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Devdutt Pattanaik - Business Sutra

Business Sutra |6.3| What are you Worth?

Business Sutra |6| Measurements

We have covered five episodes of Devdutt Pattanaik’ TV serial on CNBC 18:  Business Sutra.

The 1st episode presented to us the most visible form of the business – the corporation: its meaning, its purpose and its action perspective. In the 2nd episode Devdutt Pattanaik discusses Leadership: Role of the leader, Context of the leader and Leadership in different business cycles. The 3rd episode relates to the Business Ethics and Morals:  business ethics and dilemmas, relationship between owner and the organization  and The Right (Dharma) – the Ramayana way and the Mahabharata way. The 4th episode deals with Conflicts, of the Board and the CEO and that of the means vs. ends. The 5th episode takes unto the realm of Education, wherein Part 1 covered the basics of education to the (potential) leaders in Ram’s Education, Part 2 addressed the Knowledge Transfer to Next Gen and Part 3 dealt with the issue of student motivation.

The 6th episode has taken up the oft-discussed topic of ‘measurement’, wherein in the Part 1, What Can Be Measured, dealt with the definitive need for not ‘only measurement’, but for ‘also measurement’ too and Part 2 dealt with mutual importance and dependence of Objective versus Subjective Reality.

Business Sutra |6.3| What are you Worth?

Having thought about what can be measured and, then, having understood the merits of subjective and objective measures & measurements, the next logical question that would come up would be

The answer will be different at personal or professional individual and at individual or collective organizational level.

Normally, most successful people, or organizations, resist ‘being satisfied’, because:

The term Red Queen, picked up from the character Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland has since been used in scientific circles to describe an evolutionary concept, namely that evolutionary change in one species could prompt change in another co-dependent species if it wants to avoid extinction. In other words the species have to run (evolve) in order to remain in the same place (simply avoid extinction).

However, the world today has become rampant with very rapid changes. As a result, the phrase Red Queen Race is also used in general parlance to describe any situation where entities have to make huge efforts to remain in the same state.

Incidentally, too much of the Red Queen Race consumerism has given rise to new movement, called Postconsumer Movement, which essentially asks the question – “Do I have #EnoughStuff for now?” = very vividly exemplified by:

In so far as the subject of satisfactory organizational performance, the huge amount of highly researched modern management literature is more or less unanimous on one aspect – the effectiveness of organizational performance is always w.r.t. its objectives for a given long term direction at a given point of time.

So, at this stage, we would leave the choice of what to read when on that subject to the reader… and move on to Segment 3 of the episode 6 wherein Devdutt Pattanaik takes up the subject of What is Your Worth?, in continuation to the discourse in the previous episode.  

How do you measure happiness?

First let’s define happiness. It is LSD, i.e. Lakshmi Saraswati and Durga.  Laxmi represents material wealth, Saraswati represents intellectual wealth and Durga represents emotional wealth.. What you can measure is L. S is partially measurable and D is not measurable at all. So happiness is a combination of some things that can be measured, which is wealth; something that can partially be measured, which is intellect or knowledge, like a training program or your qualification that you’ve got. But what cannot be measured is the emotional quotient. How do you measure who needs attention who doesn’t need attention? And, sometimes happiness is a function of how much attention you get.

So, you have to recognize that happiness is a combination of measurable and not measurable. Also, it is what I consider how much money is good enough for me and how much money is good enough for you.

I was just going to bring that up. Even there is this subjective element of how much wealth is enough?

You get a crore, two crows five crores, ten crores. Let us find out what is the right measurement for all CEOs. Everybody will say that the measuring scale for me is different from the measuring scale for you because I am different than you are.. In essence every human being is unique. Everybody has their own unique measurement scale. That is what Ganesha was trying to tell us.

One day Indra wanted to measure how great he was. He wanted proof,  he wanted to show the world how great he was. That means he wanted something tangible and objective. So he called Vishwakarma, his architect and told him to build a palace for him. Vishwakarama built a palace of gold for him. Indra the looked at it and said it is good but not good enough for me. Please build another palace which will measure my true worth. So, Vishwakarma builds another palace. This time he builds a palace of jewels laden with diamonds and pearls. Indra looks at this great palace and says well this is also good but not good enough for me. In both cases he is saying that what you have measured is not quite right. I measure it very differently. I want something grander.

Vishwakarma gets exasperated and goes to Vishnu. Vishnu comes to Indra in the form of a little boy and says, I have heard that you have built a great palace. I want to see these great palaces. Indra takes the boy to show his palace of gold and also the one made of jewels. While showing the palaces, Indra says that these are good palaces but they are not as good as I am. The boy looks at these two palaces and says, ‘Well they are very good ones, but they are not as good as the palaces of the other Indras I have met.

A comparison is now being drawn, a reference point is being asked for.

Who are these other Indras?

The boy replies, ‘Oh, you thought you were the only Indra. There are as many Indras in this world as there are grains of sand in a beach. Each one assumes that he is great and each one has built a palace of his own. So I have seen palaces which are bigger than yours, the palaces which are smaller than yours and each one is aspiring for the next palace. The scale is of infinity and your ambition is infinite, your self-imagination is infinite. You can never measure infinity.

So, in what context are we trying to measure all the daily things that we end up measuring.

Every measurement depends on a reference point. Your reference point and my reference point may be very different. People try to come up with objective realities, like the maidservant can make do with no holidays but the CEO needs the weekend off.

Which measurement is okay?

This segment thus only reemphasizes that every measure is relative. I judge that from my perspective, you do it your perspective or he does it from his perspective. In other words, decide your point of reference, your measure, your measurement method and your measurement indicator. Measure the performance on that scale and decide whether the performance was good enough. Even when you set benchmarks, ensure that these benchmarks are in line with your reference point. At the end, be happy or otherwise with your performance purely from your perspective. You have to create that level of objectivity in your subjectivity where you can be sure of your happiness or otherwise.

In our continuing journey of Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra, we will move on to the 1st segment – Nature is destroyed when culture is created of the 7th episode The Environment, in our next episode.

Note: The images used in this post are the irrevocable property of their respective creator. They have been taken up courtesy the internet, so as to illustrate the point under discussion.