Sundararaman Viswanathan | Jan 30, 2009
When I started writing, my initial posts were much welcomed. Encouraged by the feedback I vowed to write more – and immediately my brother warned “Don’t start writing too frequently, quantity will dilute the quality.” I read an interesting quote the other day, which goes like “Great things in life come in small packages.” Boutique shop/restaurant/saloon is beautiful as compared to the Wal-Marts of the world. Look at the countries – the UK, Singapore, Israel, Luxemburg, Brunei – they are all small, well managed and beautiful. Why do MIT/Sanford/IIMs/IITs not open up more branches and spread wisdom? Look at the top executives from big multi-nationals break ranks and join small startups! Why does creativity, when mass-produced, lose its charm? Why have the sequels bombed at the box office, why successful authors have authored only a few books? Why do we love a Porsche more than a Toyota?
What’s with this small, less, stuff? I just don’t get it! Why do people throng/yearn to be part of and take pride in being in a member of a small team, institute, event, company, community or even a country? Is there a problem in associating ourselves with BIG and abundant?
Curious George in me kicked in and I landed on this interesting concept… “Small is beautiful” a movement founded by Leopold Kohr a great economist. He is best known for his work The Breakdown of Nations which in today’s times makes sense more than ever! I quote from the book:
“There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation. Whenever something is wrong, something is too big. And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations have been welded onto over concentrated social units.”
The section of the book quoted above provided answers to all my questions on a platter.
Everything in this world started small and had a sense of responsibility and sincerity. This brought exclusivity and charm to it. Everybody respected, admired and celebrated all small things until they grew big. The individual responsibility and sincerity of people of the small entity emanated and shone more than the collective negativity of the entity. But once the entity grew big, its demand to consume eventually consumed itself.
Look at the US, its demand to consume energy to keep up the growth has eventually consumed itself. Satyam was consumed by the power and money it was required to create it in the first place. The same applies to artisans; initially they consume less intellectual resources to create a few masterpieces because it is only needed to supplement their genius. But when they start off big on a journey of mass production, they start consuming more intellectual resources that the line between inspiration and plagiarism becomes a blur.
Well, then, does it mean that we cannot produce quality output in large quantities? What is the God in small things that makes them beautiful? How to grow big quantitatively as well and still be as admired as when we were small?
According to me the God which makes small things beautiful is responsibility and sincerity! In the pursuit of growth we should not let responsibility and sincerity to be frittered away, nor overlook the ethics and obligations. Nor consume more than we contribute. Adopt a “responsible growth” path. A growth which is accountable to the environment we live in, a growth which is reasonable and not meteoric and surreal.
These growth stories will not be publicized because they might not be sensational to the media. There might not have been a miracle. It would have been a hard and arduous journey, but we should identify such growth stories in all walks of life, acknowledge, admire and benchmark them for future.
That way we will be able to make everything big – beautiful, exclusive and charming as it should be!
Sundararaman Viswanathan is engineer by qualification, manager by profession, aspiring writer and a wannabe entrepreneur at heart. He currently works as a Transition Manager, with vast experience in managing the support of mission critical IT systems.
Filed Under: Miscellaneous