In all, it appears to involve a good lot of reading, reflection and writing one’s thoughts down for sharing and collaborating in Confluence!
Editor’s note: Confluence claims to be “an online platform that aims to bring together all stakeholders of science in the society”. However, what does it mean for all stakeholders to come together? In this piece, a Confluence Reader shares his thoughts on some of the forms that this engagement can take, taking a recently published article as an example.
How I see Confluence
I took ‘Confluence’ to mean coming together, of people with ‘CONcerns’ and those who have ‘inFLUENCE’! Confluence also brings to mind, ‘conversation with fluency’, which seems to be becoming rare, but insisted upon by social scholars to be practiced and promoted as an important facet and part of human endeavors, (McNamee and Gergen1998), especially between people with divergent stands and viewpoints, with a view to converge for a constructive purpose.
It also brings to mind ‘considering all, do as you must’, a Vedic saying, with a bias towards action; and Gandhiji’s saying, “the end of a great life is not accumulation of wealth but contribution.”
So, concern, consideration, contribution, conversation etc. are the aspects that comes to my mind while trying to participate in Confluence.
An example: my take on technology vision in India
This is in the context of a recent article in Current Science on vision documents in India, which was highlighted on this forum. I recall my corporate experience in a Public Sector Undertaking on vision building and recall how a Harvard Business Review article (Collins and Porras, 1996) played the role of a starting point. This article is still a classic resource on the subject. Others may bring in their experience and resources, and with these as basis, the Technology Vision 2035 may be studied. Thus, with the technical briefing on the subject, some experience in it and a historical perspective, it appears possible to form an ‘approach’ for studying the vision.
There could be many approaches, certainly as many as the number of participants. For example, Gandhiji’s ‘Swarajya’, treated as the vision of the nation during freedom struggle can be considered a model. The progress made in Technology Assessment in other parts of the world can be another basis, as the authors of the Current Science article have pointed out.
However, in my view, it is also desirable to have a positive attitude towards those in ‘positions of responsibility’. Recalling ‘Thirukural”, “Entrust work to men, only after testing them. But after they have been so appointed, accept their service without distrust. It is wrong to choose men without care and equally wrong to distrust men whom you have chosen.” This is because continuity is one of the requirements for creating a far-reaching vision. As pointed out by Collins and Poras (1996): “The rare ability to balance continuity and change – requiring a continuously practiced discipline – is closely linked to the ability to develop vision. Vision provides guidance about what to preserve and what to change.” (Collins and Porras, 1996).
In this context, it may be remembered that vision building is a management topic. Here, what is important is progress, achievement, movement etc.; not a never-ending contemplation. Rather than watching things happen, it is more interesting to make things happen by starting from where one is and progressing and improving as one moves, embracing enablers and bracing the hurdles. With what we call the ‘process approach’ in management, it would be an interesting endeavor. But what is the process approach?
Like any big organization, the government and the bureaucracy are divided into departments. However excellence at the level of individual departments do not necessarily lead to the best performance at the level of the whole organization. This is due to lack of attention to the interconnections and the interactions, which lie in no man’s land, especially over a period of time. Process Approach recognizes the importance of the interconnections and interactions and helps to systematically manage them, howsoever spatially and temporally distant they may be. That is why, a monitoring scheme, routed in the tenets of a process approach, might be most useful for realizing our technology visions.
Especially with respect to Technology, it may also be vital to know where the world is moving towards, and against that, see our present state and visualize whether the vision would help us to move forward along with others.
If people from each sector review the vision for their sector and come up with their feedback, collectively it would become a review of the vision as a whole, including the governance/management aspects, that the authors have focused upon, agonizingly. Confluence can certainly be a catalyst, however complex the issue is considered as of now. There is time, and time is on our side. Nothing would be insurmountable if people whom we try to treat as ‘other’ is treated as ‘one of us’, such that there is a feeling that ‘we are in it together’.
This is how Confluence appears to me as a common man! In all, it appears to involve a good lot of reading, reflection and writing one’s thoughts down for sharing and collaborating in Confluence!
Collins, J. C., & Porras, J. I. (1996). Building your company’s vision. Harvard business review, 74(5), 65.
McNamee, S., & Gergen, K. J. (1999). Relational responsibility: Resources for sustainable dialogue. Sage.
Anbazhagan SV is a science graduate, now retired, with work experience in the area of Industrial Engineering, O&M, HRD and ISO Standard based management systems, in GKW and KIOCL.