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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Random musings

The chasm between field and head offices is an ever widening one. Those in the field always have a grouse against those comfortably settled in apex offices and wonder why the field realities remain invisible to these guys who really matter. And the very same guy on being kicked upwards to apex offices conveniently avoids the ground realities in favour of his warped perceptions and continues to be regarded in the same league as he regarded those above him, earlier. The relay continues with a lot of unhappy people emerging all around.

I have always wondered why field postings are meant for relatively junior and the headquarter postings for those born much earlier. Perhaps it is the general perception that wiser people should inhabit the superior offices and the not so wise, the lowly ones. This, despite the fact that it is predominantly the work at the field level that decides the fate of organizations whether they move forward or stay where they are.

On the other hand, the work of the superior offices is to provide vision and direction besides facilitating the working of their subordinate units, activities that they rarely indulge into. Unfortunately they end up attempting to monitor what the field units are doing, without generally providing any value addition whatsoever and therefore are regarded more as an evil that one has to live with than an office one usually looks up to.

Why shouldn’t then field offices have a status much higher than the head offices? And postings then should also follow this logic with sheer competence, not rank in the hierarchical set up deciding where exactly the bureaucratic bloke should park his backside upon.  Seniority then should not really matter and even the seniormost bloke, if competent should be parked in an assignment where his capabilities and talent can be best utilized. On the other hand even a junior official if perceived to have vision can be positioned in assignments in head offices where providing vision and direction is the major concern.

After all positions within bureaucratic setups should be positions of authority and responsibility, not merely positions of power and the aim has to be delivery, not merely positioning of men in hierarchical assignments.

Railways is a classic example of an organization where the field formations are generally treated with contempt by superior offices that themselves repeatedly on many occasions prove their irrelevance. Yet there is a race for superior yet irrelevant positions for the field is regarded as inferior to setups ensconced in ivory towers.

When shall we wake up to the reality that positions that impart power and authority are merely roles that one plays and each role has its own relevance? Regarding one role as superior to the other is a folly that most of us commit. After all real progress can only be achieved by a confluence of roles, all working in tandem with each other.   

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