Rethinking Strategy-III, Imperatives of Consciousness

The future evolution of humanity will be more and more in the moral psychological and spiritual realms of consciousness. The corporate strategist must have some understanding of these future imperatives of consciousness.

What are the major trends, which are likely to have a profound influence on the future of human evolution especially the future of the corporate world? In the inner psychological realm there is a widespread seeking for a higher meaning and purpose in life and work. After a reign of soul-stifling and self-seeking materialism, people all over the world are seeking for some form of a moral, psychological and spiritual fulfillment in life and work. As Charles Handy, a leading management thinker articulates the rationale behind this inner seeking for a higher purpose in life:

“The great and most satisfying thing in life, I think is a purpose beyond oneself. If the purpose is only for yourself it rapidly dissipates…. I think that if one doesn’t have a purpose beyond oneself, bigger than oneself, then one ends up disappointed.”

This inner search for meaning is perhaps felt more in the corporate world than in the other sections or society because of two reasons. The first factor is that in our modern age, it is the corporate world, which attracts the cream of youthful talent and these talented people, when they are professionally and materially satisfied, they seek for higher or inward fulfillment. So, Charles Handy, counsels business leaders “if you want to retain talent you have to provide a cause” and the organization have “to provide a purpose, if they want to retain good people.” The second factor is that people in the corporate world, especially the talented ones are more materially and economically satisfied than other sections of the society and therefore, seek for a more non-material fulfillment. As a manager of Dupont points out: “To a large extent the people that are here have gotten to a point where their basic needs are met as far as a sound financial basis for living, and are looking to satisfy other internal needs.”

So, the emerging trends in the corporate world like the growing recognition of the importance of ethics, values, corporate social responsibility, and “spirituality-at-work” movement are not entirely the result of external or environmental factors as some management thinkers tend to think. There are psychological factors behind these movements. However both the environmental and psychological factors are perhaps the result of some terrestrial evolutionary factors. Sri Aurobindo, a spiritual seer and thinker, gives an indication of this evolutionary factor in the following passage.

“In the next stage of human progress, it is not a material but a spiritual, moral and psychical progress which has to be made.”

In other words the future evolution will be predominantly in the inner realm of consciousness and not exclusively in the outer material or economic life. The progress which has to be made in the future or in other words, the type of progress which is in harmony with the next quantum leap in the evolutionary journey of Nature is the moral, aesthetic, psychological and spiritual development of the individual and the progressive self-expression of this inner progress in the outer life, leading to a corresponding progress of the community. The concept of this higher evolution or progress is not something entirely new. Most of the great civilizations of the past like the Greece, China and India had this ideal and conceived human progress, individual and collectives, as a journey towards this ideal. But in the ancient world this ideal was mostly confined to the cultural life of the community, in religion, philosophy, art, literature pursued by a few elite individuals or communities. But in the future, this higher progress has to be made not only in the religious and cultural life of the community but also in every activity of the secular life, like economics, business, commerce, science, technology, family, community. Any approach to strategy, which ignores this evolutionary imperative, is not likely to be successful in the future.

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

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