The God of Small Things…

I am no foodie though I enjoy exploring new cuisines and if they are local, then it just makes my day.

Good food has the potential to be a great conversation starter between two strangers and can easily take the discussion to interesting exchanges of titbits.

Last week I was at a fine dining restaurant in Goa, which specialised in local cuisine with a twist. The chef is absolutely passionate about what nature provides and is extremely skilled in presenting delicacies that one would not have imagined existed.

While tasting the Goan tapa (a tapa is an appetiser or snack), we understood that it consisted of ten small bite dishes, each excelling the other. Since we were two of us, we called for all the dishes on the menu. And said we will go for the main course later.

What followed was nothing short of a burst of flavors and colors that made us sink deeper and deeper. Each tapa was exquisite in appearance and was painstakingly explained by the chef. They were truly a photographer’s delight! By the time we had finished the tapa, we were content and full just like a Cheshire cat who had licked off a can of cream. There was no room for the main course!

Having experienced the tapa, I could not help but think of how in our quest for success in our jobs we get obsessed with big movements. In fact, the whole hiring and interview process is so biased towards the big picture that it fails to recognise the small successful steps along the way that has made you who you are today. The tapa advernture made me realise the beauty of small things and how if we pause and reflect on them, they can be a game changer and bring in a different perspective.

The Broken Windows Concept

In the mid-80s and 90s, on experiencing failure in solving major crimes, New York police decided to shift their focus to solving small and petty crimes. The result was an overall decline in crime rate!

This was based on the ‘Broken Windows’ theory, which suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.

What if we were to adopt the ‘Broken Windows’ concept in our work place and concentrate on resolving the small things that come our way?

By paying attention to small things, we have the potential to change big things.

Repairing the broken windows

The concept also emphasis on repairing each broken window and its various parts that you come across. Fix that handle. Fit in the new glass. Paint the old window. Fence it if required.

Now let us think of working with this approach in our career. There are times when we come across roadblocks. We can either jump over those roadblocks and skip them altogether or, we can choose to take a step back to examine the situation and find a solution that will take us to our next step. Moving ahead then becomes easier.

Examining obstacles and finding solutions demonstrates growth.

Building the momentum

What next after repairing the broken windows? Progress has to always be on the roll. Momentum needs to be built. Like small bites, we may feel satiated for a moment but be prepared for hunger to strike again! By keeping the momentum going, you can showcase to your manager and your team that there is movement in the right direction.

No change happens overnight, it is always a work in progress.

The next time you have a small bite, stop for a moment and think of the benefits. Remember the broken windows concept and aim to keep the momentum going.

Happy small bites!


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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