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The Art of Brain Storming a Problem
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This article explores the relevance and application of Principles and Strategies discussed in the 3rd Century BC treatise, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in Today’s Corporate World.

Many management words and jargons currently used in modern corporate world were practiced in India ages ago. One of them is the concept of ‘brain storming’.

Kautilya in Arthashastra gives us a step by step formula on how to conduct a brain storming session. It can be used not only for crisis management but also for creation of new ideas and innovative thinking. These tips can also be followed by project managers in order to effectively use the skills of their team members.

He says,

“In an urgent matter, he should call together the councilors as well as the council of ministers and ask them. What the majority among them declare or what is conducive to the success of the work, that he (leader) should do” (1.15.58-59)

1. CALL A MEETING

When ever there is any important or urgent matter to be resolved the first step is to call a meeting of the team members and advisors. One can involve not only the managers but also the non managerial staff, as well as external experts to join the discussion.

2. ASK THEM

The leader should be very clear about the ‘particular issue’ that he is seeking a solution for. If the important issue is not brought into ‘focus’ properly, it will be like a blind person leading the blind. One finds that without direction and planning many meetings just land up as a waste of time. Therefore “ASK” them the right questions.

3. TAKE THE MAJORITY INPUT

What maximum people in the group consider to be the ideal solution should be taken into consideration. The leader should also take note of the smallest suggestion, even if it may not be applicable in the current situation. May be these small suggestions can be useful in some other condition.

4. DECIDE IF THE MAJORITY IS RIGHT

Just because the majority gives a particular opinion it may not necessarily be right. Therefore, Kautilya says the final decision of what should be the next step, should be decided only by the leader. While creating an action plan he should consider – “what is conducive to the success of the work”. Finally everything is dependent on the ‘results’ not just on generation of ideas.

Akio Morita, the founder of Sony wanted to create the first ever VHS video tape. For months together he used to brain storm with his team as what should be the ‘size’ of such a video tape. This led to no clear solution.

One day he suddenly out of frustration threw a book on the center of the table. “I want the tape to be of this size. I don’t care how you do it”. In a next few months, the first VHS tape was out in the market – the size of that book!

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai








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