(This essay originally appeared in the December, 2002 issue of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams’ illustrated monthly ‘Sapthagiri’ which is now revised.)
|“0 Partha, there is nothing in the three worlds that has to be done by Me, nor anything|
unattained that has to be attained, yet I engage in action”. - Bhagavan Sri Krishna -Bhagavad Gita [3.22]
In any work situation, be it at home, office, factory, Government, or any other organization where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose, management principles come into play through their various facets like management of time, resources, personnel, materials, machinery, finance, planning, priorities, policies and practices.
Management is thus an orderly conduct of activities in any field of human endeavor. It is about keeping oneself engaged in interactive relationship with other human beings in the course of performing one’s duty. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant and build up a team spirit - says the Management Guru Peter Drucker.
An effective Management strikes harmony in working - equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcities be they in the physical, technical or human fields through better allocation and utilization processes. The negation of management is disorder, confusion, wastage, detention, delay, decadence and destruction.
Management presupposes the existence of man – the watchword is “no man, no management”. Man is the first syllable in management which speaks volumes on the role and significance of man in a scheme of management practices. From the pre-historic days of aborigines to the present day of robots and computers the ideas of managing available resources have been in existence in some form or other. When the world has become a big global village, management practices have become more universal as also more complex. Thus Management is a process in search of excellence, to align people and get them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit.
Effectiveness and Efficiency
The important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in management is that Effectiveness is doing the right things while Efficiency is doing things right. Though there are varied types of business organizations, the general principles of effective management apply to almost all of them - the differences being mainly in the application than in principles. Again, effective management is not limited in its application only to business or industrial enterprises but to all organizations where the aim is to reach a given goal through a Chief Executive or a Manager with the help of a group of workers.
The Manager’s functions are now widely known and do not require repetition. The critical question in every Manager’s mind is how to be effective in his job. The reason is that unless the Manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness that sets him apart from the others whom he is managing, he will be merely a face in the crowd and not an achiever.
The modern management concepts like vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, meaning of work, attitude towards work, nature of individual, decision making, planning etc., are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita with a sharp insight and finest analysis.
The ideas contained in the Bhagavad Gita tackle the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking because once the basic thinking of man is improved it will automatically enhance the quality of his actions and their results.
The management thoughts prevailing in our country generally originate from the West. They are based mostly on the lure for a perennial profit irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal. The result is while huge funds have been invested in building temples of modem management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement of the quality of attitude towards work although the standard of living of a few has gone up. The result is that the same old struggles and conflicts in almost all sectors have taken deep roots in the body politic.
The western idea of management has placed utmost reliance on the worker (which includes Managers also) - to make him more efficient, to increase his productivity. They pay him more so that he may work more, produce more, sell more and will stick to the organization without looking for alternatives. The sole aim of extracting better and more work from him is for improving the bottom-line of the enterprise. Worker became a hirable commodity, which can be used, replaced and discarded at will.
The workers have also seen through the game plan of their paymasters who have reduced them to the state of a mercantile product. They changed their attitude to work and started adopting such measures as uncalled for strikes, Bandhs, Dharnas etc. to get maximum benefit for themselves from the organizations. The victim is always the society at large.
Therefore, in a situation where management and workers have become separate and contradictory entities their approaches are different and interests conflicting. There is no common goal or understanding which predictably leads to constant mutual suspicion, friction, disillusion and mistrust because the entire set up works at cross purposes. The absence of a common goal, human values and the erosion of human touch in the organizational structure results in a permanent crisis of confidence.
While these management thoughts have brought prosperity for some time it has absolutely failed in their aim to ensure betterment of individual life and social welfare. It has by and large remained a soulless management edifice amongst an oasis of plenty for a chosen few and poor quality of life for others. Hence, there is an urgent need to have a re-look at the prevalent management discipline on its objectives, scope and content. It should be redefined so as to underline the development of the worker as a man, as a human being with all his positive and negative characteristics and not as a mere wage-earner. In this changed perspective, management ceases to be a career-provider but becomes an instrument in the process of national welfare – loka sangraha.