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Monday, January 10, 2005

Organizational Dynamics: Learning #1

As a student I have been the chief co-ordinator of one tech fest, president of one student innovation cell, & assisted in organizing many other fests & events. Why I am in such a boastful mood you may ask? Well, I think the unexamined life is not worth living. I was just thinking about my learnings from all this organizing stuff & what I have learned , gained in experience,etc. I have another student meeting regarding our cultural fest coming up in an hour & I was thinking of all the meetings that I have attended in the past.Let me jot all the points down. Most of the things might be already known to you. The following things are I believe the necessary attributes to emerge successful in a high performance group.
1)Impression is of paramount importance importance in group settings. Contrary to popular belief, what you say is not much important as to who is saying it. What's his/her background, his general standing, his people skills,etc.? Though some things such as fluency in English have no relation to the task to be performed, they are given undue importance because they are percieved to be important. I believe my impression among my batchmates is very favourable (sometimes without reason). I believe some tasks that I have undertaken in the past could have been better executed by my other friends whose skills weren't very apparent at first sight.
2) Goodwill among peers-This is justifiably given lots of importance since in my experience only a person with lots of goodwill can push through tough decisions & still manage to remain relatively unscathed. Again because of the ocean of goodwill I enjoy there is a lot of weight given to my words, my mistakes parodned easily & some tough decisions made by me in the past were accepted by my peers.
3)Ability to make changes mid-stream. When you feel that the plan that you thought will work isn't working then it's time to make some painful decisions & kill your own baby. This skill is critical especially when time is short. Once our techfest's posters were to be sent to ouside colleges but they were supposed to be embossed with the logo of the lead sponsor. Our lead sponsor was taking it's own sweet time. I (was in charge &) miscalculated that the lead sponsor's logo was an absolute must on the poster as a magnet for outside participation. We lost many crucial days because of that but thankfully made some key changes by sending out an email invitation which got circulated rapidly & we managed to save the situation.
4)Ability to sieze the situation quickly - A prof( Prof R) had given me the charge of organizing a quiz. Due to a goof-up of others in putting up notices , the turnout was very low & I was blasted. I apologized & promised to conduct it the next morning. That night I went to the first years hostel & literally threatened my juniors with dire consequences if they didn't turn up next morning & I took down thier names to make sure they did. As expected more than 200 people turned up. I seized upon the situation quickly & swiftly dispensed with any moral hazard problems that might have been imprudent at that time. Not flexible moral standards, but a flexible interpretation.
5)Ability to assimilate a lot of information & decide quickly - Very important. In the techfest some girls' events were scheduled at night. We hadn't got permission from the warden but were confident of doing so. After a lot of tries, he finally refused on the first day of the techfest. Me & AR sat down with the schedule having over 44 events & quickly worked out an alternate event schedule for boys & girls.It went off smoothly.
6)Ability to feign anger- Useful when you have to get work out of your lazy friends. In the recent past I have used it many times. It does work most of the times, but then again your acting has to solid.
7)Ability to act tired & overworked - If you don't want everyone else to pile you with work, you better get a mirror & start practising.
8)Being organized- You don't need to organize everything but you do need to get some of your more important things in order.
9)Time management - The skill to master. If you have got this then everything else is a cakewalk. How to do n number of things in m number of hours is a calculation I have performed almost on a daily basis.
10)Prioritize - Even the savviest of time management skills won't be able to help you if you don't have a priority order for things. Grades or Extra-currics? Hanging out with friends or taking care of that assignment? Playing baddy or applying for summers? One thing I have learned is that life is a unending stream of choices. You have to take your pick. Else you will be overwhelmed.

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