The story of the Great Indian Crab Syndrome is well known. In essence, Indian Crabs do not need to be locked up as one crab will prevent others from escaping.
But let us be fair. This happens everywhere. I have worked in the far East and the Far West, fairly North (but not south of the equator). Trust me, at least in the northern hemisphere, it exists everywhere.
I consider it a natural process. Consider this.
This is a process of making one product indistinguishable from another product. In other words, the opposite of product differentiation. So where a crab pulls another crab down, it is not trying to make the other crab indistinguishable, so that it does not become a ‘run-away’ success?
- A Survival tactic?
After all, differentiation prevents unity. Commoditised products create cartels so that they can collectively bargain. When one product thinks it is different and can command a different market share, the unity is broken.
This is important for the sanctity of a group or an organisation. When we join the corporate world, we go through the induction programme, where we are taught conformity (read culture). We are given a conflicting message – employees are our greatest assets, we value innovation and creativity, but when we try to exercise this value, we are asked to conform.
- Low self-esteem?
If I am jealous of someone who is better than me, I would bring him down to my level. Any person who I perceive to be better than me can differentiate and command a better price!
- Stop striving for excellence
Differentiating is taught as a lesson in marketing, and all the books about corporate heroes tom-tom doing something different (even illegal), treading the road less travelled, ignoring the barbs and the taunts of the other crabs.
We all start off by with stars in our eyes, working hard. We gradually succumb to bare minimum work and rationalisation.Why do we look at each other, and if we see others not working, we too stop working?
We do not let others work, and we ourselves do not work.
So, who is the Indian Crab? Not the other people – but our own mind.