"When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed." Indra Nooyi


Change is Permanent But Not Always For Good | Reference Mahabharata

On 11 Nov, 2017 | No comments

Change is Permanent, But, Not Always for Good

Recent changes in top management across all industries across all countries attracted my attention. Every second day, in business column of newspapers, there was news of change in top management. X Company changed its CEO, Y Company changed its CFO, and Z Company changed its Operations Head. We all are aware about changes happened in Tata and Infosys and what scene these changes created in market are not a secret anymore. Management thinks that if nothing is going as per the plan than let’s change and I can’t blame them for thinking on these lines since right from childhood we are taught that only thing constant is Change and it’s for Good. However, in most of the cases these changes have not brought the desired results and only resulted in more changes. Being an HR Manager, when we replace somebody in an organization we try to replace that person with somebody who is more talented than the outgoing one, so that we may have the desired results or performance which we were not getting from the earlier authorized person. However, at times it back fires and the replacement was not able to live up to the expectations of the management and either we have to manage with the folk or look for a replacement. This happens with many organizations irrespective of their size, industry and country.
This brings us to the question or introspection point “What went wrong”?

We did our best to find a replacement with higher experience and exposure and undoubtedly with more talent. We even agreed to shell out more money still didn’t get the desired results. As an organization, we tend to forget or ignore that at times problem is not with the person, it’s with the system or culture however we refuse to accept that there is an elephant in the room. We decide to replace the person in expectation that he will bring the change however the scope or space required to bring the change is already grabbed by the elephant who is already there in the room, suffocating all the stake holders, new or the old. Finding a talent or replacing a talent is an easier task as compared to accepting the structural or functional fault in the system and working together to remove it. When you hire somebody at the managerial level, you don’t hire the skill set or talent of that person, in fact, you hire them as a whole. Along with the talent and expertise they also bring their baggage along. Baggage of not able to achieve what they wanted to achieve in their previous organization, baggage of being tagged as The Talent however not able to convert that into something remarkable something worth remembering something that can be quoted in future. And when this unfulfilled bundle of desires meets similar unfulfilled desires of already existing managers into the system (Because at the end of the day everybody is working to fulfill that underlying desire of being great) all hell break lose. Clash of egos starts raising the temperature of meetings and ugly scenes are created publicly. Which forces management to take a decision and the decision management usually arrives is CHANGE, change/replace the person with more talent forgetting that higher the talent quotient higher will be the chances of history repeating itself. Here I am not advocating not to hire a talent or higher a mediocre talent to avoid all this. In fact, I am just trying to say that don’t ignore the elephant in the room. Acknowledge and address him first. Align all your energies and resources to one common goal. That is why all successful companies have their VISION in place. That is the ultimate goal towards which all are working in sync together. There should be no I and replacement hired should be cultural fit, irrespective of the talent quotient and free of his own baggage, as 2 weak persons pushing a cart in same direction will cover more distance as compare to 2 strong persons pushing the cart in opposite direction to each other.

The great war of Mahabharata was fought between Kauravas and Pandavas. Kauravas had army of 11 Akshouhini as compared to 7 Akshouhini of Pandavas.
(1 Akshouhini = 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 65,610 horses and 109,350 foot soldiers in ratio of 1:1:3:5)

As far as talent was concerned Kauravas have upper hand here too vis-à-vis Pandavas. Kauravas have Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya, Kripacharya, Ashwatthama and Duryodhan in their ranks as compare to Pandavas who only have Arjuna and Bheem to boost about.
(May you name any other great warrior who fought in the favor of Pandavas?)

Kauravas having all the strength and superiority still lost the war badly. The only reason behind that was CHANGE. Kauravas changed 5 Generals (Pradhan Senapati) during 18 days war namely:

  1. Bhisma (10 days)
  2. Drona (4 days)
  3. Karna (2.5 days)
  4. No General (0.5 days)
  5. Shalya (1 day)
  6. Ashwatthama (1 night)

Whereas Pandavas only had one General, Dhrshtadyumna, for entire war.

If you compare Dhrshtadyumna one-on-one with all the other generals of Kauravas he was not a match to any one of them still he is able to hold the fort and won the war for Pandavas. He was able to do so because he was not carrying any baggage of personal expectations or he does not have any point to prove to anybody. His sole motive was to see Yudhistra as king of Hastinapur which entire Pandavas army was aligned to. Whereas every general of Kauravas army was waging his own war.

Bhisma- He was fighting this war only because of his pledge. He never wanted Kauravas to win this war.

Drona- He was fighting this war just to pay back for all the favors Hastinapur has done to him.

Karna- He was fighting this war just to prove himself the best Archer ever.

Shalya- He was maternal uncle of Nakul-Sehdev and duped by Duryodhana to fight from his side.

Ashwatthama- He fought this war just to prove his friendship towards Duryodhana.


The great war of Mahabharata clearly shows that Change is not always good and especially in today’s corporate world which is very dynamic, it is even more risky to keep bringing the changes. Management need to show faith in existing resources and groom them for bigger challenges ahead after aligning them with organization goal and vision. Still if any replacement has to be done, that should be done on the basis of values, ethos of person not merely on the basis of talent or experience. Replacement should not be a culture mis-fit. Mahindra recently decided to do away with hierarchy structure and adopted a very flat hierarchy however they have reverse the decision within 3 months. So, changes are not always for Good. Stick to the basics and the biggest basic is TRUST. Trust people around you, trust their talent and train them. Investment made in people never goes waste.

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