"The pace of events is so fast that unless we can find some way to keep our sights on tomorrow, we cannot expect to be in touch with today." - Dean Rusk
Dean Rusk could not possibly be more right. The challenge of the 1910s is already here and to be faced Now! A rather popular cliché a few years ago used to be, "I wish to grow with 'the company". Today's giant corporations find themselves saying, "We grow with the individuals who make us".
And in this growth of the individual, we find the need for a long range personnel development program.
With the ever increasing rate of technology, whole new industries are literally being born overnight. The inevitable companion of the new is the obsolescence of the old. The most crucial and damaging of all the obsolescence is the 'human' obsolescence. (At this point, I cannot resist from making a reference to the quiz on 'personal obsolescence' - please see appendix D ).
All of us at 1&T owe our existence within the company to a market which needs the products we manufacture. And these needs change with the changes in :-
per capita consumption expenditures
geographical shifts in population
In the words of Kline, 'it is obviously better for a company to replace its own products than to let a competitor do so’.
Such a planned obsolescence of our old products by our new products sounds logical and may be just the right thing to do.
The analogy between the 'product obsolescence' and the 'personnel obsolescence' however ends here.
No one in his right mind would think of replacing old employees by new employees every now and then! The dangers to a company following such a procedure are too obvious to narrate.
The one and the only course open is to educate, to train the individuals making up this company. Whitehead, in his 'Aims of Education' says,
"In the conditions of modern life, the rule is absolute; the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your wit, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. Today we maintain ourselves. Tomorrow science will have moved forward yet one more step, and there will be no appeal from the judgment which will then be pronounced on the uneducated."
To be sure, the individual bears the major responsibility for overcoming his personal obsolescence. But chances are, no one can do the job alone. And the longer a man has been in Industry, the less he is able to do it alone. On the other hand, the company cannot be expected to drag a man against his will, kicking and screaming into the 1970s.
Company can only provide encouragement, incentive and perhaps some of the facilities for learning. The manager himself must take the initiative. Still company environment is a strong influence. Group pressures to keep up, forge ahead, drift quietly - or stagnate - largely determine the action or inaction of all but the most self-sufficient individuals.
And the company that "can't afford" to repay at least a part of an employee's investment in staying up-to-date may n find that it cannot afford to meet its payroll.
We at L&T have been trying our bit at training personnel. At best, it has been a part time job. The awareness has perhaps existed all along, but a sense of urgency has been missing. If a manager received the brochure from the National Institute for Training in Industrial Engineering in time, he rush off the applications of a few of his staff; if a foreman came up with a request to attend the course at Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, he would get a pat on the and be asked to wait his turn next year; if a manager himself chanced upon an ad in the newspapers about a suitable. course at the Institute of Management at Calcutta, he would feel worried to propose his own name lest others might think that he, of all, is in need of training!
Our efforts so far, I feel, have been more in the nature of 'keeping-up-with-the-Joneses'. Ours have been hit- and-miss methods. The realization that the training has to be a way of life - the industrial way of life - is overdue.
Before proceeding to lay down the objectives and goals, I wish to· emphasis one point. At the very outset, the cardinal principle of the process of learning, of education, of training, must be understood and accepted, that it is a never-ending process, whether applied to an .individual or to the corporation. If anything, the growth of the company shall follow the growth of its training efforts. Since every known thing in the universe is growing or decaying, the surest down-hill road for. a company would be to stop training its individuals, to tray to 'cease' growing.
Training is not a destination - something to be arrived at. Once again to quote Whitehead, "For successful education, here must always be a certain freshness in the knowledge dealt with ••• Knowledge does not keep any better than fish.