Climbing the organisational pyramid

I am writing this for larger number of people, there are exceptions who would defy this. This should be not read from exceptional people in mind. I am aiming at people at Bottom of Pyramid of an organisation. It is this set of people actually run the system and they have potential to grow. Only few in career reach to the top. Some reach faster than others. Is it a matter of chance or luck? Is it a case of born with silver spoon? I know that there could be many reasons for this. I am trying to express some of them that I have considered important based on my experience.

I have been interacting with many first time employees as well as experienced employees during induction programs that I conduct for my clients. I have also been engaged with many experienced employees who are in junior or middle management functions/ roles. There are questions that I often ask them

  1. What do you want to be?
  2. Why are you in this organisation for what you want to be?

I could see it clearly that this question shakes many of them. Some of them have even told them why this question is relevant to their job. It takes considerable time for them realise the importance of this question.

Let me explain the first question.

There are different kinds of people (hence employees) from this question point of view.

People often confuse between Dreams and Goals. They are not same. Dreams become Goal when you convert Dreams into a verifiable and assessable form. Dreams are more transient and imagery. This is necessary to get rights goals. Goals are more specific with a sense of time in it. Goals are necessary to actualise one’s dream. The issue is not whether someone has articulated the goals, the THINKING of goal is more important. This thinking often gets influenced by the “real life situations”. For example I always dreamt of becoming a research scholar when I was in schools. But my goals kept changing as I progressed. In high schools my goal became joining Armed Forces as I was in class of 42 students in Sainik School and 40 of them wanted to be in Armed Forces. The rest were girls who (then) did not thought of armed forces. I failed but my dream was alive. My next goal became to start making some earning for self and if possible for family. I started teaching (tuitions to be precise). This goals was influenced by the environment in which I lived. I could see that my family is struggling for two square meals, so if I have to study I must do something different. The good part of this goal was it met some of my “intrinsic desire” to research. When you want to be a good tutor you have study more than what you study for yourself. I do not want make it a biography of mine, but it is important to note that I was doing something which many were not doing. In fact my brother who has also grown in similar environment did not thought of it. I did not realise then an answer to this. With experience is dealing with people and management processes, I see one reason why this would have happened. I was always in the company of people who thought of tomorrow and discuss about what they should do tomorrow. My brother was in company of people who were cribbing about yesterday and trying live today.

Even when I joined employment, there were people who were cribbing about the current job. In fact they were separate group (you would find them in your organization very easily). I avoided them as they force you not to think of future in some way.

In my view, if you want to start thinking what you want to be and work in that direction you must

Let me address next question

It quiet natural for people (job seekers) to take up the first opportunity that comes their way. It is not common for people to wait for their choice of job. Even among who wait after sometime for various reasons get into something that comes their way. In my view what you do after you get job is more important than the job you got.

We need to identify opportunities in existing job that would take me towards my goal. How do we do that? Some of the steps that we can take are

  1. Get the right group in job also who are positive thinking and forward looking.
  2. Ask what in it for me in this job? or
  3. How do I find things that I would love in this job?

For example, while I did not pursue higher studies as taking up a job was more important. I picked up the job that came my way. The job was in Andhra Pradesh far from my place of stay (then Bihar). I did not know language and job was in Bhadrachalam which is a village town in Andhra Pradesh. As I was always looking for an opportunity to learn new thing, I got into doing lot of things other than my shift management job. It included working with other departments during my off times, working with society and club actively. I must gained maximum basic learning on lot of things other job of managing shifts, running chemical recovery plant. It is those other learning that is helping me more. The learning opportunity needs to be found and searched it is never available in a platter.

The individuals mind set determines if he is going to learn and grow in the right direction. I am reminded of a story narrated to me by someone.

There were two people namely HAPPY GUY (HG) and SAD GUY (SG). They went to a new town and wanted a place to stay. Someone directed them to a house which has a vacancy for one person to stay. SG went inside and came out quickly saying that the house is suitable to stay as it will make your life miserable. Everybody there are having sad and sullen look. HG felt odd but he had limited option so he also went inside to try for himself. He took longer to come. When he came out SG asked him for his decision. HG said he came out only to tell him that he cannot think any better place. HG did not even wanted to come out as everyone was happy and cheerful.

The truth was that the house had mirrors in place of walls.

If you have learning attitude you would find learning opportunity in everything, everywhere.

One need to learn and move on to the journey. But moving without learning mostly leads to stagnation at critical point in career.

 

Bosses are Celebrities

 

I am trying to put down just some random thoughts that came through my mind in last few days. The intent is not to belittle or disregard anyone in the process. I am using some examples from our mythology only for highlighting the point that I want to convey. I must also state that I am not an atheist.

The current news on justification of celebrities acts have made me think that how Bosses also behave like celebrities only. To understand this better, let me make an attempt to define Celebrities. Wikipedia (mother of all knowledge repository) defines

A celebrity is a person who has a prominent profile and commands some degree of public fascination and influence in day-to-day media. The term is often synonymous with wealth (commonly denoted as a person with fame and fortune), implied with great popular appeal, prominence in a particular field, and is easily recognized by the general public.

Celebrity status for any one is not a permanent. We have seen several celebrities in our life time who have nothing to say after their utilities as celebrity is over. There have several Stars of yesteryear who have lived the life of unknown. ‘Home Alone’ star Macaulay Culkin a huge celebrity once is today facing drug related legal battles. Celebrities like Lance Armstrong lost many supporters when had to face the drug trials. It is also possible that many of them regain their celebrity status. Gods like Rama and Krishna are also celebrities of their time. Consider the fact that there are temples for M G Ramachandran, an all-time celebrity in Tamilnadu. If you carefully go through the Puranas and other religious scriptures that narrate life of them it is not difficult to find that how their “wrong” acts have been justified by building stories and justification around.

A classic criticism of Rama’ life have been his act of mistrust on his wife. He did that twice. Once after winning the war when he asked Sita to testify by entering into fire. Second time he decided to send her to exile based on the comment from a washer man. From the context of our life today, these act may even deserve attention by Domestic Violence Act. But the religion and authors of religious books have justified these act by creating stories and philosophical justification for Rama’s decision. The debate can continue between people who are religious and those who are rationalists. I am not against Rama and Krishna.

Krishna’s acts of stealing have always been justified as act of love. Krishna’s acts (read mischievous acts) during war is justified by various means in Mahabharata. We today know that in simpler term as “everything is fair in war”

Let us now look at the BOSSES. They are celebrities in their own way. Most of us would have read this somewhere or other, I definitely do not know the source of this.

When I Take a long time to finish, I am slow.

When my boss takes a long time, he is thorough.

When I don’t do it, I am lazy.

When my boss does not do it, he is busy.

When I do something without being told, I am trying to be smart.

When my boss does the same, he takes the initiative.

When I please my boss, I am apple polishing.

When my boss pleases his boss, he is cooperating.

When I make a mistake, I’ am an idiot.

When my boss makes a mistake, he’s only human.

When I am out of the office, I am wondering around.

When my boss is out of the office, he’s on business.

When I am on a day off sick, I am always sick.

When my boss is a day off sick, he must be very ill.

When I apply for leave, I must be going for an interview.

When my boss applies for leave, it’s because he’s overworked.

When I do good, my boss never remembers.

When I do wrong, he never forgets.

 

We must also remember that these justification works as long as BOSS is BOSS. Hence within a lifetime of an organisation BOSS is a CELEBRITY. Whether we like or not, we all clamour to have an association with him as mere proximity gives a pleasure and a sense of achievement. The power of proximity with a BOSS is so high that the effect would be noticeable in almost every staff who is closest to the BOSS on routine basis.

Will we ever come out of Celebrity Worship stage? I am not sure. Human kind has always followed a Hero Worship from the days he has become social animal. The most worshipped god in Pre-Vedic period was Lord Indra, who represents the kings. Kings in the early society was typically most powerful person. We again learnt it from our forefather. If you notice a group of Monkeys, the strongest and biggest monkey would be leading the group.

At the same time, I also see people at large becoming more aware and outspoken. This may not reduce celebrity worship, but the celebrities may not get the same response if they do not come up to the expectations of people.

 

Success Principles – based on Tantrokta Devisuktam

The scriptures are rich with lessons for our life. I am always fascinated by the depth of information that has been provided in our scriptures. One such is Devi Mahatyam (Sanskritdevīmāhātmyam, देवीमाहात्म्यम्). As part of the Markandeya Purana, it is one of the Puranas or secondary Hindu scriptures, and was composed in Sanskrit around c. 400-500 CE, with authorship attributed to the sage (Rishi) Markandeya. This describes the victory of Durga over Mahisashura and other demons.

One of the sections of this scripture is Tantotra Devisuktam. This is a section that praises goddess Durga in different ways. The goddess is extolled in different form. The important aspect of the terms used is the sequence in which they have been given.  I am beginning from the 17th shloka of the 4th chapter of the book. Each of the point given below is the way goddess is addressed in the text. They are listed in the same order as given in the text.

Durga is the form of goddess that is formed from the energies of all the gods. Durga represents power of synergy. What each god could not achieve was achieved by Goddess Durga. Each of these forms as expressed needs to be looked at as a form of power.

1.       Chetna – (consciousness)

 This refers to the cognitive power that we human has. Without this cognitive power, we human would be no different from an animal. Most successful people have excellent cognitive power. Their ability to learn from what they observe and use for success is noteworthy. Learning process is dependent on the cognitive power of an individual.

2.       Budhi – (knowledge)

 Cognitive power plays a critical role in building our knowledge. Improving cognitive power helps in improving knowledge. Knowledge refers to one’s ability to understand WHY and WHAT of anything that one deals with. Knowledge as power has played many important historical changes in society. Chanakya and many others are examples from our real life.

3.       Nidraa  — (Sleep, Slumber, Sloth)

 Sleep is an important activity in maintaining our Circadian rhythm. Whether sleep can save energy or not, sleeplessness definitely drains energy.

The Sanskrit Nidraa also refers to blindness due to sleep. Many individual with higher knowledge tend to behave as nothing more is left to learn. This actually creates a layer of ignorance around them that prevents them building competency for tomorrow. They tend to ignore the obvious signals of bad times.  One has to constantly be aware of this part of individual mind and keep it under control. This requires constant calibration of one’s level of knowledge as compared to what is required.

In other word, you should know what you do not know; you should also know what you know.

4.       Kshuda – (Hunger/ Appetite)

In place of sleeping over with a feeling of having all the knowledge, one must sustain the hunger for knowledge. This is the only way to remain competent to succeed in this competitive world. Hunger has the power to drive individual to higher levels of performance. The hunger is represented as Ambitions. There is no success without ambition.

5.       Kshaya –(Shape, Shadow)

Kshaya has different meaning. It can imply Shape and it can also refer to a shadow. In any case shadow also has a shape. It represents form and substance of ourselves and also the environment that we create around us. This shape should be based on our “Knowledge” and must allow space for changes depending upon our hunger/ appetite.

 

Managers and leaders in an organisation must have the ability to learn. Prof Prahalad has spoken about the need to continuous “Unlearning” and “Learning” . Hence “Ability to Learn” is a critical skill. One has to keep up with the knowledge. Competency is a combination of Knowledge, Skill and Process Abilities. 

Competencies of yesterday are of no use today;

competencies available today are not required tomorrow and

what is required for tomorrow we are not learning.

The competency building is affected by following factors:

  • Knowing what to build
  • Hunger or appetite to learn
  • Form and content of the artefact that is being absorbed

I recollect a famous quote on knowledge

I do not know what I do not know

I know what I do not know

I know what I know

I do not know what I know

6.       Shakti – (Power, Force, Might)

 

Power, Force or Might is an outcome of knowledge and the shape (form and substance). The strength of the power is dependent on the level of knowledge (as applied and demonstrated) and also what has been created by us (forms and substance).

 7.       Trishna – (Thirst)

 Thirst is similar to Hunger in many ways. The difference is while hunger represents “ambitions” , the thirst often represents “desire for more power”. The thirst to acquire more power is common. One is expected to build the power through people (team). Attempting to do all alone may convert the “thirst” into “greed”.  One must recognise the positive power of thirst and safeguard against the potential to get overpower by greed.

 8.       Kshanti – (Patience/ Forbearance)

 The thirst for more power makes us lose patience. The scripture has identified goddess with Patience/ forgiveness and forbearance appropriately.  Since the “thirst” quenching  would require people around you to rally with you. This would also mean that everyone may not have same passion and hence the pace may not match. There would be many around you who would also commit errors. Not that we do not make errors, but the impatience makes us angry for errors by others. Tolerance for errors is key to manage variations in the outcome provided by others.

Patience was used as power by Gandhi during Freedom Struggle. Patience as virtue is now becoming extinct, as patience is often referred as lack of capability.

9.       Jaati –(genus)

In Indian philosophy jati (genus) describes any group of things that have generic characteristics in common. Sociologically, jati has come to be used universally to indicate a caste group among Hindus. The caste as a concept is much later in Hindu system. I do not want to deviate into the genesis of caste system in Hinduism.

When we start working with groups of people to attain larger successes, we would need to recognise the groups and subgroups with different levels of competencies and aspirations. One need not become part of any of the group, but one is expected to be like Lotus that can standout within dirty pond with getting affected by the dirty pond. Recognising these groups and subgroups would enable one to manage the group’s outcome in more effective and efficient way.

10.    Lajja –( shame, modesty)

We all know the meaning of Lajja as Shame, but in Sanskrit Lajja also means modesty. Both are relevant from management of success point of view. We must be ashamed if we are not able to understand and manage the groups and subgroups in an effective way.

One need to be part of all groups / subgroups from the member point of view, but at the same time one should become a member of a group. Ones modesty in the approach can help in doing this without much of a problem.

11.   Shanti – (Peace)

Life can become easier and peaceful if one has learnt to manage the team (groups/ subgroups) with modesty. Such approach converts existing team into high performing teams. The leaders of such team can actually be in peace and focus of future growth.

12.   Shraddha – (Respect)

The leader is respected on attaining the stages as mentioned above. At the same time, respecting each other and each other’s views is essential to sustain the peace. The respect may arise due to several factors, but the ones that come because of Knowledge and Wisdom is more permanent.

The actions and inactions of the Managers and Leaders contribute to their success. It is important to know when to act and when not to act. May be sometime not to act itself. A friend of mine use to talk about a TWS as a problem solving tool. Unknowingly many follow this method. TWS stands for “Time Will Solve”

Chānakya (Sanskrit: चाणक्य Cāṇakya) (c. 350–283 BCE) was an adviser (Management Consultant in today’s jargon) to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340–293 BCE). He believed in four ways—Sama, Dama, Danda, Bheda (treating with Equality, Enticement, Punishment or War and Sowing Dissension.) Each of these methods have an application and utility in managing team performance.  However, the critical aspect is to use each method at an appropriate time to get the best out of it. This method has power to give result. This energy can be productive if used constructively.

13.   Kanti – (loveliness , beauty , splendour)

The power of beauty, loveliness is known. In corporate world the brilliance of the leader attracts all necessary resources required for the business. This enables the first impression. The scripture has brought this later because the brilliance attained artificially do not last. The characters and powers mentioned before this (e,g, Respect, Peace, Modesty etc.) gives a brilliance that would be visible and would create positive  aura around one’s personality.

14.   Lakshmi – (Money)

Lakshmi represents money. Money as power needs no explanation. However, if one gets money after the previously listed virtues it will not become lead to greed. Money is possibly one of the key outcomes of all our efforts, but this scripture has affirmed that money is important but not everything.

15.   Vritti – (Waves of thoughts)

Vritti  is the state of mind (waves of thoughts) to express a variety of feelings and emotions. Vritties are result of past actions and experiences that have left an imprint on the mind. This is closer to the reflections that one must do on whatever one has achieved from time to time. This makes one stronger and enables learning from past successes and failures. In way it is an assessment of THINGS WENT RIGHT AND THINGS WENT WRONG.

16.   Smriti – (Memory)

Memories can help one to move ahead. Good memories would motivate us. Bad memories have the power to haunt us and quiet often shake our confidence.

17.   Daya – (Forgiveness)

All our experiences relates to events in past. All events have characters. The ability to forgive the individuals who might have contributed to some of our unpleasant experiences is a powerful management tool. Forgiving actually requires more strength than to fight. AHIMSA principle is based on this fundamental.

18.   TUSHTI – (Satisfaction)

Being satisfied with what has been achieved is important. This does not mean one should not ambitious. The satisfaction at the current level is necessary to push the bar up. Satisfaction is possible only when we have retained sweat memories and erased bad recollections. Forgiving the individual who have contributed to poor experiences can also give immense satisfaction.

19.   Matri – (Mother)

Mother is creator, developer and caretaker of all entity. The manager must behave like a “mother “ to all his/her subordinates

20.   Bhranti –( Mirage)

The success is always temporary. While it is important to rejoice and celebrate but one must also remember that the Mantra for success constantly changes. One will have to keep renewing the organisation. It is important to quickly come out of celebration and start working for next level of performance/ maturity.

The organisational performance and results need to be absorbed in a positive manner. Learning from successes and failures is key to have success in succession.

The shloka from where this was written is reproduced below:

Reunion – Class of ’86

My imaginary journey for reunion began the day Thakur, Shukla and the gang made me to take charge of reunion. My experience has to begin from then. Initially I had no clue how to start. I started talking to people whom I knew or could reach out. Got ideas and thoughts — a kind of unstructured brainstorming.

Pre-Reunion

Internet and Facebook were my initial support system (they incidentally remained biggest support system). They deserve a BIG THANK for the great Reunion we had. The first thing that I fixed was Hotel. I know from my past experience, that as the date becomes nearer, the cost of the hotels go up significantly. After speaking to several hotels, I found Clarke good from several angle?

1.         It was place we had lot of memories attached. (They put a ban on unlimited deserts after a competitive evening for ice creams by Kamakkal group)

2.         The hotel was giving a package that was comprehensive. Others were only willing to do some bits of it.

3.         They were the most economical in the category.

4.         They were the only one who had access to the Palace. (The dinner at palace was a memorable experience. A royal one)

The next challenge was to also get the dates. This also went through several cycles of discussion. We all were clear that it has to happen in 2011 only. A date agreed by most was around 25th December. But the Reunion Cell in charge Prof Mukherjee said it would not be good choice for following reason:

1.         The dates coincided with BHU’s general reunion, which was a VVIP game. I was also told that availability of Director and HODs would be questionable.

2.         The institutes would have reopened only after reunion (as early dates)

3.         Messes would not be available.

Finally dates were fixed. That was necessary for me to plan other things. The biggest challenge was what to do during the three days. There was a need to optimize following expectation.

1.         Meeting all folks after a long time.

2.         Going to places where we all went during our golden years. (Not all places was possible with families around, but as much as possible)

3.         Since a good number of wives and children were expected, it was necessary to package something that would interest them as well.

4.         Use the package from hotel as much as possible. This was necessary to keep the cost low.

Thus came the program that all of us enjoyed. Those who could not make it have certainly missed something significant. Some of our folks who met/ spoke to me after the event were feeling missed once they knew how it went.

The next challenge was the budget and collection. We had a debate on whether the money should be collected per student or per member. Finally we believed that the reunion is ours and families are guest to see our old “…..MATES”, Profs, Messes, Hostels etc. We initially estimated a budget based on 80 batch mates and 125 in total.

Then started follow up for confirmation on attendance and collection. I thank to advice by our Income Tax Commissioner (Parbat Bhai) for opening a separate account. The new account actually made it little easy for me manage as my all other accounts are not in my control. I am happy with that arrangement as my requirements of money are met.

Then the discussion what can be done to Profs and institute.  It was decided to provide mementos customized for the occasion to the Profs. I proposed the idea of scholarship to needy students. I was too glad to see an acceptance to the proposal. Scholarship to needy student is too close to my heart. I would not have were I am without the help of generous people and interestingly a most of them my friends. My friends helped me without expecting anything in return throughout my life.

There are few people like Shukla, Deepak, Anshuman, Prema and few others played a key role in increasing the number of attendees. The entire journey of preparation was an experience. The management of contradictions and conflicting interests had to be tackled. Thakur and Shukla was my bouncing board on many occasion.

Suddenly an idea of t-shirts emerged. The t-shirts were made the colour was chosen based on most popular choice.

Over all it was learning experience for me. It was also enjoyable experience as I was suddenly speaking to and meeting several of my batch mates. That was the real excitement.

Reunion

Day 1

My reunion started on 28th morning, when I picked up Subramanian (Suby) of mech on the way to airport. I met him first time though we have been speaking over phone for more than 2-3 years. Mohan Gupta joined at airport. We all were traveling to Varanasi by same flight. We had a good cup of coffee. After a changeover (of flight) at Kolkata, we landed at Varanasi airport. I had been to Varanasi airport on couple of occasions around 9-10 years back. I thought our flight has landed in a wrong airport. The airport was a new one and probably the only positive change that we could notice.

The car was there to pick us up. We decided to eat something before reaching hostel. The driver was keen to take us to a hotel which was multi-cuisine. But we decided to give it a miss. We came to a small fast food joint. That happened to be a good decision. I had Roti stuffed with Sattu. It is such a great thing to have. I was having it after a long time.  I almost over ate. We reached guest house near Limbdi Hostel. The students of Reunion Cell were there to receive us. They did a good job of arranging various things for us. Particularly Karan did a good job.

The guest house was good. We got a feel of staying in hostel. Rooms were spacious. The bath was decent and the rooms had hot water facility.

I moved to hotel as I had few things to organize. We made an identity tags for all and that became a big hit. Everyone wanted it. It also helps us in connecting name to face.

It was great to see the cheers and joy of meeting folks after such a long gap. The kick of meeting was more than what the best of whiskey or Tharra can give. While all of us busy with individual talking, RK took the centre stage in his typical style. He made the evening by making each one of us introduce and have fun with current and past. The dance floor arranged actually was not used as the “musti” generated by RK was far superior to anything else. I had Rabri for the dinner. One cannot beat the Rabri of Varanasi. I have not tasted a substitute for this so far.

We had to return to guest house. But we continued our party at Guest House till about 12.30 AM.  The photos of day 1 can be found here

Day 2

Day began with a visit to the Chemical Engineering Department. Met Prof A K Verma, who is currently HOD. We met several others. We also faced an ugly situation of protest by some professors. I felt bad that senior professors (who are expected to be matured) were using our visit as occasion to raise their voice in protest to the HOD. There was some issue relating to some disciplinary action taken by HOD and the Institute. I did not want to get into merits and demerits of the case, but I knew that some of the professors who should have attended our formal reunion function would not attend.

The labs have not changed. They actually looked older. I did not get impression of any new addition. Many of the laboratories have been expanded to accommodate larger batch sizes. The library size has also increased. The maintenance of the lobby and the surrounding has definitely deteriorated.

After the visit to Department, I went to Rajputana where I spent 2 years. I was surprised to see that there were 3 in a room. The entire hostel is full of 1st year students only.  There are 110-125 students in each branch. The good part was that hostel lawn and open space was well maintained. I could also see the internet cables all over. The rooms had fans and internet access. The mess has gone through positive change. The eating space is bigger, the kitchen has become better. The cutleries are now better.

Now when I wanted to have a break, I decided to go to our popular joint Rajputana Corner. These corners have changed a lot. Now there are no benches. There are juice stalls. I had a samosa and cup of tea at Rajputana corner tea shop. Pape (Sumit) joined for the tea. He just arrived. I went to Vishveshwarayya along with him. In our time we had Momo (Mohan Gupta) who had a moped. Now many of the students have motor-bikes. We saw some of them having car as well (They are today’s Momo). The hostel now has a third floor. There are 2 students in one room in all the years. The mess has not changed much here.

It was now time for visiting Morvi. This was my first year hostel. The students had arranged a ROBOTICS show exclusively for us. The lunch was arranged at Morvi. The lunch was prepared by Maharajs of mess. Since we had this large lunch over there, we had invited all the students of Morvi hostel for the lunch. It was time for me to move to G-11 for the formal function.

It was a good exercise of getting through the red tape at BHU for getting an audio system for G-11 program.  I was shocked to see the status of the room. The chairs were dirty; the stage was in huge mess. It took some time and few hundred rupees to get the entire thing cleaned.

Finally the hall started getting filled. A good number of professors also came in. A lot of us were going to several photo sessions with their teachers. The formal function started with playing Kulgeet. Most of us sang the Kulgeet along with the lead from the recorded file. We paid respect to 2 our batch mates who passed away. Then it was time to pay respect to our teachers. I requested the kids to handover flowers to the teachers. One representative from each department came forward to share their experience. I requested to the better halves to give away mementoes to the teachers. While receiving mementoes, each of the teachers said a few words. The most satisfactory part of the event for me was presence of Shri R N Pandey. I cannot forget him and he is my model. I always use him as example in some of many training and mentoring session. Mementos were also given to the students who had played a key role in organizing the event.

On behalf of the Class of ’86, I also announced the Scholarship Scheme for needy students.

The focus shifted to the evening dinner. The professors were invited with family for the dinner. The student coordinators were also invited for the dinner. A classical dance performance was arranged for the evening. The troupe was led by Sri P.C. Hombal, who is Head of Department at BHU’s School of Performing Arts. He was supported by 2 dancers (one being his wife and the other was their student). It was a great performance. We had a few other interesting events.

  1. Sanjay Singh has made an Audio CD of his songs. The CD was released by the Director – Institute of Technology. He also sang a few lines from the CD.
  2. Fund was collected to support TECHNEX  2012.
  3. Kids performed on stage

The dinner on this day for me was primarily Litti Choka and Lavanglata. The Varanasi special.

RK has arranged a Bonfire with a music band from institute in the night at Guest House. The fun continued till late night about 1.00 AM. Many of our singer batch mates were in full form. It was very close to the experience at KP.

Photos of day 2 are  categorised as below:

  1. Lunch @ Morvi Hostel
  2. Formal Function at G-11
  3. Second Day of Reunion

Day 3

Day began with a trip to Sarnath. There were few confusions and delay in the bus, but it did not made any impact on the spirit of fun and joy. Breakfast was arranged in the lawns of main temple at Sarnath. The location was between Stupa and the Deer park. The breakfast had Varanasi touch (Puri, sabji and Jalebi). I wanted to a lot in the gap but was too tired to do anything further. Came to guesthouse and rested for some time before the evening program.

In the evening, I landed up at Assi Ghat (the starting point of our Boat ride). Six (6) boats left Assi Ghat with folks and their family members. Boats were anchored close to Dashashwamedh Ghat – the venue for the Evening Aarthy.

Seeing the aarthy was a joy of life. It is a blissful experience to see the way it is performed. We all left the place to reach Raja Ghat. The name of this ghat created enough confusion. Many drivers confused Raja Ghat with Raj Ghat. For those who might have forgotten, Raj Ghat is the last ghat in Varanasi. Raja Ghat had a Peshwa palace. We were welcome with a special aarthy. Ladies and children floated lamps in Ganges. Rajesh darak performed a ballet with a Bottle on his head on the ghat.

We went into the Palace. The welcome drink was a tea in Kulhar (the earthen cup) and a Flavoured Thandai.  Gazhal program was arranged for the evening. A local singer with a good voice has rendered several popular numbers. The ghazal was followed with dinner. A royal treat was ensured.

On way to Guest House, I landed up consuming Rabri and Milk at Pahalwan. How can the trip to BHU be over without having something at Pahalwan? At guest house our party continued till about 1.00 AM. We had fun with combinations of DIL and JAAN in hindi songs.

I had to close this party as I had to go to Vishwanath Temple at about 2.00 AM.

Day 3 photographs are at

  1. Boat Ride and Ganga Aarti
  2. Dinner at Palace

 

Day 4

I could not make any trips to temple till this day. I went to Vishwanath Temple at 2.00 AM along with Bhupesh Dinger and Family. We landed up at temple at about 2.30 AM. Security at temple was tight. Even pencils are not permitted inside the temple. We went inside temple at 3.00 AM. We were practically locked inside. The morning prayers and abhiskekam was being performed amidst chanting of Vedic mantras. I chanted as much as I could along with the Pundits in the temple. Many of those mantras were known to me by practice. What a divine sight and such peaceful darhsan of Bhole Baba. Of course there were active monkeys inside. One of them took something from Bhupesh’s tokdi of Prasad. We were let out at 4.00 AM. We went to Annapurni Temple opposite Vishwanath temple. From there we wanted to visit Durga Temple at Durga Kund and Sankat Mochan. It appeared we were too early there. So we went to Lanka and had a cup of tea and some bun jam for Bhupesh Dinger’s kids. We landed up at Sankat Mochan at about 5.00 AM. It was a great darshan as being Saturday there was special aarthy at the temple. From there we went to Durga temple at Durga Kund. After all these darshan, I got down at Vishwanath Temple in BHU campus. I spent some time inside temple. It was a longtime after which I had such a peaceful time.

After this I had  enough time to wind up the stay and plan to return. While Bhupesh and Sumit (with their families) were there with me till Kolkata, but I always had feeling of being surrounded by scores of batch mates and their family till I reached Chennai.

The memories of reunion will linger for long. I have now got into formalizing society/ trust. This would definitely keep the reunion memories alive as long as the scholarship continues.  I just wanted to put down my recollections of the reunion. I missed my room partner Dinesh (Civil). He was scheduled but he fell ill just in time. While it was a tough task for me balance between the attention that my business requires and managing reunion, but the love and affection of the bathmats and their family members made the task energetic.

 

Management Sutra – Part 3

Management Sutras – Part 3

 The scripture is divided in to several parts. They are

  •  Samadhi Pada
  • Sadhana Pada
  • Vibhuti Pada
  • Kaivalya Pada
 Meaning of few Sanskrit words used :

Sutraa means an aphorism (literally “distinction” or “definition”, from the Greek: aphorismós,  apo + horizein, “from/to bound”) is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form

Pada means foot. A derived meaning of this is also part of a book which has 4 parts (probably derived from 4 feet of a quadruped).

Samadhi means “one-pointedness, absorption”. Samadhi (समाधि samādhi, is the state of consciousness induced by complete meditation. The term’s etymology involves “sam” (together or integrated), “ā” (towards), and “dhā” (to get, to hold). Thus the result might be seen to be “to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth”.  Another possible etymological breakdown of “samādhi” is “samā” (even) and “dhi” (intellect), a state of total equilibrium (“samā”) of a detached intellect (“dhi”).

Sadhana means spiritual exertion towards an intended goal. A person undertaking such a practice is known as a sadhu or a sadhaka. The goal of sādhanā is to attain some level of spiritual realization, which can be either enlightenment, pure love of God (prema), liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (Samsara), or a particular goal such as the blessings of a deity as in the Bhakti traditions.

Vibhuti means “power” or “manifestation”. This is often representation of “Knowledge”

Kaivalya means “alone” or “liberation”. The goal of all philosophical journey is to get into the stage of liberation where you are alone.

Each part has several sutras.

  1. Samadhi Pada à 51 Sutras
  2. Sadhana Pada à 55 Sutras
  3. Vibhuti Pada à 56 Sutras
  4. Kaivalya Pada à 34 Sutras

Samadhi pada explore following points. These are

  1. What is Yoga?
  2. Un-colouring your thoughts
  3. Practice and non-attachement
  4. Types of concentration
  5. Efforts and commitments
  6. Direct route through AUM
  7. Obstacles and Solutions
  8. Stabilizing and Cleansing the mind
  9. After stabilizing the mind

Management is the process of dealing with or controlling things or people. Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives (philosophically it is liberation) using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. A manager spends a significant time in “planning to control” and “controlling”. These expressions of management is only a part of Yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Yoga Sutras from 1.1 to 1.4 defines Yoga.


atha yoga anushasanam

yogash chitta vritti nirodhah

tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam

vritti sarupyam itaratra

Translation of aforementioned Sutras

“Now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins. Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field. Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization. At other times, when one is not in Self-realization, the Seer appears to take on the form of the modifications of the mind field, taking on the identity of those thought patterns.”

Any management professional would need to realise the Management in wholesome form. The practitioner would need to modify his/her thinking space and appropriately take charge. A successful professional is one who can

  1. Regulate one’s thoughts process
  2. The decision making process
  3.  Channelize the resources and thoughts around resources
  4. Build mastery over the core areas of business
  5. Integrate divergent views and aspirations (internal as well as external)
  6. Set aside trivial
  7. Introspect through still and quiet thinking

The essence of practitioners of Yoga and / or management is “discipline”.  Disciplining one’s Mind, Words and Actions is critical to success. These three must come in an unified manner. One gets distracted due to weak mind (chitta). Weak managers have traits of being wavering in whatever they do. They would often not consistent in the thoughts and action. On the contrary successful managers realise what is important and they are able to see through the “organisational challenges” through their strength. 

In next issue we would discuss other Sutras in Samadhi Pada.

References:

1.     Yoga – Aphorism by Subramanian K N

2.     Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Interpretive Translation by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati


Management Sutra – Part 2

विज्ञानमयकोश Vigyanamaya Kosh (Intellect Layer/ Budhhi – Knowledge/ Ahankara- EGO)

A common man and a common organisation have everything that can be related to अन्नमयकोश Annamaya Kosh (Physical Layer / Physical Body) and प्राणमयकोश Pranamaya Kosh (Vitality Layer/ Pranic Body/ Life). A better person and a good organisation have elements explained within scope of मनोमयकोश Manomaya Kosh (Consciousness Layer/ Senses).

True success comes through the competencies built and developed by individuals. The knowledge often leads to EGO. Sigmund Freud has defined a structural model of the individual psyche. They consist of Id, ego and super-ego in terms of activity and interaction of mental life. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the ego is the organised, realistic part; and the super-ego plays the critical and moralising role. EGO perse may not be negative, unless the ego is used to undermine other’s knowledge and/ or capability.

An organisation needs to build a set of competencies to succeed. This creates centres of excellence in the respective area of business. 3M, GE, Google are institution that has built competency and innovation management. Such organisations thrive on creating and exploiting their core competency for the benefits of Mankind, society and finally to the organisation. Ability to establish as Knowledge Leaders ( also known as Domain or Technology leaders) is key for success of organisations that have lasted long and spread themselves beyond their initial geography.

Competency is combination of Knowledge, Skill and Process Abilities (KSA). Often we also include attributes or behavioural aspects. However KSA is demonstrated through the behaviour of an individual. For example, an individual may have strong knowledge of Problem Solving techniques and also possesses skill and Abilities to do so. However, such KSA is useful only when they get demonstrated. In fact competency is regard as demonstrated behavioural performance in an area of interest.

The competency levels can be described in simplest form as Novice, Proficient, Expert and Master. If loosely compared with Freud’s Model, it may look as below:

Sigmund Freud’s Model

Competency Level

Id Proficient
Ego Expert
Super Ego Master

EGO of an organisation can be dangerous if they fail to appreciate and understand the competitors strength. What we call as EGO TRIP is common among organisation who tend to ignore competitor’s strength. This behaviour can be explained as Ostrich Management. Like Ostrich organisation is so deep inot its strength that it ignores the threat from competencies growth in competitors organisation (potential threat).

आनंदमयकोश Anandmaya Kosh (Blissful Layer / Ultimate Joy)

This is the final outcome that we all strive for. Be it philosophical need or materialistic need, the ultimate goal is same. This is common to both individuals as well as organisation. The life span of this stage is often short. Sustenance of this stage is rare and calls for excellence in every aspect of business organisation or individuals.

Yoga is all about planning, controlling and improving our body system at all stages.

About Maharishi Pathanjali

Before moving into the Patanjalis’ Yogasutra and its interpretation for Management Science, a few words about Maharishi Patanjali himself.

A traditional prayer often chanted to remember Patanjali is

Yogena cittasya padena vacam
Malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
Yo pakarottam pravaram muninam
Patanjalim pranjaliranato smi

I am a deep bow with hands folded to Patanjali,
The most excellent of sages, who removed
Impurity of consciousness through yoga
Impurity of speech through word (grammar) and
Impurity of the body through medicine (Ayurveda).

Maharishi Patanjali, believed to have lived sometime between 500 and 200 B.C. The life of Maharishi Patanjali is an enigma to modern historians. It is only with the help of legends that one can draw inferences about him. Maharishi Patanjali, universally accepted as “father of yoga,” codified his thoughts and knowledge of yoga in “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.” This compilation of 195 sutras is considered to be a blueprint for living an ideal life and also incorporating the science of yoga into one’s life.

He is also the author of the Mahabhasya, a major commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi. 

According to one legend, Maharishi Patanjali was the avatar of Adi Shesha the Cosmic Serpent upon whom Lord Vishnu rests. While watching a dance by Lord Shiva, Adi Shesha found it unbearable to support the weight of Lord Vishnu. Amazed at this, he asked Lord Vishnu the reason for the same. Lord Vishnu said that this was because of his harmony with Lord Shiva’s energy state, owing to the practice of Yoga. Realizing the value and benefits of Yoga, Adi Shesha wished to be born amongst humans, to teach them the great art.

In another popular legend, Patañjali was born to Atri (First of the Saptha Rishis) and his wife Anasuya (this would make him go back to the time of the creation by Brahma). According to this tradition, Anasuya had to go through a stern test of her chastity when the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) themselves came as Bhikshuks and asked her for Bhiksha. She passed their test by accepting them as her children and fed them. She got the boon where all the three Murtis will be born to them. They were SomaSkandan or Patañjali, Dattatreya, and Durvasa.


According to another legend, he fell (pata) into the hands of a woman, as an offering (anjali), thus giving him the name Patanjali. Maharishi Patanjali’s Jeeva Samadhi is within the precincts of Sri Brahmapureeswarar Temple, near Trichy in Tamilnadu, India. (visit http://www.brahmatemple.org/brahma_YogiPatanjali.htm

A stamp on him was released by Government of India is 2009


We will explore the Sutras from next issue onward.


Management Sutras Part 1

अन्नमयकोश Annamaya Kosh (Physical Layer / Physical Body) is related to the basic and physical entities of any Business Organisation. The physical aspects of organisation (namely Men, Machine and Material) by itself cannot create products and services as required by the customers. It is difficult to imagine our body as a shape, which is made up of material alone.

प्राणमयकोश Pranamaya Kosh (Vitality Layer/ Pranic Body/ Life)

The प्राणमयकोश Pranamaya Kosh (Vitality Layer/ Pranic Body/ Life) takes the physical system to a functional system.

The body requires certain vital system to be called as living organism. Existence and continuity of life depends upon Respiratory System and Blood Circulation System. While there are several other systems that support our body, these two are vital. For example, failure to digestive takes longer time for the life to come to an end; Reproductive system’s absence has no impact in ones’ life. We know from our current day’s knowledge of science that you can keep the hope of a patient recovering as long as you can ensure blood is circulated and respiratory functions are on. One of basic understanding of these two system tells us that they are together responsible

  • To provide positive energy which is vital for all organs to carry out their task/ function.
  • To remove negative energy which can choke the functions of organs.

The ABC concept in First Aid guides to check and focus on Airway, Breathing and Circulation aspects in any victim. If these are taken care during golden hour of medical emergency, the life can always be saved.

In any organisation, these vital parts can be equated to “Process or FLOW” that enables use of the physical resources. The processes within the system are necessary. Non adherence to process flow leads to scenarios of Medical Emergency in the organisation. While organisations may have generic or unique processes, they cannot survive in absence of a process (formal or informal).

“Process Flow in Organisation is what ABC is in First Aid”

मनोमयकोश Manomaya Kosh (Consciousness Layer/ Senses)

Medical science has established over a period of time that the Central Nervous System (CNS) is possibly most important to make our life meaningful. Even though the functioning of the CNS requires the same ABC, the direction to the organs and its function is controlled by the Nervous System. The key components of CNS are Brain and Spinal Chord. Through which the entire body system and organ is managed and controlled. It is CNS that enables us to use our senses.

The brain has three levels of consciousness.

  • Conscious
  • Unconscious
  • Subconscious

Business Organisation requires similar system to enable the Processes and Resource to give desired outputs. The Policy and Goals drive the organisations resources to do what the Think Tank within organisation wants the organisation to achieve. The think tank (brain equivalent of organisation) decides what need to achieved. Policies and Goal are defined and drilled through a chain of systems and processes to each part (organs) of the organisation. The alignment of the goals of each part with the larger picture is critical to success. Absence of that leads to organisational problems similar to Psycho-Motor disorders in Human System.

Like our Brain the Think Tank of Organisation is available at different levels. Think tank works on to create

  • Vision/ Mission
  • Strategy
  • Values System

Excellent organisation need to provide support and maintain प्राणमयकोश Pranamaya Kosh (Vitality Layer/ Pranic Body/ Life) and मनोमयकोशManomaya Kosh (Consciousness Layer/ Senses) in good shape all the time.

I will continue with other Koshas in next issue.

Management Sutras – Preamble

Management Sutra – Preamble

Human race has always led a life that required efforts in Managing the environment in which he lived. Though all other living system has its own mechanism to manage its environment, mankind was unique in many ways.  The word environment is used here in much larger context. Human was probably the most expressive and thoughtful product of nature. The method of expression and language used may have changed over a period of time. The essence have remain by and large same.

I am personally a curious reader of this such literatures as close to its original form as possible. I attempt to seek relevance of the Practices explained in the books of History and Religion including Mythology in current context. While many may ridicule the mythology or may look at them only a passion of “devouts”, I see them as a way of communicating “Best Practices”.

I intend to share some insights, through these books of past, on current days Management Practices and Concepts. Some may even label it as Old Wine in New Bottle. I cannot disagree with them. That is why the Old Wine are precious and we should not loose them in oblivion of disbelief or modernism.

In the current series I have chosen Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. This is a Hindu Scripture and foundation of Yoga. It forms part of Sutra literature dating to India’s Mauryan period. This period also gave us famous Kautilya Shastra which is even today a reference book on Management and Economy. 


Yoga is defined (as sourced from web)
  1. A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation
  2. Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity that is achieved through the three paths of actions and knowledge and devotion
  3. A system of exercises practiced as part of the Hindu discipline to promote control of the body and mind
  4. Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli) refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Wikipedia link on Yoga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga) describes it further as below:

Major branches of yoga in Hindu philosophy include Rāja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Yoga based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, comprises one of the six main Hindu schools of philosophy (darshanas), together with Kapila’s Samkhya, Gautama’s Nyaya, Kanada’s Vaisheshika, Jaimini’s Purva Mimamsa, and Badarayana’s Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta. Many other Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.

The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings and is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” meaning “to control,” “to yoke” or “to unite.”  Translations include “joining,” “uniting,” “union,” “conjunction,” and “means.”

The word yoga may also derive from the root “yujir samadhau,” which means “contemplation” or “absorption”.

The attempt to define the term Yoga is more to do with the market of Yoga as mean to gain control over mind and body. In the process, the strength of Yoga in wholesome is lost. Yoga has become a Packaged Product like any other Premium FMCG product in the market. Like any other product and services, it attempts to capture the attention through something that is Sulabha (easy). The wholistic approach of Yoga is explained in Patanjali Yoga Sutras and several other texts.

Our body system is made up of a system called panchakosha पंचकोश, which literally means – five layers of existence; Kosh means layers of existence.

The existence of human beings has been described having five layers (Tattiriyopanishad). This is the primary Upanishad for Krishna Yajurveda. The five koshas are –

अन्नमयकोश Annamaya Kosh (Physical Layer / Physical Body)

प्राणमयकोश Pranamaya Kosh (Vitality Layer/ Pranic Body/ Life)

मनोमयकोश Manomaya Kosh (Consciousness Layer/ Senses)

विज्ञानमयकोश Vigyanamaya Kosh (Intellect Layer/ Budhhi – Knowledge/ Ahankara- EGO)

आनंदमयकोश Anandmaya Kosh (Blissful Layer / Ultimate Joy)

The existence of a business organisation can be depicted as below:

The outer layer represents the अन्नमयकोश Annamaya Kosh. They are physical in nature. They decay. They change. They get revived, renewed, lost, discovered etc. Most organisations that have lived long enough would realise that their products & services have gone through changes in form and content through the period. Some of these changes may be driven by external or internal needs. The new Body makes way for new Body. Windows and Apple made DOS based system redundant. The market segment undergoes change. Rural Market that was once considered “Not”worth has become “Note”worthy for most marketing professionals.

अन्नमयकोश Annamaya Kosh from organisation perspective can be shown physically in form of Men, Machineries, Materials in various forms, Infrastructures. Each of these undergoes change over period of time. Let us look at the change that has happened to each of them. These changes made the science and art of management challenging.

Men

Men (here indicated workforce without any bias to a specific gender) has undergone significant change in its intellect (Knowledge), ability to perform (Skill) and behaviour (Attributes).

At a basic level we correlate knowledge to education level (though that may not be always true). One cannot fail to notice the increase in number of qualified people in almost every field. If one want to ignore the qualification, the understanding and vastness in knowledge that the next generation demonstrates is far from imagination. While the early men were also good at reasoning and thinking, which is the base for “knowledge”, the number of such people has increased.

“Ability to Perform” refers to one’s ability to do or perform a task. The advancement in technology has enabled even ordinary people to perform extraordinary both in terms of quality and quantity. In today’s job market if an organisation wants a hire an accountant who may not know how to use accounting software is next to impossible. Stephen Hawking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking) is an example of how technology can enable people to achieve feats that are unimaginable earlier. With advancement in office automation, the role of secretaries is disappearing.

Behaviour (Attribute) of job seekers and Job providers has also changed. Job Seekers are more open to path less travelled. Job Providers are now moving from industry specific experience to generic skill background. The traditional employment process driven by “apprenticeship” associated individuals to an industry or trade. A “papermaker” was “papermaker” for life. Today people migration from one industry to another and one function to another function is order of the day.

Machineries

Machineries have changed that way home or factory used to operate. They have influenced people’s ability to work. Many have become obsolete. For example it extremely difficult to locate a convention printing press. It is not possible for one to now use statistical machines that were used in colleges earlier for large scale computing.

Material

Material in almost all area have either already become rare or on the verge of becoming one. The conservation of material is the key. Most struggles between countries today can be traced to a desire to gain control over Material.

Infrastructures

The change in infrastructure need not be highlighted. Almost every form of infrastructure has undergone change since mankind discovered wheel. Thinking Global and Acting Local is feasible only because of reduction in the geographical boundaries.

I will continue with other Koshas in next issue.