The case describes the introduction of a human resources (HR) system named “Project Vishwamitra” (PV) in 2000 in a large, technocratic public sector organization, TP Engineering Corporation (TPEC). PV was introduced with considerable leadership support and visibility. It was intended to provide every engineer trainee at TPEC a friend and guide to ease their entry and socialization into the organization. The senior managers assigned to guide the trainees were called “mentors.” For the first four to five years, the project ran smoothly. The trainees distinctly felt supported whenever they needed some help. At the same time, the mentors were happy to guide trainees.
After four to five years, certain important changes took place in the organization in staffing of leadership positions. With expansion and new projects, the growth trajectory of TPEC also showed a sharp increase. With earlier people moving out and a significant rise in the number of trainees being recruited, PV ran into difficult waters. Yet, no changes were made in the system or processes. PV started to get ritualized — meetings between trainees and mentors became more infrequent and in certain areas, there was total absence of any contact between the two. In the midst of degeneration, one of the leaders was able to revive the project in Unit Chelpur. With highly ambitious growth plans, the number of trainees was expected to increase from 450 in 2010 to 750 in 2011. The company faced a choice regarding the form in which PV should continue.