The Pandavas and the Kauravas were about to go to war. Both approached Krishna to help. ‘Me unarmed, or my fully equipped army? Narayana or Narayani-sena?’ asked Krishna. ‘You,’ said Arjuna, the Pandava, much to the relief of Duryodhana, the Kaurava, who was happy to get the army. What do we seek when hire people to work for us: Narayana or Narayani Sena? Do we see who they are, or do we focus only on qualifications and experience they possess? Are we the Pandavas or Kauravas?
We would like to associate ourselves with the ‘good’ Pandavas and not the ‘bad’ Kauravas but everyone knows that management is about measurement. We cannot measure Narayana, what a person is. We can only measure Narayani, what a person has, his experience and qualifications. We hope to figure out the Narayana side during interview process. But that remains highly subjective.
We may hear stories of great entrepreneurs who dropped out of school, who did not complete their degrees, but when it comes to recruitment, we know we want our people to be from IIT or IIM. There are at least two major FMCG firms that are very clear that marketing has to be hired from Grade 1 B-schools and sales from Grade 2 B-schools. Many consulting firms will select consultants from a set of engineering colleges and analysts from another set of engineering colleges, the assumption being that the filter used by the colleges for admission matches the filter they use for recruitment.
The primary reason for this is that measurable Narayani is objective and justify itself up in audit examination. Large-scale organisations are suspicious of subjectivity, howsoever brilliant it may be. And so, Narayana is always nudged out, with greater reliance on tests and measurements. The HR team focuses on the Narayani side; the boss, who can take accountability, focuses on the Narayana side.
When Arjuna got Krishna, did he know what he was getting? Did he know he would have a nervous breakdown on the brink of war?
Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, religion, mythology, and management.