Updated: January 22, 2011 15:56 IST

Liberate individual goals within a boundary

D. Murali
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Coaching is gaining popularity as a critical tool for organisational development and improved business results, but what forward-looking enterprises foster is ‘a culture of coaching,’ notes Sangeeth Varghese in ‘Open Source Leader: The future of organizations’ (Penguin).

As example, the author mentions Dav Whatmore, who coached Bangladesh from 2003 to 2007, a team that had not won a match in several years. “Under Dav, they captured their first Test match victory early in 2005. Later that year, Bangladesh shocked the cricketing world with a victory over the top-ranked team, Australia. During the 2007 World Cup, they again defeated a top-ranked South Africa, and then India, to reach the Super 8 stage.”

Dav’s secret

The secret of Dav, who during his stint as a coach, turned underdogs into winners, lies in the transformation of ‘defeatist attitude’ to a ‘victorious approach,’ by creating an atmosphere where the team management, captain and the board are all mutually encouraging and supporting of every individual player’s growth, the author explains.

That way, he says, coaching can be a direct way to nurture relationships and social capital, and indirectly as a way to enhance results, by relying on the improved bonding, rather than merely as a mechanical productivity enhancement tool. “Here, coaching involves a relationship rooted in mutual respect and rapport rather than on organisational systems and processes.”

For starters, the title of the book is inspired by ‘open source’ software initiative where the most valuable and vulnerable resource, the source code, is opened up for scrutiny as well as use by almost everyone. Varghese likens the source code to the access to power, authority and influence, which drive day-to-day operations and long-term vision in organisations. Traditional organisations, like closed source code software organisations, keep their secret code of power to themselves, while open source leadership opens it up, he distinguishes.

IISc, Bangalore

An interesting example of open organisation, elaborately discussed in the book, is the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, where every individual is on a mission to explore and find his or her own goal. In contrast to a single collective goal as defined by a corporate, open source leadership does not restrict individual goals within a boundary, distinguishes Varghese.

He cites the view of P. Balaram, the Institute’s director, that the process is very much similar to a sports person who chooses his event based on his own evaluation of strengths and weaknesses; there is no external compulsion for the person to choose an event, it is an individual choice.

“In the same manner, you could choose your research area in IISc – electrical engineering, organic chemistry, sustainable development or anything else. But once you choose, it is your personal responsibility to keep going and to excel,” says Balaram. He adds that the only thing the Institute could probably do is to create an environment where you yourself would want to excel, like great research facilities, great peer support or mentorship.

Instructive read.


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