In ancient Indian mythology, there’s a concept of Yuga (Era). It’s believed that the entire timeline of this universe is divided into 4 Yuga. (Life cycle) Satyuga, Tretayuga, Dwaparyuga and Kaliyuga followed by a long period of silence (Pralaya) and then the cycle repeats. More about Yuga here on Wikipedia.
Each Yuga has a distinct characteristic when it comes to ethics and human behavior. In very simple & practical terms here are some very basic characteristics of each Yuga.
Satyuga (Sat meaning Truth) – No rules are laid down, still everyone by instinct follows right rules and does right things. The golden age.
Tretayuga – It gets necessary to set rules. Rule are laid down and everyone knows them and follows them. Stable phase
Dwaparyuga – Rules are present but they are manipulated for one’s selfishness and unfair benefits. Tending towards instability.
Kaliyuga – Rules are completely broken down and not followed. Breakdown stage. Presently the world is in Kaliyuga.
Well an IT Company in Services in India happens to go thru a similar Life Cycle much analogous to this concept of Yuga from ancient Indian Mythology.
Satyuga – The innocent startup! A group of visionaries come together and start or an individual starts an IT Services company. They are keen to establish themselves. They know what needs to be done and are fully committed to it. They do not need any rules or policies. All they want to do is prove themselves and deliver the best. This is the most golden and exciting stage in the life of any establishment. This is the time when the administrative password of an IT Server is known to everyone in the company!
Tretayuga – The organization is now stable and growing. Well now is the right time to set extensive policies and procedures. The organization is growing and needs to set rules, regulations and policies. All members in the organization are honest and faithfully follows all rules and continue to deliver their best. This is a stable phase in the life cycle of an IT Services company in India.
Dwaparyuga – The organization grows and now is in need to a significant change. The change is inevitable but it’s also not very pleasant. Sometimes they feel they need a horizontal structure, when it does not work well they try out vertical structure and just keep on experimenting.
Organization is in learning phase. They learn by their own mistakes. Management starts making jerky decisions and change appears only good on paper. Now the company wants Management Systems to be incorporated in to its business. ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 14001, PMI Project Management, SEI CMM, SCRUM, ITIL, COBIT, Six Sigma, and bunch of other management systems get implemented. Eventually it gets so messy that process does not work for people, instead people start working for the process. Companies gain Certification but they lose on Qualification.
The data driven approach as recommended by Management Systems is highly misunderstood. Everyone starts manipulating. The junk goes in and junk comes out. Everyone wants to protect their interest and if need be plays politics to get their interests realized. The systems only work good on paper, in reality the organization is delivering somehow in an adhoc manner despite of having so much focus on process. This is the beginning of the end and is a very long phase!
Kaliyuga – They have everything still have nothing. The company is now in deep trouble. Rules have no value as all decisions are now adhoc. Company is losing business and has no option but to cut down on everything including human resources. Now it’s a question of survival. Employees are fired here and there. Project pipeline has dried up. All defined polices go for a toss and all adhoc decisions are taken to make every attempt to survive in the industry. This is a relatively shorter span but a final churn in the life of a company.
Pralaya – Time for introspection. Assess what really went wrong. Stay put and finally emerge out as a winner with new (correct) decisions and strategies. And the cycle repeats.