MS for Business – 5 lessons from MS Dhoni


Strangles like a python.
Sprints like a cheetah.

1. Stick with your instincts (& team)
2. Seize opportunities (Run like hare)
3. Plan long term (for your self & others too)
4. Take it deep (not shallow learning)
5. End on a high (Seal with a six)

1. Stick with your instincts & people

In Art of War, Sun Tzu says, ‘know your own weakness better than your enemies’. MS could have been the co-author. Or at least the author of its cricketing version!

He is a player who isn’t afraid to experiment. But what we now call it as ‘controlled experiments.’ It’s a known fact that MS does not like to tinker with his playing XI. Yet he plans for the future. So in the final game of IPL 2018, he choose to send Harbhajan & Chahhar before the much established line up. Reason, plan for a contingency before the play-offs.

Another reason, mess up with the opponents’ strategy. Not only the current ones, KIXP, but the league topper SRH.

2. Seize opportunities (Run like hare)

In a video released by BCCI, India’s cricketing body, there was a match between hare & the tortoise (alleged one). You know the story. Hare won. A 36 year old Dhoni out ran, out foxed and ousted a decade younger Hardik Pandya.

If we could peek into MS brain, we would find gaps! Because that’s what he finds on the cricketing field. He knows the field placements, anticipates the bowlers move and runs like his life it on it.

That’s what makes great scores and that works ditto for business. It’s not the big contracts that win you races. Very often business fail to capitalize on small opportunities. They lose on those small sales while focusing on only the big orders. It’s the small that gets to bigger contracts.

So much so in cricket, the batsmen lose their wicket chasing boundaries when a run here and couple there would get you home too. Dhoni knows this simple truth. He runs his ones hard, converts them into twos and lo, bowlers errs and bowl the boundary balls.

3. Plan long term (for yourself & others too)

After yet another harbinger of a contest, on the needle, this is what the amazing MS had to say. ‘You not only play for yourself but work on improving the batsmen on the other end too. You may win one, lose another, but make sure the process gets right.’

Here at the CSK, he was mentoring a resurgent Ambati Rayadu, sharing his blind spots and showing him a better balance. Imagine the micro-processes in Dhoni’s mind. Keeping the run rate in mind, finding the gaps, pre-mediating which bowlers would bowl which overs, and all this, while batting at the crease.

In the ever memorable World cup finals against Sri Lanka, he famously promoted himself ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh to counter the spin of Murli. That’s match awareness.

Here is what MS said in a post match interview: “Looking at ten years, it has been very good for us. We like to do the process right because that’s what gives you the result. There are quite a few finals where I still remember what went wrong. When the format is like this, just a couple of big hits or a run-out can change things. Everyone wants to win.”

4. Take it deep (not shallow learning)

At the British council skill workshop, I learnt about shallow learning versus deep learning.

A shallow approach is superficial. Almost pseudo and definitely short term. But when you plan deep, you inhale the learning. Internalize it, don’t panic at the sheer volume and can plan it well.

Replicate it with a match scenario and you would still find a captain cool. MS would not panic if run rate goes above ten or twelve. Rather, there is joke that he only wakes up when the scoring rate exceeds ten!

Most teams would panic. Lose wickets trying to accelerate. But MS. He plans down to the wire. His moves may baffle critics but makes for an insightful cricketing lore.

So last over finishes are almost expected. After all, you plan for a full match not 18th or 19th over. This is deep learning.

5. End on a high (Seal with a six)

Last ball sixes and MS Dhoni are synonymous. In a #CricbuzzLIVE session, the host Gaurav says cheekily that’s its’ as if the universe conspires to give MS a go at the final ball over the rope opportunity!

Well he earns those helicopter rides, doesn’t he? He digs deep, runs well and then pounces on those sixes. While wicket-keeping & captaining, he is like a Python. Strangulating his opponent. Patiently waiting for them to make a mistake. Slow death. While batting, he metamorphoses into a cheetah. Runs, sprints, chases and goes for the kills.

A lesson for educators & businesses alike. Be flexible in your approach, adapt your strategy to the match situation and choose your animal instincts wisely.

And yes, seal with a six.

About the Author
The author Dawood Vaid’s journey from engineer to educationist has taken him across Russia, Switzerland and Dubai. He is a teacher trainer and a Growth Mindset Coach. Hold an MBA, an MA in Education and a certificate course on ‘Teaching of 21st Century Skills’ by The University of Melbourne. He has developed capsules using the 21st century skills under the organization Sky Education which he head as the CEO. The capsules focuses on the core theme HEAL – Humanities, Environment, Arts and Language.
Hear him speak at YouTube: Sky Education TV or email

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