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CORPORATION AS A COMMUNITY

A business organization is undoubtedly an integral part of the economic life of a community. But it is not exclusively an economic entity; it is also a social organism or a community. This idea is not something new. In fact, this is the core concept of some eminent management thinkers such as Mary Parker Follett and Rosebet Mass Kanter. The Economist in a series of profiles on management theorists describes Rosebet Mass Kanter as “Kanter-the-Guru still studies the subject with a sociologists eye, treating the corporation not so much as a micro-economy, concerned with turning input into output, but as a mini-society bent on shaping the individuals to collective ends.” This is an idea with an immense pragmatic potential for unlocking the creative energy of a community as a whole.

Management as Community-building

Modern business is not merely a techno-economic system. It is a great human enterprise with not only a techno-economic dimension but also social, political and cultural dimensions. Every business organization is a social system with a political power structure and a set of cultural values. In other words, a business organization is a ‘Community’ and the aim of management must be to not only focus on the economic and market bottom-line but also dedicate itself to community-building. With the growing emphasis on the human side of business and ‘soft’ factors (such as human capital, vision, values, culture, teamwork, etc.), the power and importance of these non-economic and non-technical dimensions of business are bound to increase more and more and shape its technical and economic dimension. So these non-economic dimensions of business can no longer be treated as a secondary appendage to the techno-economic dimension. They have to be studied and understood in their own domain as something which is as vital to business as the economic and technological factor.

However, to realize the full creative potential of this community idea in business, the question or the problem has to be viewed in a broader perspective than ‘shaping the individuals to collective end’. The main challenge to be tackled here is the categorization of the factors that lead to a creative, harmonious and progressive flowering of a community as whole in all the dimensions of its corporate life¾economic, social, political and cultural. This means to realize the community ideal in business requires something more than economic, technological or managerial innovation and pragmatism; it requires social, political and cultural innovation and pragmatism.

What are precisely the guiding values for community development? They are the great values of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and the modern ideal of Progress. A creative and practical synthesis of these four values creates the foundation for the progressive perfectibility of a community. Modern political attempts to organize these values in nations have either failed or achieved only limited results. This is because a balanced synthesis of these values has not been found. The attempt of democratic governments to organize individual liberty resulted in loss of equality and dilution of fraternity. On the other hand, the attempt of socialistic or communistic governments to organize equality and fraternity ended in total loss of individual liberties or in colossal inefficiency and massive bureaucracies. Similarly, the great attempt of our modern age to achieve endless progress in the material and economic domains ended in ecological degradation and inner alienation in the psychological and spiritual realms.

The Inner Dimension

The main cause of failure lies in the lack of sufficient attention to the inner dimension. These four values have an inner as an outer dimension. The modern endeavour has laid a more or less exclusive emphasis on the organization of these ideals in the outer economic, social and political life. But the key to an effective synthesis of these values lies in the internal realization of these values in the mind, heart and soul of people and allowing this inner realization to organize itself spontaneously in the outer life from within outwards. This means the primary emphasis has to be on a concrete, experiential realization of liberty, equality and fraternity in the consciousness of people with a predominant stress on inner progress in the mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual dimension.

But this does not mean neglect or rejection of the outer dimension. We should not get trapped in the dualistic either/or habit of the divisive mind. The inner and outer realizations are not mutually exclusive. The path towards inner awakening involves education and inner discipline based on the principles of yoga. The outer realization requires an appropriate organization favourable to this inner realization and its outer actualization. Both can be pursued simultaneously in a mutually supportive manner. However, without the inner awakening, the outer attempts and methods are uncertain in their results. But until the inner awakening is well established, the outer methods have to be used to create an external environment favourable to the inner awakening.

Modern business is nearing its saturation point in the techno-economic dimension. Endless growth in this dimension will only lead to diminishing returns. For further healthy growth, the corporate world has to strive for a quantum leap from the techno-economic to the ecological and psycho-social dimension.

M. S. Srinivasan

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15Nov/17

Management by Consciousness – A Book Review

Management by Consciousness, by G.P. Gupta and M. S. Srinivasan, is a book that will help all the readers to explore and harness the immense innate powers possessed by everyone. Whatever we are seeking, in whichever field or activity, there are corresponding powers with our consciousness, which when fully manifested can help us to achieve the highest effectiveness in that activity. This book also makes it very clear that it doesn’t mean rejecting external aids or technology, but underscores a shift of emphasis in our approach from an excessive reliance on outer aids and instruments to a much greater reliance on our inner powers, with external aids and technology as supplements or supports for expressing or enhancing the efficiency of inner powers.

The book is divided into two parts, the first part is on knowing and understanding of consciousness, faculties of consciousness, the technology of consciousness, self-governance, consciousness approach to business management, the leadership of the self and intuition to name a few. This portion of the book mainly focuses on exploring and harnessing the immense powers within. This part comprises a collection of writings from Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, Swami Vivekananda, Jigme Wangchuck, M.P. Pandit, M. S. Srinivasan, Shraddhalu Ranade, Gary Jacobs and G. P. Gupta.

The second part of this book deals with three case studies of persons who have used Integral Leadership and Consciousness to succeed. The first case study is about Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy (known as Dr V., founder of Arvind Eye Care chain of eye hospitals), an eye-care visionary and an exemplar of ‘integral leadership’. He was able to build an institution where spiritual inspiration, social sensitivity and kind service blend harmoniously with professional excellence, executive skill and corporate efficiency. The second case study is about R. K. Talwar, who is an praiseworthy banker. His moral courage and spiritual dedication elevated the level of his leadership from the average to extraordinary height. And the third case study is about a successful youngster who has minimized his negative effects and maximized his positive potentials by consciously enhancing the natural capacities to succeed in the career with the help of his mentor. These real-life case studies depict that consciousness is very important for realizing the full potential in a human.

This book is an entirely revised version of an earlier book with the same title published in 1994. In the words of the editors of this book, the main objective of this revision is to make it more relevant to the present conditions of business and management and also incorporate new research and studies on the consciousness approach to management.

As stated earlier, this book is suitable for any reader who wants to understand and learn about ‘consciousness’ from the rudiments to its highest form and especially for readers who wants to explore and harness the immense powers within for their work life.

About the editors:

Dr G. P. Gupta, Formerly Professor, Chairman, Dean and Director, School of Business Management and Commerce in Indian Universities; visiting faculty to various universities in the USA; Lecturer on contemporary problems of management in Japan, the USA, the UK, Germany and other west European countries; coordinator of non-traditional management-oriented courses at Birlagram, Nagda (Madhya Pradesh).

M. S. Srinivasan is a Senior Associate at Sri Aurobindo Foundation of Integral Management (SAFIM), Puducherry. He has an extensive knowledge in the field of Integral Management. He is a prolific writer and has authored many books and published numerous articles in the field of Integral Management in many nationally and internationally reputed journals.

Jayachandran F

Research Associate

Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences (SAIRSS)

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07Oct/17

Beyond Stress Management: Towards Integral Wellness

(The prevalence of acute stress and stress-related problems in the corporate world has forced corporate management to the need for a greater attention to employee wellbeing. But most of the wellness practices of the corporate world are peripheral. The concept of ‘Stress-management’ has a limited approach to corporate health. Similarly, some of the corporate wellness practices, such as in-house gyms, picnics or flexitime, though helpful, are cosmetic remedies which try to alleviate symptoms but do not heal the malady at its roots. The long-term solution to the chronic problem of corporate stress lies in building a culture of integral wellness.)

The Four-Fold Wellness

In a holistic perspective, wellness may be defined as the inner and outer felicity, which an individual feels in the act of living, working and interacting in a community. This experience of wellness, to be integral, has to embrace all the four dimensions of the human organism: Physical, Vital, Mental and Spiritual. The ‘physical’ is the material sheath or body or the material environment. The ‘vital’ is the source of our sensations, emotions, desires and the vital energy—anima—which animates our body and mind. The ‘mental’ is the source of our thoughts, perceptions, ideas, ideals and values. The ‘spiritual’ is the deepest and innermost source of our individuality. Here is a brief outline of the nature or content of four-fold wellness and the path to achieve them.

Physical wellbeing

  • Regular exercise and right nutrition.
  • A material environment which is gentle, pleasing and harmonious to senses.
  • Lots of fresh and clean air, sunlight and open space.
  • Ecological harmony and attunement with physical Nature.
  • Certain amount of outer peace, security and prosperity.

Vital and Emotional Wellbeing

  • Joy and freedom of action, creation, achievement, play, adventure and exploration.
  • Selfless service to the common good of all.
  • Inner and outer harmony and mutual goodwill among people.
  • A collective environment and a system of government which is kindly, compassionate, fair and just.

Mental Wellbeing

  • Clarity and mutual understanding.
  • Peace, tranquility and benevolence in the emotional and mental consciousness.
  • A certain amount of rest, relaxation and leisure and sufficient inner space to pursue our higher evolution in the psychological and spiritual domains.

Spiritual Wellbeing

  • Awakening of the spiritual self in us and a harmonious integration of the body, life and mind around this spiritual core of our being.

When the psychological environment of the community is saturated with these factors of integral wellness, especially force of Peace, Goodwill, Understanding and Compassion, then it has a beneficial impact on the health and performance of people in the organization. On the other hand, if the psychological environment of the community is full of anxiety, tension, ill will, mistrust, suspicion, then it will have an adverse effect on the wellbeing and performance of people and no amount of in house gyms, picnics and parties or courses in stress-management can neutralize the negative impact. So educating the workforce on the concept and practice of holistic wellbeing should be an integral part of performance management.

The Strategic Implications

This brings us to the question how to implement this vision in the corporate life. Here are some strategic initiative and principles for evolving corporate wellness policies and practices based on the integral vision of wellness which we have discussed earlier.

  • The first step is an attitudinal change. The employee has to be viewed not as a knowledge–skill engine for achieving the bottom line or deadlines of the organization but as a living soul with a body, life and mind progressing towards a divine goal which includes the realization of her highest and total human potential.
  • There must be a balanced approach to performance and wellness or in other words an equal emphasis on performance as well as wellness. The corporate world makes a systematic, scientific and planed attempt to achieve business goals, such as productivity, profit, quality, customer service or innovation. But a similar attempt is lacking in the domain of human wellbeing. If the corporate world wants to create a more humane and healthy workplace, there must be a similar systematic, scientific and planned attempt towards a continuous enhancement of human wellbeing in all the four dimensions which are discussed in this article.
  • The concept, principles and practice of total wellness have to become an integral part of the education and training programme for employees at all the levels of the corporate hierarchy.
  • The backbone of mental health is inner peace and equanimity. Every employee has to be taught how to maintain and establish inner peace and equanimity under all circumstances. The methods and practices of Indian yoga can be of great help in this task.
  • What is ‘peace’ to inner being, ‘security’ is to outer life. A reckless hire-and-fire culture, with constant downsizing, where people live in perpetual anxiety over their jobs is inimical to wellness. A reasonable job security is essential for achieving sustained wellness in the corporate life. If this is not entirely possible in the present fast changing business environment, the corporate world has to evolve a more compassionate and humane alternative to downsizing. For example, industry associations like NASSCOM or FICCI in India, networking with other institutions such as placement services or NGOs can evolve a social security net which can help employees who have lost their jobs due to downsizing find alternative employment or in upgrading their skills.
  • The managements of organizations have to make a conscious effort to create a human community based on the triune principles of French revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity which are the foundations of social sustainability and wellbeing.

M. S. Srinivasan

 

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07Oct/17

Excellence in Professional Work – A Consciousness Approach – A book review

The ‘Excellence in Professional Work – A Consciousness Approach’ provides a new dimension to work for any conscious and evolving working professional. It brings in the clarity that to have quality and excellence in our outer work, we need to have quality and mastery of our inner domain of consciousness. Insights are shared throughout this book as short articles to identify and become familiar with the workings and mastery of the four dimensions of our consciousness – body, life energy, mind and soul. It brings awareness into the Yogic methods of geniuses, who brought in their superior mind, energy and intuition into their various fields of work.

The book is like an inner ray sent within to reveal to the reader his or her inner faculties that converge together as the quality of their actions and work. Acknowledging the external ways of knowing something, inner intelligences and ways of knowing are explored. Emotional intelligence is explored in a new way as a ‘feeling that knows’. The necessities of developing focus and concentration, and holding it like a laser beam in an inner space of mindfulness, calmness awareness and witness poise are explored. A new dimension to inter personal relationships is suggested. This is the capacity to identify our consciousness with the ‘inner being’ of others and thus to truly understand them. The book then explores Human Energy Management and explores how we can harness dynamic energies necessary for our individual and collective action. Precise clues to enter inward to be in a conducive state, to receive rays of Intuition and utilize them in the day-to-day decision making in the corporate life are explored. The book does suggest the working professional to build a health management practice in an integral way, that honors and works along with the body’s inner intelligence.

The application of this book appears to be to work in a value centered way creating incremental, evolutionary and breakthrough innovations in our own fields. And if we are conscious we can add further icing to our endeavor by doing work with harmony, joy, peace and equanimity. In short, this book enables aspiring working professionals to evolve into Conscious Leaders who can create the Next Level Organizations which function with higher values and consciousness.

Arul Dev

 

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