About Me

My photo

I love exploring new avenues with "passion for impossible" which were not treaded by others so far. Not bound by any race or country or religion for me to associate with and contribute in their life. Regular blogger sharing my folly as "wisdom" for others. Please visit my blog http://www.ncnarayanan.blogspot.com to learn the moment of truth I faced in my life that made me wiser to handle this complex phenomena called "LIFE" 

Popular Posts



I welcome you to my blog

Dear friend,
This blog is an effort to share all the mistakes committed by me in my Life. I wish to share them with a hope that you may learn from my mistake and avoid committing them all over again!

I am blending my wisdom with that of all great Masters who have shown me the Light.

This blog is dedicated to everyone from whom I learned. Wish you peaceful life ahead.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mystical Ingredient – Episode – 9: People Paradigm

In this episode I wish to continue the various people paradigms which enable the leader to get the best out the people to achieve the organizational goals. In my previous episode-8, I dealt with 4 paradigms and here I am continuing the paradigm-5 onwards.

Paradigm – 5: Performance assessment

One of the most sensitive aspects of people management is assessing their performance and giving feedback. Let us appreciate what is performance before we venture on assessment. An Organization is a constellation of people with different roles & responsibilities assigned to achieve an end result which could be financial and non-financial. Normally the complex network of people is structured with departments with functional roles which in turn become a value chain to convert the customer requirements into a value added product or service.

You may like to look at a simile such as a cricket team which has independent roles and interfaces governed by rules of the game. In a similar manner, an organization is also a game with roles and rules. If the organization has to perform, all individuals have to perform. Hence performance is nothing but achieving the intended goals at the end of the year.

In order to assess the performance of an individual, we need to set the expectations in the form of job descriptions and deliverables at the beginning of the year. A loosely wired organization, vaguely defined JD and absence of KRA (Key result areas) setting in the beginning of the year are generally the root causes for the people dissatisfaction and poor performance. I am of the view that if the people are not performing, the leader is responsible.  I wish to borrow the “GEM” ideology from Swami Shukabodananda to explain the role of the managers in getting best performance from their people.

“GEM stands for Goal setting, Empowerment and Measurement. The first step in GEM is Goal setting. Every human being is keen to make a difference in this planet and feels happy when he/she creates something new. The statistics shows that the people satisfaction levels and hence attrition is low in companies which has a lofty vision and engagement of the people. If the Leader has no vision the whole organization starts rotting and people have no sense of direction. The Organization goals are then deployed as individual goals till we reach the lowest level in the rung of the ladder for which techniques like Policy Deployment are helpful.

Having set the goals, the leader is expected to ensure the Empowerment part of the GEM. What is empowerment? I wish to use Juran’s Self-control to explain empowerment.  Dr JM. Juran defines Empowerment through three things which are important for any people to deliver what is expected from them:

  •  He/she knows what the result/outcome they are supposed to deliver and when.
  •  They should know how to operate through the process and identify when things go wrong.
  •  They should have the authority and knowledge to set things right or stop producing defective output.

Don’t you think that the Leader cannot blame people if he has failed to empower them through training, hand-holding, providing facility and authority?
The third aspect of GEM is Measure of performance - MOP and providing feedback. For vast majority of the processes, we have no measure of performance and we judge people subjectively without any data which leads to dissatisfaction. Driving an organization without MOP is like driving a motor car without a fuel indicator. Hence for effective performance management, the Leader has to apply GEM principles.

Paradigm-6: Potential Assessment

It is very difficult to describe what is potential and how to identify although HR experts have devised several theories and models. Referring the Thesaurus of potential, you find synonyms such as likely, probable, promising, doable, feasible, on the cards and viable. My understanding of potential is the “Hidden abilities of a human being yet to be manifested – it is a seed which has the potential to germinate and bear fruits”. Having attempted to define Potential let us look at the context of People Paradigm important to Leaders for the development of the organization.

Unlike performance which is a short term need of an organization, identifying the potential is the need for building institutions. It is paradoxical if I say “All performers may or may not have potential; and all potential people may or may not perform”. This statement clearly brings forth the distinction between Performance and Potential. In other words performance is what a person achieves in the present and potential is his/her ability to discharge higher responsibilities. ”Performance is a being and potential is becoming”. The following anecdote from Matshushita the founder of National brand will clarify (as stated by him from his book “Not for bread alone” written by him when he was 91 years old)

“Someone asked me how Matshushita Electric Company became a multi-national. After studying only up to second grade, I was working for Osaka Electric Company as an operator. Right from childhood I was curious to create something new and I sketched a concept of a new switch and proudly showed it to my supervisor requesting him to develop this as a product by Osaka Electric Company. He curtly answered me that I was not hired for designing their products. I felt why not I start my own company and had the audacity to commence an electric company with a missionary zeal to improve the quality of human life through electric appliances. Ever since I commenced my company, every year I found at least 3 people emerging as potential CEOs. In order to retain them I made them as entrepreneurs asking them to commence our overseas operation and that is how Matshushita Electric Company became the multi-national”

What a great Leader with no B-school education was able to identify the potential of people and build institutions. Many organizations today don’t have a process to identify and develop the hidden potential of people. There are few Indian corporate which has examples for potential identification as their CEOs are home grown:

Mr. KK.Nohria CMD of Crompton Greaves, Mr SM.Trehan MD of Crompton Greaves, Mr AM.Naik CMD of L&T are all the examples of leadership to identify and mentor the potential of people. They have all joined as trainee and grown up to the highest rung in the organizational ladder. Can you imagine they have superseded over 11,000 people and retained their position?

In summary:

  • All human beings have the potential of different degree waiting to blossom.
  • Nature wants variety and hence it will create new possibilities
  • Swami Vivekananda was hidden in Narendra, Mahatma was hiding in Mohandas Garamchand Gandhi and so on
  • Looking for performance only is a myopic view of a leader; searching for potential is the characteristics of a Level-5 leader.
  • Performance focus helps organizations to survive; potential focus builds multi-nationals.
  • You don’t know what giant is hiding in you! Don’t be satisfied with what you are as what you could be may be a great possibility.

The people paradigm will continue.
Jai Gurudev


  1. Can you suggest ways to objectively measure "Potential" in a Human ? I have read through some articles which give me pages after pages of measuring "Potential" subjectively..... however, I'm yet to see some methodology which can objectively measure the same... Have you come across any methodology which objectively measures "Human Potential" ????

  2. Thank you for asking this question which shows your eagerness to this subject. In my opinion potential assessment is a subjective and intuitive experience like nirvana! I am also of the view that human potential is immense and can never be fitted in a formula and even some one does it may not succeed all the time. Regards NC

  3. The GEM part is quite interesting. The basic question is, how to identify the potential strengths. Doesnt it become subjective? We may have the Skill matrix map but that is something similar to closed questions. how to get into the paradigm shift and assess the real potential? please give insight on this. - Gopalakrishnan

  4. Dear Mr Gopalakrishnan
    Thank you for your question. To answer your question spotting potential is an intuitive process. The reason Leader emerges as fractional percentage of human form is all he/she does are intuitive such as Envisioning, strategizing,spotting talents etc. The famous CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith says that he selects successful CEO's in the first 2 mts of the interview as the selection is by feeling and not through data.

  5. Spotting Potential, Envisioning, strategizing,spotting talents etc........ are so critical processes for any organization .. yet I feel there has not been any thing done to make it less people dependent..... (The eg that you quoted "Marshall Goldsmith".... such great men are one in millions. Do you think there is absolutely no scope of making these less intuitive ... hence less people dependent.

  6. Brain Mapping, Narco analysis, Brain electrical Oscillation test, etc.... these may not be perfect tools to detect who's lying and who's not....... however I think these are attempts to make the process of "Crime Investigation" less intuitive.. Do you think this could be the way forward ??

    I'm sorry if i'm sounding silly :)

  7. I'm sorry for being impatient..... but I was really looking forward to hear more on this .....

  8. There are lots of subjectivity exists mainly in performance assessment and it will as it is unavoidable . The western philosophy or eastern philosophy both are working equally well around the world. You will find examples of success and failure in both the philosophies. But now the ambiguity starts in the leaders mind what to do ? Well this question can me best answer through the introsepction of organisation culture. In India we need to merge both the philosophies but practically from my view, We can start with the Eatern philosophy of positivity with the employee that they are good and they will perform well.Give some time first, share the value system of the organisation(obvious we need the wisor leader for it) and give reasonable time say two month. Now observe , observe the behaviour expected are in line with organisation philosophy and not leader's philosophy. If we found big variation than it is time to use the Western philosophy and the survival of good person for organisation will prevail. We have lots of stories in Indian mythology which may give some insite to us. We hope now the next article of NC Sir will be on this practical aspects. In short the conflict in leader mind is because he starts thinking that I am doer of every thing(why not he is being rewarded/critisized for it). but wait the others are doer and those others are you and you are in other ......


Do you agree or disagree to the shared views?