Hi Friends,
                                              Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.
                                                  There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"
                                       With regards,
                                       Hemen Parekh
                                       27 June 2013

Wednesday, 11 February 1981

PRODUCTIVITY - A LOOK: BACKWARD AND FORWARD

Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave). 

11 feb 1981

To:  
All Operations Committee Meeting Members         

PRODUCTIVITY - A LOOK: BACKWARD AND FORWARD

The  subject  of productivity  was  last  reviewed nearly  II months ago -  in Policy Review Committee  meeting dated March 18, 1980.

In that meeting I had  traced the history of the Productivity movement  at  Powai,' beginning with  the  appointment  of  a Committee  in 1975 with MR.  G. Ramakrishna as  the Convener. The Committee submitted its  report in November  1976 and its recommendations   were  discussed  with   the  GMs   and  the Corporate  Management.   Most  of  the  recommendations  were accepted by  the Management but there has  been no subsequent formal  audit (to the  best of my  knowledge) with  regard to their implementation.

After  signing  a  four year  agreement  with  the  Union  in January  1979,  a  formal dialogue  with  the  union  on  the subject  of  raising  our Productivity  level  was  initiated around   September   1979.    A   three-tier   structure   of Productivity Committee was devised and regular  meetings are being held at Powai level and the Unit/Shop levels.

Almost  the entire  emphasis during  the past  18  months has been on  "Communication".   In dozens of meetings  (involving Managers,  Union Office-bearers,  Shop  representatives. Shop Supervisors   and   in    some   cases   ordinary   workmen), graphs/charts/tabulations  have  been projected  to  give all concerned  an idea of the ups and  downs of  shop wise labour efficiency.

All that can be  said for this intense effort is that  now at least there is an  awareness of how Productivity is  measured and where each shop stands.
By and large, however,  there is no evidence of  motivation -an urge  (individual or collective) to do something  to raise the Productivity level.

Although  we have  succeeded in  breaking the  "communication barrier"  (there is considerable openness and honesty -  of -purpose in various meetings),  we have, so far, not  made any dent in the "motivation - barrier".

This, I consider, to be Phase II of our battle.

And why are employees holding back, from  getting emotionally involved in the  Productivity drive?  Is  it that individuals interests are conflicting with the organisational interest?


Is there a "what-is-in-it-for-me" attitude?  Is it that what an employee expects  from his job is different from what the organisation is prepared to offer him?

Answers  to  some of  these  questions  are apparent  in  the minutes of the last Powai level Committee meeting.

To  find out  more,  a  "brain-storm" meeting  was  arranged. Some   six    Union   Office-bearers   and    four   Managers participated.    The meeting   came   out   with  some   200 suggestions on  how to go  about improving  Productivity.  Of course,  some  were  similar/identical,   as  is  usual  with brain-storm meetings.  The  list does, however,  provide some clues to what would "actuate" people.

The one recurring theme is "worker participation and involvement".

There  just  does  not  seem  any  other  way  of  motivating employees.   What  apparently works  at  the  senior  Manager level also seems to work at the blue-collar worker level.

The rate  at which  the wage-levels  have risen  in the  last three/four  years  and the  rate  at  which  these  could  be expected to rise  in the near future (under the  existing CPI linked D.A.  system), material  rewards have perhaps  already ceased to be motivating factor.

If blue-collar 'wages cannot be held down, but can  be safely assumed to overtake those of  the Managers in not too distant future, the only  sensible thing  to attempt is to  raise the "responsibility  consciousness  - level"  of  the workmen  to that of the Managers!

And,  no person  feels  more  "responsible" than  when he  is taking a "decision"  - or participating  in "decision-making" process.   He  becomes  actually  conscious  of  the  "social consequences"  of the  decision and  the repurcussion it  can have on his own image and social prestige.

In L&T, for all  its years of existence, we have  practiced a traditional  hierarchical   type  of  organisation   with  the decision-making  responsibility  and  authority  rising  with each level of hierarchy -  not unlike situations in thousands of organisations around the world.

But rapidly  changing technology over  the last 30  years has also made decision-making process quite complex.





With  increasing  complexity of  business  environment,  each level  of  hierarchy  finds itself  presented  with  new  and difficult  challenges  every  passing   day.   Society's  own expectations of Corporate bodies are for ever increasing.

If we have to  have any time to deal with  "tomorrow", we can only do so by  delegating some of our  "today's" decisions to our subordinates -  right down the line up to  the shop-floor workmen. .

Let us this morning debate whether                     

greater delegation                        
will lead to         
greater employee-participation/involvement                        
will lead to        
greater "responsibility consciousness level"                        
will lead to               
greater individual motivation                        
will lead to               
greater all-round productivity

And,  if the answer is "YES",  where and  how do we  begin a change in our own attitudes?

H.C.   PAREKH