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.
Today, a close friend of mine expressed anguish at the following incident.
Yesterday, he learnt of the death of his sister’s father-in-law. He was close to the deceased gentleman and they had spent many moments together solving crosswords and discussing other similar mysteries of life. He went over to his sister’s house and started helping with the arrangements for the funeral – ambulance, priest, death certificate, calling friends and relatives…
Meanwhile, he received phone calls from his workplace and from other persons who had professional things to discuss with him. With each person, he started his conversation by stating that he was in the midst of funeral arrangements of a close relative. Almost all persons, after saying something like, “Oh I see…,” carried on regardless, stating their case and discussing whatever they had called up for.
My friend, being the polite gentleman he is, discussed their case with them.
Subsequently, he expressed his wonder and bewilderment that, apart from one person, no one commiserated with him or showed any sensitivity towards the occasion or his emotions.
We see similar parallels in our life. I too am guilty of the same. I sometimes ask the other person whether it is a good time to talk. But other times, because I need the counterparty’s help or advice, I plough on regardless. I sometimes think that I will not take much time, but lose the sense of time when immersed into the details of my problem.
It may be difficult but do consider that over the last 24 hours, you may have superimposed your will on others, who have been polite enough not to tell you to “take a long jump off a short pier”.
I have a tendency to judge people or companies. They are all doing the best they can under the circumstances and we do not know all the circumstances to judge them. When a person acts in a particular way, he does it based on his beliefs. We take this action of the person and extrapolate from it, his beliefs. Can we generalise based on one action?
I need to remember that I do not like to be judged. Why should I not extend the same courtesy to others?