Last year I went on this awesome road trip. From Mumbai all the way to Bengaluru by road stopping over at Hubli, Chikmagalur, Coorg and Mysuru. Given my affinity to anything historic the trip had to include a visit to Belur and Halebid. Neither the peak summer heat nor the protests of the 7 year old son could deter me from lugging ourselves to thFeatured imageese 1000 year old architectural wonders.
A lot has been said and written about the beautiful architecture of these places that showcase the way people lived, fought, loved, prayed and more. But this piece of architecture was more than all of that. It was a lesson. A lesson in management, on how organisations should be built and interesting insights on how investment portfolios should be built.
This sculpture of elephants, lions and horses adorn most part of the outsides of the temple. Look closely and you will notice every elephant here is different – some of them stoic and very businesslike, some of them playful, some impatient ones nudging the one ahead and the ones ahead protesting. You could watch them all day. Same with the mighty lions and the handsome horses.
These are not just art. The Hoysalas were the most powerful rulers who dominated the peninsula between the 10th and 14th century AD and they believed in building empires on this philosophy.
Now here goes my unravelling the hidden messages –
The foundation on which everything else is built is depicted by the elephants. Elephants stand for strength. Every organisation spends time on identifying, building and fine tuning their core strengths. A technology company may be built on its ability to be 2 steps ahead of their clients’ needs always. A fashion house may be built on being an aspirational brand. A holiday resort maybe built on the strength of its location. A financial services business maybe built on its ability to personalise service. The core strength is the something that is clear in every employees’ head and corporate culture is built around this core value proposition. Ideally the first investments should go into everything that enables delivery of this core value proposition. At strategic levels things happen slowly but surely – just like the strong and resolute elephant.
The next segment above the elephants are the lions. Lions depict courage. They are the kings of the jungle, they rule fearlessly. Backed by immense strength, organisations should have the courage to take risks and foray into new markets with new products. They should think scale and move with conviction. If teams lack this courage then they become fringe players with stunted impact. At the tactical level, organisations make calculated moves, mark the targets carefully and leap to kill – just like the mighty lion.
And the topmost layer are the horses. They are the frontline, the face of the fighting forces. The agile horses stand for speed. Once a decision is made in an organisation, execution should be quick. Agility and speed drives day to day activities at operational levels. Sales teams that think and execute on their feet, service teams that respond live time are those that help build great successes in teams.
The key insight is the order. Build strengths first, courage next and speed finally but surely. Courage without strength could be foolish. Speed without courage or strength could be suicidal. Strength without courage or speed is slow death.
FInancial wealth is built too on this premise.
The core part of a person’s financial health are strong and slow moving assets – real estate, cash, deposits, gold, long term bonds, dividend yielding stocks and all of them duly protected for risks with insurances and backing assets.
The peripheral portfolio takes calls on defensives and value stocks. Take risk on new ideas with the peripheral portfolio that flanks the core.
Then build a timing based satellite portfolio to buy and sell assets based on technicals and market information. Speed rules here.
And here as well, the order be maintained. Investors who do day trading without building core portfolios are acting suicidal. And investors who are invested in slow and solid assets without flanks are dying slowly.
Through that timeless sculpture, our forefathers left behind not just glimpses of their life but lessons for our success.