I Admire

Written by Subroto Bagchi | Updated: Dec 30 2007, 04:02am hrs
Peter Drucker once said that, for-profit organisations have much more to learn from the not-for-profit organisations, than the other way round. As I look at the many organisations that I admire, the one name that jumps out consistently is that of the Missionaries of Charity (MOC). It is not because they are a bunch of do-gooders who tug at my heart as I suffer from middle-class altruism and subdued guilt. I admire them simply because of the way they are managed. I believe MOC is also one of the greatest examples of heaven-high return-on-investment. Mother had started her venture after receiving all of Rs. 5 from the Archbishop of Calcutta. Probably that is why such funding is called angel investment!

MOC is one of the earliest, most successful and rare MNCs out of India. It runs its homes in 133 countries around the world! Why should that be significant Consider this: they are completely online with each other on vision, values, funding, supply chain, recruitment, training and development and a million other things.And for all that, they do not use an ERP package, not even the Internet for mail. I once asked a sister about the matter and she promptly chastised me with: we cannot have a computer here, we work with the poor. I showed her the black instrument on the table and she dismissed me with, Oh, they are not scared of the telephone; the poor are used to it. No arguments with that.

Talking of the nuns, they are transferred from one location to the other, once in every three years. The location of posting is not known until 24 hours before the movement. They have a well-managed multi-skill programme in place that plans ahead for specialisation; a nun, who is specialised in geriatric care, gets rotated to a home for babies or AIDS patients as her next. Each assignment requires very different handling with associated complexities from skills needed to the inventory you must carry. A sister superior of one location may serve as an ordinary nun in her next, often serving under someone who is junior to her! Once I was chatting with a sister who was going to attend a course in fashion design after wiping the bottoms of two-dozen babies, bathing and feeding them.

After an unwed mother deposits a new-born at their door-step, the sisters sometime have to rehabilitate her economically by teaching her new skills. So, our sister here was being sent for what she called a train-the-trainers programme. Now that is what I call, anticipative management. Heard that

The author is co-founder and chief operating officer, MindTree Consulting