Editorial Commentaries

Beyond the Bottomline

There are two types of pragmatism.  The first one is a narrow and intense focus on the short-term gains in the bottom-line through technology, methods, and techniques.  The other is to lay a wide and patient foundation for long-term effectiveness through vision, values, ideals and above all people.  The first is the way of the technocrat and the other is the path of the visionary.  Both are needed for success in the corporate world.  But for sustainable growth the main emphasis has to be on the second approach which leads to long-term effectiveness.

The vision, ideals and values are verities of the upper layers of the human mind.  They are the sources of higher motivation and provide a sense of meaning and purpose to life and work.  They are not abstractions but mental energies with an inherent self-effective force.  The leaders of the future must understand the nature of these mental forces and how to tap them for enhancing the effectiveness of some of the managerial functions like visioning, motivation and communication.  For a deeper understanding of these mental energies, please see the following articles in this blog:

1. The Power of Mental formationsHarnessing the Human Potential

2. The Role of Creative Vision in Human DevelopmentHarnessing the Human Potential

3. Harvesting the Vision and the Idea, Integral Management

Behind the God-Particle: A Consciousness Perspective

Scientist at CERN, after spending so many billions of dollars, seems to have found the God-particle or have they? What is precisely the nature of this ultimate reality of matter?  According to New Physics, Matter is a form of Energy.  So, the ultimate unit of Matter, the God-particle, is probably a particle of energy or a point of interaction of energy-fields.  But what is the source and essence of energy?  There is no clear answer to this question from modern science.  Here comes the importance of deeper insights of Indian seers, ancient and modern.  The method of modern science, seeking for the truth of Matter through scientific reason and experimentation is only one way of knowing.  There is the other way of yoga which proceeds through direct insight and inner vision which can perceive and see the invisible realities behind the visible appearances.

According to this deeper insight of Indian yogis the source of energy is Consciousness.  In otherwords Matter is Energy and Energy is or inherent in Consciousness.  But what is Consciousness?  It is Awareness, awareness of our own self and the awareness of the world around.   Consciousness in physical matter is neither aware of itself or the world around; it is closed upon itself and lost in the whirl of its energy.  A particle of matter is a point of consciousness lost in the act of its own whirl.  For example when we are performing a very repetitive and mechanical act sometimes we may loose the consciousness of our self and the world around in the repetitive act; we also become something like matter.  But our consciousness is not exactly lost but pushed behind the act and can be recovered.  Something similar happening in the original mystery of creation gives birth to Matter.  Thus in this Indian perspective, the God-particle is a point of consciousness forgetting itself in the whirling motion of its own energy.  The process of terrestrial evolution is nothing but a process of gradual recovery of consciousness from the apparent coma of Matter to a perfect fullness in the Spirit.

As the evolution proceeds from material to the biological and animal kingdom, there are two quantum leaps in consciousness.  These leaps in consciousness manifest itself as a progressively greater awareness and response to the environment, first in the form of a vital response in plant and the awareness of the world around through sense-consciousness in the animal.  And with the advent of Mind in man there is a further quantum leap in consciousness in the form of a beginning of self-awareness.  But in our mental consciousness, self-awareness is rudimentary because we are aware of only a small part of our total conscious being.  And a complete recovery of this total self-awareness in our spiritual self is the next stage in evolution.

This evolution from Matter to Spirit is guided and directed by the divine Intelligence inherent in matter.  The term “God-particle” is in a way very apt because behind or within every particle of matter, there is God Himself with all His infinite consciousness directing the evolution of matter according to the truth and law of things.  What we call as “Laws of Nature” are the process or mechanism by which the divine Intelligence and Will works out its plan and purpose in the universe.  They are the outer expressions of a divine supramental Idea in matter organising and sustaining the material world.  As Sri Aurobindo explains: “it is a concealed supramental force with a self-conscient knowledge in it which informs the whole action of material energy. It is that which determines what we call law of nature, maintains the action of each thing according to its own nature and harmonises and evolves the whole, which would otherwise be a fortuitous creation apt at any moment to collapse into chaos.”

For a more holistic and evolutionary perceptive on the intuition of Consciousness in Matter, please see the following articles in this blog:

1. The Future of Matter-I The Future World

2.  The Future of Matter-II The Future World

Integrating Efficiency with Excellence

One of the major problems of the present corporate culture is the narrow perspective which seeks for and rewards short-term efficiency that leads to immediate results at the expense of long-term effectiveness that comes from sustained excellence.  At present there is a growing recognition of the factors which lead to long-term success like for example values, vision, corporate responsibility sustainability, human wellbeing.  But except a few progressive firms most of the companies assess and reward their managers and executives for short-term targets and not for long-term excellence.  However swinging to the other extreme and indulging in blue sky dreaming ignoring the hard facts and realities of the fast-changing and hyper-competitive corporate environment will not lead to either short-term or long-term success.  The long-term organisational effective requires proper integration of operational efficiency with sustained excellence.

In a broader perspective, efficiency means the ability to deliver results consistently in profit, productivity and customer satisfaction.  In the present and future corporate environment, any company which has not attained a certain level of mastery in the skills and discipline of efficiency cannot perhaps survive, or even if it survives cannot achieve any lasting success either in the short-term or in the long-term.  The well-known management Guru, Jim Collins, in his latest best-seller, “Great By Choice,” argues with compelling data and research that the present overhyped importance to “innovation” is an error.  Collins asserts that for sustained organisational effectiveness disciplined efficiency and hardwork is as much or even more important than innovation.  He gives the example of Steve Jobs, when he returned to Apple in 1997 after a dozen years in wilderness, he instilled discipline in operations and finances and emphasized on an ethic of hardwork.

However, efficiency alone is not sufficient for achieving sustained greatness or excellence.  What are the ingredients of excellence or greatness?  A recent issue of Harvard business Review, asks in the front page, “What Great Companies do Differently” and answers, “They create value for the society, solve the world’s problem and still make money too.”  This formula throws some clues to what are the factors that lead to corporate greatness.  Here again in a wider perspective, the key to sustained excellence lies in pursuing professional, ethical and aesthetic quality in a continuous and progressive basis in everything and in all activities.

Professional quality means continuous improvement and innovation or in other words quest for the new and better in every activity.

Ethical quality means honesty, transparency and fairness in all transactions, dedication to a higher cause beyond individual or corporate self-interest, create value for the society and caring for human wellbeing.

Aesthetic quality means to seek for and create beauty and harmony in every activity.

How to integrate efficiency with excellence? By integrating those inner faculties which lead to efficiency and excellence in the individual.

Please see the following articles for a more detailed discussion on the subject:

1. Development of Faculties for Professional Excellence: A Psychological Perspective

2. Values for Excellence in Professional Work

Rethinking Capitalism

The forward march of Nature in Humanity is mostly invisible except to the discerning eye.  When we examine deeply and closely the emerging trends in human thought and events,  we can see Nature is pushing human mind and life, though a combination of internal reflection and external circumstances, to move beyond self-interest towards a more unitive and collaborative society.  The first important trend is rethinking of capitalism which is the modern gospel of self-interest.

The traditional theory of capitalism legitimized self-interest, competition, material or economic prosperity as valid motives of development.  With the collapse of communism many capitalist thinkers croaked triumphantly over the ultimate victory of their gospel.  But the collapse of Lehman Brother and the financial meltdown which followed sent a shock wave into the major citadels of capitalism and awakened capitalist thinkers to the limitations of their theories.   After this event many progressive minds in business and economics are questioning this gospel of self-interest.  The following article in this blog discusses these emerging perspectives on capitalism in the light of Indian synthesis:

1. Reinventing Capitalism in the light of Indian synthesis

The Mighty Soft Revolution

For nearly more than two millenniums, Male Psyche with its arid intellect, competitive individualism and aggressive ambitions to subjugate the world has ruled over human life with not very desirable results.  Many of the problems we are facing today may be due to this lopsided dominance of the masculine values.  But the evolutionary force in Nature is moving decisively to correct this imbalance through a rapid and widespread flowering of the womanpower and feminine values in every activity of life.  This will be an irresistible mega-trend of the future.  The external manifestation of this trend is the Feminist movement which is a soft but powerful social revolution.  Unlike the male dominated social movements in France and Russia, the feminist movement achieved much without bloodletting and violence.

Interestingly, in our contemporary world, business seems to be more open to this evolutionary trend than other social organs.  Though number of women in top management positions is still small, there is a great upsurge of womanpower in the middle and junior management level.  And almost all the latest research indicate that woman perform much better than man in every aspect of management.  This means the glass ceiling erected at the top by male prejudice cannot remain safe for long.  If the flowering of the feminine force is an evolutionary imperative and performance is the main criterion for top leadership, then the glass tower of male domination at the top will be repeatedly shattered, for the good of the world.

However, shattering the glass ceiling is not the most important achievement of woman in business.  They have achieved much greater things than climbing on to the top of the corporate ladder.  As Anita Roddick, the founder of Body Shop sums up the contribution of woman to the work-place “we have introduced flexitime, we have humanized work-place, we have brought in a notion of humanity, a notion of love. We have made it legitimate to talk about love in the work place.  And we have brought in the notion of creativity.  Yet it is still not remarked because to man business is about finance.”  In a deeper and inner perspective these are much greater achievements than sitting on corporate thrones and wielding the scepter of power.

So the clout of woman-power emerging in business is a much more important event, with a greater evolutionary potential, than the concepts like Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility or Spirituality-at-work.  The ethical or social responsibility movement in business is predominantly conceptual, external and experimental; certain ideas are brought in from outside and put into practice.  But the feminist flowering in business is not conceptual or man-made but evolutionary.  What is happening here is not a mere play of concepts and ideas but the diffusion of a different kind of mind-set or consciousness with a mighty push of the force of Nature behind it; it will slowly, silently and irresistibly work itself out from within outwards.

For further reading, see the following articles in the blog:

1. Rise of the Better Half in Business

2.The Inner Marriage

3. The Woman Leader and the Visionary Gaze

Business, Poverty and Development

Poverty and inequality are some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.  Recently some innovative minds have come up with novel solutions based on business lines.  For example Mohammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank has successfully implemented a market-oriented and profit-generating model of poverty-eradication.  Similarly, the well-known and distinguished management thinker, C.K. Prahalad in his influential book, “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” argues convincingly that market of the rich is now more or less saturated and the future market and the source of profit lies in fulfilling the needs of the millions of poor people in the bottom of the economic pyramid.  Many entrepreneurs, following Prahalad’s clue, are now venturing into the low-income sector and finding there fertile sources of profit.  This has given birth to the notion that poverty eradication need not be left entirely to charitable organizations, NGO’s or government, and business can play an important role in fighting poverty.  The advent of business into the field of poverty-eradication is very much welcome.  In our modern age, business is the most powerful, innovative and creative social organism.  So active participation of business in our battle against poverty is bound to have a positive and substantial impact on reducing the poverty and inequality in our society.

However we must not rigidly link poverty with profit.  Such a crucially important task as poverty-eradication should not be tied to profit; it has to be pursued with or without profit.  We must keep in mind that elimination of poverty requires not only money and business sense but also moral commitment to the task and sympathy for the poor.  There are individual who have a great moral passion and vital energy to dedicate their lives for serving the poor.  But they may not have the business sense to create a financially viable model.  These individuals need constant financial support from charitable and funding agencies to engage their potential in the task of poverty-eradication.  On the other hand, there are individual who have the business sense but no moral commitment.  They may enter into the low-income sector lured by profit.  But they will drop away when the market-condition changes and this Bottom of the Pyramid sector looses its profit-potential.  There may also be individual like Mohammad Yunus who can combine moral dedication with business acumen.  So for a sustained impetus towards poverty-eradication we must create an environment inwhich every creative, sincere and dedicated effort towards elimination of poverty, with or without profit, can find sufficient financial support to sustain itself in the long-term.

 We must also think beyond poverty.  As increasing number of people are delivered from the clutch of poverty and move towards decent standards of living, what next? We, human beings, have a higher destiny beyond economic survival or prosperity.  When the basic needs of the body are reasonably fulfilled it awakens progressively higher order needs of our emotional, mental, moral and spiritual being.  As the individual strives to satisfy these higher needs, it awakens the corresponding faculties and potentialities of his mind, heart and soul, which leads to his higher evolution.  So the task beyond poverty is to create a developmental framework which promotes this higher evolution, with elimination of poverty as an important and indispensable stage in the process.

For further reading, see the following article in the blog: Business at the Service of the Poor: Perspectives and Possibilities

December 21, 2012: The Scare and the Hope

Are we hurtling towards the Armageddon or stepping on to a new world?

Mayans were an ancient civilisation, well known for their amazing mathematical and astronomical knowledge.  They possessed a deeper wisdom, both occult and spiritual, which is beyond the reach of rational mind.  So if the Mayans ended their calendar on 2012, it perhaps holds some deeper significance.  According to more discerning views than the doomsday scenarios parroted in the Internet, Mayans perceived 2012 as the end of a major cycle of planetary evolution and the beginning of the next cycle.  Ancient Indian thought also viewed the present epoch as the last of the four ages, which will be followed by another great cycle of evolution beginning with the golden age of Truth, Satyayuga.

Interestingly, many modern thinkers, belonging to diverse fields of thought, perceived the present condition of the world as a transitional stage towards a new age, but not always with a clear understanding of its significance.  Club of Rome, a European think tank reported, “We are—-in the early stages of the formation of a new type of society.”  Joanes Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, said, “Survival of the world as we know it is not possible.  The world will have to be transformed.”  Michael Gorbachev, the former president of erstwhile USSR, said, “I feel all mankind is entering a new age and the world is beginning to obey new laws and logic to which we are yet to adjust ourselves.”   More recently, Hwee Yong Jang, in his book, “The Gaia Project: 2012” states that there is a great cosmic plan behind the evolution of our planet.  The earth is already undergoing a purification process-marked by natural disasters, disease, war and social chaos-that will ultimately end in our planet’s ascension to a new dimension.

According to Sri Aurobindo, this transition will be as radical as the transition from Ape to Man.   The next step in evolution will be a great leap forward from the present mental consciousness towards a greater supramental consciousness beyond mind.  As Sri Aurobindo explains, “Man is a transitional being, he is not final.  The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth’s evolution.  It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and logic of Nature.”  This is not an unscientific and irrational proposition.  As Luc Venet asks, “Are we so foolish to envision a being after man? Has not Darwin shown that species evolve, that one species is born from another? Why it should be different for man.”

We need not give too much importance to precise dates and numbers for the coming of this new era.  But we can say with a certain conviction that the world around us is in the midst of a massive and unprecedented evolutionary transition.  There is a great pressure of the evolutionary force of Nature on human consciousness as well as on the material world for change and transformation.  This pressure is not only for transformation of consciousness but also for transformation of Matter to make it into a more flexible instrument of the new consciousness.

The tension and turmoil we presently feel are the result of the pressure of the consciousness of this new and as yet unborn world, wanting to be born.  The positive seeking for higher values is the result of this pressure. But acutely negative trends like terrorism, fundamentalism and the sex-and-violence culture in the media are also a result of that pressure. As Sri Aurobindo points out, sometimes the negative possibilities lying hidden and suppressed in the human consciousness have to be fully raised to the surface before they can be eliminated.  The net impact of this pressure on the human consciousness is a great tension, as in a birth-pang the birth-pangs of a new world.  Those parts of humanity which become more and more receptive to the new consciousness will progress safely into the new world and become leaders of the future.

If we want to progress safely and successfully into the future world we must open our mind, heart and body to the new consciousness of the future.  This issue of FDI explores the changes of the future, and what the evolutionary forces demands from us to achieve a change in our consciousness and life.

Beyond IQ: Awakening  the Multiple Intelligences

(The intelligence which is measured by IQ is only one among the many intelligences within us.  In this and the next two issues we will explore the nature and development of the multiple-intelligences within our consciousness.)

The inner source of all knowledge is consciousness, which has many ways of “knowing” or in other words, it has many types of “intelligences”.  It is now recognized that “intelligence” is much more than mere IQ.  There are many “intelligences” in our consciousness and that which is measured by IQ is only one of them.  The eminent psychologist Daniel Goleman has popularized the concept of emotional intelligence and later the concept of “multiple intelligences.”  The latest literature on psychology talks about linguistic, logico-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic intelligences.  However the concept of emotional or multiple intelligences as conceived by Daniel Goleman or other psychologist are not the only ways of conceiving or classifying these multiple intelligences.  Many such and similar conceptualizations or classifications are possible.   There can be a simpler, non-jargonic classification based on the fundamental principles of the psychological constitution of the human being like for example, conceptual, pragmatic, dynamic, emotional, aesthetic, ethical and intuitive.

What is the rationale behind the concept of multiple intelligences?  In the conception of integral psychology, a human being is in its essence made of Consciousness, which expresses itself as the four fundamental principles which constitute the human organism: Body, Life, Mind and Soul.  Since all these four principles of our self are expressions of consciousness, each of them has its own “intelligence”, which means they are capable of “knowing”.  So in this conception, knowledge is not confined to “Mind”.  In a general sense, we may say Mind is the main instrument knowledge, but the other parts of our being like the emotions of our heart, dynamic parts of our life force or even the body can also “know” in their own way and can be an important and creative source of knowledge.

For further reading, see the following links:

1. http://integralmusings.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/development-of-faculties-for-professional-excellence-a-psychological-perspective-by-m-s-srinivasan-srinivasanaurosociety-org/

Professional Success and Personal Happiness

There is at present a growing recognition among corporate professionals that success in the work-place does not necessarily lead to personal happiness or fulfillment.  As Robert. S. Kaplan, CEO of Harvard Management Company and a career consultant write in Harvard Business Review:

“Ambitious professionals often spend a substantial amount of time thinking about strategies that will help them achieve greater levels of success.  They strive for a more impressive job title, higher compensation and responsibility, for more sizable revenues, profits and numbers of employees.  Their definitions of success are often heavily influenced by family, friends and colleagues.  Yet many ultimately find that, despite their efforts and accomplishments they lack a true sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment.”

What is the solution? According to Kaplan, the key to fulfillment lies in “taking a very personal look at how you define success in your heart of hearts─and then following your own path there.”  This is an insightful observation which every corporate professional has to reflect upon and find a path to fulfillment which is specific and personal to him.  We must also keep in mind the path and the goal may change as the individual grows in consciousness and his or her conceptions of success or happiness changes.  In fact, this inquiry into the meaning of success, happiness or fulfillment has to become an integral part of education, especially professional education.

For further reading see the following articles in this blog:

1. Success, Happiness and Fulfillment

2. How to Choose the Right Career

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An Integral Approach to management and human development based on the spiritual vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with an emphasis on its application to various domains of knowledge and life.

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