Modern business has undergone a paradigm shift with the advent of automation. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times poignantly portrays the transition where machines started replacing human hands, to increase speed and volume of production, as also to eliminate human error. In recent years, digital technology and robotics have further automated processes. In fact terms like timers, sensors, programs and fuzzy logic have become familiar in day to day living.
The Japanese brought in some breakthrough concepts in automation as every human error in the manufacturing process could aggregate into huge losses to the enterprise. These concepts and methods were accepted and applied in industrialized countries across the world to maximize production and profits.
Having said that, ‘people’ still remain the soul of any business and no amount of automation can substitute the ‘persona’ of a business enterprise, people are still the most important asset of any business and are only followed by machines and other infrastructure.
The magazine Fortune 500 once published, along with their list of Fortune 500 companies, a report on the ‘Best Companies to Work for’. Interestingly several companies were common to both lists, which means that the companies which were good employers performed well in figures too. Happy employees performed better, thus making the company do well.
Whether it is a blue chip company, a medium size corporate or even a small business, the people in the organization project the nature of its working. A gentleman was asked for his cellphone at the security gate, before entering the premises of a top automobile company. When the visitor frowned at the request, the security officer politely asked him to step inside his cabin and explained to him how a cellphone can be used to disguise a weapon! The visitor saw the point and was happy to abide by the company rules. It was the security officer’s courteous demeanor and his efforts to allay the former’s doubts that made a very positive impression.
We find such courtesy and meticulousness in smaller businesses too whether it’s a restaurant or even greengrocers. The cleanliness in the restaurant kitchen, the clothes and body language of the staff, the ambience, all go on to reflect quality of the entire experience the place offers!
But if the people in the organization are inefficient, uninterested in their jobs, have no standard work processes, no amount of infrastructure and automation can help the enterprise sustain.
So, when we are talking about Man v/s Machine, let us remember that while the machine may ensure standard quality in the product, the quality of the organization as a whole is judged by the people inside!
Author: S.R. Joshi
The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.
This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (July 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article.