Yearly Archives: 2019

12Mar/19

Knowledge-Management: A Psychological Perspectives

(Published in Management Accountant, Journal of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India)

We are told by economic and management pundits that the contemporary world is a knowledge-society and a knowledge-economy where knowledge, and not capital or natural resources, is the primary factor that will determine the competitive advantage of nations or organizations. The knowledge-worker is emerging as an influential class in the corporate world. And knowledge-management has emerged as a distinct and specialized field of study in corporate management. However, most of the modern approach to knowledge-management is external, aiming at the outer organization of knowledge through Information Technology. But for a more efficient and effective knowledge-management, we must learn to manage the inner faculties of knowledge. When all the knowledge-workers in an organization are trained in managing their inner faculties of knowledge, it leads to a more creative internal management of its knowledge-resources, complementing and reinforcing the external organization of knowledge. This article presents such a deeper approach to knowledge-management, in the light of Indian yoga psychology

The Triune Mind

The first step in this deeper and inner approach to knowledge-management is to have a clear understanding of the nature of the instruments of knowledge. The Intelligent Will, called as ‘Buddhi’ in Indian thought, is the primary instrument of knowledge. Knowledge can also be received through heart or vital intuitions, but humans, in their present evolutionary status, are mental beings and therefore understanding will in the mind is the highest and most enlightened power available to them in their quest for knowledge.

So the first task for a seeker of knowledge is the purification of this faculty of understanding. In our ordinary status of ignorance, this faculty of understanding is not functioning according to its dharma but involved in the action of the lower faculties such as those of our physical, emotional and vital consciousness of the surface ego-personality. These lower faculties are supposed to obey the dictates of the intelligent will like a servant obeys his master’s commands. But in our present status of ego-based, desire-driven ignorance, the master very frequently or most of the times forgets his dharma and becomes an accomplice of his servants, who use him as a tool to provide rational justification to indulge in their desires. So the first step in the purification of the intelligent will is to disentangle the faculty from its involvement in the surface play of the physical and vital consciousness.

The main reason for this entanglement is the very nature of our human terrestrial evolution which has progressed from matter and life to mind through a process of progressive emergence and integration. Life or vital consciousness has emerged from physical matter and was integrated into it and transformed it to become a living matter. And mind has emerged from living mater and transformed it into a living and thinking matter. Thus our mental consciousness pervades our whole being. There is a physical mind, vital or emotional mind and a thinking, willing mind. The characteristic action of the physical mind is an obsessive repetition of habitual mental notions acquired from physical sense-perception. The vision of this physical mind is confined to a life bounded with the sensory perception of the brain. The vital mind brings up an eager, restless and anxious pursuit of desire and emotional attachment into all our mental functioning. This vital mind is always ever ready to provide convenient justifications for the desires of our vital ego.

Beyond this physical and vital mind is the thinking mind. Here also there are two elements in this part of mind. There is an element of pure reason, which is capable of a disinterested pursuit of truth or knowledge and can range freely in the realm of pure abstract ideas. But there is a pragmatic element in this mind, which is oriented towards life and is always interested in utilizing knowledge for application, enlargement, utility and progress in life.

Though this higher part of the mind is capable of a relative freedom from desire, it is still subject to ego-sense. In the pure reason this ego-sense creates a strong intellectual attachment to certain ideas or ideals, pre-conceived notions, and an attraction towards particular forms of intellectual, aesthetic, ethical or aesthetic, ideals or pleasures. Sometimes an inordinate desire of this part of the mind for a vast accumulation of knowledge for the personal pleasure or satisfaction of the intellectual ego is mistaken as a ‘disinterested’ pursuit of truth.

In the pragmatic part of the intelligence, this ego-sense creates a strong inclination to use knowledge as a tool for personal enlargement, benefit and progress of the ego.

Intelligent will or Buddhi has to be purified of all these gross and subtle traces of ego and desire as these dark twins of ignorance are the source of all impurity and keep in its entanglement the functioning of other forms of energies—physical, sensuous, vital, emotional—of our nature.

Disentangling the Intelligence

The first step in this discipline of purification is self-observation. We have to observe carefully the movements, workings, urges and natural inclinations of our physical, vital, emotional, thinking and pragmatic mind. We have to become fully conscious how our thinking intelligence is entangled with and constantly influenced by other and lower parts of the mind. And through a process of constant stepping back, detachment and dis-identification, we have to slowly and patiently disentangle the thinking mind and will from the mixture and influence of the physical and vital mind. For example, when we are trying to arrive at a decision, judgement or conclusion or solving a problem we must observe how our emotional and vital preferences and desires or personal self-interests enter into it and colour, distort or influence our process of thinking. Similarly, we have to observe the working of the Buddhi, the pure and highest intelligence in itself. We have to see how even our higher intelligence is subtly influenced by one-sided, fixed and preconceived mental, moral and spiritual notions which prevents it from perceiving the truth in its wholeness.

The Discipline of Concentration

The second discipline needed for the Intelligence is ‘concentration’. Concentration means the ability to focus all the attention and energy of the mind on a particular point and hold on to it as long as it is needed. We must note here that concentration does not mean we must always be tensely focused on something but to acquire and possess the ability to focus our energies at will and whenever it is needed.

Our so-called ‘normal’ conditions of mind is a state of dispersion, diffusion and wastage of the light and power of our consciousness in a multitude of thoughts, feelings and objects, scattered helplessly in an uncontrolled medley of confusion and disorder. Such a mind is the most inefficient and unproductive. For Mind is also a form of energy like Matter. When this mental energy is scattered and diffused in uncontrolled and useless chattering, it is at the lowest and at the most inefficient level of functioning. On the other hand, when this mental energy is under control, free from useless, wasteful and disturbing thoughts, focused and concentrated at a point, it functions at its highest potential. Energy, physical or mental, when focused, enhances its penetrative power. An apt analogy from modern technology is the Laser beam. Laser is the electromagnetic energy of sunlight which falls on earth in a diffused and scattered form, focused into a coherent and concentrated beam, which can penetrate even steel. This applies equally to mental energy. The act of focusing the mind increases and multiplies the cognitive as well the penetrative power of its energy; it grows in light, clarity, insight and understanding, and also in power, intensity, strength and force of effectuation.

In fact, some form of concentration is there in all creative and productive activities. All great leaders of thought and action and all those who have attained higher levels of success or excellence in whatever field, business or politics, art, literature or religion, possess this capacity of concentration in an exceptional or above-average measure. But the Science of Yoga believes that even an average man can develop and enhance his power of concentration by constant, systematic and methodical practice.

The power of concentration is developed by persistent will, vigilant mind and constant practice. We must keep in mind that there is no shortcut or quick-fix remedy for concentration. We have to work against the natural urge of the mind towards dispersion and impress upon it the opposite tendency of concentrated focus, through a patient, persistent and undespondent will.

The steps of the process are simple in paper but difficult to put into practice. The first step is to establish a minimum amount of calm in the mind. The next step is to gather and bring back the vagabonding mind to the focal point of concentration which may be an object, thought, or an activity. The third step is to hold on to it as long as possible, keeping the distracting thoughts away with a vigilant mind and a firm will. Here comes the importance of an alert and vigilant mind. A sleepy and drowsy condition is a great obstacle to concentration. And sometimes a drowsy absorption of the mind in an object is mistaken for concentration. For effective concentration, both the will and awareness in the mind has to be alert, watchful and vigilant to ward off the unwanted intruders and keep the mind focused.

The Mental Silence

However, the most important discipline in perfecting the instruments of knowledge is the silencing of the mind. A settled immutable peace, silence and tranquillity in the mind are an unmistakable sign that a perfect purity is established in our mental consciousness. And only in an utter silence the knowledge of deeper truth of life and things can be heard without any distorting interference.

There is a higher intuitive understanding beyond the intellectual understanding of the thinking mind. This intuitive understanding has a direct insight into the deeper truth of things bypassing logic and reason. But to awaken this intuitional intelligence, the intellectual understanding has to be stilled and learn to receive the higher intuition in a receptive silence.

Many methods are suggested in Indian yoga to establish this silence in our mind. One way is to allow the thoughts of the mind to raise and play and dance as it pleases while one part of the mind takes the poise of the detached, non-interfering witness. Gradually, the thought-process slows down and at a certain stage comes to a standstill.

The other way which can be very effective for those who has a certain capacity of inner vision in the mind is to see the incoming thoughts as they try to enter into our mind, and throw them away with our will before they can enter and settle into our mind. When this discipline is persistently put into practice, mind is emptied of its contents and becomes silent.

The third way is to visualize the all-pervading immobile silence of the spirit penetrating everywhere the ether of space and try to relax our mind into this silence.

The fourth way is to allow the thinking mind itself to arrive at the understanding that thought cannot know the truth by a choiceless and unbiased self-observation of our thinking process or by intuitive thinking. If the reasoning mind can be made to understand clearly the inherent contradictions involved in the logical thinking process which can trumpet arguments for and against a proposition with an equally convincing felicity, then the logical thinking mind may loose confidence in itself and become silent.

This peace and silence should be allowed to settle down and pervade the entire mental consciousness and remain undisturbed even in the midst of an intense mental activity. In the initial stages of the path the seeker has to become conscious, by deep meditation, of a zone of silence to which he can constantly step-back from his surface activity. But the ideal to be realized by the seeker is to live in this silence and act from this silence.

M. S. Srinivasan and O. P. Dani

 

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12Feb/19

The Art and Science of Execution

(Review of the book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ramcharan, Business Books)

Contemporary management literature is an ocean of concepts, theories, visions, strategies and techniques. However, not much is available on how to execute these lofty ideas and concepts to produce concrete results. It is here where lies the importance of this book under review by Larry Bossidy and Ramcharan. Jack Welch, renowned former CEO of GEC, describes the book author (while critiquing the book) as “A great practitioner and an insightful theorist join forces to write a compelling business story of how to get things done.” The ‘great practitioner’ is Larry Bossidy who was, while writing this book, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell International, with a turnover of more than 25 billion, is a diversified technology and manufacturing firm, and also served as Chairman and CEO of Allied Signal, an American aerospace, automotive and engineering company. The ‘insightful theorist’ is Ramcharan, a highly sought after consultant and adviser to CEOs and senior executives ranging from startups to well-known Fortune 500 firms such as GE, Ford, Dupont, etc.

Talking about the importance of execution in contemporary business, Ramcharan says: “Most often today the difference between a company and its competitor is the ability to execute. If your competitors are executing better than you are, they are beating you in the here and now. Execution is the great unaddressed issue in business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes.”

He clarifies his statement with a very interesting and compelling example.

A CEO was sitting in his office late one evening, looking tired and drained. He was trying to explain to a visitor why his great strategic initiative had failed, but he couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. “I’m so frustrated,” he said. “I got the group together a year ago, people from all the divisions. We had two off-site meetings, did benchmarking, got the metrics. McKinsey helped us. Everybody agreed with the plan. It was a good one, and the market was good. This was the brightest team in the industry, no question about it. I assigned stretch goals. I empowered them—gave them the freedom to do what they needed to do. Everybody knew what had to be done. Our incentive system is clear, so they knew that the rewards and penalties would be. We worked together with high energy. How could we fail? Yet the year has come to an end, and we missed the goals. They let me down; they didn’t deliver the results. I have lowered earnings estimates four times in the past nine months. We’ve lost our credibility with the street. I have probably lost my credibility with the board. I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know where the bottom is. Frankly, I think the board may fire me.”

Several weeks later the board did indeed fire him.

We can see here that this CEO has done all the right things except a missing factor which leads to concrete results. In this book, the authors try to bridge this “Gap which nobody know” between doing the right thing and getting things done. They spell out, with many examples of success and failures from the corporate world, how to incorporate a pervading discipline and culture of execution into the whole organization. The first part of the book explains the need and importance of execution. The second part of the book describes the building blocks of execution. The third part of the book brings out the core processes of execution, such as People Process, Strategy Process, Operation Process, etc.

This book is for the hardcore executive seeking for business success. But is this kind of traditional business success enough for the future world? Peter Drucker is probably the first among business thinkers to question some of these traditional notions. In one of his writings, Peter Drucker said that it is a very wrong notion to think that the purpose of a business organization is to earn profit or enhance shareholder value. He said that the aim of a business organization is to satisfy the customer first and not to earn profit. If you focus on customer satisfaction, profit may come as a result but profit is not the purpose of a business organization. However, even this idea of Drucker seems to be getting out-of-date in e-commerce. Most of the e-commerce firms, including the big ones such as Amazon are not making any profit, but still many of them have a great shareholder value and attract investment, because they serve customer needs and valued for their future potential. Apart from customer satisfaction, there are other and higher values which are emerging in business such as environmental and social responsibility and employee wellbeing. Many investors are now including environmental and social performance of the company as an important factor in assessing firms, what is now called ‘Socially Responsible Investing’ (SRI). So the present or contemporary challenge execution is to build an organization which contributes positively to the economic, social, ecological and human wellbeing of the community, humanity and Nature.

Beyond this present challenge, there is a future challenge. There is an inner evolutionary impetus, which is driving humanity and earth towards a higher progress beyond the mundane and the material towards a moral, psychological, aesthetic and spiritual development. Success in the future world depends on the ability of individuals, groups, organization and nation to align themselves with this higher evolution. This will be an execution challenge of the future which may be described as “how to create an organizational system which can help in this higher and inner evolution of the individual and groups in the mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual dimensions and also to express this inner progress in every activity of the outer life”.

However, in a managerial perspective, execution is the art of converting a mental idea or decision into a material reality. This book provides practical and detailed guidance on how to do it. So even for a leader who wants to realize a higher ideal beyond the bottom-line or business success, this book can provide useful clues on the practical aspects of how to convert ideas into tangible actions and material realizations.

M. S. Srinivasan

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12Feb/19

A Great Inventor and a Great Soul

(This is the story of one of the most inspiring and heart-warming unsung heroes, George Carver, a great inventor in agriculture and a great soul. Carver was a pioneer in peanut cultivation in United States, and in the productive utilization of waste products in agriculture. He invented innumerable uses for peanuts and made a myriad of innovations in converting agricultural waste into useful products. He became famous as the ‘Peanut Man’ and an internationally recognized expert in agriculture, specializing in peanuts and agro-waste management. Farmers and industrialists from all over the world came to him for consultation. All the VIPs of America of his times, such as the American presidents Roosevelt, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, became his close friends. With his inventive genius and connections Carver could have become a billionaire in farming or industry and one of the richest men in the world or secured a high position in government or business. But Carver cared not for money or position. He gave all of his talents and ideas entirely free to whoever came to him for his help or guidance and lived out of a meager monthly salary of $125 dollars, which he received from the institution founded by his last employer and mentor, Booker T. Washington. Washington inspired Carver to give up his comfortable job as a professor and serve a community of poor Black boys. Carver believed that his talents are a gift of God and had to be used for the benefit of people and not for self. His biographer states that Carver “seemed astonished that anyone expected him to claim rewards from the gifts God had given him.”

Carver was extremely different from the most traditional kind of inventors who tend to be eccentric, uneducated, imbalanced, one-sided and self-centered, unsocial and lonely. Carver was a qualified scientist who earned his higher education in agriculture from US universities and went on to work in them as a professor. He was actively involved in community development, mentored poor Black boys and was also an accomplished artist whose paintings were displayed in the famed Luxembourg Gallery in Paris. He was religious, God-centered and unselfish with a passion for serving people and the society. Here are some excerpts from an article on George Carver, excerpted from Reader’s Digest.)

Introducing Carver

Any one of his achievements could have made Carver a man of fabulous wealth. But all his life he refused to accept payment for a single discovery. Actually he had not the slightest regard for money. He never accepted a raise in salary. “What would I do with more money?” he once asked. “I already have all the earth.” Forty years after his arrival at Tuskegee, he was still earning the $125 a month that Washington had first offered him.

Even then, the harried treasurer had to plead with him to cash his paychecks, which were always stuffed in pockets or dresser drawer, so the school’s books could be balanced. When Carver did dig them out, it was usually to give them away. There is no way of knowing the number of boys, white as well as black, whose bills he paid in their time of need. Virtually everyone who knew him remembers at least one such instance.

He was constantly besieged with offers of money from businessmen willing to pay almost any sum for his advice. A group of peanut planters in Florida sent a check for $100 and a box of diseased specimens; if the professor could cure their crop they would put him on a monthly retainer. Carver sent back a diagnosis of the disease, and the check. “As the good Lord charged nothing to grow your peanuts,” he wrote, “I do not think it fitting of me to charge anything for curing them.”

When a dyestuff firm heard that he had perfected an array of substitute vegetable dyes, the owners offered to build a laboratory for Carver, and sent him a blank check. He mailed back the check, and the formulas for the 536 dyes he had found to date. When he declined a princely sum to join another company (which had adopted his process for making lawn furniture out of synthetic marble), the company literally came to him—moving factory and machines to Tuskegee—and got the benefit of his regular counsel at no cost at all.

Thomas Edison once invited him to come and work with him in the Edison Laboratories in Menlo Park, New Jersey, at a minimum annual salary of $100,000. Carver declined the offer, as he had all the others. “But if you had all that money,” he was once challenged, “you could help your people.” “If I had all that money,” Carver replied, “I might forget about my people.”

By now Carver’s reputation had spread across the world, and so much mail poured into Tuskegee—a considerable portion of it addressed simply to The Peanut Man—that the substation of the post office at the Institute was swamped. Some 150 letters a day were dumped on Carver’s desk, and he answered each in meticulous detail. A steady stream of visitors asked to see him, and his door remained open to all. Farmers came to question him about their seeds, townsfolk about their gardens, and boys in the dormitories thought nothing of asking him for help with their homework.

He was, of course, a revered campus character. He often wore the suit he had been given at Ames four decades before, and his neckties, which he knitted from cornhusks, always flaunting the garish colours of whatever dye he happened to be testing. Despite increasing demands on his time, he started a painting class, teaching students to mix an astonishing array of colours from the native clays, and to make canvases from the pulp of peanut shells. And although his genius as an artist had been recognized by the famed Luxembourg Gallery in Paris, where his exquisite work Four Peaches was exhibited, he was quick to give his paintings to anyone who admired them.

Carver’s Solutions

(On how Carver tackled a serious problem in peanut cultivation)

It came this time in the seemingly innocent question of an old woman who knocked on Carver’s door one October afternoon. She was a widow, she told the professor, but she had followed his counsel and turned the farm to cultivate peanuts. There had been a bumper crop, and, after setting aside all the peanuts she could use in the year ahead, she still had hundreds of pounds left over. “Who will buy them?” she asked.

Carver had no answer. He had been so engrossed in breaking the one-crop system, and so successful in promoting the peanut, that almost alone he had created a monster as cruel as the weevil itself. One hasty trip into the countryside, and his blunder glared back at him from every farmyard. Barns were piled high with the surplus, and peanuts were rotting in the field.

He returned racked with guilt, tormenting himself that he had thought the problem only halfway through. Years later, Carver told the story of how, groping for solace, he had walked through the predawn darkness of his beloved woodlands and had cried out,

“Oh, Mr. Creator, why did you make this universe?”

And the Creator answered me, “You want to know too much for that little mind of yours.”

He said, “Ask me something more your size.”

So I enquired, “Dear Mr. Creator, tell me what man was made for?”

Again He spoke to me: “Little man, you are still asking for more than you can handle. Cut down the extent of your request and improve the intent.”

And then I asked my last question. “Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?”

“That’s better!” the Lord said, and He gave me a handful of peanuts and went with me back to the laboratory, and together we got down to work.

Inside the laboratory, Carver closed the door, pulled on an apron and shelled a handful of peanuts. That whole day and night, he literally tore the nuts apart, isolating their fats and gums, their resins and sugars and starches. Spread before him were pentosans, legumins, Ivsin, amido and amino acids. He tested these in different combinations under varying degrees of heat and pressure, and soon his hoard of synthetic treasures began to grow: milk, ink, dyes, shoe polish, creosote salve, shaving cream and, of course, peanut butter. From the hulls he made a soil conditioner, insulating board and fuel briquettes. Binding another batch with an adhesive, he pressed it, buffed it to a high gloss, and had a light and weather square that looked like marble and was every bit as hard.

Carver’s Inspiration

(On how Carver was inspired into his mission by his mentor)

In 1896, George received his Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Bacterial Botany. He had never been more content—and yet he was sometimes disturbed by his happiness. He was a Black, and across the land millions of his people starved and stultified, yearning for a place in the sun. Did he serve them best as an example of what a man—any man—could achieve by unending effort? Or did he belong among them, sharing the knowledge he had come by with such labour and pain?

About this time, 1,200 kilometres away in the Alabama town Tuskegee, the acknowledged spokesman of the Black race Booker T. Washington was struggling to achieve his dream of a Black people’s institute of learning. One overwhelming problem confronted him. “These people do not know how to plough or harvest,” he wrote. “I am not skilled at such things. I teach them how to read, to write, to make good shoes, good bricks, and how to build a wall. I cannot give them food.”

Washington became convinced that his most urgent need was someone who could teach his people to farm. He had heard that there was a noted agriculturist, a coloured man, at a school in Iowa, and on April 1, 1896, Washington sat down and wrote him a letter:

“I cannot offer you money, position or fame. The first two you have. The last, from the place you now occupy, you will no doubt achieve. These things I now ask you to give up. I offer you in their place work—hard, hard work—the task of bringing a people from degradation, poverty and waste to full manhood.”

One morning, four days later, as the tall young scientist read the letter, his blood raced and his heart beat fast. God had revealed His plan for George Carver.

When Carver met Washington, he told Carver:

“Your department exists only on paper” and added “Your laboratory will have to be in your head.”

“I will manage,” said Carver.

He set to work.

(Article Courtesy: Compiled and edited from the article ‘Beyond Fame or Fortune’ in Reader’s Digest—75th Anniversary Celebrations: A Selection of Memorable Articles from The Digest, 1922–1997.)

In the first glance, Carver’s attitude to money seems to be ascetic and not in tune with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s ideal on the right use of money. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said that we should not shun the money-force in an ascetic spirit of denial, but use it with an inner detachment and with an attitude of what the Mother calls as the ‘Will of the Giver’. Carver was not interested in money and he was using his talents and ideas with this attitude of the ‘will of the giver’. These kind of talents and ideas are also a form of wealth. The Sanskrit term ‘Artha’ is translated as wealth. But it also means ‘instrument’ or ‘instruments of wealth’. Inventive talents talent is also a form of wealth, Artha. Carver’s method is perhaps much more direct and effective than that of the businessman–philanthropist. Instead of using his talents to create wealth, and again use this wealth to serve the society, Carver was using his talents directly to help people and serve the society, by passing the stage of money-making. It is also more effective because it frees him from the burden of money and saves the time and energy involved in managing money (for which Carver may not have the temperament or the skill), which can be used more effectively and productively in inventing new things.

We may ask some more questions, such as whether Carver’s approach is in harmony with the highest ideal of charity. Is it not indiscriminate, giving without making any distinction between the rich and the poor or understanding the true needs of the recipients? But such questioning will prevent us from appreciating the sheer beauty of the generosity of his soul and switch off the deep feelings it evokes when we read the story without asking too many questions.

M. S. Srinivasan

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11Jan/19

Towards Holistic Management

At present management as a profession and a science is in a state of transition. There is a seeking for something higher than profit, productivity and efficiency and deeper sources of motivation beyond money and career advancement. To pass through the transition and take a decisive step in its higher evolution, management needs a higher and a more holistic vision which includes the psychological and spiritual dimension of the individual and collective life of human beings and human life as a whole. This book under review can provide such a vision.

This book is a compilation from Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s writings and conversations on management or to be more precise, management- related subjects like Self- Management, Developing the Human Potential, Organisational Development, Decision Making, Quality of Work-life, Management of Money and Material, each one forming a chapter of the book.

The book begins with an interesting letter of Sri Aurobindo on Business and Spirituality where he says, referring to the teachings of Sri Krishna in Bagavad Gita: “It is in his view quite possible for a man to do business and make money and earn profits and yet be a spiritual man, practice Yoga, have an inner life.” But how it is possible? “All depends on the spirit in which a thing is done” says Sri Aurobindo “the principle on which it is built and the use to which it is turned”.

Each chapter of the book begins with a brief and crisp intro which sums up the significance of the title for management. For example intro to the chapter on Self–management states “right management of the internal self is the key to the successful management of the outer life” And in a passage in this chapter the Mother elaborates on this idea. “One can’t control the outer matter” says the Mother “if one does not control inner matter, for they are the same thing… first you have the control in yourself and once you have it in yourself you can transmit the vibration to others…”

The chapter on “Developing the Human Potential “ presents an evolutionary perspective on human growth and deals with many functions related to management like motivation, leadership coaching and mentoring . In an interesting passage in this chapter, Sri Aurobindo describes the ideals and qualities of true business man, based on the Indian concept of the Vysya, the type and temperament of the commercial soul, looking at it at a much deeper psychological perspective, which we cannot find either in ancient Indian or in modern management thinking.

Similarly, the Chapter on the “Quality of Work life” brings out the true meaning of work and action in a spiritual perspective and contains practical guidelines on how to achieve progress and perfection in work and build harmony in work-life. In this way each chapter throws deep insights into the inner dimensions of the different facets and functions of management

For those who are seeking for the deeper truth and the higher ideals in management, this book can provide valuable guidance. The pragmatic mind of a modern manager may find the book more visionary than practical. But we can’t expect spiritual personalities like Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to get into the nuts and bolts of management practice.

M S Srinivasan

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