How the concept of a one size fits all approach is not applicable to all issues

Are you are not unique in deciding careers of children? Cannot an organizations choose the IT infrastructure they want or what HR practices they adopt? Would you not decide how to conduct your child's marriage? Why should you ape the rich? And should not economic development approaches be Unique? Are these not instances where the "One-size-fits-all" approach not apply? Yes indeed. In this article, we will discuss why this is true.


In our country there is a pronounced tendency to think that we can easily adapt to what others do. This is basically wrong. Everything that is done by others need not be blindly copied by us. The 'one-size-fits-all" approach has been sometimes adopted by the Multinational companies. They would tend to think that whatever works abroad, can work here too. However, when they climb up the learning curve, they discover that there are new areas that they can cater to. For example, Domino Pizza has now vegetarian variants that are simply lapped up by thousands.

Be that as it may, the "one-size-fits-all" approach does not specifically apply in six major issues. These are a) Issue related to the careers of Children b) Adopting the most advanced IT infrastructure c) Adopting HR practices d) Marriage of children e) Aping the rich on all matters and f) Approaches to economic development.

Issue related to careers of Children

My sister's son is a doctor. So my child should also become a doctor. Or perhaps a good engineer, since my neighbor's son is an engineer. This is as ridiculous as it can ever get. The film "3 idiots" sought to dispel this myth in so many ways. The child should be able and encouraged to choose a career that interests him or her. It is absolutely stupid to push children into careers where they do not have any interest at all. We might have lost hundreds of painters, singers, dancers or even actors. They might be bank officers or engineers working on the shop floor. In private conversation, they would ventilate their frustration that either one or both their parents pushed them into this career or that career, where they were least interested in. Some do continue their passion by joining some orchestra and so on. Yet, they are not professionals at all. They just do not have the time to perfect their passion. The 'one-size-fits-all" approach can never work here.

Adopting the most advanced IT infrastructure

This author was associated with a leading auto-component organization. Many IT vendors came calling, making presentations on how they could permanently "drastically change" their business itself. The CMD, who had an engineering background and his own brother-in-law, who is now Managing Director and a gold medalist in Chartered Accountancy, saw through their game. They waited for their family members to come up with suggestions. These young guys had studied in the US. They went around the world and based on their superior MBA knowledge, documented their learning. The result was that the organization would adopt the SAP for all its manufacturing plants and link it to the Corporate Office. The shrewd youngsters developed several cross-functional teams and simply transferred the then ordinarily qualified IT personnel to the Corporate Office for special training. The technical people were made to understand the nitty-gritty of the whole thing. They superbly adopted what was just required to retrieve any data at any time to enable the Management to take decisions. Not only this, the entire architecture was so structured that the customization was complete.

Adopting HR practices

The ultimate success of the human resources in any organization would be centered around what kind of dedication and commitment to the work. After all, the people on the shop floor and those in the big offices always think alike. They have the kind of fire in the belly to make all things work towards increased productivity, increased profits and reduced cost in every single organization of the TVS group or the Tata group. The "how" of what they do as regards to get the chemistry right is specific only to the organization. The cultural context is important. The chemistry will keep varying from organization to organization. A purely welfare-oriented HR approach is more relevant to a semi-urban or rural environment as people out there in such environments have a very strong family orientation and appreciate any formal organizational practice that resonates well with such values and aspiration. The opposite of high-quality engagement with HR practices like mentoring is more relevant in organizations like the major IT organizations, where only people make a huge difference. The chemistry here will be different. Why should we have a 360-degree appraisal for the sake of it, when the relationships are too good? Or, for example, focus on the most sophisticated performance appraisal practice, when that is not needed in the first place? Hence, what we need is the best HR practice that should be anchored only in the cultural context of the particular organization. The "one size fits all" approach will not work at all.

Marriage of Children

We often see most parents fall into the trap of spending huge amounts of money to make the marriage of their daughters a grand affair. The reasoning is that my sister spent a huge amount and I should also do the same. All this, even when the bridegroom 's party does not demand a grand marriage or even desire it. Neither the girl or the boy stands to gain anything. Instead, if the marriage is a very simple marriage and the parents are able to support their children when the real need arises, that itself will be a more viable option. The attitude of spending too much money is a typical example of the "one-size-fits-all" approach at work. One should not be guided by the experience of others and take their own call. These are days when many broad-minded people do not want huge expenditures on weddings. There are so many parents of boys who also volunteer to share the expenses of the wedding itself. This is a very good welcome change. It is up to the parents of girls to have a good mindset change rather urgently.

Aping the rich in all matters

This is another problem. Most middle-class Indians think that they could match the ways of living of their rich relatives. For example, there are many who even borrow money to finance costly tours to Europe. This does them no good. The debts are no good for any middle-class family. The wisest strategy is to just keep living a simple life and save even the smallest amounts and pump such small amounts into long term recurring deposits. It is futile to that one can ape the rich on so many layers related to normal living. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work here, at all and the net result is that one ends spending more money than what is needed at all.

Approaches to economic Development

We can understand if the Government of India is very serious about Solar energy. This is actually protecting the environment and precious water resources needed in thermal power plants for example. However, it is stupid to have an eight-lane Highway on a particular route like the proposed Salem to Chennai one. One is destroying precious nature, which includes deep inroads to the most fertile lands and the small lakes on the route. The so-called eight-lane road has been proposed for development. In reality, it is not development at all. Since something works in some foreign country where the population is very less, we cannot and should not copy such models of development. We should note Indian realities and understand that we need our own models of sustainable development. The one-size-fits-all approach will not be applicable at all. We need to really re-evaluate our strategies and have a move on in the right direction.


We need to be aware of the limitations of the one-size-fits-all approach. We need to understand the futility of merely doing something merely because someone had done it. This is applicable to organizations as well.


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