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Business Emerges from Behavior While Behavior from Beliefs
Juby Thomas
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Crisis is all pervasive, so is crisis management. The art of management has become part and parcel of our everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory, and in the government. In all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, management principles come into play through the management of resources, finance, planning, priorities, policies, and practices. Focusing more on leadership skills, e.g. establishing vision and goals, communicating them to the employees, and guiding all to accomplish them is the need of management. A good leader must be more facilitative, participative, and empowering. It is also required of the management that visions and goals are established and are carried out. In the process of crisis management, one has to look into the behavior of the people involved. “Any business in the world is an outcome of people’s behavior. It includes both the behavior of the organization and its customers. If you draw examples from the forest ‘tiger chases the deer’ both are running for survival and the one who wins the race will survive and the other has to die,” says Devdutt Pattanaik, Chief Belief Officer of Future Group.

Thankfully, the Indian approach to crisis is different from the western one. The west always has the tendency to look outside and when a crisis arises they will say the problem is ‘out there’. But the Indian cultural practices have taught us to look ‘inside’, and so when a crisis arises we look into the problem. And that is one of our success mantras. How many of us build an organization to break it? Unless you don’t break, it won’t go to the next level. During various religious poojas people make beautiful statues of deities and they are immersed in a river or lake to complete the rituals. So too in business, one has to die to give way for the other.

Life is full of mystery. Consider, for example, the mystery of how we got to the point where executives are paid a king’s ransom to run companies into the ground and sell off assets. As leaders, you might be doing many things, from inspiring to coaching to strategizing; but nothing will be accounted for if you don’t produce results. And the best way to produce results is the ability to motivate yourself and inspire your team to achieve your goal. “Crisis management includes solving corporate issues by trying to bridge the gap between company values and personal values. Let me illustrate. We walked into a department in one of our offices and found everyone unhappy, hence unproductive. To solve the problem here we should go to the Gangotri (the source). We realized that if everyone in the department is unhappy, the head of the department had to be the source,” says Pattanaik.

It happens because just as Draupadi (Arjuna’s wife), the great heroine of the Mahabharata, did not choose her husband, most of us do not choose our bosses. What is presented during the interview may not be what emerges post induction. Things may either be a pleasant surprise or a rude shock. Whatever be the case, one has to find a way to work with the boss. Failure to get along with bosses remains one of the main reasons for attrition. But while divorce is an option in the corporate world, it reeks of poor management skills, on the part of both, the `husband’ and the `wife’.

The world is talking about innovation, but we don’t have to go anywhere to look for innovation. It is right here, and we have to look for it. The word innovation raises a problem of great importance in the history of technology. Strictly speaking, an innovation is something entirely new, but there is no such thing as an unprecedented technological innovation because it is impossible for an inventor to work in a vacuum and, however ingenious his invention is, it must arise out of his own previous experience and beliefs. Indian myths teach us that the goddess of knowledge (Saraswati) comes only at times of crisis and that is the time where ideas and innovations take place. Therefore, after the crisis, knowledge, wealth, and emotional security (Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Durga) will follow you. Fear is the greatest enemy of innovation.

The importance of emotional intelligence, an embodiment of motivation, empathy, and social skills, increases as one goes up the management chain. One has to recognize the similarity with Ramayana. Indian scriptures can teach you a lot about how to live better, both professionally and personally. Like Krishna, who stood for leadership and crisis management and Rama who stood for values in public life, these are very interesting aspects we have seen. The Bhagavad Gita, written thousands of years ago, enlightens us on all managerial techniques, leading us towards a harmonious and blissful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation, and so on, common in most of Indian enterprises today – and probably in enterprises in all other countries.

Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his relatives with whom he had to fight. To motivate him the Bhagavad Gita is preached in the battle field of Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as a counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood waiting. It has got all the management tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium and to overcome any crisis situation.

When asked about what he has in store for the group, and what is his role as the Chief Belief Officer Pattanaik has this to say, “We hope to create kathakars (storytellers) who will take the message throughout the organization. How did the Bhakti movement spread across the country? It spread through songs and stories sung by one person to another.”

Therefore, it is important for the present day leaders to discover the linkages with the past, since the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata crisis and the management processes remain the same. Time changes and so do the faces, but the wisdom is there for us to see. Our mind is like a computer, continuously programmed since our childhood along with some vasanas from our previous birth. This programming is both good and bad for ourselves; a healthier programming makes us productive and happy individuals, while a bad program may turn us unproductive. To program one’s mind in the best possible way one can resort to the examples derived from Indian mythology. Most of the modern managerial materials and problems of the current world have a very clear semblance to the popular myths where managerial skills were very well utilized. Time and space can change but wisdom will remain.
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