Beyond doubt the culture is key to success. Organizations try to enforce ideal culture through Mission Statements, Visions and/or Organizational Values. These are supposed to be not just for the art work to adore office walls. They are supposed to be practiced and enforced equitably. They are supposed to be used in tricky situations and conflicts to take right decisions. This book – the first by the author – is detailed account of initiatives that he took to facilitate definition, implementation and enforcement of one such vision termed as Kanjikode Vision. The implementation and enforcement of the Kanjikode Vision in the adverse industrial environment of Kerala of that time, made the Kanjikode factory of Parachute Coconut Oil a model to follow – not only within the Marico group but also for the industry.
The book reads like a story. One can finish it in one sitting within Mumbai to Hyderabad flight-time. Though the start of the book gives a feel that it’s giving account of all events in a sequence of time, I realized halfway that the book does go back-and-forth in the time. The first six chapters (upto “Recruitment”) are almost in sequence of time. All chapters after this start back-in-time. This caused a lot of cross references between the chapters – both before and after the real description. The two examples are – 1) “WEness” chapter introduced the idea of the common uniform in detail. I assumed the uniform issue was settled. However, there was still mention of a “mental note” of officers with light colored uniforms sitting separately in a group in the first Organization Communication Exercise (OCE) three chapters later. 2) Author put a board during Onam festival to monitor the attendance. He wrote the numbers present against each House. Here, he successfully made a point about how House system helped in “WEness”, introduced competition, and ensured high attendance. The following chapter is again dedicated to the House system – this time in detail starting in the past.
The back-and-forth doesn’t impact the reading flow, it doesn’t confuse the arguments either, but it is a characteristic to be aware of before picking up the book to avoid confusion and ensure better understanding.
Author doesn’t make reference to any big management theory or proven principles. His narrative style makes each initiative sound like just a common-sense. I recommend this book to anyone interested in regaining his/her common-sense.
I also feel this first one sets the base for more in-depth voluminous work from Mr. Pant. I wish him the best.
Dear Ghanshyam, It was refreshing to first of all go thru a book which talked about a enabling workplace culture where I have been a part of & witnessed the change & results. The Book is written such that the story unfolds and sounds real & simple(easier said than done) . For all who look for quick fixes in terms of tools, techniques, consultants, for bringing culture change the book is an example of what it takes to make changes in real life. Some of the Key elements that I captured from the book are Culture is Just about People and the Rest of the hardware around it are short lived if the Genuinely Connecting & Caring about People is missing. Every example, incident, event that the Book captures are nothing but Centering Around "Are We Seriously concerned & Committed to the People we Work With".I firmly Believe this is the Only Sustainable Way of Enabling, Empowering. Without the Trust & Confidence earned with every action that Leadership takes there is No Culture. Many Organisations are also trapped in the Hardware Aspects and do not have the Vision to Understand this Basic Aspect of Connecting with Human Beings.This is also the Road less traveled as most organisations look for short term gratification & dont have the foresight as well as there is limited Common Leadership Agreement.I enjoyed every day I was at Marico Kanjkode and never felt I was working somewhere,such was the empowerment. Thanks to you for leading this with KMT and Corporate Support all the way.Only after I left Kanjikode did I realize the difference.My only critique is I felt the Book was too short and could have been expanded more. I am looking forward to your next ventures. Regards Ramesh
We keep talking about 'Execution is Key' and also that we need Superman when the going gets tough. Well, here we have both. Ghanshyam, the Superman who makes it sound so easy. Anyone who has tried to set up a factory in Kerala would relate to all challenges while someone who is planning to set up one there now should definitely read this book as it could save him a lot of heartburn and cash. The writing is simple, structured and to the point and the number of pages are few so even those who don't read a lot can easily read this book. The story is of early 1990s but it is as relevant today in the days of the startups and even I picked up a lot of things-to-do for my own company. Thanks Ghanshyam for this :-)
12 years back I landed up in my first job in Chennai.One of the question from the interviewer was “Can you name a company in Kerala which did not have any adverse IR situation” –My answer was Marico...
Also as part of my project of introducing Kaizen in the Organization, I had an opportunity to be in Marico –Kanjikode plant for 2 days with then Factory HR –Mr. Edwin James. These immersions had strengthened my passion in OD & of bringing positive changes trough people.
This book is an excellent narrative from the very same person who was catalytic in building the enabling culture in Marico.
“Power to people: Building an Enabling Workplace Culture” would not have happened at a better time as we are also building on something that we have common with Marico- same Mariwala family & positive orientation towards people . This book goes beyond mere cerebral appeal and inspires the reader to act of bringing positive changes in their respective workplace.
Thank you very much sir for this wonderful book and distilling your experience for larger good for professionals in similar field.
We will be happily adding this book to our library and do a bulk ordering for our plant staffs . ~Harigovindan, VKl Seasoning Private Limited
The book is written very lucidly and in story telling style. It captures various initiatives taken during establishing a Marrico pant in Kerala, an state known for labour problems etc. Author was at the helm of affairs. First hand experience - as it happened; no theory etc. Highly recommended for persons who want to know how small but continuous push from leadership can bring the paradigm shift - in people thinking and behavior. Leading by example; from the front was the key enabler.
A clear thinking, an honest and transparent working, determination to succeed and more importantly Human values and right behaviour; what all these can achieve even in an unfamiliar and not not so friendly environment is demonstrated in this story of Marico unit in Kerala. How Ghanshyam led from front and created One team to build an Utopian like environment is lucidly narrated in this story of Marico Konjikode. Wish there be more managements like this, in India. A must read for managers of every genre, there are learnings for everyone. Once started reading couldn’t stop till the end.
Easy flowing story style of writing makes it an easy read. One can finish the book in one or two sittings. All the principles have been explained with real examples. As I have been party to most of these except the initial beginning it was like reliving the experience . I am sure these principles of Vision, pillars , communication and using vision to break deadlock, change of key leaders are very powerful and easily replicable. It’s a must read for people working in factories, setting new plants or new businesses.
Dear Ghanshyam ji, it was a pleasure going through your book. It was a very enriching experience that I had having completed reading the entire book in a flight from Kochi to Kolkata. All the chapters are very much connected and depicts a very realistic fascinating success story. I could connect to the challenges of the work culture in the state context but at the same time very much appreciate the best of intent that was exhibited by you and your team that could be felt by the people over there, leading to support all your initiatives. Everything you took up exhibited benevolent intent. All your initiatives were for empowering people and to reap the benefits for the bigger goal - the Kanzikhode vision. The team alignment groundwork initially, partnering with people, enabling group decision making were the key to success. However very disappointed to read about the onset of unionism after 6 years. I am sure the cause would be a disconnect of the people from the original intent that you set up. People must understand that whatever grest strategy is made, if it has a missing element of benevolent intent for people and their development, is not going to work. Anyways thank you for such enlightening book. Very helpful to any industrial or team context not just Kerala. All the best for your future endeavours and look forward to read more from you. Kind regards, Rajkumar Mukhopadhyay
Ghanshyam’s narrative is simple and lucid- reading this book was nostalgic as I was part of the team which attempted to build an ideal work place . A candid story highlighting examples of participative management using dialogue and involvement. The team tried to create an equitable and fair workplace focusing equally on tasks and relationships modeled around Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid . It is the history of the initial years of a factory set up in God’s own country . Recommended read for HR professionals and students.
First of all let me congratulate you for the successful launch of your book “Power to People”. The book encapsulates the challenges faced by your team at the KKD factory in building a positive culture by involving people in bringing transparency and building trust amidst a strong unionized environ.
You have very succinctly and lucidly with relevant examples highlighted the efforts involved in creating a Culture of We-ness by empowering the workforce, providing opportunities for Skill Enhancement, inculcating a sense of healthy competition by use of the school house concept and cultural celebrations, etc.
This book will definitely be useful to every entity who is a proponent of the concept of “Building an enabling workplace culture”. Well written using simple narratives with examples.
Reading through the book and also being a part of the KMT, I was transported back in time to the year 1992 and after. Nostalgic indeed. We, cherish the Nostalgia.
Ghanshyam, congratulations once again, and look forward to your next…….