Thursday, January 2, 2014

Learning to Respect Leaders with 4 Cs for Reducing Acts of Omission and Commission in Public Functions!

Acts of omission (mistakes) and commission (committing a crime) done by people holding responsible positions in public functions or corporate functions are liable for punishment under various rules and regulations as adopted by the concerned organization.

While some acts are easily understandable by any one with some common sense, that is not the case with several others. This difficulty in understanding the depth of an act of omission or commission causes many such acts not getting noticed for corrective actions.

This kind of a situation makes an ideal situation for the propagation of corruption in public life. By the word public, I mean all walks of functions that concerns citizens at large, whether or not the organization concerned is managed privately or publicly. 

Acts of omission can happen when people entrusted with certain functions are incompetent to carry out the work properly. In such cases the mistakes they commit are due to ignorance, lack of knowledge or lack of training or lack of up-to-date knowledge or training. Acts of omissions can happen both deliberately or non-deliberately. Whatever be the case, some acts of omission can cause serious problems to the society while some other may not be so serious. Let us consider some examples:

If the pilot of a commercial aircraft or the driver of a passenger train commits an error while doing work, it could turn out to be fatal for many. Many people including the person who commits the error could die in such a case. However, it is not so easy to attribute the said act of omission to the person so easily. Elaborate investigations would be required and the findings of such investigations may not be perfect always because such investigations are also carried out by imperfect beings! This way acts of omission of any one in an organization can cause detrimental effects on others. While some acts of omission may not affect many, some others could affect several people. A surgeon committing a mistake can seriously affect his or her patient, but an engineer making such a mistake could some times affect several people. An on the job mistake of a bank employee, a financial services employee, a mechanic, an electrician, a pathological laboratory technician and the like are all likely to create small and big problems to one or many individuals or even the organizations that they work for.

Hence, it is essential that acts of omission by people at work are kept at the minimum practical levels always. The ways and means of doing this is ensured by good practices of management and governance. To prevent frequent occurrences of acts of omission, it is essential to ensure that the people selected for the work are competent to do the work and are motivated to do it error free always. This is the function of the  management in any organization. If the people of an organization are not generally competent or lacks knowledge to do their work or not motivated to do their work, such a situation could be attributed as an act of omission by the management! Disciplinary actions are often resorted by many legacy organisations to prevent their employees committing mistakes or acts of omission. However, an organization in the hands of a management which is in itself incompetent cannot set things right with disciplinary actions on erring employees because of the likelihood of acts of omissions by the management during execution of the disciplinary actions!

In short, acts of omissions by the management functionaries are much more serious than that of the lower level employees in the long run. In other words, it could be an act of omission of the management that results in acts of omission of the employees of the organization. Thus a pilot or a doctor or an engineer or a technician or a clerk doing an act of omission is partly attributable to an act of omission of the management of the organization where such persons are hired for working.

The simple technique to find out whether a person could actually be held responsible for his act of omission depends on whether he or she had the full control or authority to avoid such an erroneous act. If a person has only responsibilities and no authority or facility to match those responsibilities, the act of omission is not fully attributable to him or her.

But acts of commission are deliberate acts and often done so cleverly that it would be very difficult to detect or even take corrective actions. The acts of commission are criminal or willful acts done for some personal benefit causing larger loss to the public or organization. Higher forms of corruption come under this.

It is easier for top level authorities to commit acts of commission without leaving any direct evidence. Let us consider some illustrations:

A is a large public company making a regular product for the use by another public company, B, to use it for some public infrastructure. Both companies have public servants as their Chief executives and they in turn are answerable to their boards. The CEOs and the board members keep their respective positions so long as their political bosses are pleased with them. It is possible for the top authorities to create a situation where in they could deprive company A from supplying its product to B on some excuse and get the supply from another company, foreign or domestic, who is willing to go to any extent for such a shift in the status-quo. If that happens, there is all possibility that company A go out of business and possibly incur huge losses or even a lock-out later. In another scenario, the CEO of company-A could be influenced in such a way that he or she could immediately make some changes in the production and quality control team so that the product in question deteriorates in quality and company B gets an excuse for sourcing the material from elsewhere!

There are many such scenarios and all these are not mere imaginary ones. Such tacit acts of commission have been taking place here and there in India for the past many years that it has caused the country to be projected and perceived as a nation of corruption. 

It is indeed a welcome sign for those silent citizens of India to see that weeding out of corruption has now become the sole objective of an emerging political outfit called the Aam Admi Party or AAP. Whether they could make any marked success or not is some thing to be seen later!

But it is time for all those who consider acts of commission as not any thing to be seriously viewed, to change their attitudes. There is a need to purify the Indian society from this filthy dirt called corruption.

In my opinion, viewing each and every one with suspicion, as we have been doing all along, is not the way to eliminate these acts of omission and commission in various walks of like in public service or business. 

Punitive vigilance alone cannot resolve these problems. The right man for the right job should be the core philosophy to be implemented with honesty.

And that is the biggest issue. For that we need people with the 4-Cs that I wrote in a blog earlier.

When we learn to give regard and respect to people with Character, Competency, Courage and Compassion and learn to entrust them with higher responsibilities of leadership, things are going to change positively.

And if people of India are now finding people like Mr Arvind Kejriwal as different from many others is some thing that reflects the desirable positive changes in the attitudes of the Indian people that is slowly and decisively setting in. 

At last they are learning to regard and respect the 4-Cs for their own good! If more and more of people of this country are going to realize this, it would indeed make this nation great !

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