A general dictionary defines recession in many ways like, "A period of an economic contraction, an extended decline in general business activity, a general slump in every business that will last several months or years" and so on.
Recession is a time when stock markets go haywire, jobs get cut worldwide, best practices become worst practices, time for blame games, etc. And, not to be left behind, the media and management gurus also go bonkers with their own theories of why things failed, whose heads should roll, who should be lynched, statistical gymnastics, witch hunts, etc.
During such times you may ask, why on earth do best practices that gave abundance and happiness until now suddenly become worst practices? For this, people may say it is because the universe is a random, chaotic, dance of meaningless happenings. This may seem true, because we see several personal disasters that just don't make sense. But, on an overall scale, underneath all the chaotic occurrences, there are hidden reasons and purpose to all things that happen.
Coming back to the main topic, though, economists, decision makers and rationalists often believe the creation (and elimination) of recession is completely under man's control. But it is not entirely true. A higher power is at work, and it is necessary to understand there is a hidden philosophical or non-scientific reason why mankind goes through phases of abundance and famine. And that reason is well documented in most religious books, but not easily available in most management or economic books.
Most religious books explain why mankind goes through troubling times, but perhaps the best explanation of how and why recession occurs is given in the Jain mythology. According to Jainism, the world goes through a relentless cycle of positive and negative phases called Sushama and Dushama, (and their combinations), which can be used to understand a recession.
A perfectly good phase is called Sushama Sushama (extreme happiness). This is the phase of feel-good factors when businessmen believe they are invincible, organizations make enormous profits, customers are plentiful, demanding better and better services, willing to pay a premium for goods and services, etc. People easily talk about fashionable things like the sky being the limit, firing on all cylinders, nerves of steel, etc., and keep doing things at a reckless pace.
Businesses start believing they are capable of everything and start mergers, hostile takeovers, diversification, etc. Success in one field also gives them false confidence to try their hand in areas they are not experienced with. So individuals and organizations start developing many arms and legs in the hope to give end to end service, or have a stake in every stage of the value chain, etc. For example, successful steel companies may start software industries, while software industries may try their hand in television sets, oil manufacturers enter into peddling agricultural products, etc., in the name of diversification.
Soon a small tilt occurs and it enters into a phase called Sushama Dushama (happiness with some unhappiness). This starts because when things go higher and higher, common sense and moderation takes a backseat, and greed takes over causing the bubble to expand beyond what it should. This is a phase when businesses slowly start feeling the pinch with revenues going down and entering into a phase of slowness.
Soon it enters into a phase of Dushama Dushama (extreme unhappiness) when the bubble finally bursts and everything starts going bad, a period which we call recession or depression. This is a phase where everything that was good earlier will seem now bad. The very factors that were bringing successes will now bring failures. Best practices will now seem like worst practices. Suddenly every safe investment and practices become risky.
The very foundations of every business thought and practice that worked so well earlier now gets ridiculed, questioned and insulted. All the business heroism will suddenly vaporize and people enter into a state of panic leading to abrupt cost-cutting by putting sudden brakes on everything. This, in turn, will lead to a situation like a car pileup on a on a highway due to an accident. Mighty businesses fall down like nine pins and billionaires get wiped out for inexplicable reasons. The trigger for this phase often starts in rather mysterious and unpredictable ways, like for example, creating a 9/11 , a dot-com burst, or a sub-prime crisis, that no one could have imagined or prevented.
Slowly, after some agonizing months or years, it enters a phase called Dushama Sushama (unhappiness with some happiness) where rays of hope start appearing again and things get better. Eventually things improve to good old days of Sushama Sushama, but only for a short period of time. And the cycle starts again as it is an eternal never-ending process, a law of nature that every human should accept. In short, these phases keep humans from becoming too confident and arrogant of their capabilities.
There is no escaping from this mighty circle. It is nature's way of moderating things and letting the steam out when it is necessary to do so. In fact, if you observe closely, such feast and famine cycles are already visible all around us. For example, flowering trees goes into full bloom and then slowly loses all its leaves and flowers, only to start all over again. And no amount of watering or fertilizers will ensure the flowers remain intact all the year round. Similarly, humans have to endure periodic positive and negative phases, no matter how hard they try to avoid the negative phase.
Finally we can conclude this article with a couple of quotes that can teach us how to handle a recession.
"If you are going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
"When humans are too happy, even the gods are jealous." - Old jungle saying
Thejendra Sreenivas, BS is an IT manager from Bangalore, India with more than 18 years experience in IT management and technical projects. In addition, he is a writer and scribbles wild articles on self help, management, technical and business humor topics that are published on many reputed websites and syndicated through various RSS feeds around our planet. He has also written diverse books like Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity, Practical IT Service Management, Corporate Wardrobe-Business Humor Series and Life-365-A Year's Supply of Wisdom, Tips & Advice. You can contact Thejendra on email@example.com and visit his online cave www.thejendra.com for his articles and books.