Peter Drucker, Peter Senge, Tom Peters, Michael Porter... If we were to ask B-school students of the greatest Strategy Guru, one of these would be their favourite choice. But if one were to ask this to SCMHRD students, the overwhelming answer would be Kautilya. Dr. Anil Naik's mesmerizing lecture on Kautilya's Arthashastra at SCMHRD on 13th September changed the way management students looked at Indian Management Philosophy and every student felt pride in belonging to the country that gave birth to Strategic Management.
If students of the 1st batch of IIMA are known as 'Classmates of C. K. Prahalad', their counterparts at IIMC proudly call themselves 'Batchmates of Dr. Anil Naik'. He joined Tata Administrative Services and worked for 17 years before completing his Ph.D. in Strategic Management from JBIMS, Mumbai. He has been teaching for the past 23 years at Management Institutes in Mumbai. He is himself a turnaround Strategist and has helped many companies to come out of so the called 'Valley of Death'.
Dr. Naik's session encapsulated the complete treatise of Arthashastra along with analogies drawn from the corporate world. The originality and vision of Kautilya's Principles kept the audience hooked on to their seats. Few management students would dare to pick up 'Arthashastra' for some learning but a snapshot of Arthashastra's 15 chapters has lead to a heavy demand of the book in our library. It was an eye-opener for the principles behind corporate strategies of HLL, Asian Paints, Parle Industries and Tata Motors.
The audience was amazed by the accuracy of data with which Dr. Naik presented the historical and corporate examples. Some of his inferences drawn from Bhagavad Geeta and Ramayana struck our innermost cords, as we had never looked at theses epics from the view of business management. His anecdotes, especially some of his acronyms, have become 'Talk of the Campus'. When it comes to Strategy, people speak about MNCs but Dr. Naik believes that one can find some of the most successful strategies if we look deep into Indian companies.
He did express his anger at some of the Indian Business Houses that have perished over the years because of the whimsical and lethargic attitude of their CEOs. He drew lessons from leadership of Minoo Masani (TAS), Ramesh Chauhan (Parle) and Champaklal Chowksi (Asian Paints). He laid out in simple words the qualities that make a good leader. Though he gave various corporate examples for every quality that he mentioned, the audience could see the embodiment of all the qualities in the speaker himself. The lecture was summarized by him by giving 'Pearls of Wisdom' on Leadership, Knowledge, Planning and Success.
The opportunity to interact with the likes of Dr. Naik does not come often and hence it was much expected that the session would be followed by an extended Question-Answer session. To the question about Kuta Yuddha by Gaurav Sharma, PGDM II student, he replied that it should be taken not before the Dharam Yuddha. He advised students to be like Lord Krishna as it is difficult to succeed with principles of Lord Rama in Kalyug. According to him, the success mantra for a B-school student is 'Don't forget to look at your milestones while you are busy focusing on your Speedometer'.
Mr. G. D. Apte of SCMHRD, who is considered a moving encyclopedia, expressed his thanks to Dr. Naik for changing his viewpoint of Arthashastra that he thought is mainly to do with Political Science. It reminded him of his years at IIMA when the strategies taught were mainly of Indian companies. For the audience, it was an investment of time from which they would earn exponential returns.