Management Talk: Small things, big lessons from India

There would be a zillion articles on India, ranging from economic scenario, religion, political heat maps, diversity, agricultural independence (to a large extent), rail network, focus on infrastructure, digital and IT boom, and so on and so forth. There are several areas (largely including the ones stated above) one could be proud of especially the significant development that our country has made over the years. There are areas to lament as well, there is poverty, red-tapism, corruption to nam

20 Jun 2016 | By Suresh Ramakrishnan

My idea would be to pick some nuances through observations that are largely India-centric but teach some important management lessons.

The queue that demands infinite patience: Some of our renowned temples are examples of this. Call it reverence or respect or blind faith, the orderly wait sometimes running to a whole day just to get a glimpse of the lord is a revelation of sorts. While this may be defined as penance, the aspect that a wait such as this demands a strong will and positive attitude isn’t lost on anyone. Religious goals may be seen as not following normal order at times (like people in rural areas and small towns walking over hot charcoal is insane to say the least), but there is a streak of the wait and pain leading to good results is a belief that keeps such things going.

In management too, the aspect of patience, positive attitude and sacrifice / pain helps reach a goal. Not failure or success determines a career. It is the road filled with toil and learning that gets you there.

The taste of food changes every 100 km: Literally so. The taste, method of preparation, recipe change every 100 km in India. Some of the preparations have assumed iconic status - Kholapuri or Amritsari or Chettinad have a huge fan following. The culinary delights are usually one of the highlights of a travel expedition across India. This in a way defines the fabric of India and most of us seamlessly blend into it as we move around.

In management, we have to season ourselves that situations change at every corner and it is the level of our adaptability and how much pain and effort we take in blending into situations that determines our progress. If we believe that every twist and turn helps us learn, chances are we will race towards our goal is high.

Infinite travel options and generally affordable: You find a palanquin like option in Matheran (Maharashtra) and horses as well. You find hand-pulled rickshaws in Kolkata, cycle rickshaws in many towns, some are motorised too, autorickshaws in almost all cities, small tempos in larger towns and of course public transport from local trains to buses, taxis, etc. Some tiny vans and buses in rural India are packed to the brim but the smile on faces never fades.

In management , to the one who works - learns - fails - learns - succeeds - learns has possibly found a link in everything that comes one’s way. To reach a destination the size or importance or value of a link doesn't matter. Maturity is in finding/ realizing value in every step. The value may come from an idea from the junior-most colleague, the value may come out of a frugal angle that we may have never paid attention to, the value may come from an experience or analogy that may appear tiny in nature but may actually break a million dollar deadlock.

Small size, great value: There are products available in sachets of 10 ml or 5 ml each (shampoos and oils). You can go to your neighborhood kirana store and buy essential items for just Rs 2, generally given wrapped in newspaper. You can buy half a cup tea at roadside tea stalls and savor a toffee or candy for as little as 10 paise per unit. You do not deny the product to anyone but allow everyone to savor the value of the product at a an affordable price point. You don’t have to go to a theme park to enjoy rides, the rides in small forms come to your door step.

In management they say, tiny steps towards growth usually leads to sustained and greater satisfaction. A rise or success need not be a leap all the time. No wonder several management gurus preach - learn to enjoy and value small success, they pave the path for greater ones.

There are far too many things that one can draw a lesson. I have tried to relate some things that are unique to India and it helps us see life a little differently.

Suresh Ramakrishnan is the publisher at Haymarket Media (India)