Guilty as charged?

By Kanika Bali

 

2015-07-06 20.13.57

The rain Gods have finally decided to pour down on us. After a long spell of heat, the monsoon has dawned upon us in full throttle. It seems like our business musings are following the grey downpour- We were told that the Bored Of Directors doesn’t want change. That moment felt like we were in court and we were convicted guilty for trying to help. The hard evidence given to us were three prior reports that looked into the same analysis and came up with similar conclusions. But none of these detailed reports were ever put into action. But like any convicted criminal in a developing country, we kept questioning the law.

Our first appeal for bail was accepted by a local boat owner’s daughter and crewman’s wife- Lala. A fiesty, strong willed, kind woman who gave us the answers we needed about the complicated inner workings of the organisation. The frustrating resistance of change and the “Tanga, Tanga” (foolish) electoral procedures of the business. Sadly, the conclusion was the same- guilty for trying to help. Our second bail appeal has been accepted and we’re leaving for it tomorrow to the government offices. We’re attempt to collect hard evidence that can help us convince the jury of our boat operators that we can actually help. Our report will centre around informing them about their upcoming threats. All of this is helping me put into practice alot that I have learnt in theory. The problems with partnerships, the divorce between ownership and control, the resistence to change and nearsighted nature of small businesses. It’s definitely a great way of building on theory, but also being able to embrace uncertainty. We thought everything was going well with our business and- BOOM-  they dropped the bomb.  But we need to keep moving forward and we’re finding ways to keep doing that.

Personally, I’ve become more aware of differences in culture upon coming here. This difference in culture is probably more prominent now that we’re working in smaller groups. It can be super frustrating at times but I’m finding ways to work through it and take a step back to give other people an opportunity to apply their knowledge. Sadly, this does not work very well in some situations but I need to keep finding ways to make it work so that I’m not the only one challenging myself and thinking of big ideas.

From a more macro point of view, we’re a group of 14 from different places and it can become a bit like the situation in the Lord Of the Flies. When we’re put together we become more sensitive to the stereotypes that we have in our minds and how people break them. I also observe different people taking on different roles in the group and how things like Hofstede’s theory’s come into practice with excursions and meeting. I’m slowly seeing people adapt to others and break out of their moulds, but this needed some confrontation and the more dominant, talkative and loud people needed to be told to take a step back. Following on that thought: maybe growing up I was given a lot of constructive criticism and feedback by the people around me because of the boarding school environment, even though the Indian culture doesn’t seem to be open to it.  But I’ve realised that a lot of people have never been confronted with that and this course is definitely helping them learn about themselves and learn how to take criticism in a more positive way and hold less grudges.

Being so young, the only way to mould ourselves is through the experiences we have, the risks we take and the people we meet. This course is definitely challenging and building all three of those aspects. The key lesson I learnt this week is aptly summarised by GunsN’Roses, “Nothing lasts forever, not even the cold November rain.” (Well, in this case, June rain.)

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