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The "Fraternity" Paradox

15 May 2019

The biggest contributions of the French Revolution to humankind were the 3 principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Each can do as they want; will get equal opportunities and should live like a community.

The best employers imbibe liberty and equality easily. They erase gender differences, give opportunities across org and societal hierarchy. Employees are free to move across regions and functions. Be it top tech bellwethers, niche strategy consultants or the value brewing Tatas, Infosys.

It’s fraternity that’s toughest to practice. Orgs create a differentiation in material outcomes to award meritocracy. And hence, fraternity is at loggerheads to the first 2 principles. I’ve seen 2 ways work, some of which we have imbibed at OfBusiness.

The “factory” way: each employee commutes by the same transport, dresses the same, eats the same and works sitting next to each other. One of the living legacies of the departing legendary chairman YCD, it worked wonders at ITC.

The “tribesmen” way: If any person harms or discriminates against the other (be it due to function, gender or hierarchy), the organization moves like a machine: first ostracize and then punish.

The wise French said that the first 2 principles create success but fraternity creates happiness.