Business Lessons From Christopher Columbus

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Christopher Columbus and your business, what is it?

Let me tell you where I am coming from. During my stint as an employee of one of the biggest brand names in India, in it’s industry, employing over 10,000 people I was quite amazed to look at some of the basics that leaders (and yes I am talking about project heads overseeing business and directly impacting 100’s of employees) ignore.

So what are the basics that these leaders were ignoring?

Let me tell you story in short, we had a huge problem in terms of being able to retain new employees. People would leave, and a lot of them, during or just outside of the training period. In terms of hours spent training and taking care of them this was turning out to be a white elephant for our part of business and hence a huge headache for the organization in some way. Were people responsible ignoring this? No, of course not! How can they, this was just out of question. Was this giving them sleepless nights, you guessed it  right. Yes, a very emphatic yes at that. But the most important question is – WHAT WERE THEY DOING ABOUT IT?

Before I proceed to the rest of the story, I can’t help but to put some words of wisdom below:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein   

This is what they were doing all the time; the managers overlooking were pulled up; one of the managers was asked to do analysis, prepare presentation (which would take weeks), sent across to the superiors to be looked into and get approved and then action was awaited. Now all this would take weeks if not months and by this time the heat of the loss would subside, all would be busy in some other task, if not crisis; and with some formalities a face saving closure was given to the entire task of solving the real crisis. What next, the next crisis was feared and people I assume would pray that magically this would not happen again. Pray, well that’s not needed; action was. But pray, I wouldn’t even call it prayer, to be honest.

But how could Christopher Columbus save them

Remember I said they were following the same process. If someone had to pick all the anaylses and had seen the different findings over years, I can bet my life on it, they would have found 3-5 common and real reasons for people leaving in the first few weeks and months. So, those who were doing analysis were not really wasting time because the findings of all these analysis were definitely precise or about precise. So, why all of these reports never resulted in a solution.

Because none of the people involved had what Columbus had when he set out to find a new world. What did he have, a will to question the existing beliefs, a crazy attitude to go for what he believed in despite the serious consequences he faced and faith that despite him never seeing any of the images of earth proving that yes it was round and not flat he proceeded to find the new world. Did Columbus do it for all of us? Nooooo.. where were you and I… nowhere… or did he do it for people who he was surounded with at that time.. I really doubt.. it was too big a risk to take, wouldn’t you say that?  He could have had an easy and comfortable life with his family. He could have done it only for one reason and this is the only reason anything great has ever been achieved. What is it? You really want to know this!!! The reason is that HE HAD MADE IT PERSONAL and doesn’t it lack in employees & leaders in organizations today. I suppose in the organization that I had an experience of working with could also have solved it but they did not have all the qualities that Columbus had. Would it have been easy? Not at all; was it visible problem… all the employees who left would have known.. all of the staff who were working with these employees knew it… but was it doable? Yes, but only if someone would have made it personal.

Best Wishes,



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