Deference to differentials...

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In a technology-driven world, the difference between the rates of change in technology and adaption could well decide between success and failure. The rate of integrated technological advance is exponential as newer technologies take off from where older ones reach. But its holistic adoption, at best, progresses on arithmetic proportions.

Although, manifestations of this 'differential' are universally significant, it is seldom noticed. While evolution of smartphones illustrates exponential growth of technology, its unexplored capabilities exemplifies the 'technological differential.' Such differentials between intent and practice unfortunately exist in all walks of life.

The market is flooded with 'state-of-the-art' managerial techniques espoused by experts in various fields of management. The relevance and validity of these techniques, each invariably derived through intense research, are unquestionable. Corporates, implement these 'best practices' after internalising it through training. Driven by targets of profitability, turnover, volumes, market shares and quality advantages, managements acquire cutting-edge technologies, establish stringent quality controls, and enlist the services of ruthless marketing executives. Such organisations, theoretically, must continuously flourish. But, the market is littered with corpses of corporates that had employed contemporary technologies, aggressive strategies and brilliant business minds. Why did they fail?

Obviously, there were 'differentials,' besides, technologies and 'best practices' that managements fail to identify and address. The 'differential' could be the gap between organisational fundamentals and growth strategy pursued or it could lie in the realm of technology - human resource integration. Whatever be the nature of the differential, if unidentified and left unattended, these could trigger downslides. Cocooned in the comfort of routines, inhouse managers tend to miss symptomatic manifestations of 'differentials.' Organisations, thus, must periodically undertake course audits to identify such differentials and to initiate appropriate interventions.

Contemporary educational practices provide an exemplary illustration of how such differentials can impact society. Education primarily aims to create a society that applies knowledge for its own betterment and guarantees dignity, justice and equality devoid of discrimination. Degrees are mere benchmarks to indicate expertise and level of knowledge acquired. Contemporary practices, however, merely churn out uneducated literates, incapable of objective reasoning, exposing the chasm between 'educative content' and a 'degree.'

The differential between the 'intent' and 'accepted' manifests as discriminative practices openly or subtly perpetuated, corruption, non-adherence to laws of the land besides social evils. Populism couched in democratic practices have only hastened the process of societal degeneration. Smug in the 'boiling frog' situation, society, becomes accomplice to the frenzy of competitively divisive political populism. History is replete with civilizations, empires and organisations that have fallen. The nemesis of the Indus Valley civilisation was more internal than external. The 'societal differentials' afflicting it from within hastened its extinction. The Aryan take over, if it ever happened, was just the end. Likewise, the final fall of the Roman empire was hastened by 'differentials' that led to socio-economic stratification and discrimination. Causative factors to the disintegration of both these great entities of human history were integral differentials that remained unattended.

Objective reading of history would reveal that, at the root of each case of extinction, there were one or more such differentials that were ignored. History is a great teacher and those, however powerful, who pay no heed often become history, sooner or later. Resentments that erupt as mass movements often have some unattended differential between the 'preached and practiced.' It is time to focus on these.

(Jacob Tharakan Chacko is a retired major-general with 36 years of experience at various managerial and directional posts. He is a recipient of the Sena Medal. He may be reached at: jacobtharakanchacko@gmail.com)

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