Julien BRATU - Director General BRACO FORUM SRL Motto: We are what we think
1. WHO ARE WE ?
While in the difficult field of quality management consulting for several years, I have asked myself many times: "Why do people have to make considerable efforts for the things to go well? Why do Order, Good, Beauty and Quality are hard to achieve while Disorder, the Bad, the Ugly and Non-Quality do so easily enter our lives? Why do I have to make so much effort to persuade Romanian company managers, people in power in Romania, politicians that they have to see QUALITY as a major priority of their activity if they really want it to lead to progress?"
I can say that lately I found some answers. One of them I think is inside us, in what defines us. Our nature, our way of acting and thinking as individuals is influenced by our collective personality - of "Romanians" - with its defined and specifis characteristics and also by a long list of ancestors, by a history.
Therefore, Who Are We?
We are what we think and we think as we are
Man is as he thinks in his own heart. (the Bible)
We are what we are as a result of what we thought. (Buddha)
If you seed a thought, you get a fact,
If you seed a fact, you get a habit,
If you seed a habit, you get a character,
And if you seed a character, you get a destiny.
Thought Fact Habit Character Destiny
which brings us to the following consequences:
- in time habits generate characters and
- controlling our thinking, we can control our destiny.
But present behaviour of each of us is determined by two main elements:
- genetic heritage - skills, capabilities inherited from our ancestors;
- influences of the environment during our life - when these take an organized form we call them education, training.
Therefore, if we want to know WHAT and HOW to do to improve ourselves and have success as individuals or as a nation, first we have to know ourselves, to know WHO WE ARE. In order to do this, it is important to know where we come from, to understand the life of our ancestors whose product we are. This way, by understanding why we are the way we are, we will know how to act through instructing and formatting training, in order to adapt our mentality to the requirements of the environment and thus to build our success.
2. WHERE DO WE COME FROM ?
If we look at the Romanians’ history we can see that in almost 2000 years of the nation’s existence, there are only 200 years during which it was self-ruled by determining its own destiny: 100 years (not continuous) during the Middle Age - half of this period under leadership of Stefan the Great, and almost 100 years continuously during the last century from the formation of the Romanian state in 1918 until the present days.
For the rest of the time, almost 90% of it the Romanians were “under the times”, defeated, determined by foreigners and submitted to the interests of others. Also, due to the position of the Romanian territories between the East and the West, due to the invasions by migrating nations and warrior neighbours who stepped into these territories without cessation, durable social-political development was not easy to achieve. The Romanian principates appeared only in the XIVth century, 1000 years after the Aurelian withdrawal and they formed an unified state only 600 years after.
Therefore, as in time habits generate characters, we could not say that the Romanians’ psychology is not one of a winner (conquering, offensive). The fundamental objective of the Romanians was a defensive one along the ages: to resist, to survive, to preserve the nation and the territory.
3. PRESENT CHARACTER AND MENTALITY
Maybe one of the best known but unfortunate mentalities - mostly encountered - is the one saying “it doesn’t have to be perfect; it works antway”, a real “virus of the quality culture”. Its meaning is opposed to exigence, to compliance with standards of quality and value.
The objective of “survival, resistance” is not enough to be competitive and in time it had led to the attitude of being content with less, with poverty: “it doesn’t necessarily have to be good, it just has to work”. This is the opposite of quality and fiability, it is the same as “botching”.
Also, the lack of management by long term objectives and persevering ambition to achieve them, comes from the need to defend the present day against unpredictable environment changes. For example “an hour brings more than one whole year” or “whatever will be, will be”. Fatalism and overemphasized tolerance to disorders, unfavourable situations and difficulties are of the same origin; the same for the Romanian specific humour: “to laugh on the trouble” as a detensioning response to against stress and frustration.
Mistrusting laws, rules, standards and the rebel spirit expressed through Romanians’ immediate response to rules - they rather prefer avoiding solutions than thinking how to comply with them – seem easy to understand considering that along their history, laws and rules did not represent their interests most of the time but they were used to oppress them and support foreign rulers or Romanian rulers serving foreign powers.
The same lots of centuries during which the principle of “divide and conquer” was used against generations of Romanians in order to ensure an easier governing and the permanent instability of the environment led to the results we see today: quarelling, proud and critical spirit, poor cooperation and weak social cohesion and in general – to a delayed growth of civic and political awareness.
4. PLUSSES AND MINUSES
Characteristics of the individuals or groups can be regarded as flaws or qualities, according to the benefit these could bring to people in their relation with the environment.
The economic, social and political environment in which Romanians live today is an intensely competitional one: competition between nations, companies, between people in the job market.
Quality management teaches us how to get better performances, how to be more profitable on the long term, how to be more competitive.
Quality means mainly victory in the battle with the third law of thermodynamics, victory over enthropy, over the natural tendency to disorder. This is why we have to make efforts to get quality things.
In order to be good on the market, one has to be good in quality management and for this, one has to have the psychology of a winner.
To get quality requires exactingness, effort capabilities, creativity and resourcefulness, forceful commitment and firmness, cooperation and team spirit, tenacity and perseverance in order to get things done.
Where are we, Romanians, related to these requirements of quality psychology? We have endurance and effort capacities, we are mercyful and we can be very stable. Not long time ago, in hard living conditions we made $14 bil. in less than 10 years; this is an achievement.
We are creative and ingenious, used to go around obstacles; we have good quality conceivement capabilites. The performances of our contestants in mathematics competitions, the value of our software developers speak for themselves.
We are more combative and have better performances individually rather than as part of a group. Romania is one of the countries with the largest number of olympic medals per capita. We are better known through our athletes than through our politicians.
As for exactingness, consistency, cooperation and perseverance, we still have to work on them. Especially on team spirit and management.
It can be noticed that in Romania the medium level of management (company managers) is superior to the upper level – the politicians representing us.
Unfortunately these ones determine our future.
We are good soldiers but the generals do not raise to our level!
5. WHERE DO WE GO ?
I think that us, Romanians, during this transition, are now at a crossroad:
- - we could may remain as we are now
- - we could change, in order to adapt better to the requirements of the time
I think the first option would lead again “under the times”, like before, to colonialism - or worse – to economic slavery; finally we could end as simple labour force.
The second option leads to integration with Western values. This approach requires efforts to change, a work within ourselves and a change of our way of thinking.
If we want to be free, we have to become leaders! And for this to come true, we have to do two things:
to learn how to be leaders
to learn how to choose our leaders;
to learn how to choose the best of us to lead us. There are personal development techniques in the world, there are scientific criteria of choice we can also appropriate and use. If we succeed to integrate these lessons into our habits, then this gifted country will be better managed and we will succeed to be richer.
The role of the quality and management experts, the role of the advisors and instructors seems more than important for this second option, it is vital in order to succeed with this second option.
Bucharest, November 1999
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