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January 02, 2011




Page: 12/38

Home > 2011 Issues > January 02, 2011

In the wake of Gita Jayanti
Gita is a lesson in Management

By Prabhu Narayan Shrivastava

Caring for the fruits of an action reduces the quality of action and in turn the quality of fruits.Thinking of result while acting is like putting the cart before the horse.

MANAGEMENT Guru Late Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad a consummate professional in his famous book, The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid has cautioned the economists and political managers of the world that the poor people should not be merely looked upon as a case of poverty elevation and subsidy mongers, but they should be treated as respectful, collaborative consumers. He writes:-

"We always assume that we have to invest in everything. Therefore, investment becomes a constraint. But many times collaboration is a substitute because you spread investment and work together whether it is selling prepaid cards or milk or FMCG products. We have to collaborate effectively with them. Companies cannot do it all by themselves, so they have to collaborate with each other on both information and profits." He further says that globalisation, connectivity, inclusive growth and sustainability are the key to growth.

Sri Krishna in Srimad Bhagawad Gita says.
Devan bhavayatanena te deva bhavayantu wah.
Prarasparam bhavayantah sreyah paramvapsytha. (3.11)

(Cherish the devas with this and may those devas cherish you. Thus cherishing one another; you will gain the highest good).

In a book, The secret life of Plants, written in America, we find the word deva used again and again, it is the personification of nature’s forces. Therefore the traditional meaning of deva has to be expanded here. Generally speaking the entire cosmos is the manifestation of the divine but specifically the entire mankind is the most explicit and evolved from of divine power. Here deva includes men. Thus mutual interdependence of men and other natural forces is the way to progress not by isolation, not by confrontation, not by exploitation but treating every component of nature equally important as I am, collaborating to each other. So CK Prahalad has rightly underlined the importance of collaboration that is giving due importance of the inherent potentiality of the so-called poor men. They are also partner, a forceful contributor to the wheel of growth. We have been experiencing the growth of communication channel where a small shopkeeper is also collaborating the network of inter connectivity by selling prepaid or postpaid cards and so on. This strategy of collaboration with the poor shopkeepers and others have resulted in the growth of wireless system from 2 million numbers to 20 20 millions in a year (Aug 03) in India itself. CK Prahalad is a legendary figure in the field of management. Similarly Shri Ram Charan, Shri Vijaya Govind Rajan and Shri Deepak Chopra and among the world’s hottest business gurus who are implementing eastern philosophy in the field of management.

Development of management theories has replaced shareholder driven agenda with stakeholder focused approach which includes the subtle and the gross-focus is shifting from the outer world to the inner world. Only psycho analysis of man will not do, psycho synthesis is equally important. Sri Krishna in Gita, repeatedly whispers to Arjuna to be a yogi. Yoga for body, mind and a intellect is the remedy to all management problems mankind is facing these days.

The journey of management theory dates back to 1864 when Maxweber a German Sociologist offered bureaucratic model of any large and complex organisation in any branch of human activity. Subsequently FW Taylor (1856-1915) eventually called the father of scientific management revolutionised the entire shop or plant management. Fayol (A French Engineer) Sheldon, Mooney and Reilly, L Gulliec, Frank and Lillian Gilberth made significant contribution to the evolution of management theory. The human psychology was also touched by them. Strategy, structure, system, style, staff, shared values and skills are Mckinsey developed Seven S framework for management. However, despite all the scientific development the unpredictable behaviour of men, (labour, manager and administration) still remained enigma for management gurus. Of course these developments have contributed a lot for arriving at the present level of civilisation, but the stage of stagnation and inherent contradiction has come where people are looking to Gita. While it used to be hip in management circles to quote from the sixth century BC Chinese classic The Art of war-the trendy ancient eastern text - today is the more introspective Bhagawad Gita. Several MNCS like sprint Nextel corp(S) penned inevitable, how to guide - Bhagawad Gita on effective leadership. Conversation between the supreme deity Sri Krishna and Arjuna; a warrior prince struggling with a moral crisis before a crucial battle of Mahabharata has a central message, enlightened leaders master any impulse that cloud sound judgment Several battles have been. fought in the history of human civilisation, but Mahabharata is still remembered because of Gita. Emerged as the song of the Divine from it. It seems enigmatical that ever a song can be sung in the battle field. The battle of management, establishing harmony amongst the conflicting interests can be soothingly won, not only in the management of industries, MNCS but also in men, family, nations and the world if cardinal principles of Gita are applied in day to day life. A master panacea has been discussed, debated and resolved in Gita without imposing any prescription.

Budhiyukto Jahatiha Ubhe Sukrita dushkrite,
Tasmadyogaya Yujyasva yagah Karmasu Kausalam (2.50).

(Endued with this evenness of budhi, one frees oneself in this very life, alike from virtue and vice, devote yourself, therefore to this yoga. Yoga is efficiency in action or yoga facilitates efficiency in action).

The art of integration within and without, the subtle and the gross is yoga. This and only this can bring about sustainable growth. It is a combination of productive efficiency without and spiritual efficiency within. We bring blessings in society by this integrated approach - thus generating honest, efficient collaborative labour in every field we work. The quantity and quality of life is gradually optimised, thus facilitating the sustainable growth.

British biologist, Sir Julian Huxley in his lecture on ‘The Evolutionary Vision’ at the Chicago Congress of Scientist celebrating, Darwin centenary in 1959, refers to this subject (Issues in Evolution, Evolution After Darwin vol.3, P. 259).

....."Quantity of material production is, of course, necessary only up to a certain degree. More than a certain number of calories or cocktails of TV sets of washing machines per person, is not merely unnecessary but bad. Quantity of material production is a means to a further end, and not an end in itself."

Gita deals with a comprehensive philosophy since thousand years, where efficiency gets a holistic dimension, where quality and quantity go together. Yogah Karmasu Kausalam, is a unique type of definition of man’s spiritual life, not opposed to man’s worldly life, but comprehending both of them. Sri Krishna is whispering to everybody, "be a Yogi-that is most normal life, but with a depth to it which improves the capacity to collaborate among, Men, Materials and even ECO. Not necessarily 100 per cent Yogi - Be 1 per cent or 2 per cent Yogi. Swalpam apyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat - (2.40)

Even a little of it is good. Gita does not put an end to development but asks to be more and more pragmatic, progressive so that the wheel of evolution of man is endlessly pursued. There is coma, semicolon but not full stop in this journey of development. It is an endless journey. The management philosophy so for has realised this and so there is introspection all around.

Thomas J Peters and Robert H Waterman Jr. in his book; In search of Excellence has identified grey areas in the field of management. The findings, they arrived at are as follows:-

i) You cannot just manage. "by numbers" - (Read quantity) Don’t even think about it.

ii) People are wonderfully different and complex - No prescription will do.

iii) The world is a confusing place, full of ambiguity - no set formula will save this complexity... it is the man’s inner evolution which can find a solution.

Similarly - Francis Fukuyama in his famous book Trust has outlined the importance of social virtues in creating prosperity. Different societies have different culture and so the management must address to this varietal groupings of social instincts of different class of men, society and the nations. Fukuyama says, "whether the confrontation of cultures leads to conflict or to adaptation and progress, it is now vitally important to develop a deeper understanding of what makes these cultures distinctive and functional, since the issues surrounding international competition, political and economic, increasingly will be cast in culture terms." Sri Krishna thousands years ago has addressed to these multiplicity of cultures, not only of a society but all individuals. Every individual is UNIQUE, the society and the individuals must honour this uniqueness - failing which the growth of individual and even society is bound to be hampered.

Swadharmey Nidhanam Shreyah, par dharmo Bhayawaha (3.35)

Here swadharma is not religion, but the unique characteristic of a man -But how to combine the freedom of an individual and the productive efficiency of a man? Gita solves this problem very easily by exhorting

Karmanye wadhikarste Ma phalesu kadachana,
Ma karma phalhetubhuh. Ma te sangoastwa karmani. (2.47)

(Your right is to work only but never the fruits there of. May you not be motivated by the fruits of actions nor let your attachment be towards inaction).

Most important a verse which has even created lot of misunderstanding if not properly understood.

Single minded devotion to work relieves the man from the pangs of fulfilling desires of result. William Marrow says, "Managing only for profit is like playing tennis with your eye on score board and not on the ball." Thus caring for the fruits of an action reduces the quality of action and in turn the quality of fruits. An over cautious cricket player to make century after scoring ninety runs, is more likely to be out while playing. Thinking of result while acting is like putting the cart before the horse.

Beside the aforementioned factor of negatively affecting the result of any action because of attachments to the fruits, the other scientific factor is the multiple of unknown parameters affecting the result on which one individual cannot have control. So Sri Krishna has very strongly advocated to have mastery over action a perfectionist attitude. This is the methodology of "ZERO ERROR EFFECT". More is the self motivated men in an organisation more is the success rate of that organisation. Total Quality Management (TQM) comes when 100 per cent motivation come from within. The extrinsic incentives e.g. money and other perks etc. achieve saturation level very soon. Darwin says "Survival of the fittest" - Sri Krishna says - "He survives who dedicates to the infinite divine." When we have no control over the result because of infinite visible and invisible forces of the nature affecting the result, is it not a wisdom to whole heartedly concentrate on the work assigned to us? Let us introspect.

And this is the compelling reason that the management gurus are gradually advocating to take a more holistic approach to business - this approach takes into account the needs of the shareholders, employees, customers, society and the environments-resulting in stakeholder approach. CK Prahalad describes it as "inclusive capitalism". How beautifully the modern management concept is gradually accepting the holistic approach of life propounded by Sri Krishna thousand years ago.

And lastly Gita concludes :-
Yatra yogeshwarah Krishno,
Yatra Partho Dhanurdharah.
Tatra Srirvijayo Bhutih
Dhruva nitirmatir mama (18.78)

Wherever is Yogeshwar(The master integrator) Sri Krishna, wherever is Partha (The master Purushartha) the wielder of the bow, there is prosperity, victory, welfare, and constant justice, such is my conviction.

The energies of Sri Krishna (The vision) and of Arjuna (Action) must be integrated. This ensures the blessings of prosperity (Srih); Success (Vijaya) and Welfare (Bhuti) of the society, organisation and the entire humanity. Weeping and wailing will not do. The infinite (ATMAN) hidden in man is to be revoked by the clarion call of Sri Krishna Nimittamatra bhava sabyasachin - Let the managers of the world introspect and act as Arjuna - as per the eternal advice given to him in the battle field - in the form of Srimad Bhagwad Gita.




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