Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Similarities Between Krishna/Karna And The Consulting Industry

Comparison between two people or events is done if they are similar on certain basic parameters. In Mahabharat, there are very few characters that have been compared as much as Karna and Arjun. The comparison is primarily done because of their similarity on two parameters – skills in archery and parentage. I believe, Karna is one of the most interesting characters in the epic and interesting comparisons can be drawn between him and Krishna. Both these characters were, in some sense, ‘outsiders’. They were neither Kauravs nor Pandavs. Except for a handful of people, nobody knew that Karna was Kunti’s son. And both Karna and Krishna could have stayed out of the war. Krishna’s brother Balram, in fact, chose to not participate in the war and Krishna could have chosen the same.

Krisha/Karna as consultants: Picture this. There are two groups fighting. And two ‘outsiders’ (viz, Karna and Krishna) join the groups to help them fight. Doesn’t this sound similar to business consultants in the corporate world? Business consultants ‘engage’ with the corporates to help them be successful. So, in that sense, Karna and Krishna are consultants to the Kaurav group and the Pandav group respectively.

Strategy Consultant Vs Tactical/Analytical Consutlant: Karna and Krishna represent two very different types of business consultants. Krishna represents strategy consultant like someone from the big 3 consulting firms whereas Karna represent tactical consultant (also known as analytics consultant, decision science consultant, data science consultant, etc.). This similarity is based on comparison on the following 5 dimensions.

Sales Process:  Big 3 firms maintain a strong position in the industry as a though-leader. They network with execs even when they are not actively consulting with them. So, when there is a need, often the exec seeks out Big 3’s help. In Mahabharat, Krishna was known to be a thought-leader and had been pals with the Pandavs and the Kauravs. When it was certain that the ‘dharm yudh’ was inevitable, Arjun (the CXO of Pandav group) brought Krishna on board.
Karna, on the other hand pitched hard to get in. At all points there was opposition within the camp for Karna to join. In fact, while Bheeshma was the commander-in-chief, he couldn’t sell his service. Bheeshma obviously had good reasons for not letting him join. But from Karna’s perspective he had to be relentless in knocking doors, be pally with one of the key persons so that when the opportunity comes, he can be hired. Same is the condition with the tactical consulting companies. Cold calls after cold calls, multiple proposal meetings and a few wine-and-dine meetings later the company, if lucky, may get a foot-in-the-door.

Engagement Level: Big 3 consulting firms have sponsorship from the top execs. Similarly, Krishna had sponsorship from the CXO group. Karna, on the other had sponsorship from only 1 person (Duryodhana) who was more of a troubled child than a ‘true’ CXO.

Gyan Vs Execution: Krishna was a strategy consultant. He advised Arjun and group on war strategy. He didn’t 'use' a single weapon throughout the war. This is similar to a big 3 consultant who advices CXOs on high level strategy but doesn’t execute it for them. Karna, on the other hand, didn’t give any gyan but was focused on executing his client’s (Duryodhana’s) vision – very similar to the tactical/analytics consulting companies

Frameworks: Big three firms are known to come up with fancy frameworks e.g. 7S Framework, 9 box matrix, etc. Similarly, Krishna came up with arguably the finest frameworks ever which we know by the name of Bhagwad Gita. Framework of Effort-Outcome Disconnection (Karmanye vadhikaraste mafaleshu kadachana) is one of the most popular one.
No known framework from Karna have survived. Neither are frameworks from the tactical/analytics consulting company are as popular among the outsiders.

Perceptions: Krishna, like big 3 consultants, commands respect from Pandavs (his clients). Karna of low caste upbringing, like tactical consulting companies, throughout the story is seen to struggle to get acceptance from his clients even though in skills he is the best and comparable only to Arjun.

I am sure there are similarities between Karna and some random character in Mahabharat or Avengers and with some random industry. But I thought these were interesting similarities to highlight. Do let me know your thoughts.


Louis Allen International January 27, 2015 at 5:25 PM  

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Rohit P June 16, 2016 at 6:13 PM  

very good and useful article on this page
i shall also share them on my blogs

Thanks for share

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