I am sitting here at the busy railway station and writing this article, waiting.
After sleeping at 3AM, on a Saturday night what time do you expect one to wake up on a sunday morning? Not before noon atleast, no matter what. The just gone Saturday was no different. We started drinking right from 10PM, and went on and on. After finishing off all the stock in the huge 165 litre refrigerator at about 2AM, Kapil gets this idea to go out for an ice cream. Not that we wanted to eat an ice cream, but just for the heck of it. We agreed.
So, after an ice cream and then a conference call in the balcony, we managed to sleep at 3AM. I set an alarm on my N72 for 6AM. What? 3 hours. You want to wake up at 6AM on a Sunday morning? Have you gone crazy?
Nah! I have a train to catch.
I am going to Chandigarh for a week for my upcountry stint.
Next day morning, at 6AM sharp the alarm started ringing on my cellphone. I have on purpose set a very irritating tone, so that it drives me crazy and I get compelled to wake up. I have been using this technique, and this very tone, right since my MBA days. I also always keep the mobile a little far from the bed, such that I would have to get up from the bed to switch it off.
But damn the snooze option on the mobile, I picked up the phone from the dressing table, put it on snooze and went back to sleep! I kept doing this for the next half an hour, or probably a little more.
At about 6:40, I happened to glance at the clock on the mobile screen and I was like,” what the fuck?.. I am Late!”. The train is scheduled to depart at 7:40, and the station is a good 45minutes journey by an auto. I am doomed.
I completed the morning ablutions in a whisker, changed and after bidding a good bye (I just shouted to the sleeping mates informing them that I am leaving), I left home. As usual, Malviya nagar is the only area in Delhi probably, where the auto guys feel more comfortable travelling without any passenger on their back seat.
After some negotiations (against my favour), and convincing (more of begging!), one auto guy agreed to come over for 90 bucks. The normal journey is charged at about 70 something. I did not really have the time to negotiate. This is at 7:10, and the train departs in another half an hour, there is no way that I could reach the station.
I kept pressurizing him to drive fast, and I urging him again and again. I had an unlit cigarette in my hand, which was not getting lighted due to the high speed of the auto, and the flowing wind, but I was more concerned about the speed of the auto. i just kept holding it.
I was so wishing that there be some system (or its failure), like in the movie SPEED, where the bus should not be below a particular limit of speed else it would blow up.
After about 10 minutes I ask him, “bhaiyya, aur kitna time lagega?”
He replies, “yahan se.. kam se kam 20 minute to lagenge”
That makes it 7:35. That would imply that I will have to miss the train. No! this can’t happen, and I realize I have to convince him hard. This talk happens at a red crossing, and I light the cigarette taking advantage of the lack of motion in the auto.No, I want the damn thing to be in motion, in full throttle.
I again tell him in a desperate manner, “bhaiyya jaldi please, fast. Meri train 7:30 ko hai”
(Management funda: keep some buffer for yourself)
Even in sales or any field for that matter, every level of the hierarchy has some extra buffer target for himself, and sets a slightly higher target when apportioning his target to the sub-ordinates.
He replies, “Arrey, aap to late ho jaenge sir. Thodi jaldi nikalna tha na!”
This is how a saleman would reply while taking note of his targets. He would try his best not to accept the target, and keep cribbing that it is too high. Acceptance of defeat even before the war has started.
Now he is started zooming the vehicle but I am not convinced.
Yeah, as if I don’t know that i should have started early. Now I have got late, and lets do something about it. I try using the next funda of management.
(Management funda: Incentivize!)
I try making him believe, without making it explicit that he would get more money if I reach in time for the train.
It seems to be working, he has set the vehicle in full throttle, but probably he could do more. Now getting to the next principle,
(management Funda: Motivate and make him accountable.)
I try sweet talking to him, without disturbing his concentration on the road. I tell him inspiring things like, “Bhaiyya, ab aapke saath hun to aapko time par pahunchana hi padega. yeh aapka farz banta hai”.
I try to make him realize that it is like a question of his competency. These are the moments when his true skills are under test, and I also try to make him proud of his years of experience (18 years in this case). Ultimately, he is made to believe that his passengers should reach in time wherever they want to, and this becomes his most important KPI (key performance indicator). This is the pride of work that he lives for everyday, drives an auto all day.
Now the final nail, the traffic signals. He is still forced to stop at the signals, though it serves no purpose. It just delays my journey to the station.
(Management funda: authorize!)
I request him to jump traffic signals, and assure that I would pay the fine if any. I convince him that there are no cops around, and even try to keep in good humour by joking that all the policemen would be busy sleeping on their beds, afterall it is a Sunday morning.
He zooms, and I am at the station at 7:35 sharp! Huh! 5 more minutes left. Thanxs for the buffer time . It is so really important. We should probably have a complete elective on this in B-Schools.
I run towards the platform, asking passersby which platform is the shatabdi on.
It is on platform 2, or rather it was. I run towards the platform. I am on the foot over bridge and I can see the train moving! I run at the top of my speed, with two bags hanging on my shoulders, and screech down the stairs. still puffing!
..3 and a half hours later..
it is 11:15AM and I am still at the station waiting.
Well, at the Chandigarh station!, waiting for Rajeev to pick me up. Yes, I did catch the train!
Now all ready for one complete week in upcountry parwanoo away from the hustle-bustle of city life.