Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Corporate lessons from Mahabharata

Character driven competence is mooted as the panacea for all corporate illness to-day. Character without competence is an empty paradise, competence without character is a crook’s paradise. Character with competence alone is the real paradise.

In Mahabharata, the great guru Dhronacharya taught the skills of archery to Pandavas and Kauravas. But he taught Brahamasthra (Something similar to the modern day intercontinental ballistic missile) only to Arjuna, not even to his own son Aswathama, who was equally competent.

When he was queried on this, he says –Only Arjuna has both the character and competence. It is not just enough to know how to use the weapon, but when and why we should use – all these he should know.
Hence he preferred to teach this missile technique to Arjuna, the character driven competent guy. The management should ensure that character co-exists with competence.

In 360ยบ appraisals, the character and competence is evaluated in many corporates to-day. The quality of the means than the end is important. In ENRON it was the accounting model that was driving the business model.

The cart was pulling the horse there. The so called watch dogs became pet dogs with wagging tails. In short, there was a total collapse of character at ENRON.

Intellectual sharpness without emotional purity is a potential recipe for perverted cunning manoeuvres for personal gain. The positive skills have to be backed up by normative values – otherwise it will result in nefarious application (example Shakuni of Mahabharata).

To-day’s corporate disasters have the roots in such ethical bankruptcies. You can not create economic prosperity on the foundation of ethical bankruptcy.

In Mahabharat, Vyasa makes a clarion call: “Artha (wealth creation) and kama (Materialistic enjoyment) have to be attained on the foundation dharma (righteous conduct).

To-day every one of us is stressing the need for co-existence of business ethics and bottom line. The business and commerce can and need to succeed – even in competitive environments – with high degrees of ethics and moral attitude.

We will not cry – ‘Sinless wealth is an optic illusion’, if we factor the maxim of alignment of ‘artha’ and ‘kama’ with ‘dharmic’ conduct. No mythology advocates against enjoyment. But we need dharmic sense. We can not rob some body and enjoy.

More to follow …..

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