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The Soul Problem

Deepak Chopra thinks India's facing a crisis of the soul. He bases this conclusion on Gallup data that shows 33% of Indian workers as being disengaged, and only 9% as actively engaged.

My bet is,the data's spot on. But I have to scratch my head when Deepak terms it an issue of the soul. Employee engagement is soul related?

What nonsense!

What India's needs is the exact opposite of soul. The fifty years post Independence had been about soul and spirituality, and look where it got us to! Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

If 9 out of 10 people in organisations aren't engaged, blame the firm's culture. I bet these are firms that don't care much for merit. I bet these are firms that reward apple polishers. How did these firms come to be that way? Its easy. Take a look at the country's culture. Institutions are an aggregation of people. People draw their personal sensibilities from their community and society. So when they get together as an enterprise, they draw in the very same mindsets that have been shaped in them by their society.

The spirituality Deepak puts his hope in, to turn things around in India, is the real problem. Our culture is our stumbling block. What we need isn't more of the same nonsense. Its time to abandon it, and embrace wholeheartedly the principles of merit.

Merit reigns in organisations that adopt the principles of a free market place. After all, in free markets its the superior value creators that survive. Sure, its survival of the fittest, but tell you what, its such survival that brings the best out of employees. Their participation in the process of enterprise value creation isn't out of lofty spiritual ideals, instead its a pursuit of their own well being. Employees in meritocracies will know merit matters, and it pays too. Being engaged is good for the enterprise. Its good for their own selves too!

Spirituality and soul won't get us or the enterprise anywhere. It may put us in a state of delirium for a while, but soon our everyday struggles will bring us back to what's real. And what's real calls for real people doing real work.

Sitting cross-legged in a state of trance isn't anywhere close to real. Its an escape route we seek when we can't, or don't want to face up to what our responsibilities are. Here's hoping we abandon it sooner than soon so we can engage ourselves on a path to prosperity. 


Unknown said…
yes, management mentality is shaped by socialist indian culture thats why they are not able to figure out whose adding real value.

Brilliant post sir.
Ray Titus said…
Thank you, Nikhil. Appreciate all your comments, and also you reading my blog. :)
Unknown said…
I think one must learn to strike a balance between spirituality/soul-searching and meritocracy.
And there lies the challenge!
Both are equally important.
Bang on, Sir.

Tell you what, it is high time, the so called GMs & VPs of the Corporates read this.

Once they read, 2 things will happen. Either they would change their style & it would benefit junior to mid management guys like Me. If it benefits us, not only will the motivation & culture develop & be better; it also would increase productivity & the P&L statement.

The 2nd alternative, the probability of which is higher is, they might trash this & say, what does a Prof know about corporate working styles. Sir, Yes, that's how egoistic, narrow-visioned & thankless people sometimes are to ideas of culture changes & innovative business practices.

Things that were taught to us by professors like you, whom I would term 'revolutionary', because of the culture, independence, innovation, delegation, team play etc. during class-room sessions lack in the corporate set-up.

It is high time Sir, you need to give a few lectures to the GMs & VPs on how culture improvement can increase work morale of the Gen Y brigade at corporates.

PS - Hope everything is going good at your end, personally & professionally.

Ray Titus said…

Spirituality in India is mostly hocus-pocus. If soul-searching means brutal introspection, I am all for it. As for meritocracy, there ain't anything better that matters in any organisation!


Thank you for the nice things you say.

Yep, a culture change is wishful thinking in Indian organisations. But then some of us will have to fight the good fight, so the future's better for the ones to follow. I must say though this means sleepless nights for the ones who take on entrenched value-eroding cultures!

Am doing well, thank you. Work's as interesting as ever, home, even better. :)

Cheers :)
I am witness to the sort of complacency prevailing in the organizations which I did one of my projects sir. And its sounds rational enough to attribute the causes of this behavior to culture. I liked it.

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