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ChakDe!India..A management masterpiece!

Bollywood Superstar, Shahrukh Khan is extending his support and pledging his heartbeat to Indian Hockey and our hearts are beating to know the final winner! But this is not the first time, the superstar is supporting hockey.11 years back, he and the 16 women hockey players pledged and changed the destiny of the Indian women’s hockey team (both in reel and in real life!).

So what is it about Chakde!India that resonates with us, even a decade later? Yes, it was a motivational story..yes, it had the King Khan in a never-seen-before character, and yes, there was his famous “Sattar minute” dialogue that caught our attention. But I believe there is more to it. The fact that this film spoke about a team, the teams that we see around us on an everyday basis, made us relate and connect to it and even today reminds us of the same. Sports team, teams in our workplaces or teams that are formed for achieving a goal (say a group of relatives trying to organize a family vacation!), am sure you would see almost all the characters.

Some of the most important lessons (some straight out of our management books!) that is relevant in a workplace and some otherwise as well are:

  1. Stages in Team Development:Psychologist Bruce Tuckman’ sForming , storming, norming, performing is explicitly seen in ChakDe!India. The team gets together (forming), differences & tussle arises as each member struggles to understand each other and their role (storming), led by the coach, they understand the goal and each one’s role and chart a clear path for themselves (norming) playing and winning the World Cup (performing). There is one more stage which is at times mentioned as adjourning that involves completing the task and breaking up the team. Though the film ends, we hope for a sequel and hence we don’t want an adjourning stage!
  2. Dealing with the villainous team mates: Bollywood movies have portrayed characters as black or white and the villain is supposed to be nasty. This film gives a fresh take on people with negative shades. Even though Bindiya is hell bent to oust the Team Leader, break the team’s spirit and wants a position that she thinks she deserves, yet she is the one who manages to break the most difficult match and lead the team to victory. It is important to identify the negative members in the team, but instead of isolating them from the team, they should be respected and given an opportunity to contribute to the team when the time is right. Invaluable lesson, right!
  3. Diversity and inclusion: Most organisations today are trying to sell themselves as the most diverse and inclusive organization. Though it is easier said than done, the film beautifully brings out the diversity in the team, and the responsibility of the team and Team Leader in identifying, recognising and making sure all the team members feel included in the team is beautifully highlighted. (The girls from northeast, Balbir Kaur’s ‘de de sorry’)
  4. Women empowerment: There is a lot of discussion today and organisations are creating strategies to address and attract women in workforce. This film, in some ways, amplify the discussions around the theme of women and stated loudly and clearly women empowerment and the gender discrimination that is prevalent in every part of the society today. Right from team captain Vidya’s family’s objection to pursue sports (read career) post marriage, Indian Women’s Hockey Association’s lack of faith in women’s ability to succeed, match between the men’s and women’s Indian hockey teams, Preeti’s dialogue before the final match (“to prove to a boy as to what a girl is capable of doing”) have all shouted loudly and clearly about our society’s perception of women wanting to pursue a career.
  5. Role in different teams: The role that a person plays in a team depends on the team and its other team members. The same person may have to play different roles when part of different teams and it has to be understood in the context of the entire team. This is brought out beautifully, where Bindiya insists on playing in the position that she has always been playing and the coach points out that in this team, she would suit be needed to play a different role. Time for some self-analysis in the light of the new context!

There is a beautiful part at the end of the final match against Australia (my personal favourite!), where Komal passes the ball to Preeti to help her hit a goal and Preeti in turn returns this favour by asking Komal to take her part for the penalty shoot-out. This may look too filmy to be true in a workplace setting. However, at times, we need to help the other person win which creates a trust & goodwill beyond the apparent which could be invaluable for a long lasting and effective team!

By: -Vishnupriya Sundararajan

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