The Art of Holding On… Big Data, Small Minds 1

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This article is a part of the All Things Talent Magazine (July 2018 Edition) – An Initiative By iimjobs.com | hirist.com

“There is a growing need of abundance that we need to fill our hearts with only to be far more welcoming and inclusive as human beings.”

– Sahil Nayar

Headlines hit the newspapers every year when suddenly the prices of common utilities skyrocket. The commodity might change every other season but the business model around it seems to be mostly the same. Every time one hears of a resource on the verge of going scarce, the people responsible for supplying the resource start hoarding it in large numbers.

This tendency gradually spreads to even a few privileged consumers who use their influence with the suppliers to reserve enough quantities of the resource exclusively for themselves. In the process, the supplier on the pretext of unavailability turns those who are in actual need of the resource away.

These resources which earlier started off as currency notes, medicines and other vital food supplies have now grown in variety and absurdity to more mundane things like meeting rooms in corporate offices. Walk into any major corporate environment today, and you hear them say “We can find God if we look hard, however, a meeting room is a big challenge”. It’s worse than a long-distance railway ticket booking.

Meeting rooms get blocked, weeks in advance. In some cases, the person booking the meeting room is unaware if the meeting will actually take place. Funny enough the rooms are never released even if the said meeting has been cancelled, which is when the real power-game begins.

Any verbal request for borrowing the room is met with a lot of hemming and hawing followed by a counter-request to send across a mail which one ends up sitting on till a reminder hits again. Requests are then considered basis the level of proximity of the requestor with the owner.

Names and designations of senior team members get thrown around and their real ability to wield power gets tested to the limits. Favours are traded and eventually, a winner emerges. A rather sad state of affairs, isn’t it? Even technology like QR Codes that give the status of meeting rooms and their availability doesn’t seem to have combated this basic human behaviour. That brings me to an extreme thought to drive this change.

“Real collaboration happens only when information is openly shared willingly with an attitude of abundance, in spite of that what holds us back is mightier than what allows us to share.”

What if people were penalized for blocking meeting rooms but not using them?

We as human beings are a weird little species. Our levels of weirdness vary from organization to organization and the ecosystem that we are in. Some organization cultures thrive on exchanging information while some thrive on concealing it. Once you move from outside the meeting room to the inside, the power-game intensifies.

Meeting rooms get replaced by valuable bits of information. The willingness to share the information depends on the grade of the person requesting for it, the team that the requesting individual belongs to and the quantum of love felt between the provider and the requestor.

How many times have we seen information that is not confidential in nature, either being denied, withheld or delayed on purpose just because there has been a history of bad blood between the team holding the data and the team requesting for it? What could possibly be worse, you say? Providing truckloads of data on purpose, only to let the recipient spend time finding the needle in the haystack.

Information continues to get hoarded on purpose, only available on a strictly need-to-know basis, which is decided by the party holding it. After a lot of big names being thrown around, multiple irrelevant questions being answered with the same explanation, approvals being shared, emails being fired across teams with names that keep adding to the cc list covering everyone from the janitor to the CEO, there emerges, eventually, a winner.

The culture of collaboration sometimes just seems to appear strong only on paper. Most organisations today, need a severe reality check. We all know, real collaboration happens only when information is openly shared willingly with an attitude of abundance, in spite of that what holds us back is mightier than what allows us to share.

The clichéd line, “With great power, comes great responsibility” comes to mind again and again. We grow only when we share knowledge with the lot that has a quest for it. The more I think of it many words seem to start resonating, “This never happened in our times”, “There is a right time for everything” and of course the most famous insecurely loud line, “Why don’t you do this for now, will explain the larger context to you later.”

I personally feel there is a growing need for abundance that we need to fill our hearts with only to be far more welcoming and inclusive as human beings. Given that this doesn’t come naturally to many of us, not sure if it is time to plan a severe penalty for not sharing knowledge instead of just trying to incentivize those who share it willingly.

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Sahil Nayar is a Human Capital Professional working at a leading professional services firm in the country. He is a keynote speaker and panellist at various Industry associations and educational institutes. Views are his own. He can be reached on Twitter @sahilnayar

1 Comment

  1. This is the biggest issue between academics and the corporate world. Most of the research works lack substance and content because the two don’t appreciate each other. The corporates are not willing to share information with the researchers in the name of confidentiality and secrecy. If they work hand in hand more fruitful outcomes can be derived synergistically. This can lead to a win win situation for both corporate and academics.

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