Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Humor in Uniform - “OUT OF THE BOX” THINKING


Unforgettable Vignettes of My Navy Life

This happened more than 20 years ago when the defence services were suddenly afflicted with the ISO virus.

Everyone became “quality conscious”.

The ISO Quality Management System was certainly relevant to industrial organizations, like Naval Dockyards.

But for most others it was a fad and getting the ISO Certification became a “status symbol” and a “feather in the cap” for the Head of the Organization.

Most of the top brass were quite clueless about ISO but insisted that units under their command obtain the “ISO Certified” Status Symbol, despite being told that the existing naval maintenance management system was superior to ISO.

The powers-that-be at IAT Pune too decided that IAT must get itself ISO Certified.

I expressed my dissent saying that IAT was running fine and it was recognized as a centre of excellence, and hence did not need ISO Certification.

My boss gave me a curious smile and said: “You better keep yourself. It is going to happen – whether you like it or lump it.”

And then my boss delivered the coup de grace: “Dean has directed that you will the Officer-in-Charge ISO – it will be your job to ensure that IAT gets ISO Certification…”

“Sir, I don’t have a clue…” I protested.

“We know. That is why you are being nominated for the ISO Lead Auditors Course,” he said, and handed me a folder contain details of the course.

As I read the contents of the folder my low spirits turned into high spirits – it was quite a pricey one week residential course in a luxurious hotel in the nearby hill resort.

When things are going fine, there is always a hitch.

Next morning the Dean called me and said: “Lieutenant Colonel “X” wants to go for the ISO Lead Auditors Course.”

“But Lt Col “X” has put in his papers for premature retirement,” I said.

“I know. That is why he wants to do the course. He says the ISO Lead Auditors Certificate will increase his market value and help him get a good job after he retires from service,” the Dean said.

“Sir, but how will his doing the course be of any use to IAT? He will do the course and retire. If I do the ISO Lead Auditors Course, I will use the knowledge I gain for implementing ISO here in IAT,” I argued.

The Dean looked at me and said, “I have thought about all that. Here is the best solution. You want the knowledge – so you attend the course. “X” wants the certificate – so let him have the certificate. Talk to the ISO guys and see if it is possible. Tell them that you will attend the course but the certificate is to be issued in the name of “X”. I think if you can work it out, it will be a win-win situation that will satisfy everyone.”

I marveled at the Dean’s “out of the box” thinking.

They say that anything is possible in India, but I didn’t have the guts to call up the ISO course organizers with this absurd proposition.

In the services, all issues are decided on the basis of seniority, and “X” was miles senior to me.

So, “X” went for the ISO Lead Auditors Course, and I am sure it helped him in his second innings after his retirement.

Of course, a few years later, I too did the ISO Lead Auditors Course.

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All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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