Monday, May 20, 2013

Business Sutra by Devdutt Pattnaik

Title: Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Aleph Books
ISBN: 978-81-923280-7-2
Genre: Non-Fiction, Management, Mythology
Pages: 437

Picking up a book written by an author who calls him the Chief Belief officer was a first timer.

And I was wondering what could a once doctor turned thinker turned an author could offer. Since business in an interesting area of exploration and Vedas and holy books from other religions than what I follow have always kept me hooked, this was a heady concoction that did keep me interested until the end.  Reading the book was like turning the pages of a moral science book, but not that redundant. There were some ideals that didn't support the stories they were trying to talk of, but then most of them were ethics one can follow in real life too. Like the best one in the lot was "If ambition is the force contentment is the counterforce. Enjoying what you have is the key and greed would only dash the ambitions, never drive them.
The other ideals I loved were as follows:

1) Business is seduction

I agree that business is seduction. To sell a product a customer has to be lured. I had also written about a similar though in another of my posts where I had described my tale about my short tryst as an entrepreneur. The saga of the sale of pressure cookers in the Indian market was an interesting one.
2) Exploitation is violence
Yes this is a universal truth, when it comes to gender equality and even business. The story of haves and have nots depend on each other. It is impossible to keep a balance between the two.
3) Insecurity turns us into villains
We always should be content with what we have. Rakesh's story reminds me of the Hari Sadu advertisement by which shows an irritable and dominant boss who bullies his employees and treats them like servants. Don't know if such an attitude can help them reach anywhere, the people at the top.
4)Rules can be oppressive
This again applies to gender equality. Most rules slapped on women have put them a pedestal lower and then if they dare to be different  they are accused of breaking the rigmarole of rules. That outcasts them from the society much like the example stated where the leader has the power to forgive but sees it as a favour. Equality of sexes is not a favour much like forgiveness from the leader is not.
5) We want to control change
This is another ideal that applies to gender equality as well. Women are not allowed to change and challenge stereotypes that are wrong,  much like in business where people who think out of the box are the need of the hour but aren't allowed to flourish.

Some other ideas that were expressed in the book that I loved were:

1) Hunger is insatiable and the want for more can be a killer.
2)He who satisfies hunger becomes desirable much like Jayesh, the kirana store owner. When I stepped into business, we had thought upon the same idea. We promised free servicing/repair of equipment for the first two years to thrive in a sea of cut throat competitors. 
3) Domestication happens at will and cannot be forced. We only follow rules when we get something in return.

From a tea shop to a government office to a creative calling, the signs, symbols and stories used in the book also are also a great learning lesson for life. Although I must admit that at some places, I had to read twice to contemplate upon the idea and some stories didn't tug at my soul. My rating is 4/5, one point goes away for the drag I felt in some stories and four points go in for the wonderful lessons it taught me, and reminded me of, many which I had forgotten in this race of life. This book can make for a great course book for management students and can also double up as a leisurely read. That is the mark of a seasoned author. 

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