Published in Corproate Dossier, ET, March 02, 2012

Vishnu has two wives, Sri-devi and Bhu-devi. Sri-devi is goddess of intangible wealth and Bhu-devi, the earth-goddess, is goddess of tangible wealth. In some temples, they are Saraswati and Lakshmi, the former being moksha-patni, offering intellectual pleasures, and the latter being bhoga-patni, offering material pleasures. Shiva also has two wives, Gauri and Ganga, one who sits on his lap and the other who sits on his head, one who is patient as the mountains and the other who is restless as a river. Krishna has two wives, Rukmini and Satyabhama, one who is poor (having eloped from her father’s house) and demure and the other who is rich (having come in with her father’s blessing and dowry) and demanding. Murugan has two wives, the celestial Devasena, daughter of the gods, and Valli, the daughter of forest tribals. Ganesha has two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, one representing wealth and the other representing wisdom. The pattern that emerges is that the two wives represent two opposing ideas balanced by the ‘husband’.  Amusing stories describe how the husband struggles to make both parties happy.

The Goddess has never been shown with two husbands (patriarchy?). But as Subhadra in Puri, Orissa, she is flanked by two brothers, Krishna, the wily cowherd, and Balabhadra, the simple farmer. But in North India, Sheravali, or the tiger-riding goddess,is flanked on one side by Bir Hanuman, who is wise and obedient, and on the other side by Batuk Bhairava, who is volatile and ferocious. In South India, Draupadi Amman, the mother goddess, has two guards, one a Hindu foot soldier and the other (not surprisingly for our most curiously secular state) a Muslim cavalryman. Once again,the pattern is one of opposite forces balanced by the sister or mother.

Balance plays a key role in business too. Marketing team needs to balance sales team. Finance team needs to balance human resource team. Back-ends need to balance Front-ends. Marketing ensures demand generation but its success cannot be quantified as it thinks more abstract and long term. Sales gives immediate results and is tangible, but cannot guarantee or generate future demand. Finance team focuses on processes and returns on investment and audit trails which make the company impersonal. Human Resource team has to compensate by bringing back the human touch. Back end systems can ensure inventory and supply. But it is the front end that has to ensure sales and service with a smile. A leader has to be the husband/sister/mother who balances the opposing wives/brothers/sons.

It is not easy. Jadhav started his career as a sales representative in a consumer goods company. He resented the marketing guys who sat in air-conditioned rooms all pouring over quantitative and qualitative market research data. He resented that they were paid more while it was he who got in the revenue. He carries this resentment till date. Now he is the CEO of a retail chain. He spends all his time with his sales team and the guys in the frontline. He is impatient with his marketing team, tells them repeatedly to go and spend time in shops and with the customers. So the marketing has become tactical, about today’s sales and this quarter’s targets. No one is the company is thinking strategically. The CEO is meeting today’s numbers and is not prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. This does not bode well for the organization, or for his career, because he has no one thinking ahead. This is what happens when one wife/brother/son gets more value than the other opposing-balancing force.