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Producing Quality

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Some of the developed countries, particularly in Northern Europe, have become aware of the toll that a twenty-four hour connected world takes on people’s lives. Employers can now intrude into every moment of workers’ lives, creating a stress level that traditional methods of ‘unwinding’ cannot bring down. Although companies and corporations might believe they are extracting the most from their employees, thereby ‘increasing productivity’, it is actually having the opposite effect. The increasing single dimensional nature of people’s existence actually depletes them of the contrasting forces that go into a heightened consciousness and creativity. Laws have been made, therefore, ensuring employees can only be asked to ‘work’ during the designated hours. Expecting them to do so at other times has been made illegal and punishable.

Of course, much of the world has not quite reached that level of awareness. The developing economies have many sectors where it is believed productivity is achieved through the number of hours clocked in. The required sophistication to understand the equation between quality and marketability does not yet exist. No wonder, therefore, that many of the innovations and S&T breakthroughs continue to emerge from what might be considered the ‘lazy and laidback’ economies. It is inevitable, therefore, that margins in the developing countries are poor, the general condition of services and products is bad and, in many cases, getting comparably worse. This is as much a managerial as a regulatory problem.

The parameters of determining productivity need to be identified and introduced into the curricula of management courses so that the culture of quality is inculcated at the earliest level. In an age when young people, some still in their teens, have the ability to establish successful companies, it needs to be recognised that talent has to be identified and nurtured early, and factored into the larger vision of a company. On the other hand, practices that limit the scope of an individual to develop have to be shunned.

The Indian economy is at the cusp where a delicate transition has to be made from the ‘sweatshop’ approach to the ‘quality focused’ one. It may be noted that much of the new economy has the flexibility to design and build a creative model, which is why it is surging ahead. Unfortunately, as can be seen particularly in the public sector undertakings, the older confined systems continue in operation and have used the new ‘connectivity’ merely to increase the grind. Hopefully, steps will be taken to give workers a new ‘azaadi’ from this yoke of undiscriminating mediocrity.