Poor ‘Mini Me’ in the convoluted world of Shifts and Strategies
- Protected content Mathur
Life has always been simple or rather could have been simple, just like the age old piece of wisdom, ‘Study well, go to school, ace your classes ,land a job and settle down’. Simple and straight forward formula. So was it for Mini Me, when he went to school, studied well, aced his classes and landed his first job offer in a good company. Mini Me was introduced to the three-shifts-a-day lifestyle in manufacturing industry. Work night shifts and enjoy the days to the max. And he would get to enjoy a 56 hour long break too, every 10 days. Wow, did that sound good? Mini Me jumped for it.
Few months into the ‘coveted’ engineering job and life looked topsy turvy. Technical shift duties became boring, with management's sky high expectations from newbies like Mini Me, to keep ‘learning by walking around’ inside the premises of a cold, formidable chemical processing plant, ingeniously planned and constructed in the middle of nowhere. Also, not everyone loves climbing monkey ladders at 3 o’ clock in the night to discover why lights are blinking on the top of an exhaust chimney, 25 storeys tall. And with the ghost stories doing the rounds, excitement soon withered away.
3 afternoons, 3 mornings, 3 nights and then the long off.The body would never seem to adjust to the ever changing nature of shifts. Time started playing tricks. Shifts suddenly became longer and longer while sleeping hours shrank. With a dedicated room mate who loved ‘learning by re-sketching’, large data sheets would always be open, study lamp would always be on and doorbell would always keep ringing. Ask about leisure ...Whats that ? Was this the life Mini Me had aspired for? What happened to the old dream of landing a corporate life, attending meetings in a plush office by the sea shore and hopping on and off on flight schedules, just as old pals did with dilapidated buses back at home.
Mini Me quickly began dreading those very night shifts that only few months ago had lured him no end. Life had completely lost its balance. And therein the ‘big’ decision was made. Mini Me would do an MBA and get out of this mess he was in. So the shift duties lost their boredom , a new found excitement and challenge filled up the hours. Large, dirty, noisy and hot premises (not the hot chic type , but with air of really very high temperature) inside the chemical plant suddenly became ideal escape-zones for study and preparation. But chimney top, with blinking lights, was still a strict no no. Shift duties mattered, but only as temporary irritants in the grand scheme of things.
And then MBA happened. Mini Me found himself staring at the entrance signboard of one of the most prestigious institutes in the world. The feelings of satisfaction and having made it in life filled up the thoughts. Mini Me also came in touch with the ambitious and aspiring lot of students, from weird backgrounds and weirder past lives.
From the very first day a new word was introduced, ‘Strategy’. ‘Everything in life is about strategy’, so they said. There was a strategy to study, one to complete assignments in time, another one for making presentations and yet another one for delivering presentations. A strategy to approach recruiters for internships, one to make yourself the most desired candidate, another one to be the professor’s favourite and yet another one to be the cool dude on campus. There was also a strategy to bag the coveted student exchange program and a strategy to be selected in the campus co-curricular groups.
Mini Me was happy that he was learning about strategy but then came the subjects of ‘Marketing strategy’ , ‘Operations Management’, and not to miss ‘Strategy Management’. So now there was a marketing strategy, a sales strategy, a branding strategy, channel management strategy, a distribution strategy, an advertisement strategy, a publicity strategy and the omnipresent business strategy. How could he expect other subjects to left out? Thus an IT strategy, a systems strategy, recruitment strategy, an HR strategy and strategic finance followed. Mini Me strategically (well actually, gradually) gulped down the strategic names – bit by bit, trying to understand the nuances and to become the ‘master of strategy’.
Life came down to further lows. No more 56 hours long breaks. Life became all about 'work hard and party harder’. Nights shrunk down to 2 or 3 hours and weekends were meant to travel back home losing 12 hours from within the miniscule 48 hours, not to mention the added fatigue. But Mini Me survived. Tsun Tzu came to the rescue. In his book Art of War, this world famous Chinese philosopher defined strategy as, ‘Occupying the position of relative competitive advantage, before engaging with the competition’. This fitted well and Mini Me was over joyed. At least he could recite this definition to anyone who asked about any God-dammed strategy in the world. And in most instances, the discussion would take an alternate direction, rather than going deeper into nuances of the original term. Mini Me called this the ‘deference strategy’, but not for the respect element. Just to defer the original discussion and escape, with a head held high.
The struggle went on and Mini Me received the accolades for his hard work. Jobs poured in and Mini Me landed a corporate job. Yes, Mini Me had finally ‘made it’. He was in a plush office by the sea shore within a year or so. Meetings became a part of life and so did the flights hopping.
But soon ‘strategy’ grew up on him. As now he was inside a corporate, so there was a corporate strategy and his colleagues talked about project management strategies, team management strategies, task management strategies, brand proliferation strategy, partnership strategies, risk management strategy, time management strategy, resource deployment strategy, field visits strategy, record keeping strategy ,waste management strategy and a strategy for every single act or deed that could be possible, including strategic coffee breaks. Mini Me felt intimidated or rather terrified, like 'Gulliver' in front of the giants. And then the blow came, when he heard about ‘conceptualization strategy’. He was totally stumped. Well, wasn’t strategy meant to be something for the long term? Was there a ‘wash room strategy’ too? Oops.. there was..with all the bio blocks strategically designed and placed to save so many swimming pools of water.
Mini Me began to wonder whether he could plan to live a more strategic life? Could he possibly have a health strategy, a diet strategy, an exercising strategy, socializing strategy, TV watching strategy, strategic meals and possibly even a bathing and a breathing strategy? May be then the professional and personal lives could have a better strategic balance. Let sanity Prevail !
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