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BW Businessworld

Taking Care Of The Taj

This Independence Day, let’s resolve to take care of our Taj ... the ones in our organisation

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Every time I see the Taj Mahal in Agra, I am amazed by the magnificent beauty of this monument. But the delight is invariably tinged with disappointment. The overall experience just doesn’t match up to the beauty of  the Taj. And I often wonder: we have a world-class monument; why can’t we take care of  it and ensure that everything else associated with it is worldclass too?

Let me give you an illustration. Visitors are required to park their cars in a designated parking area, about a kilometre from the Taj. There are electric carts that ply through the day to ferry people from the parking area to the monument. But as it happens, there isn’t a designated boarding point for the carts, just an open quadrangle-like space where they pick up and drop off visitors. And there is no queue there either. Result? A chaotic free-for-all. As a cart comes in to drop off the people who have seen the Taj, the folks waiting for the cart jump into the moving vehicle. Now imagine you have a little child or an older person trying to get in! Mind you, there are enough carts, so the wait time would not be very long any way. But because there is no queue, there is chaos. And some people end up waiting unduly long for a ride. What’s worse is that as a people, we seem to delight in being able to jump queues and use our ‘jugaad’ and resourcefulness to get ahead. Says something about us, doesn’t it?  How difficult would it be for us to be more disciplined, and a bit more caring? What would it take for us to change our mindset, our thinking, our behaviour?  

As we prepare to celebrate our 72nd Independence Day, may be a good idea to reflect on how the Taj Mahal mirrors the story of our nation. We have assets and resources that are truly world-class. We have what it takes to be the best in the world. But we aren’t taking care of our assets too well. A little discipline, some investment in infrastructure and a change in our own mindsets could allow us to turn the Taj into a fabulous experience for the world. And a real money spinner too. We aren’t allowing our assets to reach full potential. We are our own worst enemy.

Maybe we need to let go. As successful businesses have taught us, it’s a good idea to delink ownership from management. Let’s get some of our best corporate leaders to run the Taj. Let’s make the entire area around the Taj – and the infrastructure – into a great advertisement for our country. Let’s make sure everyone goes back dazzled not just by the beauty of the Taj but by the whole experience. Let’s reclaim our greatness. It can be done. And we can make it happen.

While we are at it, maybe a good idea to think of the Taj Mahal in your organisation and business too. We have great products, comparable to the best in the world, but we don’t support them well, resulting in a lousy customer experience. We have great talent, but we don’t empower them to become as good as they can be.

Time to set it right. This Independence Day, let’s resolve to take care of our Taj. The one in Agra. And the ones in our organisation too. Happy Independence Day!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Prakash Iyer

Iyer is an author, speaker and leadership coach , and former MD of Kimberly Clark Lever

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