Hardly anyone who goes through the doors of any business school worth its name ever escapes the experience of reading through Spencer Johnson’s- “Who moved my cheese?”. Written in the style of a parable the book conveys the message that change is constant and if you don’t adapt to constant change you risk getting left behind.
Companies around the world are known to distribute copies of this book to their employees with the hope that they would be more prepared for change in the corporate environment. Training programmes in schools and colleges also preach the message from this book with ardour (charging training fees with equal enthusiasm!).
However hardly anyone (atleast in Chennai where I live) has ever noticed how one very benevolent organisation attempts to inculcate the very same message to its subjects everyday completely gratis. The title of the blog should already be a dead giveaway but if you are still wondering then I’ll tell you that I’m talking about the corporation of Chennai (or the most appropriate department that draws up the road plans and the road rules).
Consider this: I return to Chennai after a two week trip. I start out to go by car to a particular destination X. Being a person of set paths (literally) and rules (especially when it comes to roads and directions), I’m shocked to find that one of the roads I always use is now a one-way and therefore not accessible. Terrified like ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ from the book (no I didn’t remember the names from the book. what were you thinking? Thats what Wikipedia is there for silly!) I am first in denial only to be sternly warned away by the traffic policeman. I then spend the next half hour wandering through the maze thats Chennai only to slowly find familiar landmarks and guide myself finally to X. I’m ecstatic.
On another occassion, I’m off travelling- this time on a much shorter weekend trip. I come back to the city only to find that one of the one-ways that I had been using is now accessible both ways thereby blocking a convenient turn that I used to take to get to one of the main roads. Needless to say the process above was repeated. Only this time it took me only about 15 minutes to figure out an alternative route.
The alarming speed with which one-ways tend to pop-up or disappear in Chennai is nothing new. The city is notoriously full of one-ways. So much so that I believe that one way the entire city would only have only one mega one-way with everybody wanting to get anywhere having to start in that road and having to get off at various exit points (alright maybe I exaggerate- but only a little!).
But the essential ideology behind the actions of the corporation folks is only that they want to keep the citizens of Chennai always ready and prepared for change. You can never get used to one road or build yourself a comfort zone because they’ll come right behind you and either make some improvement works on the road, construct a flyover or just make the road a one-way (for no other reason than the fact that they had a couple of extra sign boards hanging around) thereby forcing you to adapt and look for new routes.
And just like in the original book this master stratagem of the Corp of Chennai also follows some basic principles:
Change Happens: They keep moving the one-ways
Anticipate Change: Get ready for them to change the roads by buying yourself a road-map
Monitor Change: Keep looking out for flyovers coming up- they are the surest sign that your road rules are going to change
Adapt to Change quickly: quit whining or trying to bribe the policeman, the sooner you let go of the old roads the sooner you get home.
Change: Follow the buses- most of them know where they’re going.
Enjoy Change: Enjoy going on the new routes- you never know when you may find a new restaurant or book store that you want to sample!
Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again: Don’t get used to driving on the same road. Always develop coping strategies- master the by-lanes and get yourself a compass- you’ll never get lost.
And if none of those work- take an autorickshaw to wherever you’re going!