The main reason I was attracted to read this book was its author – Devdutt Pattanaik!! I am never the one to read books on management or other technical books, but when such a book is penned by a veteran who has several books on mythology to his credit and who rightly describes himself as a mythologist, I could not pass 🙂
For starters, if you think that this book is a serious management book that should be read by MBA grads or students you couldn’t be more wrong. The book starts with what makes doing business and managing business operations in India different from other countries and cultures across the globe. The author draws our attention to the power of imagination and beliefs that drive us to work the way we do – what is more important is that he zeroes in on the power of the intangible that is grossly ignored by most corporations (especially non-Indian ones) which are usually more goal/target driven and use that as a method to satisfy its stakeholders. It is very common practice to do what it takes to achieve numbers while ignoring the interests, personal goals and factors that motivate an employee. This results in making an organisation a “rana boomi” or war zone where everyone is chasing money / the Goddess of wealth or the elusive Lakshmi as we Hindus would say rather than a “rang boomi” or a colorful and happy environment where individual goals and happiness matters, which in turn attracts wealth and success in the form of Goddess Lakshmi.
The book details all of the above while referring to the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist philosophies while also explaining the way other cultures do business – case in point China.
For readers interested in Indian mythology and everyday lifestyle practices of Indians ,(i.e. why we do certain things the way we do) in other words how we can survive chaos while the others struggle. I especially loved the example where the author describes how Indians cannot follow rules in their own country but do so anywhere outside of India 🙂
The author has done a great job starting right at the beginning with the evolution of caste systems, varnas and even explaining the Gods and their roles in the various epics while drawing a parallel to the roles and the work practies followed – I particular enjoyed how Vishnu was rule follower in the “Ramayana” as Ram and a rule breaker in the “Mahabharatha” as Krishna.
The book is filled with loads of examples that I presume are real life experiences of the author in his role as Chief Belief officer with Future group and his previous stints in the medical and pharma business…
I personally love the little diagrams scattered throughout the pages of the book – it seems that these diagrams are more like chapter or concept summaries in diagrammatic form and what is more interesting to someone like me is that the diagrams have been sketched by the author himself.
A very well researched and brilliantly written book. However I should mention that you need a good amount of time and a peaceful environment to read and absorb all of what is detailed in 437 pages of this book. Many sections will make you pause and reflect about corporate life in general and your experiences are your work place and other spheres of life. It is definitely not a book to rush through!
A good read for folks interested in mythology – it doesn’t matter whether you are into management or not! This is definitely one for your book shelf 🙂