There are businesses in which the main business is happening at multiple far off sites, the processes that go on are of extremely high stakes and environmentally sensitive & the processes depend upon automation as well as human factors.
The key decision makers and the main office teams have a few professionals who have experiences from the processes the company undertakes at the far off sites. But at one point the office-based staff increasingly start to be become disconnected from the ‘real feel’ of the process-sites.
One can name mining, transportation, offshore oil production businesses to name a few to be somewhat like these.
And then to bridge this gap some smart businesses appoint experienced personnel with strong sense of loyalty and fearlessness. These bridging-officers hold no-bars when it is necessary & put their foot down if required to save company from losses due to something related to the processes that the non professionals in the main office do not foresee or grasp. The stakes of letting the wrong or undesired process-detours being extremely high in terms of monetary losses, legal issues as well as the business reputation.
In all the round-up above one big factor that has been omitted is that of the‘office politics’ …. and to make the matters worse. the ‘office politics by the insecure employees’ !
It so happened in one case, that the office-staff remained focussed on ‘meeting the targets’ statistically. They started gathering data with ‘closed queries’ from the processes so that any other gaps and lapses never get identified or reported but they project the KPI-achievements smoothly.This in turn punched the board room presentations that were in today’s MBA oriented business culture a key factor! The presentations thus looked good and the investors and CFO’s were kept happy albeit the data being ‘rigged’.
Consequently, the bridging-staff who also spend time on the process-sites as well as in the main-office started to see worrying-trends on the process-sites when a new technology was introduced. They realised that the actual implementation of the new Technology and its fool-proof usage were not matching the ‘on-paper’ milestones.
On many occasions the main office is forcing the process site-managers to declare that they have fully accomplished the workflow .. though in fact the processes are being handled in a haphazard way. The bridging-staff then start to see error-developments and the strong possibilities of accidents of catastrophic nature sooner or later.
Now, the main office middle-management staff who were in a tight alliance with each other started keeping the process-weaknesses hidden from the bridging-staff by reporting it as ‘normal’ . They did not allow the reports to reach the senior executive officers. They felt that such reports could only increase the work-loads.
The bridging-staff reported the error developments on-sites to the middle management in the main office. The main-office middle-management saw these reports as damaging to their departmental key processes. The bridging-staff in turn started to see this as a drop of guard against the possible mishap at the process sites.
Days and weeks passed and the bridging-officers started to see the site processes becoming complacent and supervisors at sites missing out on the error-chains being developed. The company’s process management-procedures detailed the need to report near-misses and also the need to verify the process by the senior supervisors, they tried to scale down the tones of the Bridging-officer’s reports on process sites lapses and near misses.
On one hand the number of process-lapses started increasing and they did not get reported because any query about the weaker areas of the process site operations had been omitted from the revised procedures made by the main office; secondly the middle management kept giving a rosy picture about the process-site conditions and new technology implementation. The reality being the bomb of mishaps at the process-site started to tick and nothing was being done to defuse this bomb !
If you are the bridging-officer between the main office and the process-site – what are your options? Report it? Stories of making such reports got being ridiculed.
The only option the bridging-office now had was to report this matter to the highest authority in the company risking a huge wrath by the middle-management for increasing their workload ….. in short, whistle-blowing ! quickly the bridging-officer in this case realised that there were many additional steps that needed to be addressed have not been commissioned … the risk is high to very high. Either report, whistle-blow or see the accident happening followed by ruining the entire company and its closure.
What to do then? Blow the whistle or not? ….. The bridging-officer in our sampled case decided to whistle-blow by by-passing all the middle managers …. The CEO paid attention to such a degree that the bridging-officer wondered why he delayed the whistle-blowing so long anyway ….. the middle management cornered the whistle-blowing bridging-officer who had made the choices and saved the company – he was unafraid – he had seen through the entire business of the properly aligned, otherwise being risked to shut down.
His fearless yet profoundly thoughtful decision to whislte-blow helped save the business. The highest management appreciated and encouraged the bridging officers to continue to whistle-blow anytime if they felt it necessary … in the meantime this business survived while a few of their competitors do not.
The secrets of this business-survival was thus in their having capabilities and also the whistle-blowers who are never confused or afraid about ‘to whistle-blow or not’ !!
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After the last blog.post ‘..whistle blower..’ I received many and highly valuable comments ! thanks for reading & sharing indeed !!
To address all the good suggestions I have thought of listing those points (..including those from my son Eshan who is doing PhD in international relations in Melbourne and wife Uttara..) in a sequential way and then from the next post to start analysing / commenting on each of them … this way we can expand the topic into a discussion of new kind ….
Here are the points for analysis – I will start writing from next chance I get during my travels ..in the mean time why not you all also start thinking them over to have a deeper look at the causal factors in them or the causes behind these causal factors themselves … Thank you all !
(below listed points are with reference to the last blog post..)
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When I am on ships …. it’s alife of constantly being in the state of full operational readiness and operating and emergency preparedness – whether awake or in sleep literally …. having people around who are all professionally trained in skills and disciplines …. a life of such professionally competent readiness day and night for 39.5 years of witnessing operating ships as well maintaining ship security; surviving storms and winters …. and then when I come home, I am in the house of a Mariner’s wife who has run it with the same – rather even better professionalism of ‘operating skills and readiness for almost all kinds of emergencies..’ knowing very well that they come without ringing any bells …. be it flooding-rains or earthquakes or someone’s terminal health in the neighbourhood or any other house hold situation or even a pet in distress … she is prepared …almost as a a pro ….. and then there is the human civil society at large in this city at least …. so different ! … so different in lives of earning-sake skills and longings for consumptions !! almost with full dependecies on the emergency response services provided by the local bodies and states for their safety and security …. On one hand there are examples like ‘Sully’ so well portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie – who handles his powerless plane as well as the civilian passengers extra-ordinarily without a loss by water-landing on the Hudson, then also faces the skeptic NTSB investigators …. but with one awesome clarity and ability …. that of knowing ‘..what to do and how to do ..?’ …. that awareness and ability both leading to a cruicial Decision Making in a mere 203 seconds !!
…. and today in Mumbai when the first news came … that of the terrorsists on the loose reported by school kids to their teachers and then to the authorities … everyone had the news coming either by their social media, or by the noise of the howering helicopters or by watching the TVs or upon seeing the road blocks …. clearly confused individuals everywhere …. night falls without tracing the fugitives …. People seem to retire in a relieved mood though the authorities keep reminding that ‘the fugitive terrorists are still on the loose’ and that the highest alert still remains in force…
What did most people do? Did they grasp the implications ..? Did they remember how it looked on the TV when the Belgian forces were combing districts of Brussles to nab the fugitives? …? As against here in Mumbai …?? What was it that the public at large could have done..? how was the Boston bombers’ chase end .. do you remember? How were few more chases otherwise … all telecast … what was done then ..was any thought given how to act if that happens in Mumbai..?
Had the people practiced to grasp what the situations meant..? while the people remain busy listening and forwading and sharing heated debates about how the state should react to the latest act of terror … while here they are right in the face of the fugitives … a clear dangerous situation when the fugitives seen and may be more could surface anytime anywhere and this changed situation needing well practiced minds that can understand …
….. what it meant & what to expect …
how to help the authorities in their search ..
What has changed in the circumstances ..?
what it means for household level security..?
what does it mean about children going to schools & colleges…?
What emergencies to expect … how best to react if there is sighting..? own security and that of those around …
& above all how to do..?
NOPE !! the people are NOT THAT READY as seen today !!
No wonder ….just 2-3 days ago in broad day lightin Delhi a stalker aquaintance of a straight forward girl knocks her down and stabs over and over again till she dies while crying out for help ….. neither she knows what to do and how to do in case of such an assault on the busy road (in spite of several months of earlier troubles and complaints … the passer by public don’t know what & how either …… or is it that they Don’t Want to Know and Don’t Want to do anything but only sit and expect all to happen on a readymade platter by authorities while they remain busy giving endless opinions on the social media and in chats about what others should do …. only to the advantage of the unlawful perpetrators !! that in turn bringing the biggest weakness which can not be made up by loud slogans or good intensions but only by constantly knowing – individually as well as groups – What to do and How to do in any anticipated or unforeseen situations … so that the terrorists, who seek to build on the weaknesses of the society & the state, run out of options and back off …
Can We ..? Can We as the law abiding straight forward civilian lot despite of being from any state keep this as an expectation thereby subtly counter the terrorism; imbibe this part as a responsibility to know and constantly update the knowledge in theory and practice of ..What to do ? and How to do? In situations created by the terrorists and never get caught as the unprepared ….
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Meet an executive in the international … well multi-national … arena and have a chat about the areas of output efficiency ratios in general …… won’t be surprised if the common factor will be of dissatisfaction about the ‘quality’ ( level of minimum standards achievement in almost all sectors to say) …of any younger workforce at large …
..why so ? what is going on ? why the heightened levels of management skills inputs or broadcasts of them do not succeed in getting the quality deliveries in return …?
…. reasons? changing attitudes ..? Yes very much !
…. reasons? quality of education…? of course yes !
….. reasons? family structures …? may be …!
…… reasons? frustrations of the younger generations ? … definitely a ‘yes’ in a way ..!
one common solution …? reinstate ‘demands’ of quality traits by the bosses … ‘demands’ that came about in most of the existing fields as ‘traditions’ (e.g. show me this / do this /that ….) but vanished in the era of workplace correctness, political correctness and lack of boss’ own social ability to ‘demand’ …… verifications by bosses became name sake or for sharing the responsibilities instead of being effective …..
… and this is from kitchens to Labs, schools to workshop floors, art to manufacturing , from operation theatres to farmlands …. it’s too common that the bosses no longer demand indicating factors that ensure quality …. and put the blame collectively over the new generations and new cultures … time to introspect !!
… who is the good boss then – one that demands day to day exhibits of competencies or the one that asks for nothing and only utters shared words of pseudo motivation and appreciation in order to be popular at the cost of lowering of standards in irreversible ways ?!!
… while the world seeds new skills they also need to see what is getting evaporated and the irreversible consequences of that !! … any new apps then to make a fix …?
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ECDIS – with Primary as well as Back Up means of Sea Navigation : – Issues …. While i am totally Busy With ECDIS based Navigation – The users-number is growing steadily alright, but it has to grow in all sectors of any new technology – from the those hands-use it for Navigation, those who regulate it, those who verify it, those who manage ships using it …….. seeing a DGPS beacon being erratic the port state may rightly question the ship’s for applying Terrestrial Navigational Techniques, but are they also questioning the Harbour Pilots using AIS based Homing devices which will also lose accuracy and may shoot up to more than 100m inaccurate …… this level of approach is far still …. but progress steadily in the right direction alright ..!!
Hello folks !
I am back after a long gap ….. hope to share more …. this time with the news about the scientific news about the ‘Gravitational Waves’ concept that was ‘Theorised’ by the great Albert Einstein about a century ago (he always worked that way and his colleague S K Sen used to realise it in Maths a few months / time later – a brilliant scientific partnership in that… this time in the absence of mathematical requirements, it was the job done by the French-Italian-US scientific teams (as we hear on the TV )!!) …
But with myself having a keen insight into the ‘Astrology’ – the Varanasi-Based calculation and placements methods – I never saw any contest to this theory from the very first time it came to my knowledge a few years ago. Because I have been urged into Astrology by my wife Uttara (Meena) who has developed for long her very own ‘Vyom Concept’ that came to being based on her works in the fields of ‘Vastu’ ‘Fengshui’ ‘Numerology’ ‘practically making Interior Decor works’ on many sites – the way they were being told when she studied them and also almost hijacked by people who give a ‘magical’ look to it rather than a ‘scientific’ insights method —while it is in fact somewhat like a weather forecasting system of different sorts. When i was almost pushed into the Astrology world … my big question then was how to define ‘good’ from ‘bad’ ??? and a very big question as to ‘what authority a fortune teller has over others’ lives to dictate ‘do this and do that because astrology says so ..’ …. so i got involved in its studies in fact with a big disapproval for the ways in which astrological aspects were told by those who know it and those who seek ‘solutions’ from it !
Being basically a sea-going-Navigator myself, there was no problem about the 3D visualisation of the planetary (correctly speaking celestial bodies’) planes and relative positioning at a given time with respect to the earth where we live.
The second part was that of ‘making sense ‘ of everything – this came about on the eureka eureka day in a Vastu class where i was sitting with my wife as a student, and suddenly with my knowledge of the Magnetic Compass on Ships and their adjustments, and coupling it with the Vedic Karma theory that i have studied in my Upanishadic studies in the past …. suddenly all made sense as to what all this is about !
What was awful though was , the way people and society at large reacted to it ….. there were those who were keen to use it for betterment in life, those who were sternly opposed to it, there were these who ridiculed it and there were whose who misused it to get a social status in people’s lives !!
While what this study is about is in the first place accepting the fact that the universal as well as local material and cosmic (just to explain its extra-terrestrial nature – call it ‘cosmic’…) changes the way the humans on the earth singly or plurally think and interact – it constantly affects the way the status of micro to universal levels is ! and in that one can be forewarned or helped to reason out the conditions in one’s own or as a family or as a society’s ‘future’ would be ….. and then to make whatever sense that entity wants to make … it is not and must not be the business of the ‘teller’ whether it is good or bad ..
And while this is what astrology is about, to relate it to something mystical, psychic is all incorrect & should not be confused with….. well then see the press conference in which the scientists are making the announcement of ‘we have found it ‘ (gravitational waves..) …. and see all the congregation being overjoyed for their hard earned ‘success’ … what is painful is having to listen to scores of ‘scientific-minded’ ordinary individuals who keep challenging – at least in India labelling it as ‘blind faith’ and so on till they ‘get it’ !! so now from the Gravitational Waves if the earth and its beings get affected , so does what and how they do all the human behavioural and thinking activities that they do ……..
That’s why Albert Einstein was cut above the others – what he ‘got-it’ a century ago the scientific field is ‘getting-it’ now and we will have to wait for years for the public at-large (many of them busy only ‘copying-pasting-forwarding’ types i mean and refusing to use any kind of own wisdom that they do have …) …!!
Gravitational Waves – yes they are present or even more factors associated that we the humans haven’t named yet or even sensed yet !! and they do affect everything that are human-made and controlled from stock-markets to politics to wars to personal relations ! and there is nothing ‘magic’ or ‘mystic’ about it!!
Few things are there – insisting on calling it ‘scientific’ or otherwise is very much human shortcoming (as my son Eshan Arya describes it in his article ‘tagging’ it ..)…. at times just accepting wind as wind and nature as nature makes it easy going without challenging their very existence !!
In the meantime i gear-up for greater insights into the astrological analyses of hundreds of situations that vividly provide a weather-forecast like synopsis for the 4-decade-seasoned seafarer in me because being able to explain it to public-at-large in the Gravitational-Waves context will make it easier to explain.. !!
Having a team that is keenly interested in the job is vital for healthy running of a ship!
But it is challenged these days and can not be taken for granted !!
Not until a few years ago the sea career brought a ‘special’ status for those who worked at sea! Times changed very fast – at a speed that probably has been unprecedented and that equations changed! The social media and being ‘connected’ playing a major role in that …. the mindsets of the younger generations joining the sea being the next important factor, employment and recruitment styles so also the business objectives having changed drastically … a sum total effect being the way a seafarer thinks, lives and relates these days! What was once considered as wise became stupid and what was considered as nonsensical became smart !!
The effect of all this is not just on the mindsets of the seafarers alone but also their relatives, life partners, friends and the dependents … it’s a revolution of sorts ….
Both sides of the sea career – the part that the seafarer plays himself at work and his life partner/s play in running their life together in his/her absence is the other … both these are the very practical jobs !! they are way beyond, way deeper than just typing words in a smartphone …
Under these circumstances the challenge is far more pronounced to maintain the life & work balance for the seafarers. In recent times, as much as i have come across happier seafarers by being in ‘touch’ through social media, e-mails etc. so also I have come across an increased number of seafarers who have neglected their jobs by being obsessed with the electronic media, facing depressions caused by misunderstandings caused by shallow communication and even an increased instances of suicides or attempted ones …
Impositions at sea in the modern era that increasingly thwart the traditional entertainment of the seamen but keep them ‘disconnected’ in relationships …. increased number of women not being ready for alliances with the seafarers makes them isolated and disconnected … and those who are lucky to have alliances becoming desperate to keep the marriage intact by being irrationally ignorant about the jobs on occasions …and chasing the goals that are best suited for the shore based careers ! (in short having less chances of succeeding in them!)
There is no conclusion for this write up today, nor is any distress and definitely no solutions… because traditionally the lives of the seafarers have been unique and unique they will be …. one thing being very obvious though that those who manage to strike this balance and lead happier and content lives have enormous support and contribution from their partners and families ashore … the modern day seafarer is a family man and heavily dependent on the family for his shore based survival – perhaps except for the monetary part but that too not always!
And this very human aspect is hard to plan, predict or regulate! often not accounted for, yet one that matters in the way a ship is operated !
What matters is how a Master and Chief Engineer and other senior officers quickly adopt the skills and sensitivity to best handle their modern day work force so that they continue to remain interested int heir jobs !