Mixing up the old and the new

The older people in any organisation are basically soldiers experienced in fighting many battles.

India, particularly the Indian corporate world, is going through a very dynamic change. Organisations and companies that have been in existence for decades are suddenly seeing a new way of doing business.

Technology, connectivity, globalisation: All have had a strong impact on the way business is being done. But the most important change is a young workforce joining the team at decision-making teams to scale up the businesses. The old with their experience and the young with their dynamism and new ideas can create a wonderful organisation.

Chanakya says,As between a newly arrived (army) and one that has come after a long march, the newly arrived would fight after learning about the region from others and being mixed with old troops.” (8.5.4).

The older people in any organisation are basically soldiers experienced in fighting many battles. They know the region (market and customers) well and, therefore Chanakya suggests that the newly arrived army (the young generation managers) can do better if they learn from the experience of the previous ones.

Here are some steps to do this.

Be open-minded to change

Just because it worked your way does not mean there’s no other way. Elders should be open to change. Look at how weapons have changed in wars today. The soldiers are different. Therefore, a different game plan also has to be adopted accordingly. In fact, the best thing to do is learn from the young generation who are well-versed with the modern weapons—computers, internet, mobiles—technology that the young generation is good at.

Be ready to learn

For the young generation, it’s imperative they learn from the mistakes and experiences of the elders. What we are today is because of the hard work of the previous generations. We may have great ideas, but the experience is very valuable. Just being with the elders and listening to the stories and their problems will change our approach to handling things.

Mix and match

A good mix and match of the two generations set up a good organization. Some of the best performing organisations have already done it. The top IT and consulting firms that provide solutions and ideas are better equipped to handle various multiple projects because of the mix of the elderly, experienced along with the techno-savvy young generation.


Once Jack Welch, of General Electric (GE), noticed that schoolchildren were quite well acquainted with computers. Those were the days when PCs had just made an appearance and were proving difficult to understand for his generation. Then Welch had a brainwave.

He brought in the kids as computer teachers for his senior managers. Hence, the first computer gurus for GE were not corporate trainers, but—school children.

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.


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