A tibetan flavor to management

Whenever I heard L Subramaniam’s “Live in Moscow” album, I always wondered why a man would shout right in a concert (towards the epilogue of course)! And today, when I was myself forced to withhold that temptation, I understood. In an extremely intellectual exercise, imagine somebody making you lose the conscious of your ambience. You are so excited that in the joy of touching that nadir, you need a physical expression, one that cares the least for who or what is around you. The sense of all human decency is forsaken.


With the influence all “culture” developed hard over so many years now gone, your crude reflexes take over, automatically triggering the animal instinct of shouting to express that pleasure. I am no psychiatrist to give a certified statement on this. But, I write with the authority of having experienced that first hand. And the context is Saral da’s class.

It was going to be a three-hour marathon. The first hour dedicated to a case on Windmills in Western India and the next to be focussed on the operations of the Boeing while manufacturing the 767s. As the first class completed, there was enlightenment (in the prof’s own words) about balancing “fool”ishness with the wisdom of balancing your organisation’s strengths against the weaknesses. People were presenting their case with elan and confidence, something that would be ruthlessly shattered. It was a different matter that the act of shattering the confidence was quite welcome to everybody. And then there was an unwelcome break. This actually was a break to the super Mach speed the class was going with, alas!.

The fun started immediately after the break. When the guru jotted down the following  verse:

As we stand at the edge of darkness, let our chant fill the void so people would know that in the land of darkness the chariot of Sun is drawn by the grateful dead”

After considerable deliberation, I gave up my efforts to understand the verse and its relevance to the context. I let nature take its own path to enlightenment.

The second hour and a half kicked off, even as I gave up understanding the verse. We started with the discussion on the  Boeing 767 dilemma (it is sufficient to state a dilemma here, given the objective of this write-up). A new animal was introduced. Nature spares none. Not even the PGPX students attending prof Saral’s classes. The guru then showed us how a tortoise’s mechanism to look within at times of crisis is its huge asset. Boeing was no different. For that matter, IBM in my view was similar too (Who says elephants cannot dance). Except that IBM’s resurrection came from energy within.

The class then discoursed into focusing on company strengths while flexing its muscle to face consequences of not having the other strengths. In a way, what we were learning is the way organisations balance their strategy against risks, how risk portfolios are identified and handled et al. And now comes the biggest blow… the prof turns back to the board, starts reading the above verse and our eyes followed his voice until  sudden change. The word darkness was replaced by business. Even as we were trying to grapple with the change, the second thud comes: Sun replaced by strategy.

Prof Saral Mukhurjee drove the last nail into the coffin after replacing the “dead” with “fools”. The pun here is intended. The mind game that went on so far left us physically dead. It was just mental existence. To reiterate what the prof read out, here we go:

As we stand at the edge of business, let our chant fill the void so people would know that in the land of business the chariot of Strategy is drawn by the grateful fools”

May I sum this up: whoever comes to IIMA is a fool. The GMAT proves you numerically otherwise. But having had about three weeks of mind-boggling experiences at this wonderful place of learning, are we to be fooled by GMAT? No, we are fools, after all. IF that is what it takes to attend Saral da’s classes, so be it. I shall remain a fool for life.

P.S: The prof said that the verse is from the Egyptian Book of the dead. Google bhagwan says otherwise.

Image courtesy: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/imagenes_mistic/bardo_thodol.gif 

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