There is a lot of focus in these trying economic climate on the performance of an individual. People all over but particularly in the IT sector are being handed pink slips on the basis of poor performance. A lot has also been said about the below par skills of our IT workforce. But what has not been touched upon is the lack of a motivation for an individual to perform well.

Managers try to lord over all the resources under them. There is no importance accorded to an individual on the basis of the skills he/she posseses. Business criticality is the sole criterion that determines value. To me this approach appears to be extremely opportunistic. As long as the person carries the critical tag he is given cozy treatment and as soon as the knowledge is dispersed amongst a larger group, the same individual with the same skills is treated shabbily.

We in India do not put a premium on skills…on ideas and that is why we have trouble coming up with world beating ideas. Creativity thrives in a free environment or as Morgan Freeman put it in Shawshank Redemption – “Some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.” We have a suffocating focus on process. Process is important but genius can neither be replaced nor replicated by process. Moments of ingenuity come to free souls and not to thought processes captive to a mesh of processes. We concentrate so much on processes that we forget that free thinking is a prerequisite for finding solutions to some of the most challenging problems before us today.

And the problem does not lie with the scores of young people who join the industry every year. It lies in our managers, who shun free thinking and experimentation in favour of processes. Some try to hide their technical incompetence in the garb of process. No wonder the entire industry mostly works on maintenance of code written by other “free souls”. Sometimes it makes me want to revolt. I just don’t know how to do it. Any ideas? Feel free to let me know

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