May 29 – 31,2014, Dhaka, Bangladesh









Heena Adhikari, Senior Consulting Associate and

Sumit Chaudhuri, Chairman and Managing Director

Third Millennium Business Resource Associates Private Limited, New Delhi




“Transformation from an Ugly Caterpillar into a Beautiful Butterfly.” Oh! That sounds very much like the title of a typical science project of a student who did not study properly, because otherwise the student would have known that science does not categorize living organisms as ugly or beautiful; it is in fact a typical page three phenomenon of newspapers, is it not? Well, for the authors, it captures the history of the slow and steady, sometimes radical, but surely positive transformation of the Human Resource Management function beautifully and the evolution is continuing at break neck speed.


As kids, many of us heard about the eye-popping process by which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. The process usually begins with an angry and hungry caterpillar debuting from an egg. Then it stuffs itself with leaves, growing plumper and longer through a series of molts in which it sheds its skin. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig and spins itself into a silky cocoon. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly. What a fight! And what a stupendous result! The transformation of the human resource management function in organizations has been no less than the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.


Mutating Organizational DNA


The Human Resource Management function in organizations has undergone changes of astronomical proportions and they seem to be not only continuing to happen but are actually happening at an ever increasing pace (as celebrated author Alvin Toffler said in his book “Future Shock” about almost all changes happening in society). This is probably the only management function which has undergone such a gigantic transformation that it can very aptly be compared to the metamorphosis of an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.


Basic biology tells us that living beings differ from each other in their characteristics because of the difference in the genetic material (DNA) that they possess. Changes happen in their characteristics only if the genetic material changes, naturally or artificially. It is in this context that the authors titled this paper as they have done. The obvious questions that arise are: (1) what is organizational DNA? (2) why mutate it? And (3) how will it lead to organizational excellence? The answer to the first one is: Organizational DNA is the genetic makeup (obviously psychological and not biological, as explained later in this paper) of an organization. The answer to the second one is the happy fact that more and more organizations are realizing that if they do not change the way they manage their human resources, they will become dinosaurs, sooner rather than later, to be decimated very fast without a trace. The third one is answered by Albert Einstein’s famous proclamation, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results” and “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” as enunciated by Marshall Goldsmith.


Organizational mutation, meaning organizational change, is the core theme of this paper. Right mutation is a prerequisite for healthy growth while a wrong mutation can be lethal. It is a very important aspect of any transformational process as it works like a catalyst and sparks up the process. A sustainable change in the right direction leads to positive transformation, which sounds simple but the nature of the process adopted is what defines the mutation and therefore, the end result. It is indeed difficult to define the exact process and predict the end result.


Mutation can be broadly categorized as biological mutation and psychological mutation.Biological mutation is mechanical in nature and is simple to implement because it works on a fixed formula. A plus B would give C, every time, everywhere and in every case. The exact process is well defined and hence the end result is also almost well defined. Organizational mutation, involving change in organizational DNA certainly does not fall in this category as the changes are psychological in nature. Psychological mutation means change brought about in the psyche of people. It is immensely more complex and unstructured but obviously more relevant in case of organizational transformation through its human resources. Here A plus B would not give C in every case. Time devoted, process followed and prevailing conditions (both human and physical) may alter the desired end result drastically. This is exactly the case with human resource, which like atomic energy, can be used for the best and worst of purposes. The beauty and challenge of it lies in the uncertainty, which characterizes the human mind. Same kind of inputs provided to different individuals will rarely yield the same result. Such kind of mutation needs regular doses of reinforcement, which if sustained over time will lead to transformation. Sustainability is very difficult but an absolute necessity. Hence, continuous reassessment and reinforcement becomes the enforcing driver for organizational change.


Business Excellence: The Desired Result Of Organisational Mutation


The father of modern management, Peter Drucker believed that successful managers did not wait for the future, they created the future. He wanted managers to be fully prepared for all future challenges by updating their skills, knowledge and competencies. For him, Executive Development essentially incorporated a clear understanding of the concepts of effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things rightly). The authors believe that when these two concepts are correctly implemented in any organization, it can only lead to excellence.


Applying this idea to a business organization is eminently doable and here again we must realize that this is possible only through the competencies available in the human resource of the organization. The word success means different things to different people but the essence of success is the realization of a worthy intention. A successful business is one that produces a very acceptable return on the assets employed, is positioned for continuing market support and which keeps on running well without depending on the owner(s) to be in daily attendance. It usually leads to increase in assets, increased profits, expansion of business, recognition in the business community as well as the community in general, a growing customer base, customer delight, employee delight, owner happiness, etc.


Mutating organizational DNA for excellence is essentially a transformational process. One change leads to another and finally to the big change. It would start with a cue, leading to a small change, just like a drop in the ocean which may or may not be visible but causes ripples all around. Such multiple micro drops when forced to happen together will give birth to a wave. These waves of change will lead the transformation from micro to macro level. Such change will become evident over a period of time in the shape of a tsunami which may catch every eye to deliver phenomenal organizational success. The time for such tsunami change in human resource management is now and this is essential for organizational excellence.


The HR Way – Past, Present and Future


HR has always been the driver of business success. When a marketing / sales executive does wonders in sales or when a finance analyst performs well at work, who is it that needs to be applauded? They all are obviously the human resource of the organization. Unfortunately, it never got the attention it deserved in the past and somehow that realization came very late. Nevertheless, it is always better late than never. After all, the word MANAGEMENT itself gives a very important clue if only we segment the word as MANAGE / MEN / T(actfully), the word men obviously includes women too, who are surely doing as well as men and sometimes even better than men, which highlights the fact that all management is human resource management.


Some changes in the way human resources are managed started coming into organizations in the form of small ripples quite a few decades back. Starting with such ripples, slowly but steadily, it became a fairly consistent wave and it is quite clearly visible now that the positive wave in its favor is gradually but surely converting into a tsunami and the contours of a completely mutated human resource management function seems closer than farther. The way people have started looking at human resource management and the respect it has started getting is mind boggling. Even the organizations that treated their human resource as just another commodity till a few years back have suddenly started coming up with policies and practices that pay a lot more attention to them. It is expected that disjointed changes with virtually no connect with the past are going to be the routine rather than the exception as at present. It goes without saying that the psychological mutation that we have talked about earlier has become a compulsion rather than a choice and organizations can ignore these only at their own peril. It shall not be wrong to say then that human resource management function is and will always be a profession in perennial transition.


The obvious question that arises is how can organizations rejuvenate, remodel, reinvent and refashion their human resource management system? With the advent of more and more competition a few decades back, it was realized that it was essential to restructure the human resources of organizations to get the best quality and quantity of output through better productivity from all available resources. This led to downsizing and right sizing as also gave rise to the trend of outsourcing some of the human resource management functions, which led to not only leaner and meaner organizations but the cutting down of the human resource management personnel as well.


The next logical step came in the form of the concept of the “total manager” according to which a manager could no longer remain just a specialist in managing a chosen management function like marketing, finance, operations, human resource, etc. but had to have a much greater appreciation of the management functions apart from the chosen domain. This led to the requirement of “Business Savvy” human resource professionals who would be able to carry out strategic thinking which has now become In-House Human Resource Department’s new core competence along with operationally managing the non-outsourced functions. Currently, the focus is on transforming the function into a “revenue-impact” function to increase its strategic influence.


It has become crystal clear that human resources are fast becoming an investment to be nurtured and not a cost to be controlled, as has been the pedestrian thought of the past. The expectation is that the future human resource manager will emerge as the new economist through the rapidly evolving realm of “Human Capital Analytics as one of the key functions.


The authors feel that some of the future trends that are likely to be seen are:


  1. Becoming a Learning Organization – Organizations have realized that change is the only constant and the fact that it can proactively manage change to make continuous growth a part of its culture by becoming a learning organisation.A learning organisation is an organisation that has developed the continuous capacity to adapt and change. Just as individuals learn, so too do organizations. All organizations learn, whether they consciously choose to or not – it is a fundamental requirement for their sustained existence. However, some organizations just do it better than others. Most organizations engage in what has been called single-loop learning. When errors are detected, the correction process relies on past routines and present policies. In contrast, learning organizations use double-loop learning. When an error is detected, it is corrected in ways that involve the modification of the organisation’s objectives, policies and standard routines.


  1. Death of Boss, Birth of Mentor – Boss is always right is not right anymore or perhaps was always wrong as organizations across the world are being led towards a more sophisticated model of relationship. Such a model will be based on the equity of giving (mentoring) and taking (reverse mentoring) where learning and caring is to be the core of any relationship and the walls of seniority, age, superiority, ego, etc. do not exists anymore. Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. In the reverse mentoring situation, the mentee has less overall experience (typically as a result of age) than the mentor (who is typically older), but the mentee has more knowledge in a particular area and as such, reverses the typical constellation. Examples are when young internet or mobile savvy Millennial Generation teens train their senior executives in using their high end Smart Phones. The seniors, in turn, sometimes offer insight into business processes and other organizational realities at other times.


  1. Leveraging Human Resource related business intelligence with technology for competitive advantage – The fact that both human resource strategies and technology have positively progressed at a phenomenal speed is no secret. Linkages between the two have also evolved at a rapid pace leading to benefits in managing human resources better in most organizations that have gone in for it. They have started the e-journey but we feel it must always remain a journey to reap the substantial benefits that are possible even today and much more is surely expected to come in the future.


The general benefits of synergizing human resources and information technology are well known. It is used for better connectivity, time saving and cost optimization, socialization in an environment friendly manner through reduced paper usage or paper less administrative work which has become a reality today. Managing database or information systems is no more a tedious task now. Effective use of technology not only helps in saving a tremendous amount of effort in entering most employee data only once, thereby avoiding re-entries and multiple entries, it also ensures uniformity of employee database and accurate retrieval of data leading to generation of correct and sensible management information reports, which surely helps in better decision making.


Corporate communication has become so much easier with the help of technology. Internet and intranet have contributed tremendously in disseminating one way communication as well as interactive sharing of corporate news and information on a real time basis. As a consequence, employees and other stakeholders feel totally connected and updated even when they are thousands of kilometers away from their office premises. This has also led to an environment friendly scenario as online updating of employee handbook and easy access to various organizational policies anytime anywhere have saved a lot of valuable time of human resource professionals and other employees alike, as also drastically reduced stationery and printing cost of employee manuals, circulars and other such things.


Another area where a lot of change has happened is the hiring process. A large number of companies have moved to e-Hiring (e-Recruitment and Selection) process wherein they opt for one or more job portals like timesjobs, shine, naukri, monster, etc., which are extremely popular for job postings as also screening and short listing prospective candidates. This is primarily because of globalised connectivity which facilitates access to prospective candidates from all parts of the world very easily, has much less cost implication when compared to the traditional hiring process and also tremendous savings in time requirement. Even interviewing and final job offers are routinely happening through audio and video conferencing through free software like Skype and many others. Additionally, social media like LinkedIn and Facebook are quite frequently being relied upon to help in the human resource acquisition process.


  1. From Cafeteria Plan to Personal Kitchen – For many years now, we have known organizations that moved away from a very rigid compensation and benefits structure by introducing the “cafeteria plan” which is an employee benefits plan that allows employees to choose among a variety of options to create a benefits plan that best meets their needs and those of their families. The advantage of a cafeteria plan is that employees have benefits plan options. For example, a young employee with no health problems might opt to spend on a minimal health insurance plan. An employee with four family members might choose to spend on a family health insurance plan with more comprehensive coverage. The employee without a family might choose to spend his or her money for investments in a retirement plan. However, what do you do with a young executive who is unmoved by the menu of your cafeteria plan and turns down your request to choose a few items from it. An android phone and a spa-service at a five star hotel is what this young executive is interested in which cannot be seen anywhere on your menu. In such cases, some employee might get a feeling that the benefits given by the organisation are of no use to her / him and the perception is likely to be that the organisation is only interested in a forced feed. Therefore, it is for organizations to think a step ahead and design a benefit plan which is exclusive and extremely personalized, keeping in view the diversity of interests and needs of the workforce consisting of traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y. Who would not like the idea of a “personal kitchen”where one can get anything anytime as desired?


The authors’ feel that the above material should be enough food for thought as a step in managing human resources in the future.




Accurately predicting the state of anything in the future is always fraught with danger and to be fair to everyone, the authors have no pretentions to be the twenty first century Nostradamus. However, as ordinary mortals also, there is no harm in indulging in a bit of “crystal ball gazing”, especially when an openness to accept that a wrong prediction was made exists and review and recalibration is acceptable without any hesitation. The authors are, therefore willing to stick their neck out to confidently reach one conclusion for the future and that is, “any organization that is not self destructive in its intent will just not have any option but to give the ultimate importance to the concept “HR is all AIR” that we had enunciated in an earlier edition of this very conference in 2010, which for the benefit of those that are uninitiated means “HR is all about Attracting, Inspiring and Retaining the best talent” and if this can be done by any organization on a sustainable basis, that organization will not only defy death till infinity but will continuously thrive and prosper as well.


This was also presented at :


Twelveth International Conference On “Human Resource Management And Development – 2014”, May 29 – 31,2014, Dhaka, Bangladesh


Theme :

From Business Partner To Driving Business Success : The Next Step In The Evolution Of  Hr Management


Paper Title :

Mutating Organisational Dna For Excellence : The Hr Way



Heena Adhikari, Senior Consulting Associate And

Sumit Chaudhuri, Chairman And Managing Director

Third Millennium Business Resource Associates Private Limited, New Delhi

Website :,www.

Email :,

Twelveth International Conference On “Human Resource Management And Development – 2014”, May 29 – 31,2014, Dhaka, Bangladesh


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