Stories people tell

Every organisation and industry I have worked in had stories to tell employees. Some told them upfront – during the honeymoon (“induction”) period. Some later. Some never – but the stories were there, they are still there. 

Some examples:

1. Cigarettes. It is important for us to produce and sell cigarattes because otherwise there would be contraband plus more unhealthy forms of cigarettes. Prohibition never addresses the real issues – it only makes the issue illicit to discuss. We provide direct employment to thousands of employees, and indirect livelihood to millions others through our CSR initiatives. Our CSR initiatives are regular course material at Harvard.

2. Audit. Is not about being the “bloodhound” but the “watchdog”. It is very difficult to detect wilfully perpetrated fraud – that too done with active collusion. We can do justice to our profession by being up to date, exercising due diligence and care and maintaining professional integrity.

3. FMCG. Is ALL about distribution. Once you build this intricate pipeline, all you need is to ride on it, and allow other products and services to ride on it too while making a free profit. Scale pays. You don’t even need to produce your own goods. Our core business strength is marketing and distribution.

4. Education is business. Archaic laws and government perceptions are unable to change with times. If private players don’t enter education sector, the country will remain largely uneducated. Private players provide incentive based services which will surely be better than poorly incentivised Public education. We do make profits to sustain. Like EVERY other business our way of doing good to society is through our products and services.

As you must have guessed by now, these and many more stories not listed here are neither right nor wrong. We need stories to make sense of our complex environment. Less time taken to understand the environment means more time for action in preset direction. Some stories we outgrow with enhanced perception. Some we grow with without realising how it attached itself – through own thinking or otherwise. Maybe I am growing older in mind and increasingly skeptical. But more stories are clearer today as stories than they were than 10 years ago.

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6 Comments

  1. srinath said,

    January 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Outstanding blog post 🙂

    As a build, people get sold on ideas through stories – not through charts, data tables, opportunity analysis etc. All these can help create the story & build its credibility – but a good story can sell even without these.

    So to get people to commit and work on something they want to get done, managers necessarily create stories.

  2. Deepa said,

    January 21, 2011 at 9:21 am

    So mostly we get some data, fix the story line and get more pointed data right ? 🙂

  3. Somesh said,

    January 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    or maybe you are getting mellower and giving the stories benefit of a possibility of being right as well…10 years ago, an age when cynicism is generally at its prime, these would have been branded outright lies and deception..

  4. Shreya said,

    January 27, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Great post. Really well written. The stories are so much there, and some times we grow to reject them, some times we internalize them.

    But when did you work for FMCG?

  5. Deepa said,

    January 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Somesh – as usual the “other view” ! 🙂 I am not LESS cynical now, wish I could be though 🙂

    Shreya – thanks. FMCG Finance @ ITC.

  6. Jagdish said,

    February 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    i didnt know uve started blogging… good writing… tho i hav nothing much to contribute here…. im actually speechless n thotlesss 🙂


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