Times have changed since Gordon Gekko quoted Sun Tzu in the 1987 movie Wall Street. Has the Bhagavad Gita replaced The Art of War as the hip new ancient Eastern management text?
Big Business is embracing Indian philosophy. Suddenly, phrases from ancient Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita are popping up in management tomes and on Web sites of consultants. Top business schools have introduced “self-mastery” classes that use Indian methods to help managers boost their leadership skills and find inner peace in lives dominated by work.
The seemingly ethereal world view that’s reflected in Indian philosophy is surprisingly well attuned to the down-to-earth needs of companies trying to survive in an increasingly global, interconnected business ecosystem. While corporations used to do most of their manufacturing, product development, and administrative work in-house, the emphasis is now on using outsiders. Terms such as “extended enterprises” (companies that outsource many functions), “innovation networks” (collaborative research and development programs), and “co-creation” (designing goods and services with input from consumers) are the rage.