Managerial Effectivenes-A Holistic View from The Bhagavad Gita

(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. 

Western Influence
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.

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