Episode # 266 – “Doing only the right things!” – Vidura’s excellent explanation on “Lean Operations” in Management!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another stinging statement from Vidura wherein he had stressed upon an important point that as a king, Dhirdiraashtra should do only those things that would be beneficial for his people, rather than focusing on activities that are not warranted of, from a king’s perspective. Here is where Vidura hits the target straightaway and pokes King Dhirdiraashtra right on the money! He pinpoints the downfalls that are looming large in front of Hastinapura kingdom because of King Dhirdiraashtra’s irresponsible behavior and activities. Vidura slams him by saying that his concern is only for his crooked son Duryodhana and nothing else is in his radar! Irrespective of the repercussions that the people of Hastinapura are going to face, King Dhirdiraashtra is backing Duryodhana to succeed him and this, Vidura explains to him, is going to create a huge backlash against him!

This is a very important point that needs to be under focus for a leader. If a leader has to rise in status and to be successful, he/she should focus only on those activities that would bring benefits for his/her organization and cut down on those activities that would end up being a “cost factor” for the organization. This is what we call in modern day Management terms as “Lean Operations”! It is so amazing to witness how Vidura is explaining principles of Operations Management at a time when the world did not even know “M” of Management!

Thus if we compare Vidura’s statement with the modern day terminology, it is evident that the prime focus of the leader is to cut down all unwanted activities that do not add any value to the organization and instead focus his/her resources (including manpower) into those activities that would bring about profits for the organization. This is the fundamental idea behind the study of “Lean Operations”. This is why we also witness today, many organizations classify their functions into two different types – Primary functions and Secondary functions. The Primary functions are those that are directed towards the organization’s “Core competency” and directly contributes to the overall profit of the organization. Secondary activities are those that are ancillary to the primary activities and they do not directly contribute to the profits of the organization. Of course I’m not saying that these secondary activities are not important.

For instance, if we consider a huge corporate hospital, providing quality medical treatment to patients, performing complex surgeries, providing post-surgery treatments, etc. would be the primary functions of the hospital. This is where the core business of the hospital lies, and the patients are going to pay for the treatment that they receive. There would be other functions in the hospital such as the front office desk, IT (Information Technology) desk, cafeteria, etc. that would not be of direct revenue generation to the hospital, although they are necessary. Again, I’m not saying that these functions aren’t important to a hospital. A pleasing and a warm reception desk is very much required since a hospital involves direct interface with customers. A robust IT department is mandatory for a hospital to maintain all records pertaining to all the patients who visit the hospital. However, we should understand here that a hospital’s core competency is not front office and providing IT services. A hospital’s core competency is only providing quality medical treatment and nothing else. There are dedicated organizations who are experts in providing IT solutions. Hence such secondary functions like IT are “outsourced” to these third party companies who are experts in these functional areas. This is again an extremely important concept in Management studies wherein, companies “outsource” their secondary functions so as to minimize their cost function and maximize their efforts on those functions that directly generate revenue to them.

This is exactly what Vidura is explaining here too – He says that as a king, he should be focusing only on those activities that would be of benefit to his people and his kingdom, and to cut down on other activities that would be a burden for everyone. These kind of statements in our Sanaathana Dharma literature illustrate the profound knowledge of our ancestors in various domains of effective management and administration. Thus we understand here that Vidura is advising King Dhirdiraashtra to mend his ways in the constructive direction and focus only on those corrective actions that need to be taken. These corrective actions, Vidura explains, are extremely important at this stage, so as to prevent further damage that is bound to occur in the Hastinapura Kingdom.

Moreover, a king should clearly know the right person who can succeed him to the throne. Of course Duryodhana might be his biological son and he might have the legal and moral right to succeed his father to the throne. However the glitch here is that, is he qualified enough to succeed the throne! Moreover, Duryodhana is legally incorrect – He has to split the kingdom equally amongst the Paandavas, which he’s trying to “smartly” deny! This is where the disaster begins! If we try to cheat someone and gain control over them with our greed for power and money, the pleasure we derive out of it is going to be short-lived!

So for today let us try and understand these important points from this segment of the Vidura Neeti. These are extremely important lessons and this is the reason why I’m trying to elaborate in more detail so that our readers can understand and appreciate the significance. We shall wait till the next episode to witness Vidura’s next point. Stay tuned! 🙂

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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