We attend numerous meetings to figure out a vision/ mission statement for the organisation we work. Have we ever thought what is our personal vision?
Feeling proud to announce that my book The Gita Way is due for release by end of this month. Soon it will be available on Amazon for pre-order. Will update again the relevant link once it is released.
The Gita Way is an irreligious take on the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita. Without delving into either mythological or God-centric discourse, the book attempts to understand and explain various insights from the Gita through, in the author’s words, derived theory and application. The Gita Way attempts to shed light on matters of self-realisation, and identifying and following the path to achieve the purpose of life.
Within the framework of Vedic philosophy represented by Gita, this book explores:
- How to discover the swa-bhava, the inherent natural strength of our real-self?
- Is my profession aligned with my swa-bhava? What is my purpose of life?
- What is the real meaning of moksha, the liberation? How the realization of individual purpose leads us to attain supreme purpose we are born to achieve?
Using the principles of Gita, this book presents innovative findings on theory of prarabdha, the luck or destiny, role of knowledge and karma, continuous improvement, yoga of universal harmony and yoga of devotion. To highlight few, in chapter combined discipline of knowledge and karma, we introduce most important part of their research -centring. Centring summarizes power of combined application of yoga of knowledge and karma along with simplified theory of spirit and supreme spirit. Chapter Vision of Universal Form and Yoga of Liberation simplifies the meaning of moksha, the state of liberation by linking it to the attainment of the supreme purpose of life. Chapters on Yoga of Devotion and Continuous improvement focus on recipe of staying on the unique path of achieving individual goal.
Unlike other books on Bhagavad Gita, The Gita Way is not a chapter wise discourse. Instead it presents deduced concepts in first place supported with relevant reference from the whole Gita. For example, in the first chapter of the Gita Way, you may get a reference of last chapter of Gita relevant to the topic of discussion.
Barbarika was woefully shocked to see the impact war has created. Perhaps he regretted why he wished to participate in such duel between two of the biggest armies of the ancient civilisation. Battlefield becomes the biggest loser in any war and it was evident there. The head of Barbarika with its flesh and cells was still active and witnessing the war nearing its conclusion.
Sage Vyasa was on the rescue operation, saving spirits still intact and ensuring a smooth departure of those who could not hold the body of soldiers died fighting heroically. The majority of soldiers who died would be forgotten. Those who survived would take years to heal. They, from both sides, unconditionally fought for their leaders, for the crown of Hastinapur, ignorant to the gain from victoriousness. Barbarika’s peculiar wish was about to end. He had witnessed enough of the war with his living head, without the body, remained after his own sacrifice. He might be appraising sage’s effort post-war, but would probably regret watching these all.
Before Barbarika’s liberation, sage Vyasa approached him and asked “your special boon granted by Krishna is about to over now. We thank you for keeping your pain intact and being alive in last eighteen days. However, before your salvation, we would like to hear from you about the war, about the hero of the war, about all you witnessed”
“I am grateful that lord Krishna granted me such a wish” Barbarika replied ” however, had I know the damage this war created, I would have wished otherwise” Barbarika took a deep breath, slowly blinking his eyes and continued “In the beginning I was thrilled to be part of this war, I wanted to show my strength and the art I learned in so many years. I never thought of the cause of war, or even the outcome, the gains and the pains. The only thing was there in my mind was the duty of a warrior. However, after witnessing the great war, I am thankful that Krishna had given me an opportunity to sacrifice myself and not being part of this loathful conflict”
Barbarika looked into the eyes of Sage Vyasa, who seemed not surprised by Barbarika’s comments as if he knew the inevitable pains of post-war damages. “Just before the war I saw humans standing on the battlefield, some of them are with purpose, ready to fight for a cause. Some of them were just following their respective leaders ignorant to both cause and gain of winning the war. Some were warriors, well prepared, looked like they are born for this day. Some looked like they know everything, the cause, righteousness and amiss, still taken one side” Barabarika said with a satirical smile and continued.
“Just as the war began I saw an illumination equivalent to thousand suns in the center. I felt the unbearable heat of that energy, and it was difficult to glaze over it. I noticed thousands of arms emerging out of that energy releasing Sudarshan Chakra in all directions. Then I witnessed ‘Kali’ roaming around collecting beheaded heads all over the field”
Barkarika took a pause and concluded “I saw only two persons in the field- Krishna with Sudarshana Chakra and Kali with hunger to decimate everything”
” Now I am ready to leave for salvation” said Barbarika ” But before that can I ask you a question Maharishi?”
Sage Vyasa nodded the permission. Barbarika asked, “Would Pandavas be happy after winning this war?”
Vyasa smiled and replied ” You know the answer my dear invincible Barbarika. You saw Krishna and Kali everywhere, that is the destiny. Pandavas followed Krishna in the war not for happiness. They fought to establish Dharma for righteousness”
Barbarika was now ready to depart from his deteriorating remains of the body, he took a deep breath probably the last one.
I came across an interesting article in HBR where authors define wallet allocation rule. I always felt that understanding real share of wallet is a complex phenomenon as each product fights not only with various brands within its segment but also with various other product categories, which share the money available in a consumer wallet. Authors in the article “Customer Loyalty Isn’t Enough Grow Your Share of Wallet” simplify share of wallet in following formula:
Share of Wallet= (1-Rank/ (Number of Brands+1)) x (2/Number of Brands)
This formula is a simple allocation of wallet based on perceived ranking of various brands in consideration. This also shows a significant variation in share of wallet among brands with different rankings. For example, suppose we are interested to know share of wallet in a category where there are only two brands. In such a case brand with high ranking will have 67% of share of wallet. Another intriguing point is that the perceived rankings may or may not be in-line with the actual market share.
To make real use of share of wallet rule, let us try to understand the allocation of consumer money at every stage of decision making before final selection. Share of wallet is a zero sum game. And hence competition starts at product category itself. To understand this let us take one example from building material industry. Suppose a customer in interested in renovating his home with fixed budget and suppose this budget is to be utilised between renovating and decorating wall and floor only. Though share of wallet is a zero sum game, here the customer would choose both but may allocate different share of her budget. Let us also assume that a ceramic tile brand A is interested to define its strategy based on share of wallet analysis.
Level 1: The first fight is at much broader level i.e between wall and floor. Based on the perceived ranking of consumer between two, her initial budget would be allocated. Customer’s actual preference would define actual perceived ranking of wall and floor. For example a customer focusing on beautification would rank wall high. In such case various brands of decorative paints, wall paper etc would have an opportunity to sell their premium products. For ceramic tile brand A, this level is less in control. However, with established innovative products focusing both functionality and beauty, brand A would stand a chance. Still this level is more driven by whole category. Let’s take perceived ranking of floor as a broad category is 2nd. For floor Share of wallet of customer’s initial budget would be 33%.
Level 2: Now the budget of floor can be shared between various flooring options, again at category level. Let’s assume only three flooring options are available, say wooden floors, marbles and ceramic tiles. Once again the perceived ranking would depend on consumer preferences on functionality, look feel and other recommendations available to her. Let’s assume that the perceived ranking for ceramic tile in this case in 1st. Share of ceramic tile as a category at this level would be 50%. This is 16.5% (33% of level 1 x 50% of level 2) of customer’s initial budget.
Level 3: Once the flooring option is zeroed down to ceramic, the fight would start between various ceramic brands. Let us assume there are 7 brands available in this example and perceived ranking of brand A is 2nd. Share of wallet of brand A at this level would be 21%. This is 3.5% of customer’s initial budget defined in level 3 (33% in level 1 x 50% in level 2 x 21% in level 3). Perceived ranking at this level would be primarily based on overall brand performance, quality perceptions, customer experiences, overall word of mouth etc.
There are interesting inferences of above analysis:
1. Let us take if brand A improves its perceived ranking in level 3, its share of wallet would increase from 21% to 25% only (a typical case where number of brands in a particular industry segment are significant). However for other brand in lower rankings this would be significant.
2. To get a bigger pie of the initial budget ranking must improve in level 1 and level 2. Since this is in the interest of whole industry, all players jointly must build perception for the category itself. We see example like promotion of milk, gold etc by common associations focusing on bigger pie; milk positioning for health drink and gold for investment.
3. Investment in creating no. 1 brand choice will pay off in all future share of wallet. This incentive is much high for brands with lower ranks.
The above example is simulated for limited categories and limited brands. In real terms fighting for share is with all products consumer is willing to invest. It would be a wise decision to decide the level and make strategy accordingly. To address a fair future share of wallet, companies must devise product and brand strategies at least to a level where threat of substitute exists.
In the context of communicating strategy to employees and other stake holders, I believe that the best method is to make organisation strategy absolutely transparent to all employees and stake holders. Some people may argue that a select group should drive strategy and transfer same in the form of activities down the line. Though advantages and disadvantages of both of these methods can be debated for long, I would like to present my point of view in favor of making strategy transparent. In fact in my views making strategy transparent is a kind of strategy in itself.
To make a strategy transparent needs a lot of courage and conviction. And this starts from conviction in the strategy itself. Is my strategy a real differentiator? Are our products, services or offerings differentiated enough to attract target audience? Is my workforce capable enough to implement and deliver the outcome of my strategy? If I have to make my strategy known to everyone, I would have to compel myself first to answer above questions. The advantage is the outcome; my strategy would address real capability of organisation to deliver, my strategy would address the desired solution my product or service going to deliver to the target audience, my strategy would be guiding principle for HR managers and functional heads to build capabilities of work force exactly in line with the strategy. Most important the outcome this method results in is ‘a single focused strategy’ for the organisation
However, it would not be a secret for the world outside organisation to know about such transparent plans. Very soon competitors would discover this and could react in advance. My argument is; is it a real risk? In fact this could work in our favor The competitions, if react, along with addressing their capabilities, have to alter their original strategy. Finally it would result in modification or change in organisational strengths, products, services etc. In most of the cases it would end up in multiple strategies focusing excessively on competition which is a definite recipe for disaster. A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin mention six common strategic errors in “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, Harvard Business Review Press”
1. There is the Do-It-All strategy, shorthand for failing to make real choices about priorities.
2. The Don Quixote strategy unwisely attacks the company’s strongest competitor first.
3. The Waterloo strategy pursues war on too many fronts at once.
4. The Something-For-Everyone tries to capture every sort of customer at once, rather than prioritizing.
5. The Programme-Of-The-Month eschews distinctiveness for whatever strategy is currently fashionable in an industry.
6. The Dreams-That-Never-Come-True strategy never translates ambitious mission statements into clear choices about which markets to compete in and how to win in them.
In one of the survey by Booz and Company more than two third of executives who responded to the survey from various companies agreed that their biggest frustration is ‘having too many conflicting priorities’ (As published in HBR blog “Making your strategy more relevant” by by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi). It seems more relevant to have focused transparent strategy, but it is not easy. In a competitive environment the easiest strategy is to play safe and in such situation most of the companies end up working on multiple strategies.
Michael Porter explaining his five forces model in one of the interviews says competitive rivalry is not a zero sum game. Everyone in an industry can work on product and services to create a differentiated value and collectively can increase the pie in the first place. Still there would be a fair competition. However, customers would have an option to choose between products based on their merits and not merely based on competitive pricing. This would uplift industry profitability. And that is the biggest incentive for investment in research and development. A win- win recipe for both the consumer and company.
The roads on which I learned to run bicycle in my childhood are weathered now and they greeted me with their ugly faces, quite different from what I saved in my childhood memories. Last year when I had a small visit to my birth place, small colony of manufacturing unit of fertilizer corporation of India, Gorakhpur, I saw a deteriorating life in things and places around the unit which is struggling for its existence for around sixteen years after its decommissioning.
The school where I completed my primary and secondary education is still running. Later after closure of plant, it was converted to ‘kendriya vidyalaya’ and now most of the students come here from outside the colony. During my childhood it was mainly dedicated for the children of people working in the unit. The small temple is still there, perhaps maintained by some religious funding. I do not remember the priest there twenty years ago, but now when I saw the present one looked as if he is the same, over sixty years of age now, doing all rituals in same way from early morning to late evening. The temple, though lost its liveliness of morning prayers to evening aarti, God is still there, in right spirit in those idols, unchanged. Everything else there is definitely aged. Big playgrounds where we used to fight for place to play in center, is full of weeds and untrimmed wild grass. Local market has become smaller now, only with some grocery shops and a stationery shop, just to serve the people living and maintaining remains of the place there.
Fertilizer corporation of India started this unit in 1969 and this place flourished for around two and half decades when obsolescence of technology, fiscal losses coupled with several labor issues forced the government to shut down the unit in 1990. I wonder whether a fair voluntary retirement scheme could ever have compensated labor and technicians for the quality of life they had for them and their children with subsidized education and healthcare.
There was no surprise that the world outside boundaries of the corporation has moved a lot ahead. But the word inside those boundaries looked as if someone lost his glory and waiting for some one in his aged old days for support. This place has lived its time line on infinite yesterdays and infinite tomorrows to come. The part of time line has moved and lost. Time is like energy, if it’s with you life is with you; if it goes, it takes everything. Lets hope that time would return with life and energy intact in the form of some divestment by government or some take over by some or something else…
Some more analysis in continuation from “When Duryodhana Wept..”
Theory of human tendency to own a private property in which exchange happens only with something of equal value could be useful to explain Duryodhana’s possessiveness for kingdom of Hastinapur. Though we can debate pros and cons of ‘private property’ concept, we would agree that it is the concept which drove human to acquire new things which resulted in formation of society. From Duryodhana’s point of view, that point in time Hastinapur belonged to him and so, even a small part of it could not be exchanged for free. Was something wrong in such assumptions?
The other part of this discussion is more related with what is right or wrong. But who would decide? That period was lucky to have Lord Krishna, a symbol of the highest intellect however, the same period also had people like Bhishma and Dronacharya with unquestionable intellect, who choosed to fight from Hastinapur side without questioning right or wrong.
The Romans first made a distinction between rights in persons and rights in things. We acknowledge this in today’s world. Was the kingdom of Hastinapur having the rights to choose its king? Whom the kingdom would have chosen for the throne? Would that decision had been on patriarchal hierarchy, existing occupier, eligibility to hold the place or something else. In such case which side lord Krishna would had chosen to be in Pandavas’ or Hastinapur’s.
Let me simplify this argument by advocating history as we know, or as it was presented to us to know. By all known means, even today, we could not find what Hastinapur would have expected. But we know that Krishna was not an ordinary man, he was Lord Krishna, who was capable of making unquestionable distinction between right and wrong. So he decided to take the side of right successor of Hastinapur. Then history saw; everything fell into the logical place with justified outcome.
The sound of shell conch coming from the temple in nearby monastery announced beginning of the day after the Great War. But this sound was probably not getting through his ears. He was able to hold his consciousness in the unconscious state as if waiting for something before the longest sleep. Duryodhana, shattered and diminished by Bhima during the battle in the last day of war, lying on soil of Kurukshtra, was trying hard to hold and extend his last few breaths yet remained. His egoistic self-esteem was not letting him to accept the fact that he had lost the battle, and Hastinapur would now go to Pandavas. His stubborn persistence was not even allowing his soul to leave the body, perhaps waiting for Ashwatthama, appointed general of Kauravas by him on the eve of eighteenth day of battle, with a hope that he might be coming at any moment with a message of assassination of Pandavas. War was still on, in the mind of Duryodhana, war with self in accepting a defeat.
He tried to open his eyes with an exhale forcing ground dust enough to rise through the air. He could, at the moment, face the sun with blinking eyes. The sound of shell now started reaching, and his consciousness started awaking. Duryodhana saw the vultures flying around waiting for him to die. He tried, with all the remaining powers, to lift himself. Sun, the symbol of life was rising to live but Duryodhana; the symbol of evil and adharma was falling to die. He was still awake in his consciousness, waiting to see Ashwatthama for the message of his life, the message of assassination of Pandavas, with hope. He could remember the last evening when Ashwatthama and Krupacharya come to rescue him, for all possible medications to save their king. He could hear his own words “give me Hastinapur or let me die with a pride of a true fighter in the battle field” and the echo of Ashwatthama’s promise of taking revenge from Pandavas for both his king and dishonorable killing of his father Dronacharya and the roar of the vow that he would return only with beheaded heads of Pandavas.
Ashwatthama returned keeping his promise with five beheaded heads holding their hairs together. He told the story of war he had executed against the polity in the midnight, when along with Krupacharya, he attacked Pandava’s camp killing almost everyone and beheaded Pandava’s head while they were sleeping. He was aware that he had done an unethical act against dharma, against law of war and against polity. The only thing he could justify was his promise. And the best niti (polity) in war is winning. Duryodhana, as if got a new life, asked him to handover head of Bhima.
And that was the biggest shock of his life for Duryodhana, even bigger than the losing the battle to Bhima; he found that the five heads were of sons of Pandavas instead of Pandavas. He identified sons of Pandavas and understood that Ashwatthama mistakenly identified sons of Pandavas as Pandavas. Duryodhana realized biggest loss in life and first time he wept, with all the power he had he cried cursing Ashwatthama ” what have you done?.You’ve killed son of Pandavas; my fight was with Pandavas not with Hastinapur, you, horribly done the mistake of not only your life but the whole Yuga; you killed not the sons of my enemies but the successors of Hastinapur.”
This point in time, Duryodhana became Suyodhana, wept in regret and cried for everything he bet keeping the kingdom at stake. In a flash, he could see his whole life, his stubbornness and lust for kingdom, the war and the outcome. He realized the time to let everything go, even the ego which crafted the war. He accepted the defeat and allowed the death to take everything, including his ego and soul.
That was usual time when I entered in my house. Prisha was lying on the mat over floor and trying to crawl. As I saw, she started looking at me, stared for a moment, identified me and gave a good smile without a delay even for a fraction of a second.
This smile is good enough for me to get rid of all anxiety and fatigues of the day. And this smile is what I wait whole day to see, feel and assimilate. This is now a regular activity in my evening when after getting freshens up, the first thing I do is a good time with her. She is the one who adore me unconditionally with a laugh on every action of mine. She smiles even if I pretend to shout on her. A five and half month toddler can teach you the biggest lesson of life; ‘we do not need a reason to get smile on our face; just smile’. This time something happened which is not very regular, she, after a little play in relax mood suddenly started crying for no reason. In a flash I was in a flashback, the sound of her high-pitched voice led me to the day when I saw her crying on her first vaccination.
Dr. Gokhle gave the first vaccination when she was just four days old, still on external feed, small, less than 2 and half kilograms in weight. There were two different vaccines, both for injection purpose, one on side of arms and another on thighs. Doctor injected the first one on the arms and that was something much unexpected shock for Prisha after the birth. She, in shock, from a deep sleep, tightened her lips, was about to scream, when doctor injected second vaccine on thighs. That was the limit. And her scream was all time high, I wished not to feel this again. It was painful for both of us, watching your baby crying helplessly is a curse.