--> Skip to main content

Means Are as Important as Ends – Hinduism Teaching

‘The ends justify the means’ is often touted as a management maxim but Hinduism does not agree with this teaching. According to this, if the ends are good, just, and desirable, then one may resort to unfair or unjust methods to achieve the same. Such thinking strikes at the very root of value-based management. If the means are unfair, then they will defile the entire system and affect the result itself, no matter how useful the end-result may appear at the outset. History — from Nero to Hitler — bears ample witness to this fact.

Swami Vivekananda says, ‘One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end.’ ‘Whenever failure comes,’ he adds, ‘if we analyse it critically, in ninety-nine per cent of cases we shall find that it was because we did not pay attention to the means.’ So, even small and trifling moral compromises should not be made in the means, as this would take one away from the goal. Unfair means can defile the face of even the greatest of successes and render it useless.

Every sustainable achievement in human society rests on the foundation of good and effective systems. A system is ‘an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines, or the like, in a particular field’. System implies order, method, or a definite way of implementing things. Systems, when meticulously implemented, ensure success. When they are not implemented, chaos and confusion follow. To put an effective system in place, a manager must have good knowledge of its constituent elements. And the primary principle in an effective systems design is the principle of harmony. A successful manger would take care to minimize all reactions within the system and would also follow the path of least resistance.

It should be evident now that to have an effective external system one needs to train one’s mind and systematize one’s thinking. Internal confusion and disharmonies are bound to get reflected in external results. Sloth and carelessness are two of the greatest enemies of systematization.

Procrastination and delays can undo even the best of systems. And the prime reason for this is the lack of a strong will-power. Similarly, one needs to be careful and alert to ensure that every detail related to the work at hand is meticulously implemented. A moment’s carelessness can undo hours of hard work. Once one gets into the habit of cultivating care and diligence, not only will work efficiency improve, but one will also get additional time for the pursuit of excellence.