I don’t find religion very compelling, but nevertheless I would like to borrow from Hindu mythology for this post. Amongst the vast span of Hindu Gods exist three primary ones: Brahma The Creator, Vishnu The Stabilizer and Shiva The Destroyer. Each of these three gods is entrusted with the responsibility of either creating, managing or destroying things respectively.
As an employee, I wish my job was as well-defined as one of these three but unfortunately I have to juggle between all three roles continually. The same goes for all my colleagues and friends. This situation of uncertain role definition begs the question “What can we borrow from Hindu tradition and apply to corporate culture?”
One way would be to strike out the designation of “Manager” as a misnomer and spread out employee responsibilities. For example, the “Marketing Creator” would come up with innovative tactics and strategies, whereas the “Marketing Destroyer” would rid the company of inefficient processes, investments and resources. The “Marketing Manager”, on the other hand, would ensure smooth running of all marketing operations – implementing the Creator’s innovative ideas despite the Destroyer’s ruthless cost-cutting measures.
This is however impractical – not only because we would have to triplicate a headcount to get the same amount of work done, but also because everybody wants to be a Marketing Creator and none a Marketing Destroyer.
The other, less drastic measure would be to digest the fact that a single employee will continue to juggle between different roles, much like in today’s corporate environment, and optimize the weightage of Creation, Management and Destruction across time. By way of illustration:
Phase 1: The Destroyer
In this phase you enter the role with a fresh perspective. Your predecessor, no matter how accomplished and stellar at his work, is bound to have done a few things wrong. So you set about fixing all his inefficiencies. The fringe benefit is that this is also an opportunity to prove that you know what you are doing and earn the respect of your colleagues. In this phase your role is weighted with about 40% destruction and 60% operational management.
Phase 2: The Manager
Over a period of time, as all the inefficiencies are culled, you free up time for other activities. This is the phase when you can afford hour-long lunches and off-days when you switch your mind off at work and chat on Facebook. With not much destruction to do, and with the laurels of an enhanced RoI to get your back, you have no pressure to perform. Besides, by this time you are already comfortable (and hence efficient) with managing operations. This phase, with 5% destruction, 40% management, 5% creation, 10% networking and 40% bumming around is the calm before the storm.
Phase 3: The Creator
By now questions are asked in whispers about whether you have turned complacent. Your boss wonders if the fire in your belly has been extinguished by your pompous lunches. Like the phoenix, it is time to rise from below. The networking that you accomplished in the previous phase comes in handy and gives you the opportunity to try new things, to experiment and to showcase your results. Your experience of two phases furthers your ability and credibility, so you lack the fear of going wrong. In this phase, you spend about 30% of your time managing and 70% of your time creating new stuff.
Phase 4: The Afterlife
It is important to note that you are as much a victim of this cycle as you are a benefactor. Once you move on to different pastures to destroy someone else’s work, your previous role will be usurped by someone – much like you at the beginning of your stint, who will set about destroying the inefficiencies in the creation that you managed in your last phase. And thus completes the cycle.