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How to understand the significance and role of coordination in our life


We often hear the word coordination. This might look very simple. In reality, it is not simple at all. It does require a massive amount of thought and getting so many pieces of action to synchronize together in a very systematic fashion. Certain dimensions of coordination are discussed in some detail in this article.

Introduction

Picture this for a start. We can easily understand how coordination is so important and vital and also how to get it done if we observe what happens in a typical Hindu marriage. Since my knowledge is vastly derived from the Tamil Brahmin marriages, let me quote from one superb real-world experience some fourteen months ago. Since I belonged to the boy s side, I was able to observe what happened.

The boy's father called up every single relative and requested them to not mention a single negative word about the quality of food or arrangements made. Through word of mouth, this was told to every relative and friend of the bridegroom attending the wedding. On top of this, he threw in a surprise element. Two of his relatives who had studied hotel management were asked to help the cooks and the relatives on that side to ensure that everything was smooth. These two young men chipped in with all their knowledge and skills. The catering contractor appreciated their role and the dinner on day one, that is, the reception dinner went on so well. There was happiness all around. The father of the boy was a banker and a senior official. To everyone's surprise, he had planned everything so well. Ten extra rooms were arranged. One of his deputies was assigned the task of receiving the guests and transporting them to the lodge nearby. He had briefed the guests about every single arrangement and had shared the cell numbers too. When the guests arrived, he received each of them and made them comfortable. He often checked with the hotel authorities too.

He had also engaged the services of a private agency to do all the cleaning work, and this agency ensured that everything was so clean. He did not even inform this to the girl's parents. Within the marriage hall, there was huge protection for the jewelry and cash and people too. He communicated very well with each relative. However, he was so keen to ensure that everything went on so well and had assigned roles to at least twenty people. None of the guests were unhappy as these thirty volunteers were running around making every single arrangement. It later transpired that the banker was so friendly with a good borrower, who also ran a private college. The customer was so honest and the banker knew so many people in the college. Being a Sunday, these thirty people from the college turned up and happily did all work.

What had mattered was that the meticulous planning had a huge number of Plan B and Plan C as well. For example, he had ensured that the hotel arranged for guests had full back up power. If something happened, the coordinators were told to shift the guests to a nearby hotel. What really happened was that the gentleman had attended his cousin sister s daughter s wedding some months ago, and had witnessed a huge amount of syntactic action. Not to be left behind, he had documented every detail, with all complications and had learned a lot of lessons. This is exactly what we should do in any wedding.

The art of coordination involves a) Attention to minute details b) Clearly defining roles and giving the authority as appropriate c) Regularly checking for progress d) Evolving Plan B and even Plan C for effective coordination to d) Enabling development of needed competencies and e) Sharing of successful experiences.

Attention to minute details

As mentioned from a real-life case study pertaining to Hindu marriage, the Art of Coordination is extremely important in all walks of life. However, for it's success, there are hundreds of variables that need to be controlled. Consider a recruitment drive in a college where sixty college students are allowed to assemble. Yes, the eligibility criteria that the candidate should have no arrears in even one paper should have minimum seventy percent marks up to the penultimate semester and so on, will automatically filter candidates. However, the HR officials should ring up placement officers of all colleges to ensure proper communication. It is wise to have HR officials posted for a week in the city to go around, explaining the selection process to all students. The Recruitment drive will be a success only if such minute actions are taken. Plan B would be to go in paper and pencil tests is the IT infrastructure fails. Plan B should also be clearly explained. Only such coordination will draw the best of the best in and from such recruitment drives. Such is the level of planning and effective communication needed in all cases.

Clearly defining roles and giving authority as appropriate

In the aforesaid wedding example, a certain amount of money was given to all co-ordinators to check if they needed toothpaste or towels or whatever or were unhappy with the towels provided by the hotels. Someone from the family kept on asking for minute details. This is exactly what should happen in organizations too. If the Deputy Manager of Production is on leave and the Asst Manager is in the Corporate Office to attend an urgent meeting, the senior officer should be authorized to sign the appropriate papers for despatch of finished goods and so on. These are statutory papers and the authority manual should be amended suitably. This art has been superbly perfected in the TVS group of organizations and is reportedly fine at BHEL and ICICI Bank. The trick is to keep on perfecting the art and learning from mistakes that are bound to happen anywhere and at any time.

Regularly checking for progress

This is vital in coordination as it is a very continuous activity. Intelligent managers very often check for the progress of delegated tasks without asking too many questions. This enables the concerned people to be on their toes and do things right, the first time. The progress has to be monitored very closely if the project concerns a possible take-over of a company. In such cases, a massive amount of communication will immediately commence after the merger. When the Aditya Birla Group took over the entire cement business of Larsen &Toubro, there was reportedly a huge amount of communication that took place to tackle grievances of employees. The pay scales were rationalized and promotion policies very well laid out. The takeover was a very smooth affair.

Evolving Plan B and even Plan C for effective coordination

Years ago, this author attended an HR conference at Vishakhapatnam in AP. The Chief had booked for accommodation in a decent hotel. Within 15 minutes, this author was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from an MBA student of a local college to check if everything was okay. Not only this. At breakfast time, six more MBA students arrived. They were all volunteers who had been authorized to take care of thirty guests staying at the hotel. At the venue, there was even more perfect coordination, as the computerized record with photographs of each participant was ready and when the study kit was handed over, a trigger in the software recorded the detail mediately. There were four hardware specialists posted there, ready to take care of any technical glitch. Not to take any chance, officials from the Vizag Steel plant were also ready with their laptops recording every detail about every small detail. Just after the program started, at least twenty volunteers were seen asking questions about the lunch preparation that was on in a neighboring catering establishment. The services of trained hotel management experts were also used to co-ordinate the crowd. For example, the spread of vegetarian dishes was spread at four different places in a huge room with massive moving space. Hence, the delegates found it so easy to move around and have their lunch. The non-vegetarians had their own arrangements. Everyone was so happy.

Enabling the development of needed competencies

Take the aforesaid conference. The massive number of volunteers were given the rare opportunity of learning from such a huge number of co-ordinated action. Yes, many were MBA students. But they were supervised by experienced persons and so details were clearly spelled out. This is exactly what should happen. With that kind of planning, it is very easy for concerned people to develop their competencies. Of course, there could always be some lapses. Yet, everything comes out of the experience. The hard-core experience in real life. There will always be opportunities for the development of competencies and it is also the responsibility of modern organizations to create good environments for the development of needed competencies.

Sharing of successful experiences

There is always this need. This author worked for over a decade with a prestigious Foundry Division of a huge TVS organization in a Senior Managerial HR role. He was empowered to take any decision that facilitated shop floor learning. For example, in one shop floor, there were twenty group Kaizens very successfully implemented. This author mediately arranged a meeting where this success was shared with groups of new trainees in two other related departments. Since the trainees knew that their initiatives were very closely being watched by the Management, they took maximum interest and the spin-off was very encouraging. The department seniors also co-ordinated for effective communication and needed hand-holding. The results were amazing. The new Kaizens were also very good. Such results can come about only when successful experiences are shared. Coordination is a very continuous process and hence the role of the HR department officials is a very important part of this process. Over a period of time, the new experiences become lessons for new recruits and so on.

Conclusion

As is the case with so many Management concepts, the world is full of coordination imperatives that are a part and parcel of our lives. The minute details of every experience will vary from organization to organization and with each experience as well. Nevertheless, it is vital that coordination is perfected as an Art for all times to come.


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