The Role of Karma in Organizations

“Karmanye vadhika raste ma phaleshu kadachana, Ma karma phala hetu bhurba te sangostav karmani” — (Chapter 2:47) Bhagwat Gita.

[You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to doing your duty.]

The western concept of management is characterized by high supervisory control, high levels of competitiveness, and an unemotional approach towards achieving quantifiable goals, with a greater emphasis on winning. Most organizations have cultures, systems, and processes designed to optimize attainment of objective goals; and the role of employees is to help achieve organizational goals, which ultimately maximize shareholder value. Most of today’s management concepts and theories have been only tested in limited markets, but their claims are often bombastic. The practice of these theories view a typical manager donning a role of a resource optimizer more than a complete human being.

It is myths like these that pervade our management thoughts and actions, that are leading to decay in complete growth and development of human resources in organizations, mainly because organizations have a very narrow perspective of themselves as entities that exist to maximize shareholder value. Only very recently, especially after the global financial meltdown has the word ‘shareholder’ been replaced by ‘stakeholder’.

In this essay, I advocate that there is a pressing need today for organizations to realize that organizations or their employees should not viewed as mere resource optimizers. Employees are as human as they should be. Therefore, they should not from a lens of agency theory or transaction cost theory, be looked at as opportunist who need to be monitored and controlled; or as efficient agents with goals aligned to that of their principals. There is much more to management than control and efficiency, and it’s high time we move away from these goals to more humanistic goals that rest on human values. The spiritual needs of individuals, such as the search for a meaning in their work based on right actions, needs to be addressed by the organizations by offering broader definitions of the goals that they should strive for.

One such goal is advocated in Bhagwat Gita as karma. The Sanskrit word karma derives its meaning from its root, kri, which means doing or an activity, which encompasses an individual’s mental and physical activities, as well as his/her, speech. In Buddhism, karma is viewed as action and effects of action and is viewed as complete psychological impulse behind an action that triggers a chain of causes culminating in a karmic reward. In certain oriental cultures such as that in India, the concept of action (or work) is strongly related to future happiness or sorrow.

Organizations need to adopt and promote humanistic values at firm level to establish practices that are ethical and that recognize the self-worth of individuals and help the salespeople in achieving his personal growth as well as organizational goals An organization that promotes karma in their employees not only gives them the freedom to grow-spiritually and mentally- but also respects their individuality, reduces unhealthy competition among them, create more bonding among themselves, and bring more harmony within and between them.

Karma is not just a motivator but also a stress coping strategy, which can enhance the quality of life and well-being. I appeal to all management researchers to unravels the various benefits of institutionalizing karma in organizations, where employees realize the position of karma(action) versus the other four aspects of an individual’s life, which are, arth(money), kama(desires), dharma (moral and social order), and moksha (self-realization). When employees are made to choose actions based on the concept of karmic chain rule, then organizations need not spend resources controlling and monitoring them. Employees would derive more meaningfulness from their mundane daily work, and get a broader perspective of their job descriptions.

Prof Ramendra Singh,IIM Calcutta

Ramendra Singh (PhD) is a faculty of Marketing in Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, a leading business school of Asia. He is an alumni of IIM Ahmedabad, one of the top 10 institutes globally. He has authored multiple research papers in top international journals and conferences. Besides marketing, he has a strong inclination for western classical music, movies and tourism.

Growth Strategies of Web Based New Generation Firms

The cyber world has really come alive with the onslaught of WEB 2.0 technologies. Today, many start ups are being formed by students and entrepreneurs across the world. The web based firms with often no brick and mortar presence have been generating enviable returns, considering the low investments made on them. No wonder, students and young entrepreneurs have started viewing these businesses as endless oceans of opportunities. These firms share some very common characteristics, which are as follows:

  • Being led by young leaders, their culture is essentially fun. The job nature often is based on interactions with others (say for instance in the numerous SEOs springing up).
  • The concept of flexi-work or work from anywhere, anytime has really caught up. Most of the start ups consists of students in their engineering and graduation level.
  • The need of initial investments being very low,  savings from pocket money is often sufficient to start these ventures. ROI, if properly strategized is often very high. In fact, being web-based only, these start-ups do not have the burden of making huge investments on physical infrastructure.
  • A major trend in such start ups is their dynamism of defining their business. Often the fixed costs or investments are such that they would apply to various businesses. So if one business flops, there is always a backup plan easily available. So many web based businesses which may start as sites to sell software may end up doing affiliate marketing for some other products.
  • These firms also have the benefits of having the ability to take small risks which can generate huge rewards, in terms of returns on investments. The very nature of defining their business according to changing needs and trends, makes the business risky, yet provides a great opportunity to generate a huge return.

A major problem for these firms is how to decide upon a proper growth strategy. Most such endeavours begin with a lot of enthusiasm, but the same dies out, when the owners fail to generate the expected income from the same. A few generic points which could be kept in mind while trying to build upon the business are given below:

  • Being essentially web-based, you must have visibility on the web. To ensure that, the first thing you must ensure is a decent traffic to get a decent alexa rank. Now here, many start ups thrive on exchanging links for promotion. While this ensures some traffic to your website, one should remember that you are not actually reaching out to your target segment.
  • After some degree of visibility on the web is obtained, it is required to ensure that there is visibility amongst search engines. Most depend on the umpteen so called SEO companies (Search Engine Optimization) to do this job for them. Problem is these SEO firms ensure a decent alexa rank for your site by exchanging links and promotions amongst themselves only. So depending overtly on them is suicide. The only thing that creates visibility among search engines is quality content. In the WEB 2.0 era, content is the mantra to success.
  • Use of content management sites help in the promotion and visibility of your site. But always remember, not all content management site is suitable for all needs. Expending effort and resources on the correct content management site is crucial for your visibility amongst your potential customers.
  • Try reaching out to your targeted customers. Use a sustainable advertising means for that, like a facebook fan page or twitter. Always remember, it is better to reach out to 100 customers really interested in your product that to 10,000 people who don’t care about your existence. Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning are your success mantra.
  • WEB 2.0 is all about differentiation from your competitors. Are you simply doing things differently or are you able to present yourself as doing different things too?
  • Use videos and pictures to make the site as interactive as possible. Your customers may not always have the time or patience to go through textual content.

These are just few pointers on the few aspects the new generation web based firms must look into for success. These aspects form the core of all the businesses yet when one launches his own business, these very simple yet much needed points are often forgotten.

By the way, have you read our article on Value Creation Strategy and Business Models?

Also you can check out our article on the Business Strategies while setting up an e-Commerce Portal.

Costa’s Slick New City Look!

Costa Coffee is such a successful business and has, in many ways, set the pace & trend for many coffee outlets in the UK. The coffee brand, well-known for its delicious beverages, will now be the hot spot for many busy, city workers for a whole new reason!

Today, Friday 9th July, saw the launch of a fresh Metropolitan outlet in Great Portland Street, London, aimed to attract city-types with the latest in sleek design and interiors. The store has been designed to focus on efficient customer service, to ensure those in a hurry don’t have to wait! I think that this additional focus on customer service, provided they can live up to their claim, will be a very appealing selling point for the brand. London is a busy place at the best of times, so I think that this focus on efficiency will give Costa a powerful unique selling proposition (USP) amongst city workers!

When it comes to this recent revamp - with the use of glass, exposed brickwork and bold, quirky lighting – we have to remember that Starbucks (a strong competitor of the brand) opened up stores last year that looked into retro branding, similar to this, within the UK. Although they may not be the first to try the new modern look, with all things considered, I think that this new store is fabulous and I am rather keen on giving Costa a visit!

To strengthen the brand’s position, the launch is being supported with outdoor and online ads, direct marketing and also in store marketing created by Costa’s lead agency Meteorite.

For those reading this thinking, “Ahh well that’s nice for those living & working in London, but what about me?!”, listen up – the plan behind this launch is to open up a  series of these fashionable ‘Metro’ stores all over the UK. So keep your eyes peeled for these new Metropolitan stores opening up in other cities around the UK (such as Manchester and Birmingham to name just a few).

So… who fancies a coffee?

Schneider-What matters is not the Sex but the Beer

Schneider, the Beer manufacturing major, created a lot of waves with this banner advertisement. This caught the active imagination of the youth and created quite a stir. With an overdose of sexual content, yet not actually displaying the same, this suggestive advertisement became of of the most recognized advertisement of recent times, with a very high brand recall.

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