Monthly Archives: November 2013

Multi task and division of labour

‘The research of past several decades has proved that ‘multi-task’ orientation never yield much results’, said one person when we were discussing about kitchen work in the ashram.  She said that she would like to come often to the ashram, but as I have to cook or as I don’t allow others to cook, she is not comfortable with it, as she does not want to give trouble to me.  ‘Left alone, I can manage the entire cooking single-handedly.  When I cook I don’t like the presence of others around me in the kitchen.  I will manage all the work alone’.  In response I said that this is poor leadership quality.  Because, we should know how to share our responsibility with others.  Those who say that they can do things single-handedly will face serious problem in future when they become old as they won’t be trained both physically and mentally to adjust with others.  The theory of ‘division of labour’ (by Adam Smith—as a student of Economics I remember only this point on this subject) shows how deputing our work load with others can bring better results.  I never say ‘no’ to anyone to come and help me in kitchen work.  In fact I extract more work from others in kitchen and get all the credit for cooking.’

Then we briefly discussed on this subject before they left.  One point that came in that discussion was that if we depend too much upon others to accomplish our work (task) then we will fail as they never do the work as we expected.  In response I said that our idealism in life on any area will never work in life.  Most of the wives fail their husband’s idealism of ‘good-tasty food’ and mother-in-law’s idealism of ‘clean and neat kitchen (particularly the refrigerator)’.  Similarly almost all the husbands have failed their wives idealism of ‘best purchase(r)’, particularly the vegetables (as they often bring ripped bendies [ladies fingers] and brinjal with lots of insects in it).  Similarly a boss’ or Team leader’s idealism of the subordinates will never be materialized.  Then in order to implement our particularly idealism, if we began to do other’s part, then we will fail in every area.  How accomplish a task, with to a minimum expectation/standard—particularly from one’s subordinates is both an art and quality of leadership.  Even if one’s subordinate does the work better than the boss/leader, then it won’t be easily recognized or appreciated.  Except the parents and a sincere guru, no one likes to see their subordinate excel over them.  Even if they excel, then there will be some kind of a hidden jealousy in the mind of a leader/boss.  It is a general saying in India that a fine art guru won’t impart the entire secret to the student as they don’t want to see them excel them.  Even if they excelled, while appreciating their growth, the fine art guru will always say, ‘you have done it good, but you could have do it better’.

In Tamil we have a saying ‘instead of straining the lips, better strain the feet’, [உதடு தேயறதவிட உள்ளங்கால் தேயலாம்] which means instead of instructing others how to do the work, better you do it yourself.  But for me this is not a good principle.  This I have observed during my visit and stay with some families.  Some parents never train their children to do several things (particularly related with household errands) thinking that instead of ‘arguing, pleading, rebuking, requesting, threatening’ their children, it is easy for them to do it on their own.  This may bring temporary truce in their efforts to train their children to face their future life, but will fail to train their children to learn with a generous allowance of doing mistakes, which is possible in a home that too with parents.

I think there is a wrong perception between ‘multi-task’ and ‘division of labour’.  For example preparing food is a single task in which comes as the principle of ‘division of labour’.  If we are not clear in it, then we will end up in over straining ourselves and soon become a person without any energy to do any work properly.

Db. 4-11-2013.  Gurukulam.