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Management 101 - What I Learned in Surat

The Perfect Management

While visiting Surat I couldn't avoid thinking of a wonderful book written by Dr. Yuval Noach Harari, "A Brief History of Mankind." Scientific and sociological research reveals a great deal about group dynamics and management, argues Dr. Harari. Research proves that the maximum natural size of a group bonded by gossip or intimate acquaintance is about 150 individuals.

Groups including companies, military units, organizations and family businesses can be conducted without an organized hierarchy; rather, they are simply based on intimate acquaintance. Once groups cross the 150 person threshold, however, they can no longer rely on such an informal arrangement. As small groups grow larger, they must reinvent themselves as organized hierarchies, identifying a shared, unifying purpose and exciting vision.

Discoveries in India

My colleagues and I recently visited Surat, the Indian city of textile and diamond factories. Some say that 80% of the world's smallest diamonds are manufactured there. Although our visit’s initial purpose was industry focused, we received a delightful surprise bonus in addition: we cracked the mystery of the pack and discovered the formula for perfect management.

We were embraced by perfect Indian hospitality as the biggest diamond factories boasting the most advanced technology and spectacular architecture opened their gates for our grand tour. More then 3,500 employees work in each factory. Polishers, cutters, sorters, planners, evaluators and more are working side by side with astonishing discipline and total concentration. While touring the units in each factory, I tried not to think too loudly in the utter, reigning silence. We were led from one unit to another, and each was populated with hundreds of workers hunched over machines, creating a perfect flow of productivity.

I once learned that a leader’s essential task is to motivate his people to accomplish a superior, altruistic goal. He should unite all workers around a common purpose and inspire them strive toward it. The slogans we observed around the factory provide exactly this type of inspiration. "I am nothing – but I can do everything" greeted us on a sign at the factory entrance. "Faith is the nucleus of every action" spoke from another, and "Records are there to be broken" adorned a third. The atmosphere was empowering and the overwhelming history and legacy of each company left a great impression on us. Even in the expansive lunch hall, we noticed that the menu was both balanced and nutritious, further illustrating the management’s belief in showing a human concern for the employees.

Every unit in the factory wore a distinct uniform. Be it blue overalls or white shirts with black trousers, their attire united them with pride and a sense of belonging. We witnessed so much order and accuracy that it reminded me of believers following a common faith. There were clubs and libraries, cricket teams and a movie theatre. Observing this well-oiled environment, we remained overwhelmed by the tremendous administrative requirements which must exist to manage the organization successfully.

The Management Challenge

And the question that kept cropping up in our minds was, how do you deal with unpleasant issues that arise along the way? While a large factory may be smoother to manage when there are no bumps in the road, once in a while, something will inevitably go wrong. What then? For example, what happens when a worker unintentionally damages an expensive stone, lessening its value?

We asked. One of the major diamondtairs in the industry answered, and the mystery of perfect management was revealed.

"My employees are treated as family", he explained to us. "We treat them with respect and care, and encourage them to achieve excellence. When a worker finishes a stone at an excellent level, it increases the value of the stone. We therefore reward him with bonuses, which increase his income and motivate him. If he unfortunately damages a stone, he looses out on the bonus, but never his basic salary."

The Management Solution

Being human is the superior formula for bringing more then 150 individuals together. Exhibiting kindness, decency, compassion and setting a personal example are the ultimate techniques a leader can employ to successfully lead the pack. Surat is the best place to learn about management!


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