Sunday, May 24, 2015



Unforgettable Vignettes of My Navy Life

This happened more than 20 years ago  in the 1990s  when the Defence Services were suddenly afflicted with the ISO virus.

Everyone was bitten by the “Quality Bug” and suddenly 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 – a craze to jump onto the ISO Bandwagon.

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 they 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 the ISO Quality Management System (QMS).

The ISO virus” infected the powers-that-be at IAT Pune too – and it was decided that IAT must get itself ISO Certified.

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

My boss gave me a curious smile  and he said: “You better keep your thoughts to yourself. Once the boss has decided – ISO is going to happen – so you better like it or lump it.”

And then my boss looked at me triumphantly and delivered the coup de grace: “Dean has directed that you will the Officer-in-Charge for ISO implementation. So – it will be your job to ensure that IAT gets ISO Certification…”

“What...? Me...? Officer-in-Charge ISO...? Sir  I don’t even have a clue about ISO…” I protested.

“We know. That is why you are being nominated for the ISO Lead Auditor Course,” he said  and he handed me a folder containing details of the ISO Lead Auditor Course for which I was being nominated.

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.

So – I was looking forward to an enjoyable week in a luxurious hotel at the salubrious hill station

When things are going fine  there is always a hitch.

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

“But Lt Col “X” has put in his papers for premature retirement,” I said.
“I know. He wants to quit the army. That is why he wants to do the course. He says the ISO Lead Auditor 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 ISO Lead Auditor Course be of any use to IAT...? Lieutenant Colonel “X” will do the course and he will retire. If I do the ISO Lead Auditor Course  I will use the knowledge I gain for getting ISO Certification and 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. Lieutenant Colonel “X” wants the certificate – so let him have the certificate...

At first – I was taken aback on hearing the Dean’s words.

I thought he was joking – or gone crazy – or maybe I had not heard right – so I asked him: “Sir – are you saying that I have to attend the ISO Lead Auditor Course – but the certificate is to be issued in the name of Lieutenant Colonel “X”...?  

“Exactly – so you will have the knowledge of a ISO Lead Auditor which you can use here to get ISO Certification for IAT – and Lieutenant Colonel “X” will have the certificate of being an ISO Lead Auditor which he can use to get a job in the civilian industry after he retires. A true “Win-Win” situation – isn’t it...?” the Dean said with a smile on his face.

“Sir – how is that possible? Attending the course is mandatory for getting the certificate...” I said.

“In India  anything is possible. It is called jugaad... You talk to the ISO guys and tell them to be a little flexible. Tell them that you will attend the course  but the ISO Lead Auditor Certificate is to be issued in the name of Lieutenant Colonel “X”. You are a bright officer and I am sure you can work it out  it will be a win-win situation that will satisfy everyone.”

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

As he said  anything is possible in India by jugaad  but I did not have the guts to call up the ISO course organizers with this absurd proposition.

In the Defence Services  all issues are decided on the basis of seniority  and though I held the same rank as “X” – he was miles senior to me.

So  Lieutenant Colonel “X” went for the ISO Lead Auditor Course  and I am sure it helped him in his second innings after his retirement – since he retired soon after becoming a Certified ISO Lead Auditor  courtesy the Dean of IAT.

Of course  a few months later  I too did the ISO Lead Auditor Course.

In my case – unlike Lieutenant Colonel “X” for whom the ISO Lead Auditor Course was a resettlement course (to rehabilitate him in civil life)  I had to put the knowledge I gained in the course to good use in implementation of ISO Quality Management System in my organisation.

And how was ISO implemented in a crazy “multicultural place like IAT...?

Well – that is another story which I will tell you some other time... 

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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. 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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