forms of corruption. It is mostly practiced by Government officials and politicians who lead to the accumulation of black money which in turn spoils the moral of the people.

There are many reasons that create corruption almost in all the walks of life. It is prevailing world over and we all need to fight against it with tooth and nail for making the life smooth for the next generations.

Major Factors Responsible For Corruption World wide:

1. Extreme price hike.

Today, the People in general is terrified with the price hike misbalancing their family budgets. Though they too see some increase in their income through increased salaries etc., the price hike eats up all such increases. The unemployment has compounded the problem and the people fighting for minimum needs have to get involved in all unscrupulous activities that result in monetary or material benefits for meeting their basic needs.

2. Depreciation of Moral and spiritual values.

With the increase of materialism world over, moral and spiritual values are not being given utmost importance in educational system, which is highly responsible for the deterioration of the society. Students are not keeping due respect to their teachers. Teachers are also not lesser responsible for such depreciation because their attitude, working methods and lack of sincerity towards the development of their disciples due to financial stress. Some time back, in a family, father had been one earning member to feed others. But today, the children are not giving proper care to their father. This attitude is shattering joint family system. Similarly, we have started to attach more importance than to the humanity factor in our dealings.

3. Inadequacy of the punishments to the criminals

The punishments imposed on the criminals are inadequate. With the change in the attitude that we must hate the crime, not the criminals, those persons who have been habitual criminals get easy acquittals at the cost of those who are victimized by the Police with the vested interests. A corrupt official gets easily free by bribing the Investigation Officer. Lack of proper accountability promotes corruption.

4. Money Oriented Politics

Now, the people join politics for earning money. The concept of service to the public by joining politics has lost significance. The political leaders have spoiled the society completely. They lead a luxurious life and do not even care about the society which had given mandate to govern them. Lack of education and awareness to the duties and rights on the part of the people have also made corruption easy to prevail.

Measures To Control Corruption:

There can be some measures to control increasing corruption :

1. The Right to Information Act (RTI) gives one all the required information about the Government, such as what the Government is doing with the tax payments. Under this act, one has the right to ask the Government on any problem which one faces. There is a Public Information Officer (PIO) appointed in every Government department, who is responsible for collecting information wanted by the citizens and providing them with the relevant information on payment of a nominal fee to the PIO. If the PIO refuses to accept the application or if the applicant does not receive the required information on time then the applicant can make a complaint to the respective information commission, which has the power to impose a penalty on the errant PIO.

2. Another potent check on corruption is Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) setup by the Government to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the areas of vigilance. If there are any cases of corruption or any complaints thereof, then that can be reported to the CVC. CVC also shoulders the responsibility of creating more awareness among people regarding the consequences of giving and taking of bribes and corruption.

3. Establishment of special courts for speedy justice can be a huge positive aspect. Much time should not elapse between the registration of a case and the delivery of judgment.

4. Strong and stringent laws need to be enacted which gives no room for the guilty to escape.

5. In many cases, the employees opt for corrupt means out of compulsion and not by choice. Some people are of the opinion that the wages paid are insufficient to feed their families. If they are paid better, they would not be forced to accept bribe.

6. None must be allowed to keep unaccounted for wealth for any reason and none must be granted any special privilege on the cost of others as all are equal in the eyes of law.

The one thing that needs to be ensured is proper, impartial, and unbiased use of various anti-social regulations to take strong, deterrent, and timely legal action against the offenders, irrespective of their political influences or money power. Firm and strong steps are needed to curb the menace and an atmosphere has to created where the good, patriotic, intellectuals come forward to serve the public with pride, virtue, and honesty for the welfare of all.

Anti-Corruption Movement launched by Shri Anna Hazare and Ram Dev is required to be successful because

1. In 2010 India was ranked 87th out of 178 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

2. A 2005 study conducted by Transparency International in India found that more than 45% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully.

3. Transparency International estimates that truckers pay US$5 billion in bribes annually.

4. In July 2008 The Washington Post reported that nearly a fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, "including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder.

5. India tops the list for black money in the entire world with almost US$1456 billion in Swiss banks (approximately USD 1.4 trillion) in the form of black money. To put things in perspective, Indian-owned Swiss bank account assets are worth 13 times the country’s national debt.

6. The political web of India does not permit serious action against the corrupt political leaders and officers/staff due to their own vested interests. They take eye-washing steps only as we see in the case of 2G spectrum scam, Hasan Ali Khan, Common Wealth Scam and many others.

7. There is no in-depth enquiry of the independent reports published through 1991 to 2011 which calculated the financial net worth of India's most powerful and traditionally ruling family (the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty) to be anywhere between $9.41 billion (Rs 42,345 crore) to $18.66 billion (Rs 83,900 crore), most of it in the form of illegal monies. Harvard scholar Yevgenia Albats cited KGB correspondence about payments to Rajiv Gandhi and his family, which had been arranged by Viktor Chebrikov, which shows that KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov sought in writing an "authorization to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi" from the CPSU in December 1985. To save themselves, they keep blind eyes over their supporters and whenever required, they protect them too.

8. Judicial corruption in India is attributable to factors such as "delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and complex procedures, all of which are exacerbated by a preponderance of new laws. The clerks take bribe openly even in the presence of the judicial officers. A string operation if carried out can reveal the details.

9. Officials often steal state property. In cities and villages throughout India, Mafia Raj consisting of municipal and other government officials, elected politicians, judicial officers, real estate developers and law enforcement officials, acquire, develop and sell land in illegal ways.

10. Government officials having discretionary powers in awarding contracts engage in preferential treatment for selected bidders and display negligence in quality control processes. Many state-funded construction activities in India, such as road building, are dominated by construction mafias, which are groupings of corrupt public works officials, materials suppliers, politicians and construction contractors. Shoddy construction and material substitution (e.g. mixing sand in cement while submitting expenses for cement) result in roads and highways being dangerous, and sometimes simply washed away when India's heavy monsoon season arrives. Over-measurements and fake construction or development activities also account for major budget allocations.

11. In Government Hospitals, corruption is associated with non availability of medicines (or duplicate/fake medicines), getting admission, consultations with doctors and availing diagnostic services. There have been cases of diversion of medical supplies from government hospitals and clinics] as well as supply and distribution of medicines of inferior quality.]

12. A quality required by a candidate to get admission in a private Engineering college is either good marks or good money. Engineering college receives upto a million of Indian Rupees per seat in the name of donations, which varies based on the reputation of the college. Some of these colleges are owned by a politician or his/her relative/friends. A seat in private medical college ranges from 1.5 millions (For non reputed college)to 5 millions of Indian Rupees or even more. After admission there would be several other fees which have to be paid compulsory other than tuition fee. No other fees are regulated by the government other than the tuition fee. And government has not taken any action since most of the colleges are owned by politician.

13. There have been several cases of collusion of officials of the income tax department of India for a favorable tax treatment in return for bribes.

14. Land in areas with short supply is relatively common with government entities awarding public land to private concerns at negligible rates. Other examples include the award of mining leases to private companies without a levy of taxes that is proportionate to the market value of the ore.

15. Recent sukhna land scandal involving four defence officers has shaken public faith in the country's growing military at a time when large sums are being spent on modernizing the armed forces. A string of eye-popping fraud cases has damaged the institution in recent years. The latest Adarsh land scam is another example of the nexus between the armed forces, bureaucracy and the politicians in the embezzlement of government property.

There are many examples which indicate that not only our politicians and bureaucrats are corrupt, in our general life, we too have been infected with this virus. For easy solution of our problems, we promote corruption. Since this illness has become cancerous to endanger our life, we need to give up our corrupt practices. First we must improve ourselves. Then, we can trust other one to do. We must oppose corruption. To oppose corruption is the highest obligation of patriotism.

Social welfare worker Anna Hazare and Yog Guru Ram Dev have led a movement against corruption. We must support them not only for the sake of our great India but for the world over as this illness is prevalent everywhere in some form.

We can be happy if we live in corruption-less society.

Be Happy – We must Support Those Who fight against Corruption.