Why a dose of Dharma is good for organisations

PVS Suryakumar | Updated on January 17, 2021

Organisations must reflect to rediscover their moorings   -  istock.com

Maintaining stability and continuity of the ecosystem is key for businesses to thrive

Organisations tend to meander as they age. Changes in objectives, market-place, leadership etc, are the most probable reasons. Those organisations which pursue profits typically stay the course, but their cousins, with multiple objectives (social and profit) meander usually. Meandering happens when the organisational moorings are untethered.

This is an idea to tether organisations to their moorings for attaining role clarity. Social anthropologists and management experts are requested to transform this idea into a framework through research. This idea is based on the dharma (obligations) enshrined for all citizens based on roles performed by them for the society.

Citizens could be classified, based on roles performed, into the following broad categories: Sage Advisors, Administrators, Businessmen and Multi-taskers.

Countries, government departments, banks and various organisations could also be categorised based on their roles in the society.

Role performance

Here an exercise in visualisation could be helpful. Please think about your closest family and friends, what are they good at and what you would consult them for. Pause, stop reading and contemplate. Ready with your answers? Whom do you go to when you seek mindfulness, ethics of pursuits and meaning of life? Whom do you consult if there is a threat to you or your possessions? When you require an investment advice whom do you go to? When you require help for getting your house fixed or liaising with the municipal corporation for transferring your ancestral house on your name whom do you consult?

You have merely been nudged into categorising your friends and relatives based on the possible roles they might perform for you when required.

We can even extrapolate this idea on to a primitive forest community. The ‘Shaman’ is advisor to the Head of the community. He would most probably be the healer/medicine man to the community also. Other members of the community can be categorised based on their roles.

Soft power

Among the countries, India is the sage advisor to the world with its soft power of non-violence and yoga. India is transforming, but its soul is intact. Our neighbour, Bhutan steadfastly followed its dharma and stayed the course.

In every society, sage advisors usually get their sustenance through endowments or defined sources of income and they work closely with the administrators (governments in the current day world). But to be a competent sage advisor, one has to study, reflect, contemplate and present cogently and this is a life’s pursuit.

Likewise, an administrator must maintain stability and continuity of the ecosystem where businesses, entrepreneurs, skilled and semi-skilled people thrive and flourish. Sage advisors and administrators nurture and sustain the order, but the requisite expertise for all the roles is de rigeur.

Organisations may reflect upon this idea, adapt it and categorise themselves to discover their purpose and moorings. Some overlaps may be there in their roles but aligning to the principal purpose of organisations brings clarity and their relevance in societies.

The next crucial aspect is putting this idea to work in organisations. Re-educating, re-alignment can tether employees to the purpose of organisation and that is why effective organisations do karma-yogi abhiyans.

The writer is Deputy Managing Director, NABARD. The views expressed are personal.

Published on January 17, 2021

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