Know Why? vs Know How?
Lord Krishna drove the chariot for Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. Even on those days the job of a “Pagan” (Sarathy?) - the charioteer is a menial job which Lord Krishna has chosen for himself. While young, I was curious to know why God had chosen the menial job as a charioteer. The significance was he wanted to guide and protect Arjuna who was his close friend. The Kauravas were doing injustice to Pandavas and Bhagwan wanted to be on their side. But still why he had chosen to be a Charioteer?
Like a pilot in the plane, a charioteer knows where to drive and when. In addition showing physical direction to Arjuna during the war, Lord Krishna showed him the path when he was confused in a hysterical state before the war. Lord Krishna redeemed the great warrior from his depressed state later came to be called as “Arjuna state of consciousness”. In other words Lord Krishna knew the “Know Why” while Pandavas were told the “Know How” of the war. The role played by Lord Krishna is today played by the CEOs of modern corporate.
Developing countries collaborate with developed countries for manufacturing cars and other similar products. Sanjay Gandhi dreamt a small car for common man of
and started developing it using Indian design capabilities. To cut short the time to make the car available Indira Gandhi’s “Thinking” set out to get the “know how” from Suzuki of Japan to produce the Maruti-800 car. This has nearly democratized the cars for common man in India . Now Ratan Tata through Nano nearly completed the dream of Sanjay Ghandi to make cars available for the middle class people in India . Those countries who were ahead made money by selling the “know how” of obsolete technology to the developing countries. India
What is the main point?
It is the “Thinking” of a few leaders that brought the prosperity and comfort to the people at large. The “Thinking” ahead has helped the developed countries to make money from the people who are not able to think ahead. In short the difference between a Leader and follower is this ability to “Think”.
John C Maxwell in his book “How successful people THINK” says:
“If you know how, you will be employed; if you know Why, you will be made as a CEO!”
What is he really saying? He says that the Thinkers generally become CEOs and not doers. Strange! Is it not? Our understanding is every one of us does think and what is the speciality of this “Thinking” all about? Let me cover “Thinking” as the next ingredient of Stature building skills of a Leader!
I am writing this blog while on vacation in
Finland a cold place where the land ends in northern Europe. This is the land where Nokia which “connected people” was born. Today Nokia is synonymous to cell phone. I was trying to find the genesis of this great invention. It is said that in winter the people are so separated from each other and at extreme cold you wish to contact people who are outside their home. This “thinking” of a man brought the cell phone for everyone to use.
Henry Ford’s “Thinking” in 1906 brought the automobile which has changed our life style and brought economical growth. Rights brothers “thinking” to fly inspired by the birds in 1908 has resulted in commercial air planes in 1935. It took nearly 30 years to convert the Rights brothers’ idea into a safe gadget in which human beings can fly. 100 years later now we have jet planes which carry 400 people and flies across the continents without stopping anywhere.
Steven Covey said in his second habit as “Everything is born twice – once in the mind of the creator and later in reality which can be seen by everyone”. When
was inaugurated, Walt Disney was no more. In the inaugural function two people believed have had a conversation. One of them said sadly “Disney is not there now to see this great invention”. The other man has quietly said “He has seen it before you and I could see it”. Disney Land
“Thinking is the prerogative of mankind but for some strange reasons only a very few human beings “think” on a regular basis. In fact the faculty which differentiated human from the earlier species is “thinking”. Does this argument hold good for the CEOs as well? Does that mean those who have climbed the highest rung in the corporate ladder are the scientists? In a way yes!
Let’s explore this in greater detail.
When Ford conceptualized and perfected the idea of an automobile, he faced a great difficulty in manufacturing cars in large numbers. There was no mass producing industries before Ford Motor Company to take reference. He has visited many places for getting an idea and finally got the breakthrough when he visited a butcher’s shop where he saw the jobs split into many small activities and assigned to the individual people. From this inspiration Henry Ford split the car manufacturing into small operations to produce parts and assembled them together. This is evident from Henry Ford’s famous saying “I am going to build the motor car using people who don’t know how to build them!”
This milestone in mankind has brought the division of human beings as “Thinkers and Doers”. Thinkers would create a path and Doers will follow them behind”. As thinking is difficult and few only can do, they were obviously paid higher than Doers. Now you will appreciate “Know Why” is thinker’s job and “Know How” is Doer’s job that explains what John Maxwell is saying.
When I started my career as a Trainee in TAFE (Tractors And Farm Equipments) in 1970, later as Product designer in Lucas-TVS till I grew as the Head of Technology in Crompton Greaves, I was keen on knowing everything about mechanical component design. I did not know this eagerness to learn is “Know How – to design components” although it helped me to grow in the technology stream. When I did my Change Leadership course I learned that for leading an organization as a CEO, you need to have “Big Picture”. It took some time to know what this stuff “Big Picture” is all about. Later I recognized that it is about seeing the organization at a 30,000 feet altitude. It is not the physical altitude, but is the mental altitude! I realized that it is also a form of “thinking”. I recognized to Lead, you need to Think ahead. A pilot sitting in the cock pit sees everything ahead and is the first person to arrive. Likewise the CEO has to think ahead of time to lead the organization.
The simple fact is “If you want control something you need to know how it works”. As a CEO you control the destiny of the organization you lead and hence you need to know how it works. It is very difficult to visualize why the person who knows how to build the airplane in Boeing was not chosen as the CEO while Jim Mc Nerney from 3M has to take over Boeing as a CEO to change its fate. How Mc Nerney has understood the complex functioning of the airplane design and manufacturing company without growing up in the same discipline. The CEO need not know the “Know How” which is taken care of by many people in the organization. For leading an organization we need people who know “Know Why” which is the rarest capability.
A CEO develops the creative ability of thinking about the future of the enterprise he/she leads and directs it passionately. The ability to think also helps the CEO to diagnose the weaknesses and opportunities of the enterprise he/she leads there by develop strategies to strengthen it. The major difference in common man’s thinking and CEO’s thinking lies in “Quality of Thinking” – the common man thinks about “How” where as the CEO thinks about the future and creates a “Know why” which brings prosperity. In other words the “CEO chooses the right forest while the followers choose the right trees”. In the words of Peter Drucker “The leader chooses the right crank and the follower is trained to turn it right”
“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”
- David Schwartz
- Thinking is the prerogative of all human beings – but few exercise this faculty to create something that did not exist before.
- Thinking has transformed this planet a better place to live creating prosperity and global connectivity
- The difference between a Leader and a follower is in “Quality of Thinking”
- The Leaders think “Know why” where as followers think “Know How”
- Know why is a rare capability than know how – “know why” of Einstein what matter consist of brought quantum theory leading to Atomic energy.
- Thinkers and Doers are different – Thinkers create and Doers follow the process
- Leaders make themselves different due to the ability of Thinking and creating the future.
- Thinking is not a great job that a common people cannot do – They have chosen not to do and remain as followers!
See you in the next episode with more tips for Stature building.