Management lessons from War of Kurukshetra

Lesson #1

Turn your weakness into your Strength.

Preparation before the War

Kauravas did waste lot of crucial resources
• Karna went on a country-wide military mission, subdued the different kingdoms and acquired wealth. But it meant a loss in terms of both men and money and creation of new enemies.

Pandavas , Though in exile they turned their attention to improving over their weakness.

  • Arjuna set out on a mission to acquires Divyastras.
    • Bhima met his brother Hanuman and got a blessing of enhanced strength.
    • Yudhisthira acquired teachings from the various wise rishis, and also learnt the Game of Dice from Gandharava Chtrasena, lest he was challenged to yet another dice game. Its said that he had become undefeatable in Dice.

Lesson #2

Make Powerful Allies.

Kauravas : Centralized power system. The greatest empire of the time. But not many powerful allies, except from old relations from far off places like Gandhara(Shakuni), Sindhu(Jayadrath) and Kambodia(Camboja – Bhagadutt)

Pandavas : No wealth and power of their own. But use marriage diplomacy to make powerful allies all over India.
Panchala through Marriage with Darupadi.
Dwarka through marriage with Arjuna and Subhadra.
Magadh through marriage of Shadeva and Vijaya.
Chedi through marriage of Nakula and Karenmayi.
Kasi through marriage of Bhima and Balandhara.
Kekaya through marriage of Yudhisthira and Devika.
Matsya through marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttara.
• The Rakshasas through marriage of Bhima and Hidimba.
• The Nagas through marriage of Arjuna and Uloopi.

Lesson #3

Decentralise your Leadership by Sharing your responsibilities
Kauravas had Centralized leadership.

One Head of Army at a time, who has supreme authority of 11 akshouhini of army. Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya and Ashwatthama.
Pandavas  Distributed their leadership as per Situation.

Seven commanders for the seven divisions.(1 man command for 1 akshouhini each).

  • Virat (King of Matsya).
    • Drupad (King of Pancala).
    • Sahadeva(King of Magadha).
    • Dhrshtaketu (King of Chedi).
    • Satyaki (Only warrior from Dwarka).
    • Shikhandi (Prince of Pancala).

Dhrshtadymna – Commander in Chief.
Arjuna –Supreme Commander.
Krishna – Arjuna’s charioteer and counselor.
Lesson #4

Team work succeeds, where Individual effort cannot ensure results.

Team Spirit
Kauravas had no team spirit. They all fought their own individual wars.

  • Bhishma : For his Vow to protect the throne Hastinapur.
    • Drona and Kripa : They owed allegiance to the throne.
    Shalya : Simply cheated by Duryodhana to be there. Was originally a Pandava ally.
    Karna : To prove his mantle against Arjuna. Friendship for Duryodhana.

They didn’t gel well with each other. Bhishma and Karna. Bhisma and Shakuni. Karna and
Shakuni. Karna and Shalya. Shalya and Bhishma. It was like bees, hornets and mosquitoes were put together in a jar.

Pandavas : One team. One Goal. As men, they all had huge respect for Krishna and Yudhisthira. While as warriors they were in complete awe of Bhima and Arjuna. Most of them were close relatives – cousins, brother-in-laws, father-in-laws. More than that they all were part of the decision-making process. It was their “common” war.

Lesson #5

Team Selection

The Right team is made by selecting the Right Individuals. Get the right man for the right job

Kauravas :

Except for Duryodhana nobody wanted the War. All the 4 main generals had strong ties with the Pandavas.

  • Bhishma(grandchildern) – Wont kill the panadavas. Will kill a thousand soldiers each day.
    Drona (students) – Wont kill the Pandavas. Will capture them only.
    Shalya (Nakula-Shadeva’s maternal uncle) : Loved the Pandavas and covertly helped them by humiliating Karna
    Karna (brother to the Pandavas) : Promised not to kill any of the other Pandavas save Arjuna.

Pandavas : They had a Common goal. Though, the individuals had their individual targets. Nobody left their own agenda, which just became one with the teams’ agenda.

  • Dhratsadyumna : Drona.
    Shikhandi : Bhisma.
    Satayaki – Bhurisravas.
    Arjuna – Karna.
    Bhima – Duryodhana and his brothers.
    Sahadeva – Shakuni and his sons.
    Nakula –Karna’s sons.

Lesson #6

Commitment toward goal is the Key factor

Kauravas : Already said the Big 4 had big emotional attachment with the 5 Pandavas.. In almost all the cases,

  • Bhisma himself gave away the secret of killing him to the Pandavas.He prolonged the War by killing only inconsequential soldiers. He did not fight a warrior like Shikhandi because of his personal bias.
    Drona too indirectly gave away his secret, by saying he was invulnerable as long as he held a
    weapon. Moreover he abandoned weapons as soon as he knew his son had died.
    • Karna did not kill Yudhisthira and BHima when he got the chance. He gave away his Kavach and Kundala prior to his War. Karna fled innumerous times from the War, when he was hurt. He didn’t save Duhsasana when Bhima was killing him.
    Shalya never missed a chance to insult Karna, while in Battle.

Pandavas :
• Abhimanyu
, a 16 year old kid. Ventured beyond enemy lines alone. This was suicide mission but he still went in and took a great part of the army down with him. It took the combined effort of 7 Maharathis to take him down.
Ghatotkach even in death, took with him almost half the army.
Yudhisthira, he knew he couldn’t face Karna in War, but still went in to set an example. He didn’t hesitate to tell a lie or a twisted truth, when faced with the decision of whether to stick to his personal integrity or welfare of the team.
Krishna took up arms twice and almost entered the War, inspite of his promise, only to be stopped by Arjuna.

The best man for a Job is not the one with the best capabilities, but one with the greatest commitment.

Choosing the Right Manager for a job.

Krishna : The Greatest Crisis Manager the world has seen. He counselled Padavas to take calculated risks. He Inspire and invigorate your own team in moments of
need. Know your competition’s weaknesses and exploit them.

Yudhisthira : Low-key strategist.
• On the first day of the War, he played a Master game. Went over to the Enemy side to seek blessings from Elders. In reality he made a covert deal with them, wherein all of them agreed to help him and unfolded the secrets of defeating them.
• While coming back, he took a calculated risk. He made an offer to all the assembled people to change sides if they wanted to. He knew well of the lack of cohesiveness among the Kauravas. Yuyutsu, son of Dhrtarashtra crossed over to the Pandavas. This exposed the weakness of the Kauravasfor all to see.

Synergy of different ideologies.

Kauravas : Princes were brought up in the comfort of the Royal Palace, matured on romanticized ideals of Power, Fame, Courage and Valor. No experience of ground reality.

Pandavas :
• Spent the greater part of their lives in Poverty. Childhood in the Himalayan foothills among Rishis. One year exile among the poor people of Kuru-Panchala. 12 years of Vanvas and 1 year of Agyatvas.
• Experienced with the ground reality. Contact with people from various strata of the society. Sannyasis (celibate monks), Acharyas (Householders, teachers), poor Brahmanas, lower-class Potter.
• Different races of people. Rakshasas, Gandharavas, Apsaras, Nagas. People from different regions Uttarkuru, Bengal etc.
• A Sense of Sharing. A sense of Brotherhood. Know ground realities.
Women Empowerment

Kauravas : Patriarchal structure followed for major decisions.

Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Dhratarashtra, Vidur, Shakuni, Duryodhana, Karna, Duhsasana. No women in the decision making process. Gandhari retreated to the Inner Chambers. Nobody listened to her.

Pandavas : Matriarchal Structure for all decision making.
• Kunti was the authority supreme for the Pandavas.
“Whatever my mother says is Dharma to me” : Yudhisthira.
• Draupadi was a companion in whatever the Pandavas did. She had a big role in all the decision making. Without her the Pandavas would have most probably reclined tothe forests.
• Even the younger Pandavas : Ghatotkach, Abhimnanyu and Iravan were brought up by their mothers. So the female influence was huge.

Women are the Divine Shakti.In ancient times, they were treated with utmost respect. Any team which doesn’t have a women is unbalanced, for the Masculine traits of Aggression and Dominance should be balanced by the Feminine traits of Harmony and Sustenance.