The underlying patterns

Business 17 Comments

Published in Corporate Dossier ET, Nov. 11, 2011

The enemy army was almost at the gates. The city would surely fall. The only solution was to get Akbar to lead his soldiers. Mansingh ran into the palace to fetch the emperor and found Akbar in the garden listening to Tansen. Birbal stopped Mansingh from entering the garden. The emperor did not want to be disturbed. Tansen’s song ended. Akbar asked him to sing another song. An impatient Mansingh said, “The city is on the verge of being destroyed and he is listening to music ! What’s wrong with him.” Birbal retorted, “He is not listening to music. He is figuring out battle strategies.” “What nonsense, all I can hear are the notes of Tansen’s wonderful voice. No strategies there.” Birbal laughed, “That is why Mansingh, you are merely a commander and Akbar is the emperor.”

Wisdom comes from the oddest of places. Ideas can come from anywhere. The difference between a pathfinder and a follower is the pathfinder’s ability to see similarities between even the most distinct domains – music and battle strategies, for example. Followers are unable to understand the underlying principle and so need clear domain-specific examples.

When Michael moved to Mumbai to take up a job at a pharmaceutical company, he realized that rules that worked back home in Germany would not work in India. When asked why, he said, “Oh, just look at how Indians eat!” Nobody understood. He explained, “In Germany, a proper meal is a course meal: soup, starter, main course and dessert. You eat what the chef cooks. But in India, a proper meal is a thali: all dishes are served simultaneously, the sweet and the sour and the pungent and the crispy. Everyone mixes and matches the food differently. So what one person puts in his mouth is very different from what another person puts in his mouth. This is the ultimate in customization. A culture like this would not be comfortable with rules. People here would always like to bend the rules to their convenience, unlike Germany where we enjoy following rules. I have to work harder here to get everyone to align and comply.” Unlike most expats, Michael figured out a way to work with his Indian colleagues without being autocratic or authoritarian. He was wise enough to see common patterns between office behavior and the way we eat food – true hallmark of a pathfinder.

During interviews, Narendra would ask the interviewees about Bollywood. As they spoke, he would see how they analyzed the plots and the characters and the stars and by that he would be able to figure out how their mind functioned. Did they think originally? Did they follow the trend? Were they trend followers or trendsetters? Were they open to suggestion? Were they opinionated? Were they arrogant? The study of principles that are not impacted by the domain is known as tattva-gyan.

  • Jay

    Sir i’ve been lucky to know you and enlightments just today. Already inspired and awe with your knowledge and delivery. Ineffable. could you suggest your first read book on mythology and it’s interpretations.

  • asha

    as usual, you excell yourself devdutt.it is uncanny how you derive meanings out of seemingly meaningless things.i wish you would look at the wisdom in astrology..vedic.it has been distorted into a predictive science.actually it is the journey of man in relation to the planets guiding him.regards

  • sachin

    Again a wonderful article.The way you connect the mythologu hostory with the current situation and corporate is awsome.

  • Ghanshyam

    It is always better that you check practical aspects while connecting to Hindu mythology for your explanation but mythology has distorted history of Hindu religion also. Yesterday I read a story about ‘Kharmas’ which Hindu assumes that not auspicious period for any good things. It was totally ridiculous that the guy who die in kharmas go to hell. It would be a good topic to explain.

  • subhashish basak

    Respected Sir, Again a wonderful article.

  • Sanket

    Now i knw why i’m always asked to narate a latest seen story of book, in a interview…
    Very True

  • Phani

    Sounds Associational thinking to me … One of the skills of Disruptive Innovators – http://stream.krm.com/Mediasite5/Viewer/?peid=f98c583cf2bb4e51a50fc51f0776110d

  • Mystical Sense

    Reminded me of Guru Dattatreya’s ‘gurus’ :)
    That kind of thinking (as mentione din the article) requires using the right brain in tandem with the left.

    The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong. Carl Jung

  • SH

    Excellent piece of article. It is more like a short story that we used to listen from our elders during childhood. Stories are easy to understand and visualize. Happy Christmas and Happy writing.

  • Saurabh

    Very good indeed…

  • Dear Sir,

    I have been reading your articles and seeing many videos of yours. Though i subtly knew many aspects, it had led me to fundamentalism, which I still believe some fundamentalism is required. Apart from that, I am more drawn towards the way you look at our history (rather than putting it mythology) so much that, I have set myself a goal to become a Chief Belief Officer. Can I request your help as to how I can go on to become that. Your lectures and articles have inspired me to be a CBO. Awaiting your reply. Thankyou.


  • Beautiful observation. Very inspiring…Infact, it helps me see an underlying pattern in education too. If a child is weak in Maths, rather than working on his maths, try making him understand works of great artists as Picasso and Vangogh. Help him emulate them on canvas, and then sit back and see how he improves on Maths. I tried this with my son. It works wonders.

  • Indira Reddy

    Wonderful is the only word I can use. Just finished reading 7 secrets of Shiva, proceeding to read 7 secrets of Vishnu. Curiosity prompted me to check out your website. Many cobwebs are getting cleared. Thank you.

  • Indira Reddy

    Wonderful is the only word I can think of.Just finished reading the 7 secrets of Shiva. Proceeding to read the 7 secrets of Vishnu. Curiosity prompted me to check you website. Many cobwebs in my understanding of our religion is being cleared.Thank you.

  • Raajesh

    Indeed an artilcle Created a Spell bound effect & compelled the thoughts to a single focus of unique Leadership traits

  • Jitendra

    @Seema Karecha : I did not get the idea of working on canvas and then improve on maths. Can you please elaborate…..?

    May be I am still a follower :)

  • Dheeraj Soni

    it is a different elated redaing experience to grasp the critical analysis of Mr. devdutt.Is it available in Hindi also? i am getting lot of quiries from the friends whoever i ahve recommended this to read.