Arindam Chaudhuri
Theory "i" managment
The need to have an Indian management theory for Indian corporates.
How often has one heard of an American organisation adopting the Japanese management style to surge ahead? How often has one heard of the reverse? Probably never. However, I do remember reading somewhere that when IBM-USA was making losses while IBM-Japan was making profits, IBM-USA tried to adopt the Japanese management style to turn around. The result was increased losses.

Predictable ? Should be. It is most likely that a style that is successful in Japan would not be as successful in the US and vice versa. People are different, the cultures are different and so is the life-style. That is the reason why Japan has developed its own management style and the US its own. If we take a deep look into the American management style, we realise that it is absolutely fine tuned to the American culture and way of living. The people in the west grow up, mostly, with very less emotional security due to factors like high divorce rates, single parent families etc. As they grow up they do tend to find a sense of stability in this seemingly unstable and insecure atmosphere. Thus, when they enter into their job lives and see a management culture prevalent which is contractual in nature with hire and fire style of management, they don’t get disturbed. Infact, this motivates them to work harder and a typical American would say “we are tough guys and as long as we are good the company keeps us, else we go out”. The bottom line is that the fine tuning between the culture at home and at job works wonders and enhances productivity and motivation.
Looking at the Japanese companies one finds concepts of life time employment working wonders out there. A Japanese finds a bonded culture in his organisation, unlike the American contract culture. If we look into the Japanese life style and culture we would find the importance of bonds being very high. The Japanese have strong family ties and a strong sense of community. From such an upbringing, they feel at home when they see a bonded style of management on the job. The typical Japanese would say “I am a Honda man (and not that I work for Honda)” displaying the bond that he shares with his company. The point that gets highlighted again is that a management style which flows out of your own culture and roots would any day motivate your people much more than one which is adopted from somewhere else.

Basics of “Theory ‘i’ Management”
Like Theory ‘X’ which tried to define a worker in its own manner as a mindless lazy rascal who loves shirking responsibilities and the Theory “Y” which tried to define the worker as an ambitious responsible citizen looking for the right environment to contribute constructively, Theory ‘I’ is an attempt to understand and define the Indian worker just like the Japanese had tried to do with their Theory “Z”.
Inspite of India having some of the best management schools of the world and the best reservoir of skilled human talent, our organisations have not been able to do well. Amongst other reasons one of the most important reasons for the failure of Indian management has been our failure to develop an indigenous management style, which revolves around our cultural roots and upbringing. An Indian grows up in a system, where family ties and a sense of belongingness gets an absolute top priority. Coming from this environment, he gets a shock, when he sees the job environment practicing American philosophies of contractual style of management. He is not able to adjust productively to this cultural mismatch and thus, very often, fails to be as productive as his Japanese or American counterpart.

An Indian worker is perhaps looking at a system without ruthless management practices and inhuman work pressure even if the job security is a little less. Instead of the system (specially in PSU’s) giving them near 100% job security, it could give them some fear of job security, since Indians culturally like to take life easy and tend to become complacent in such situations. While, the job security aspect could be reduced the human touch in managing them could be increased. They should be made to feel that the company cares for them through regular training programmes, family welfare schemes etc. They should be made to feel that they matter in the organisation through programmes which involve them directly or indirectly into various decision making processes. This would increase their level of commitment for the organsiations and perhaps tomorrow we would also see people telling that “I am a Bajaj man” instead of “I am working for Bajaj scooters”. In one of my workshops Sr. Manager - Corporate Planning of NTPC, P. Purukayastha could not agree more and cited two beautiful examples. The first related to NTPC spending upto Rs. 5 crore on the medical expenses in US for one of its drivers and his wife who were affected byincurable diseases. This incident of humanity has been a motivating factor for all employees for years. The second related to his own experience where he made flexi timing for one of his workers whose wife was ill. This not only removed the troubled look from his face but made him one of the most motivated workers who was always ready to give more than 100% to his job once his wife became alright. These two incidents can explain how human touch can do wonders on an average Indian psyche. I would even go up to the extent of suggesting that professional studies could be made a part of on the job training like in Japan and not that people first get trained and then wander around for jobs like in the US. It has to be kept in mind that the Japanese without a single business school of repute have produced some of the most successful corporations in the last 50 years, while with so many reputed management schools the US has not been able to stop the entry of one after another of the Japanese organisations into the Fortune 500 list. Again out here I might add that Mr. Purakayastha himself went through a training programme after which the company, based upon the results of the test, decided to shift him from industrial relations to corporate planning which has been one of the most motivating aspects of his job.The idea that I want to suggest is that it is high time Indian companies thought sincerely about their people and developed “Indian - people friendly management” practices. They might have some American touch or some Japanese touch but the thought essentially has to be given on what will suit the Indians. The sad part is that successful Indian managers who have developed indigenous styles of management don’t end up theoretising their styles and propagating them through books or articles. In the US almost every semi-successful manager ends up writing a book and thus, today one does know how IBM is managed, but one doesn’t know about how an Indian corporation like, may be, the Reliance Group is managed. So, when it comes to learning management the only option is to refer to foreign books and learn foreign management styles.

Principles of “Theory ‘i’ Management”
Most Indians value bonds emotions and long term relationships.
Most Indians value growth opportunities and commitment.
Our cultural roots (of tolerance etc.) often make us complacent.
Lack of patriotism at a macro level leaves us aimless.
The key factors for the success of “Theory ‘i’ Management”

At a macro level the government and the industry needs to realise that the success of our industries or their respective companies doesn’t entirely depend upon the kind of business strategies they have nor the latest jargons that they have adopted from their multinational consulting firms nor on their exciting marketing and sales promotional schemes. The success of their companies in the long run depends upon how vast is the market that the economy has been able to give them, how much is the purchasing power of the people in the country. The people at the bottom level today need to be given a higher purchasing power alongwith better health and education facilities which would not only make a huge difference in the quality of human capital in the country but would also satisfy the most important criteria for the growth of the Indian industry i.e. they would become a part of the consuming market. The market will no longer comprise of 100 million people but of 1 billion people, because it is purchasing power and only purchasing power of the market that determines the long run growth of any economy, industry and company. No marketing strategy certainly can achieve the above market expansion. This is pure economics and no miracle. So, not only for the sake of humanity but also for the sake of their own long run interests they should support policies which benefit the weaker section of the society and contribute towards its success. Countries which are developed today had all taken care of this basic thing before their surge forward.

At a micro level Indian leaders could do well, perhaps, by implementing Theory ‘i’ Management with the help of Indian leadership techniques which are explained beautifully in some of our epics like “the Saam, Daam, Dand philosophy in the Geeta” etc. which talk about flexible styles of handling people based upon situations and backgrounds. What I am trying to say is we need to remove the dicotomy existing in our system, where on one hand we keep harping about our culture and its strengths and on the other hand we overlook this aspect completely when it comes to managing our people. “Theory ‘i’ Management” is thus about India centric management styles for managing Indians at work.