Management is the mythology of our times. Think of boardroom warfare in the House of the Tatas as corporate Kurukshetra. Imagine the succession drama unfolding in Uttar Pradesh politics and inside the Samajwadi Party. See how large family run businesses are breaking up into pieces. Wonder how a start up from a garage is scorching a giant enterprise like a Hanuman growing in stature and burning the house of Lanka. You will get the picture.
To discover the truth inside the half-truths that corporate PR machinery broadcast to us, you have got to read and understand mythology. Both management and mythology start in the human mind. Heroism, cowardice, competitive rivalry, jealousy, sense of grandeur all are manufactured the by the mind. Mythology simply helps us understand the managerial mind in a way spreadsheets, statistics and pie charts in corporate boardrooms can’t.
What happened in the house of Tatas is nothing short of a clash of cultures. The incumbent Chairman Cyrus Mistry was seen as an insurgent by the veteran and venerable Tata who took over the reins in an unprecedented boardroom coup. Mistry’s young experts in his Group Executive Committee were seen as metrics-driven misfits in the Tata culture by the Tata old guards.
Around the same time another drama unfolded in the Samajwadi Party (SP) that rules Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. This time the insurgents were the old guards like Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh who wanted to upstage the incumbent young Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. As of now, unlike in the Tata Group, the young incumbent seems to have survived and is ready to subdue the old insurgents.
The Mahabharata teaches us that the basis of all conflicts and power struggles emerge out of the blind and egoic self of a human being. Dhritarashtra in the Mahabharata is blind as he has no eyesight. Kaikeyi in the Ramayana, responsible for Rama’s exile, is blinded by her ambition. She is eager to put her own son Bharat on the throne. The logical mind is overtaken by biological instincts. The urge for self-projection and self-perpetuation create conditions for conflict. Emotions run riot. Empires crumble because of the mutinies of million egos.
-Prof. Debashis Chatterjee
M.A. (JNU), Ph. D. (Pune University)
Fulbright Fellow (MIT & Harvard Univ.)
Human Resource Management Area