Connecting the Dots…

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14 March 2016

Well, there is so much that I want to do. And so little time. So much has happened in the past 12hours. And for whatever reason, there has been this chain of events that are so isolated; but yet, at some level seem to stand out as being part of a common thread of experience.

Last evening, I visited an aunt of mine; an individual who is so exceptional in more ways than one. Clarity of thought, expression, and clearly someone who I have seen literally ‘walk the talk’ in the field of education. My visit to her place yesterday, was like walking into a jewelry store and being asked to pick the diamond of your choice and at no cost!!! I walked out with a pile of books, documents and articles -all hand written. Tons of materials on education and I haven’t been able to get my eyes off all that I see so proficiently written. It was like walking back in time and hitting the virtual Google. And then, I wake up today morning to a call from an ex-colleague of mine who was desperately trying to reach me for the last couple of weeks. A fairly senior person in age (58, I guess) currently with a large MNC. He has been on the lookout of a change of job and was requesting for help. I recall the hiring drive many years back, when we hired Ramesh. It was part of the ‘diversity’ initiative in our organisation then. This was an attempt to hire ‘baby boomers’ and ‘women candidates’. This was the ‘in thing’!!! And over the years, that I have participated in these ‘drives’, haven’t for once seen the relevance of the entire act.

We hired about 5 ex-service men, around 10 in the age of 50+ and approximately 10 women. They all went through the same Induction program – an attempt to induct the group to the corporate world. They all met with the leadership team – individuals who waxed eloquent the ‘’gyan” on how to make it big in the organisation… etc etc etc. And then on day 3, all 25 of them disappeared into the ocean of 80,000+ employees in the organisation. I didn’t hear from them and neither they from me. So, what was the point? Why did we hire them as part of a specific initiative, if we did not want to spend time with them? All that we did was to work out a plan on inducting the group to ‘our way of thinking’! And I could see George Orwell smile back at me… with a twinkle in his eyes that said ‘I told you so’!

The intent of a diversity initiative is clearly to get diverse perspectives – viewpoints that will challenge, and thereby help the organisation grow / develop. And I am not sure if we did get their perspectives at all. I recall going back to my computer and resolving people issues in a manner quite similar to the way I did the day before and before… THERE IS VERY LITTLE (in fact NOTHING) THAT I HAD DONE TO INDUCT THE ORGANISATION AND THE LEADERSHIP TO THE PEOPLE WE HAD HIRED. And therein, we failed as the learning organisation.

Ramesh was part of that group. We have spoken a couple of time at work, have had coffee conversations on specific issues and have seen him struggle through some of the challenges that the corporate world can pose to many. And there was nothing that we did, I did, to help him through that. The expectation was to blend in. Well, if that was the expectation, then why indulge in a specific diversity hiring drive at all?

“Education is meant for development, whether it is meant for the individual or the nation, thus implying the importance of the development of Education”… and this is the basic framework and rationale for anyone in the learning and development field. It came back to me while ruffling through the files that I gained from my aunt yesterday. Google doesn’t have ALL the answers. Most of the times, the solutions are right there. I need to raise my head from the keyboard, look at the person sitting next to me, and irrespective of the age, gender, race… he /she had the potential to set me in the right direction. Therein lies the power of diversity. And articulates for me, of all that I want to do!!!!

Guess I have connected the dots after all… my aunt, an ex-colleague, a handful of manuscripts and my dream !