Friday, November 28, 2014

What’s common between Narendra Modi, Sholay, Microsoft and The Beatles?

Narendra Modi is the new star of the political world, whose charisma refuses to fade. He has given hope to not just his nation but the world too. His success run just doesn’t seem to end. However, if you look closely you realize he is not a one-man army. There is another person always next to him, his close confidante who is equally responsible for the thundering success of BJP and Modi. The man is Amit Shah. Together, the duo is creating magic. They are the best partners and their partnership is the secret of their success.

Modi and Shah are the new age Jai and Veeru of Sholay! The iconic film and its unforgettable story of two friends is the best example of what a great partnership can do.  

History is full of examples of great partners. Be it Narendra Modi and Amit Shah or Sherlock Holmes and Watson. It’s the pairs that together have done wonders and achieved great results. Man is a social animal and the smallest possible social unit is a group of two. However, the dynamics of this group has rarely been studied in depth. Numerous success stories have had a pair at the center. Look at the rock band The Beatles. At the heart of this were two extremely talented people John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were both extremely talented individuals and when they paired up, they helped ignite the hidden fire within each other. As a result, together they produced music, which was a class apart. 

When two people who share a great chemistry come together, they create magic. Look at Hollywood. Some of the best films ever made had a great team of two behind them. The super successful Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones series had the dynamic duo George Lucas and Harrison Ford behind it. Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman both iconic actors created great films like Million Dollar Baby and Invictus. Who can forget the most iconoclastic director Martin Scorsese who has created a place for himself in history by directing films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Aviator, The Departed and many more. His lead actor and constant partner Leonardo DiCaprio being equally responsible for the super duper success of these films. Both of them together ignited the screen with celluloid drama that is rarely seen. That’s the magic of a great pair. The same chemistry can be found in Bollywood too. When Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan came together, they created wonders; so did Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik and also Salman Khan and Sooraj Barjatia, making films that created history at the box office. The pairs worked so well that whenever they were put together they brought out the best in each other, which was visible on screen.

A pair that works well together wins more. 

In the corporate world too, successful partnerships are aplenty and one of the key factors is the ‘right chemistry’ between the two parties. Some of the biggest brands of today had at their heart two people who were driven by the same passion and shared the most productive partnership. They complimented each other and their combined skill sets made them one of the strongest business units in the industry. Bill Gates and his school friend Paul Allen loved hacking and loved computers and together created Microsoft. If these other two childhood friends loved computers, then these two childhood friends loved food and even did a correspondence course in ice-cream making together; and as expected, Ben and Jerry together started the very successful ice-cream brand ‘Ben&Jerry’.

These two people became friends while on a summer job and their friendship was the foundation of one of the greatest brands in corporate history. Steve Wozniack was a master in analytics and the late Steve Jobs was a master marketer; together, the two Steves created Apple.

A two-week camping trip brought Bill and Dave together and they became best friends who later discovered how similar they were. And together, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started HP (Hewlett-Packard).

Think of almost any big brand of today and at the helm of each, you will find two friends, two people who share a great camaraderie and a common passion. 

Think eBay – Jeffery Skoll and Pierre Omidyar.
Think Twitter – Biz Stone and Evan Williams.
Think Whatsapp – Brian Acton and Jan Koum.
Think P&G – William Procter and James Gamble.
The list goes on. 

Not all partnerships are for a noble cause however!

You saw the movie Bunty aur Babli and the terrific partnership of the duo. History is full of such examples of partners who used their compatibility and understanding to execute the most dangerous of crimes! In fact, ‘partners in crime’ has been the plot of many successful blockbusters both in Bollywood and Hollywood. Sholay still remains one of the most memorable films of two friends whose partnership is so beautiful that it makes you cry every time you watch it. In Hollywood too, movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid showed the life of the criminal duo Butch Cassidy and his accomplice Harry Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid.

In fact, criminal duos make for an interesting study too. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who together robbed trains, lockers, and people and made a lot of money, there have been many famous partners who were always on the other side of the law. Bonnie and Clyde – the most well known American outlaws – carried out the biggest crimes in US history during the 1930s. Together, they always managed to outsmart the police until one fine day in 1934, when they were ambushed and killed. The James brothers too had a dark history of robbing and killing people. The Lonely Hearts killers were again a couple that used to woo lonely single women, rob them and eventually kill them. Yes, agreed, what they did was illegal but because there were two of them, they could outwit the police, the authorities and were almost untouchable.

There are some unique partnerships, which bring out the best in you. Paul McCartney and John Lennon were partners but also serious rivals and as a result, they brought out the best in each other. Each wanted to outdo the other and this healthy competition gave the music industry some of the best music ever. If you can find a partner who fires you up and challenges you and pushes you beyond your limits, never let that person go. He will help you reach your highest potential. 

It’s something similar to Batman and Joker or Spiderman and Green Goblin. The Joker brings out the best in Batman. He is a genius and finds limitless ways of tricking Batman keeping Batman always on his feet. Batman has to be at the best of his best, if he has to stay ahead of Joker. It’s not really your traditional partnership but the rivalry brings out the best in both of them. Similarly, the Green Goblin, in his quest to destroy his rival Spiderman, pushes Spiderman over the edge and makes him perform at his best to stop the villain from winning.  Sometimes, a smart rival can also be responsible for your success. In your fight for supremacy and to put down the rival, you actually achieve the highest levels of excellence. It may not be the most pleasant of partnerships, but it keeps you on your toes and prevents you from becoming complacent. 

You have heard the saying ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’. That’s the problem with teams that are too large. Our brain is not designed to handle too many people. As a result, small teams are always more efficient than large teams. How to know when a team has become too large? According to Jeff Bezos, the ‘two pizza rule’ is the best way to decide that. According to him, if a team can be fed on two pizzas, it’s the right size. Any team where more than two pizzas need to be ordered is too large. When there are too many people working on one thing, the group may suffer from something known as ‘groupthink’. The group stops thinking independently and soon everybody starts agreeing with every one else. That’s a waste of resources to say the least. 

Apart from this, a small team ensures that everybody and their contribution get noticed. For groups to function well, they need to have a common objective that unites them. In the ancient times, when hunting was the prime activity for survival, men went out in small groups. If successful, they all feasted; and if they failed, they all went hungry. Thus, the size of the hunting group never exceeded ten. They were united and worked better and more cohesively as rewards and punishments were the same for all. The world today is not very different. If each team member is rewarded, praised equally and reprimanded equally too, there will be more cohesion and unity and hence higher levels of efficiency. The human brain works best when the team size is small. Look at most sports teams – the size of almost all teams are around ten or less. A jury consists of 12 people. Every successful army – be it the British army, the US army, even the ancient Roman army or even the army of Genghis Khan – had a ten member team around which larger formations were built. To sum it up, if there are too many people, it’s always going to spell trouble. The smaller a team, the more efficient it is. The smallest team size is two, and in many cases this probably is the size that works most efficiently. Finding the right partner is the key to achieving great heights. 

In life too, if you really want to live it to the fullest, go ahead and find the right partner or even the right rival. That could be the turning point in your life, career or business.


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