Monday, November 08, 2010

of textbooks and teaching...

Why do training institutes in our burgeoning educational market insist on 'developing' their own course material! Most often this is a mish-mash of plagiarised book excerpts and generally understood concepts ingested and regurgitated in incomprehensible form by the 'doyens' of the educational institute concerned.

One such case, belongs to a institute, where lives the irony of the majority of students struggling with the subject of OB (Organisational Behaviour).
Surprising in that OB is the foundation that provides the fodder for HRD, motivation, and well, many issues in corporate life.
Not surprising considering the convoluted rubbish that passes off for the prescribed course material.

Why can't they be like NCST, a great R&D and training institute, but not blindsided by self-admiration and wise enough to buy and prescribe best of breed books written by professional authors.

Take the case of OB. There's a professional tome available, 'Understanding Organisational Behaviour, 2e, by the late Prof Udai Pareek, founding father of the HRD movement in India.

I don't mention this out of a sense of loyalty or commercial interest. I happened to meet Prof Pareek and TV Rao at home as a kid. They'd became close professional friends of my father, during the course of his extensive research on his first HRD book. As I pick up Dad's book today, I'm puffed with pride at how beautifully it reads and its focus - spartan, poetic, professional. But that's another story.

Back to Understanding Organisational Behaviour with Prof Pareek. There's something to be said about an academic, a researcher, and a professional rolled in one, writing a text.
The value add is indisputable. The concepts crystal clear.

Take Chapter One, 'Organisational Behaviour: Scope & Processes'.

He describes OB in terms of the dynamics (processes) of various human units (individual, role, team, inter team, etc) in the organization.

Contrasting the preoccupation of organizations with the what (structure and content) and their tendency to ignore the how (process), he shows how the dichotomy between process-structure or process-content is at the cost of effectiveness. The human and behavioural dimensions are the other side of any organizational issue that we tend to focus on using a purely structural or content-focused approach, which, taken singularly is likely to fail. They are more aptly viewed as two sides of the same coin, interacting and reacting to each other.

He points out the key processes that come into play at the different process levels (planes of existence) in an organization:
at the person level - existential processes concerned with self-awareness (of one's own goals, relationships, etc)
at the inter person level - the empathetic, relation-building process with facets like communication, collaboration, cooperation and conflict.
at the role-based level - coping with conflicts between one's self and one's role and one's role and others' roles, with a focus to their impact on one's role-based efficacy
at the group level - the dynamics of group formation, cohesiveness and normative behaviour -- for effective group functioning
at the inter group level - the play between cooperation, conflict and power and the use of competition to raise the bar on performance rather than to block the path of another groups' success
at the organization level - a growth process of continuous learning
... and so on at the environment, community, and society levels.
A framework for putting into context the processes that play a role in OB. Simple yet elegant! All that in more, in the first chapter alone! Now aint' that nice!

I wish the doyens of that training institute would wake up and just pick the best texts available. Sigh...