Archive for August, 2014

The Panchabhootham (Five Elements) analogy of corporate institution building

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014


Prof. Prasad Kaipa, CEO Coach in Silicon Valley recently took me to the Redwood Forest in California. I had a phenomenal experience walking around among the trees, some of which were almost 300 feet tall. They are 2000 years old and resistant to any fire. They have lived a life spanning across cultures from a time period before any of the settlers migrated there. Multiple fires have happened in that forest and some of the trunks were burnt. But it didn’t impact them. The burning has created some holes in the bottom, but the trees are growing and standing tall. They need so much of water every day – 500 gallons. They take water from clouds too, because the roots cannot support the water to go up to 300 feet. So, the leaves take water from the clouds.

Prasad took me through a very good dialogue on how he uses the redwood forest for coaching. He brings CEOs there and spends two days at a time in the forest with them. He said institution building is a big learning that can be taken from these trees. These trees are long lasting, well beyond a human lifetime. He takes them around and structures a beautiful metaphor. Over a campfire in the evening – the campfire is like a vision which we want for the company. That vision gives passion and energy to the people. Fire is what gives energy to everybody. There is a vision and then to carry this vision across the forest is where forest fires play a role. Air plays the role of marketing and taking it to the marketplace, creating a buzz. From the air, comes sky or space . Sky is a set of opportunities/possibilities. It’s a huge sky which has many possibilities. Once the possibilities have been identified, we need resources. We need to drive it down and in that water plays the role of connecting the possibilities into reality and connecting to the earth where you can sow the seed and grow your vision on the ground and nurture the dreams. This is the Panchabhootham (five elements) analogy which he provided. I had never heard of it before.

According to Hinduism, life and the various species originated by combination of planetary entities and the five manifestations of nature – air, water, fire, land and sky. The Panchabootham analogy, a very interesting one, links to Corporate institution building.