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A contextual explanation of workplace behavior in India
This is my site Written by Thomas Tøth on April 29, 2015 – 6:08 PM

Over the years I have often encountered Danes who are so confident that their (Our!) way of working is the only one that makes sense. Tirelessly I have argued against this perspective and suggested that from an ethical as well as a pragmatic perspective this perspective is plain wrong! And counterproductive!

First, its (borderline) racist. Secondly, if we deny even the option that theycould be right and maintain the “western management is better” discourse we miss out on an enormous potential. After all the certain way to stupidity is refusing that we can learn anything from others!

“Statements like Indians are bad planners and need to be ‘educated’ reeks of racism, cultural chauvinism and lack of perspective. It stems from the assumption that planning is a good thing for all. But is it? Unless we question fundamental assumptions we will never be able to go to the root cause of this behaviour. Let us not call this a problem. As soon as we call this a problem, we will evoke defensive behaviour and that is not what we want.”

– Devdutt Pattanaik

Devdutt Pattanaik has written an interesting article in The Economic Times why Indians are not exactly renowned for their planning skills – in fact quite the opposite. This is interesting for anyone who wants to understand more about why Indians do as they do. But in addition, it opens an interesting question: Is planning always good? Is it always more efficient to plan carefully? And most importantly: What can we learn from less planning-centric cultures? Once we start asking these questions we are on a path towards learning from the huge potential that globalization offers.

In other words: Stop looking at other’s modus operandi as problematic and start looking at them as new potential! This does not suggest that we should stop planning. Not at all. It merely suggests that we can learn a lot from people who are not obsessive planners!

Don’t look for problems. Look for potential! And on the topic of looking for problems let me leave you with another quote from Pattanaik’s article:

“The tendency to look at life as a problem that needs to be solved is a very modern American concept, rooted in the saviour complex, whereby we see ourselves as Hollywood superheroes who want to save the world from problem-creating villains.”

– Devdutt Pattanaik

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