Crisis or opportunity ?

Multi-skilling our security guards

Every crisis is an opportunity. That is the way to look at life. If we can find ways and means to convert every crisis or challenge in our lives into an opportunity, we will be better of. It is better to look at life as a chain of possibilities rather than a string of problems.

The lockout in India and many countries around the world is a necessary condition for us to fight a virus, which we do not know much about. While many of us are cursing the government and everyone around us for the situation, some of us are converting this crisis into an opportunity.

Some may ask how do we convert every crisis into an opportunity ? Let me illustrate my point with a few examples – both from my personal life and work life so that we look at possibilities rather than challenges. Let me start with the personal life first.

While we have all the time in the world, some of us are getting bored with it. Some others are wondering what to do. I decided that I will use this time to do housekeeping in our entire house. Every nook and corner of the house got cleaned. All our documents were put in place and arranged systematically. Our clothes were sorted, junk identified and disposed and surplus things segregated to be donated to people who need them more than us.

Similarly at the workplace, we have an opportunity to look at how do we reduce the cost of our operations. We can form teams to innovate and give ideas to cut process delays, make improvements in the way we have been doing things. We can challenge existing systems and processes and get rid of all waste in the system.

In most organisations, material cost accounts to 70% of total cost. How do we reduce this cost ? Even in labour cost, we can think innovative and reduce the same by trimming salaries rather than manpower. For eg. we can reduce senior management salaries by 20%, middle management by 10% and even workmen by 5% in consultation with the unions. This may reduce our overall cost by 10% without having to make people lose jobs. This requires proactive discussions with the unions and preparing employees to face the challenge together. The CEO and senior management could lead this effort by voluntarily taking a 20% cut so that they lead by example.

I am willing to volunteer to partner with any organisation to share ideas and see through till implementation for optimising their costs, especially employee costs without manpower reduction. My services will be honorary and if you achieve your goals, you can contribute to my cause of “preventing blindness amongst children by donating directly to my partner organisation.”

We are in a war like situation in India and most of the countries of the world. We in India are lucky that we are a democratic state. We have an elected government at the centre and in the states. We need to trust our leaders and believe they have more information and wisdom than we have in dealing with this crisis. In a war, we need to trust our leader and follow her or him like a true follower. Followership is more important than leadership in any crisis situation. Many of us are using social media to spread rumours and negativity. This will not help us in any way. Let us spread positivity and salute the front line warriors who are sacrificing their lives to save us.

Each of us can contribute in our little ways by staying at home and be self disciplined. We can support the poor daily wagers by helping them with food, shelter or any other means. Even if each of us take care of the servants who work with us and other low paid employees in our community or workplace, we would be doing our bit to get over this crisis.

As in the photo above, our security guards are supporting us in distributing newspapers, watering the garden, collecting wet waste, housekeeping and many other errands, which is much beyond their job descriptions. This will make them multi-skilled, which will help them in their career too and earn more than they otherwise would.

Let us be happy and proud that India is much better off than most nations in the world. The good news is that the governments at the centre and the states are working together to fight this crisis. We as individuals and communities need to support the government in fighting this war against the virus together.

Let us contribute our little bit every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

14th April 2020

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