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Recently while watching National Geographic channel, I was amazed to see a striking parallelism between one of the series broadcasted on the channel, and the IT industry. It made me rethink certain incidents which I had seen in my career, and about which either I had a very different opinion or I could not think in the way I am thinking now. So, I have named this post – Learnings from the Jungle.

The series was on Lions – about their lives and certain insights into their strategies and the strange laws of nature. One of the sections was on what happens when a Lion enters another Lion’s territory. The new Lion has to fight the master of the existing territory. In the process, he might get killed or will choose to run for his life. If he wins the fight (by killing the existing king or by making him leave the territory), the first thing he does is – he kills the cubs of the old lion from all the queens (the lionesses). It gives him a sense of supremacy, it satisfies his ego and he does this to declare his ultimate authority on the territory. The queens do not interfere, for the fear of being killed or hurt. The next days depict the law of nature – “Move on!”.It’s the mating season for lion with all the lionesses – the beginning of HIS family – the lion never adopts cubs!

This might not be the best analogy for what I am going to analyze, and if to some this analogy seems offensive, I apologize. For me, it looks interesting and with this understanding, let’s proceed to understand what’s the parallel story in IT.


I can recall Jothi Gouthaman’s words (he was my reporting manager at Applabs, and now heads the Performance Testing CoE group at Accenture (India)). He had developed an excellent online reporting system for performance tests, while being at Applabs. When he was taking his career move, he told the team – “Please try to sell this reporting system to the new manager!”. I was wondering at that time, why one should try to “sell” such a great system, the new manager will definitely appreciate it and extend it further.

But after seeing the Lion story, as related above, I can now understand his words. A new manager comes with certain background, experience and values and tries it to carry them along wherever he goes. If the place where he goes is in line with his thought, he is comfortable. Otherwise, he tries to change the complete system with the help of the team. I understand that change is eternal, but when change is employed to imply supermacy for undue reasons, the change can spoil an otherwise decent existing system. If the change in such cases is driven by Lion’s law of supremacy, I pity the existing team in the way I pity for the Lionesses, who can not do much when the cubs get killed. As for the old Lion (manager) – he moves to a new territory – a new system – with his existing values – and there is again a team there for whom the situation might be pitiable.

I am not saying that the new manager should blindly accept the existing system. He should carefully evaluate it with the help of the team. This will help to bring out the positives and negatives. Because the team is involved in the discussion, convincing them to change those areas which were rated as negatives, will not be difficult. Next thing is that instead of relying totally on his previous experiences, he should try to find solutions with previous learnings and the outcome of present analysis. The target should be a revised system, which is as near as possible to the present team’s thought process – ultimately it’s them who are going to work on it.


I have purposely used the term Manager here, to imply someone who has authority to change the system if he wishes to do so. Others also feel such challenges, but there is little they can do about it, apart from suggestions or adapting to the new system. I fall in the latter category. The intention of this post is to suggest that bringing in new ideas and changing existing system is something which should be taken up with care. I would like to know the views of those who are in the authoritative positions, what do they do in such situations?

Rahul Verma

www.testingperspective.com

9 Responses to “Learnings From the Jungle – New Manager versus Existing System”

  1. Pradeep Soundararajan

    I was amazed to see a striking parallelism between one of the series broadcasted on the channel, and the IT industry.

    You could do it with everything you see and learn faster. All it needs is to practice. If this is your first, let more come.

    “Think of a problem and open any book any page and read it. You’d be surprised to see the solution for the problem in it” – Richard Bach

  2. Pradeep Soundararajan

    I have purposely used the term Manager here, to imply someone who has authority to change the system if he wishes to do so

    Did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ( Father of the nation – India )had a power to get freedom to India and then he got it?

  3. Rahul Verma

    Hi Pradeep,

    Thanks for your valuable comments.

    I especially liked the quote by Richard Bach.

    You have quoted Gandhi in your comments as:

    “Did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ( Father of the nation – India )had a power to get freedom to India and then he got it?”

    No offense meant for any personal emotions, but I personally think that getting freedom for India was not one man job, there were millions of people who sacrficed for it, and often sacrificed their lives. Gandhi was a great leader, he inspired people, he enthused the importance of freedom in their minds, and then it was the combined force of Gandhi and those people that got freedom for India. This was in addition to several other leaders who were fighting for freedom in their own way, again by inspiring another set of people.

    So, it’s the matter of passing the spark to people. Whatever you do or I do, to bring some changes in the present testing industry, until and unless those who are the real doers, those who have the authority to bring changes in their respective organizations, don’t get convinced, nothing can be done at a broad level.

    This is a society of authority and responsibility. As a part of the testing community, it’s our responsibility to suggest changes and wherever possible institute those changes. For instituting such changes, either we should have the authority or we should convince those who have authority.

    With the above understanding, I had used the line –

    “I have purposely used the term Manager here, to imply someone who has authority to change the system if he wishes to do so”

    Here the “system” implies system which is that manager’s responsibility and over which he has authority (as suggested by the title of the post)

    To make it clear, suppose a person is going to change the system in Comapny A. How can me or you stop it? First, we should have the information about such a change. We will seldom get it (that too about all such changes in different organizations). Suppose we got the information, it’s the mamager who has ultimate authority, so we can just approach him to suggest the pros and cons (if he is interested). Finally his decision matters.

    So, if we want to bring any changes, we will have to convince by reason, those who have authority. And with this sole purpose, I wrote this post. The readers of the post, if get convinced by what I wrote, should analyze what they are doing to their system.

    Thanks again for visiting and sharing your views.

    Regards,
    Rahul Verma.

  4. Pradeep Soundararajan

    @Rahul,

    I was hoping that you would launch an explanation to my question quoting Gandhiji and I am happy that I got it done.

    I recently heard of this from a great person to whom I spoke with, “There are two ways to change things – revolution and evolution”

    I then thought more about this and the picture I got in mind is, “People who revolutionize might have undergone an evolution within and those who evolution-ize might have revolutionized themselves”

  5. Rahul Verma

    Hi Pradeep,

    I then thought more about this and the picture I got in mind is, “People who revolutionize might have undergone an evolution within and those who evolution-ize might have revolutionized themselves”

    Good thought. I too believe that the personality evolves over the course of years and there are some things which happen in one’s life which revolutionize such evolution.

    Regards,
    Rahul Verma.

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Rahul

    Your article on “Learning From the Jungle-New Manage Vs Existing System” is an excellent parallelism. In my view, we should take the implicit meaning / message communicated by you in the article rather then attempting to dig the literary meaning or articulation

  7. Rahul Verma

    Hi,

    Please mention your name in next visit, so that I address you with all the due respect.

    I am happy to know that you have liked the article and that you were convinced by the message I meant to convey.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep visiting.

    Regards,
    Rahul Verma.

  8. Chris Loosley

    I believe that the difference between lions and IT managers is that lions have no choice but to obey the laws of the jungle. All wild animals, even lions, are insecure, because they must be constantly wary of attack by predators, or by peers seeking to invade their territory.

    IT managers, on the other hand, being human (most of the time :), can chose to behave otherwise. The illustration of Gandhi suggested by Pradeep is, I believe, the perfect counter-example. Because Gandhi was secure in his beliefs, he had the self-confidence to be a quiet leader, leading by example and by the strength of his message, which inspired others to follow.

    Managers who are not so sure of themselves are more fearful, and compensate for their fears by adopting an aggressive and authorotarian manner. I have seen a few of these “little Napoleons” in my time, and they always poison the atmosphere in an organization. Their immediate reports suffer most, but others are not immune from their attacks.

    Granted, a Napoleonic manager may get results in the short term, by terrorizing his own staff and others in the organization. But there will be much attrition, as good corporate soldiers seek to escape the line of fire. In the longer term, only a Gandhian manager can inspire the kind of loyalty that produces valuable and sustainable results.

    So I believe managers should adopt Gandhi’s approach, not Napoleon’s. And if they are incapable of doing so, they should not be managers.

  9. Rahul Verma

    Hi Chris,

    It’s good to hear that you suggest Gandhian approach for a manager. This is one point that the readers of this blog must imbibe when they manage a project.

    Gandhi was a perfect example of leadership by example – of firm thoughts and polite actions.

    Keep visiting and sharing your thoughts.

    Rahul Verma.

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