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Archive for the ‘Management Lessons’ Category

In the preceding post, we brought in focus the fact that the first step in the process of evolution is the act of creation of information, followed by the emergence of energy and matter. Their interaction creates the Cosmic Mind and the Cosmic Consciousness, which also comprises such other subsets as a human consciousness, or an animal’s consciousness, and the like.

Having explored different facets of Consciousness, we realize how woefully short our present methods of running businesses are when compared to the ideal situation we at the Conscious Enterprises Network (CEN) are aiming for.

Admittedly, there are silver linings to this dark cloud. These are in the form of several individuals and groups of people who are aware of this deficiency and wish to do something about it. Right from environmental activists to business groups which follow Plan B and aim for a triple-bottom surplus from operations, there are many disparate attempts to nudge others in the direction of a heightened consciousness. 

The Challenge

The challenge here is three-fold. One aspect is that of identifying and grooming leaders who vibrate at the same frequency, despite their operating in diverse fields of business. A bevy of leaders such as these would be like an orchestra which plays out a mellifluous piece of music even though the instruments are as diverse as a cello, a clarinet, a trumpet or a piano.

The second one is that of creating a leaderless movement so as to avoid getting into ego traps of any kind. One way to do so could be to develop a common Charter of Consciousness which is voluntarily agreed upon by those who wish to come on board. This is likely to promote a better degree of interconnectedness between like-minded organizations, thereby ensuring that the Consciousness Virus becomes the next thing to grab the attention of Homo sapiens.

The third one is to create a credible and transparent forum which would not only keep the flame alive but also facilitate an exchange of ideas, techniques and practices. The collective learning opportunity such a forum would generate can be readily imagined. The forum would comprise individuals/organizations which have already set the bar high by demonstrating that businesses can be run successfully based on a twin compass, a commercial one and a conscious one. 

Rewiring the Leaders

The task of inner rewiring of leaders can neither be abdicated nor delegated. Charity begins at home, as they say. The call for a transformation of this kind can only come from within. Unless this inner change takes place, those around cannot be expected to fall in line.  

Through the ages, our spiritual leaders have laid an emphasis on reengineering ourselves at the individual level. However, this does not get done by attending seminars and events; or, by reading up on the subject. These help us to receive good thoughts. But the challenge lies in applying these thoughts to our mundane lives, and then to act upon the same. The process at work here needs to follow the manasa-vaacha-karma process. In other words, the concept of Consciousness needs to seep into our thoughts, our words and then into our actions. It needs to become a way of living life; a way of being.

This is a long-term project, requiring tenacity and commitment.

Here are some tips which may help leaders achieve this objective:

  • Developing a circle of close friends and confidantes who happen to be virtuous souls; networking with like-minded persons/organizations on social media platforms.
  • Regular meditation, so as to remain connected with our inner selves.
  • Shifting our attention from ‘me’ to ‘we’; adopting a mindset of ‘I Am Something’ instead of ‘I Am Everything’.
  • As we proceed further, our Consciousness expands to a still higher dimension, where the qualities of generosity of heart, humility, compassion and kindness reach their epitome.
  • We start engaging with our people more effectively, capitalizing better on our human capital.

Spreading the Consciousness Virus

Technology, if deployed with a benign intention, could go a long way in assisting us to spread this virus far and wide. The intention needs to be that of serving and facilitating rather than controlling. Advances labeled as Industrial Revolution 4.0 can assist us in propelling ideas such as consciousness more efficiently and, hopefully, even effectively.

Herein lies the primary challenge. Technology can merely be a tool. It is necessary, but not sufficient. What it needs is for humanity to wake up to its spiritual obligations. Our civilization’s present state is that of abject hedonism. This has led to a vast majority amongst us who have become slaves to technology. We have become zombies for whom checking the latest update on our technical gizmo is the first as well as the last act of the day. Virtual relationships have become more important than real relationships.   

The endeavour needs to be that of creating a number of tribes and networks which propagate such thoughts and motivate people and organizations to start making a transition to a higher plane of consciousness.

Tribes which are created to achieve a common purpose and believe in the same set of values would readily collaborate with each other and bring about a synergy. Different tribes may be at different levels of enlightenment/consciousness but if the values and the goals are the same, better results would be imminent.

Technical tools like Artificial Intelligence can help us to keep inside a firewall of sorts, keeping us shielded from distractions which retard our spiritual awakening/progress – the realization of the ultimate reality, that we all are one. It could give us the deeper private space which we need to grow inwardly and to realize that one of the most pleasurable things in life is to give succor to those who need it.  

This is why at CEN we believe that conscious leadership starts with the awakening of a leader to what he/she really is. The journey has to begin with a single aspiration – that of being a knight in shining armour who rides his/her nimble steed of technology to rescue the triad of hapless damsels best described by Plato over two thousand years ago as Truth, Goodness and Beauty. All three are in serious trouble and could do with a daring act of rescue.

Dear reader, are you game? If so, let us look forward to a book by one of CEN’s co-founders, Dominique Conterno, which goes into further details of the concepts we have touched upon briefly in this series of posts!

(Inputs from Dominiuqe Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net) are gratefully acknowledged)

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In the earlier part of this series of articles on Consciousness, we had covered the wide range of models which experts have used to define the concept of Consciousness, whether from management practitioners, scientists or those who repose their faith in either religion or spirituality.

We notice that most of the models used for explaining Consciousness have been centered on these four concepts:

  1. A physiological activity taking place in the human neo-cortex (human only).
  2. More generally, a physiological activity taking place in the whole brain (human and other animals to some degrees).
  3. An energy like phenomenon that uses the brain to manifest itself.
  4. A deeper phenomenon at the core of everything, eventually connecting us to a Universal Consciousness.

The CEN Perspective

The model that Conscious Enterprises Network believes in is related to some extent to point 4 above. The aspect we are investigating is information based and not just energy/vibration based. To us, energy is of secondary importance.

Of Evolutionary Forces

We believe that Nature (or, ‘The act of Informative Creation’) came about first, followed by matter/energy. Over millennia, driven by forces of natural evolution, we have been chiseled to a state we find ourselves in today.  We have repeatedly enjoyed biological benevolence and good fortune. From a single cell structure, we have today become a highly sophisticated machinery which willy-nilly is aware of its own existence.

In the interim, we have undergone repeated transformations. We have never been attached to a particular type, shape, color or size for too long. We first developed a liking for oxygen. We then frolicked about in the deep oceans, before trying to rule land in various forms. We bore our way underground and climbed on trees. We took wings and enjoyed the freedom of mobility, often backed by a highly effective GPS.

We assumed different forms, whether of the hissing or slithering kind or of the ferocious carnivorous kind. From bonobos and apes to Homo Sapiens has been a logical jump for us, and we know that we have indeed arrived.  

We now roam about all corners of the solar system. We keep messing up the fragile environment we have been gifted with. We have possibly come to believe that the journey of evolution is over. We think we can now rest on our laurels and remain content with inventing newer and better means to destroy ourselves. We need pandemics to come knocking to our doors to wake us up from this slumber and drive home the reality that we need to be more conscious of the inexorable forces of nature and respect its mandate.

The Importance of Information

Our physical bodies serve the unique purpose of facilitating the process of learning that we continue to undergo. It would not be wrong to say that our bodies are merely the tools provided to us by Nature. This helps us to keep amassing information-based wisdom – the wisdom of survival, the wisdom of living a happy, contented and fulfilling life.

Thus, information is the key input. The characteristics of information are as follows:

  • It is alive from the simplest form to the more complex form.
  • It brings about stability by having a self-organizing capability.
  • Self-learning helps it to expand in complexity.
  • Self-reflectivity enables a dynamic continuity.

Since information is the key, energy assumes a subservient role in our evolution. 

Another Take on Consciousness

In this model, we can readily explain Consciousness as a process belonging to the realm of information. Information, when backed by self-reflection, tends to get distilled and refined. Through this process of involution, we fulfill our purpose of self-learning.

As per this model, the source of everything could be called a Quantum Soup from which all possibilities and all potential creations of nature keep emerging and becoming extinct. The Quantum Soup is beyond the physical and the multidimensional universes, akin to the Vishwa-Roopam described by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, an Indian scripture, some 5,500 years back.

What comes about is a timeless chain of procreation which, in turn, leads to an environment which, even though in a flux over time, gets established temporarily. We keep growing, duly propelled by a complex information structure.  

Consciousness is a process of singular information. With further information packages thrown in, it assumes a condensed form. Thus, it does not belong to its parts but to all of creation. It may appear as if it is confined merely to a specific situation, say, a human life. But that is just an illusion created from a perception created as we mentally travel back and forth between the past and the future. It is not a perception of an eternal present.

The Toltec/Shamanic Tradition

To absorb this concept better, let us consider the Toltec Shamanic tradition. For a Toltec Shaman (see work from Carlos Castaneda), when a living entity dies, it faces the “Eagle” that is generally explained by a mass of pure consciousness with a mass of information behind it.  This mass of consciousness absorbs the dead entity’s history with its consciousness too in its action. In other words, the “Eagle” devours even the awareness of the dead. We base our observations on the work done by Carlos Castaneda in this context.

Consciousness as a Process

Because of its functional aspect, consciousness is universal and does not belong to any portion of information. This is another important point as my consciousness, yours and anything that exists is fundamentally the same one.

Indeed, there are packets of consciousness, such as a human consciousness, a tiger’s consciousness, and the like. Owing to the self-organizing property of information, such packets lead to an apparent compartmentalization of consciousness.

Sure enough, it takes time and understanding for one to realize that our individual consciousness is actually the same as that of anyone else even though each entity’s physical sheath and history may be quite different. 

(Inputs from Dominiuqe Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net), are gratefully acknowledged; illustration courtesy the www)

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Defining Consciousness is akin to the case of seven blind men trying to describe an elephant. People have different perspectives. So, when it comes to saying what it really is, the descriptions are often as different as chalk and cheese.

The reason for a wide spectrum of ways in which we understand this concept is what one could label as the Yin and Yang factor. Many of us use our brains to explain what we understand it to be. Many others use our hearts to do so. Perhaps this concept is rather profound. It is beyond the sensory limitations of the human mind, which has an uncanny ability to divide and analyze things. This is what eventually leads to the phenomenon called Analysis Paralysis in management. Our hapless hearts are rooted in what Daniel Goleman refers to as Emotional Intelligence. A solely emotional perspective has its own limitations.

But the situation is not as challenging as it appears to be. The common denominator underlying the entire spectrum is that of the collective good. An integrated view of the concept is surely possible, provided we move on to the level of what Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, in their book Spiritual Wealth: Wealth We Can Live By, allude to as Spiritual Intelligence.

However, before we move further, let us consider some of the perspectives which one normally comes across.

What is Consciousness?

The Five Maxims  

Ask Jeffrey Deckman, and he is apt to say that it is imperative for a Conscious Leader to play the following roles:

  1. Being a ‘healer’, who calms, comforts and connects those around him.
  2. Of being an ‘elder’, by practicing wisdom, empathy and patience.
  3. Acting as a ‘steward’, nurturing talent and creating conditions for growth just like a gardener would act.
  4. Doffing the hat of a ‘navigator’, envisioning challenges and opportunities, defining broad goals and guiding others.
  5. Being a ‘facilitator’, acting like the conductor of an orchestra, ensuring harmony, encouraging open discussions and aligning by voting and not by consensus.    

Of Gallant Knights

Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall speak of Knights, the leaders who choose to embark on a spiritual path. Having sensed something fundamentally sacred underlying human life, they embed this reality in their actions and in their life’s work.

In both life and work, the knight abides by five principles:

  • There is something sacred, some deeper, shared consciousness, unfolding in this universe and providing a baseline for every aspect of life.
  • Life and all its enterprises are interconnected.
  • All human endeavour, including business, is part of the larger and richer fabric of the whole universe.
  • The relationship of the healthy individual to the world is one of engagement and responsibility.
  • Service conveys deep sense of humility and gratitude.

A Triple Bottom Line Approach

Stephen Karbaron exhorts businesses to embrace an approach of profiting from a purpose driven, triple bottom line paradigm. To him, this is what defines a conscious business strategy approach. He emphasizes the need to be innovative, adaptable and prepared for change, whilst being aware of all stakeholder needs. He keeps sharing live examples of businesses which follow this approach.  

Of Philosopher Kings

Dr Roy Woodhead is of the opinion that the very words ‘conscious enterprise’ imply some sense of an ‘enlightened enterprise’. In one of his thought provoking articles, he says that Plato put forward the idea of ‘philosopher kings’ to lead us. They would not be allowed material gains but would be well looked after; their economic neutrality and lack of vested interests were seen as very important for effective government by the philosopher kings.

Ramayana, one of the revered Hindu scriptures, speaks of King Janaka, the foster father of Sita, the heroine of the epic story. He is said to be a ‘philosopher king’. He is revered as being an ideal example of non-attachment to material possessions. He not only administers his country but also invites sages and intellectuals to spiritual discourses in his assembly. His interactions with sages and seekers such as Ashtavakra and Sulabha are recorded in ancient texts and are illuminating treatises on spiritual principles.

In their book ‘Rajarshi Leadership’, authors S. K. Chakraborty and Debangshu Chakraborty espouse the cause of spiritual leadership. This is a concept which sums up a key lesson from India’s tryst with spirituality: that of first discovering the divinity within, and then to manifest it without. Such conscious leadership is blissful to oneself and to others.  

A Holistic View of Affairs

Jack Beauregard is of the opinion that it is about one connecting with the wholeness and the process of creation. A higher level of consciousness opens one’s life to one’s inner cores, thereby allowing the creativity of the universe to flow into one’s life. This enables one to find innovative solutions for solving the numerous challenges that one faces. He believes that a higher level of consciousness also creates a spiritual perspective. It allows one to view one’s life, other people, our work organizations, technology, the planet earth, and the universe from a sacred point of view.

Jack Beauregard opines that one can help create a new, harmonious world in which to live by taking responsibility for transforming one’s own consciousness. When enough people choose to develop, act, and do business from a balanced, wholistic paradigm, this will automatically have a positive influence on the consciousness of our planet. We can help co–evolve with the intelligent creative process of the universe. When a critical mass is reached, we will then create a positive alternative to the negative actions and beliefs of today’s world. 

Our species will evolve to its rightful inheritance when we realize that human consciousness is a smaller part of the larger consciousness of the universe, and our individual lives, and the human species in general, are small parts of the vast web of life and just one manifestation of the mystery of creation.

The Realm of Creativity 

Hindu and other scriptures speak of one reaching a state when one’s consciousness becomes one with that of the universe, often leading to an exalted phase of creativity. Our physical body then acts as an antenna, translating signals from the universe into something human beings would comprehend. When someone like Mozart composes music, he merely writes what he hears. When a humourist like P. G. Wodehouse creates his unique characters and weaves them into a dramatic plot, he acts more like a celestial author who enables lesser mortals like us to notice a humorous strain in all things around us. 

When Science Steps In

When humanity gropes for the source or the definition of Consciousness, our scientists do not disappoint.

Consider The Global Consciousness Project which is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists, and others. Their goal is to examine subtle correlations that may reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. Their researchers predict structure in what should be random data, associated with major global events. Their contention is that when millions of people share intentions and emotions, their data show meaningful departures from expectation. This is an area where science appears to establish the reality of a global consciousness.

A materialistic scientist would tell us that our brains consist of neurons made of atoms. These process our external experiences. At times, our neural processes lead us to recognize a higher meaning in things. According to them, our 40 Hz oscillations happen to be the neural basis for consciousness in the brain.

A Spiritual Insight

More than a century ago, this is how Sri Aurobindo, a highly revered spiritual master and a visionary from India, described his concept of Consciousnessthus:

Consciousness is a fundamental thing, the fundamental thing in existence; it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself. For instance, when consciousness in its movement or rather a certain stress of movement forgets itself in the action it becomes an apparently unconscious energy; when it forgets itself in the form it becomes the electron, the atom, the material object. In reality it is still consciousness that works in the energy and determines the form and the evolution of form. When it wants to liberate itself, slowly, evolutionarily, out of Matter, but still in the form, it emerges as life, as animal, as man and it can go on evolving itself still farther out of its involution and become something more than mere man.

— Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, pp. 236-7.

Consciousness is usually identified with mind, but mental consciousness is only the human range which no more exhausts all the possible ranges of consciousness than human sight exhausts all the gradations of colour or human hearing all the gradations of sound — for there is much above or below that is to man invisible and inaudible. So there are ranges of consciousness above and below the human range, with which the normal human [consciousness] has no contact and they seem to it unconscious….

— Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p.233.

In a way, what he appears to be pointing out is that understanding Consciousness is akin to realizing the difference between a physical body which is alive and one which is dead. It is like the sole element which is missing from a dead body.

By providing us with a very wide canvas to understand the term Consciousness, Sri Aurobindo is also indicating that organizations which are conscious are most likely to have the following characteristics embedded in their culture:

  1. An attitude of humility and devotion which enables people to operate – individually as well as in teams – at a higher level of productivity;
  2. A flatter hierarchy which redefines the relationship between those who lead and those who are led; in other words, a Theory Y approach to human relations, a higher diversity of cross-departmental teams, a premium on gender diversity, and an optimum gap between the packages and perks of the highest and the lowest paid people;
  3. A harmonious engagement with diverse stakeholders.

(Notes:

  1. Inputs from Dr Ananda Reddy of the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), Pondicherry, India, are gratefully acknowledged. Illustrations courtesy www and Huta, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India.

2. Inputs from Dominique Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net), are also gratefully acknowledged.)

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Exploring the concept of Consciousness further, one may say that whereas a normal organization cares for Results alone, an organization steeped in Consciousnesswould provide an equal weight to all of its three ‘R’s – Results, Relationshipsand Righteousness – in its strategic and tactical thinking.

Results could be either of the financial kind, the market share kind, or a combination of the two.

Relationships would imply a positive working atmosphere where, besides harmonious relations, dissent is not suppressed; rather, it is encouraged. Following human values is an essential part of this attribute. So is respect and dignity towards people in general.  

Righteousness would encompass such features as concern for sustainability, giving back to the society and running operations not only within the ambit of law but beyond it, wherever possible. Being pro-active, when it comes to corporate governance; taking care of the rights of the minority shareholders; ensuring that principles of natural justice get followed; and, following values and ethics.

Yes, the precise definitions of each of these sets of attributes would vary depending not only upon the kind of business an organization is in, but also on the kind of business environment it operates in.   

If each of these three dimensions of conscious organizations is taken into consideration, organizations which are committed to achieving a higher level of Consciousness could consider doing a self-assessment by using the kind of representation shown below:

Here is a scheme which can enable an organization to rate itself against each of the attributes, on a scale of 1 (low) to 9 (high).

Conscious organizations which rate themselves very close to the (Relationships: 9, Results: 9, Righteousness: 9) position in the figure could pat themselves on the back and keep up the good work they are doing, inspiring other ones to follow suit.

The ones which are in the Aspirant (5, 5, 5) category are already on the right track and would do well to start firing at all the twelve cylinders and reach a higher level of Consciousness.

The majority of organizations we come across might fit into the Arsonist Achievers (9, 9, 1) slot. To them, both Results and Relationships count, though they could not care less when it comes to following the path of Righteousness. Such enterprises end up contributing to the kind of situation where we find that during 2020, for instance, humanity needed to be supported by the planetary resources which 1.7 Earths alone can provide. (https://www.footprintnetwork.org/2021/01/19/we-do-not-need-a-pandemic-to-movethedate)

The Bureaucratic ones (9, 1, 9) are bound in red tape, caring only for Relationships and Righteousness, with poor accountability for Results. Yes-persons rule. Sycophancy prevails. Service to the public goes for a toss.

Organizations in the Doomed category (9, 1, 1) prophesize caring only for Relationships, while neither producing Results nor caring for Righteousness. For example, some of the Bretton Woods and other institutions set up after the World War II now appear to be out of sync with the global realities.     

Then we run into some Hollow ones (1, 1, 9) which profess to care only for the path of Righteousness but in reality are shams, pampering only to the ego of a self-styled guru heading a sect. Internal working conditions are akin to labour camps. The pomp and show of serving humanity is often more of a public relations exercise. 

We also have the Preachy ones (1, 9, 9), which care two hoots about Relationships but keep delivering results while making it appear as if they are also on the path of Righteousness. Their bluff is easily called because this unique feat cannot be achieved unless Relationships are given due importance in the scheme of things. Many political outfits which we find are steering their countries away from the core tenets of democracy and turning these into a dictatorship would fall in this category. Political power surely comes their way, but at a great cost to the socio-economic fabric of the nation.  

Most of us dread dealing with the Fly-By-Night (1, 9, 1) kinds, where Results alone count. Long term survival is not the aim. Just keeping the head above the water remains the sole aim. Quite a few of enterprises – mostly in the tiny and small sector – would fall in this category, simply because they can neither afford the luxury of Relationships and Righteousness, nor do they consider it necessary to do so. Ponzi schemes and financial scams fall in this category.  

Then there are mafia organizations which are blissfully ignorant of any such niceties; these continue to chug along in an Unconscious manner. Our society shall surely be better off in their absence.

Within the three ‘R’s outlined here, there may appear to be a sort of gradation. To many of our embryonic start ups, it may appear that only when a certain stage of stability has been attained can the business imagine paying attention to Relations and Righteousness. But habits, once formed, die hard. Such organizations run the risk of getting caught in a conceptual warp, evolving into pure money spinning outfits, eventually landing either in the Fly-By-Night slot or in the Arsonist Achievers slot.

The Many Lenses of Viewing Consciousness

But this is merely one way of viewing the concept of Consciousness.

Over time, our scientists, philosophers, academicians, management honchos and spiritualists of all hues, sizes and shapes have attempted to define the same. Each of these is presents a unique perspective and is worthy of consideration.

The final choice, of course, rests on our leaders. It could be based either on the nature of activity of an organization or on the leaders’ strategic vision.

The pandemic plaguing humanity since 2020 has yet again awakened us to the urgency of uplifting our state of Collective Consciousness and getting an injection of Vitamin Consciousness.

Note: Inputs from Dominique Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net), are gratefully acknowledged.

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A culture which is rooted in Consciousness does not throw up hapless leaders who keep burning the proverbial midnight oil in their relentless pursuit of commercial goals only, while shoving concerns such as the environment, the society and human resources under the corporate carpet.   It does not merely mean that our marketing honchos are doing their best in servicing our customers effectively and efficiently; instead, it implies that they do so while ensuring that the product/service as well as its packaging is environment-friendly.

It means that those toiling on the operations side design the processes in such a way that the carbon footprints are at least neutral, if not positive; that our financial wizards keep nudging the organization towards maximizing returns to all its stakeholders; and the human resource executives keep burning the midnight oil to ensure that people and processes respect human values and dignity, while keeping the costs to the bare minimum.

Professionals in an organization could be performing their roles while understanding challenges at the mental level alone in a rather artificial manner, leading to rigidity and even fanaticism in some cases. But then we suffer some limitations which are not different from the kind of handicap some of our sensory organs often face – a nose which fails to detect the putrid smell of a corporate scandal in the offing, an eye which can see but does not register wastage of resources in the operations, an ear which can hear but does not listen to a female employee reporting an incident of harassment at the hands of a superior and defers taking an action against the latter, a tongue which turns to complacency upon tasting a mighty success and a skin which has turned so thick that bribing one’s way through a regulatory agency no longer feels prickly.

Contours of a Conscious Culture

Values which drive an organization create its cultural ambience. Thus, a Conscious Culture is based not only on the kind of high values and principles being followed by a business but also on a smarter recognition of the purpose of the company and the interdependent relationship between the company’s stakeholders.

The drive of propagating a Conscious Culture need not start only from the desk of a top honcho in an organization. One may find even a liftman, a receptionist, a cleaner, a post room employee, a supervisor, or a manager initiating it. If the working atmosphere is such as to recognize and encourage conscious behaviour, the drive is bound to have a snowballing effect across an enterprise.

Many of us are aware that spiritual experts recommend not merely a sitting meditation but also a walking one; in other words, not a static meditation but a dynamic one. Likewise, Consciousness is not merely a waking awareness at the mental level but also the force which moves and propels the organization towards its enlightened goals. When interconnectedness between various departmental silos gets activated, the chances of a synergy coming about improve. The net result is a quantum jump in the overall efficiency of the organization, leading to uniform satisfaction all around, amongst all its stakeholders.

The marketing honchos then refrain from registering sales which could eventually become bad debts due to customer expectations not having been really met. The operations experts do not lose sleep over shipments which must be booked just before a quarter ends even though the physical goods might still be stuck on the manufacturing line. The finance guys do not indulge in window dressing so as to please their superiors. The human resources team does not start shifting those in permanent employment to a mode of contract employment, or refuse to submit correct employment figures to pension/provident fund regulators.

To put it simply, the silo approach gives way to an interconnected way of working, where each silo head is aware of the implications of his actions over all the other silos. A truly Systems Approach to doing things comes about. All elements and all clusters of the network are connected in some ways, leading to overall improvement in efficiency and effectiveness.

In a large IT hardware outfit where I used to work, ballooning sales receivables used to make the top management lose sleep. An aggressive sales force kept earning handsome incentives on billings while the finance head kept twiddling his thumbs trying to keep a lid on dues from customers. Based on repeated caution from internal auditors, a joint group comprising managers from marketing and finance was formed to review the matter. The incentive scheme was suitably tweaked and a monthly review by the joint group eventually brought the situation under control.       

A Self-actualization of Sorts

Following a paradigm of Consciousness does not belittle the importance of generating profits. Rather, it encourages a business to make decent profits and plough a part of the wealth generated there from into the welfare of the society at large. It exhorts an enterprise to act based on the harsh realization that resources drawn from the earth and the environment happen to be limited in supply. Often, the stark choice facing managements is that of profits today versus survival tomorrow. Wiser organizations would strike a balance between the two.

Some of us may recall the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where the last stage is that of self-actualization. This is akin to our realizing who we really are and what we aspire for in life. However, when we turn to Eastern philosophies of motivation, we may discover that Maslow is not the ultimate authority while adopting either a spiritual or a conscious approach in management. He merely offers an image of the individual and social achievement based on our egos. In the Eastern view, there is instead an attempt to transcend the ego at all levels.

Adhering to Consciousness would not mean that one expects our business leaders to evolve to a stage of being such selfless persons as Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela.

Lord Krishna is often portrayed as someone who encouraged a mighty war to take place some 5,500 years back. But if we scratch a little deeper, we shall find that he had no selfish motive in doing so. He had already built a small independent state for himself and his family in Dwarka and was seeking neither more property nor wealth for himself. His motive was essentially to demonstrate that the path of Dharma – righteousness – is to be always upheld. Admittedly, the war caused large scale devastation. Humanity had to bear an enormous cost. The irony was that even the so-called victors never felt victorious!  

Our scriptures have never held that making profits is a taboo. Instead, they hold that a portion of the same be shared with the society at large. This is indeed the way of nurturing a culture steeped in Consciousness in the organization that we happen to lead.

Way back in 1889, when the visionary industrialist J N Tata kept aside half of his personal wealth for the purpose of setting up an educational institute where Indian youth could receive world-class learning in science and engineering subjects, he was not concerned about his business in any way benefiting from the gesture. He did it for India, the country he loved. It comes as no surprise to see that today the Indian Institute of Science in India, set up in 1909 after Tata had expired, is held to be an educational institute of eminence.

Notes:

  1. Inputs from Dominiuqe Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net), are gratefully acknowledged.
  2. Illustration courtesy Huta of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India.

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The more turbulent the times, the higher the need for spiritually inclined CEOs to run our businesses! 

The Spiritual CEO presents a roadmap for how to build a better business, live a better life and make a bigger impact—all through the simple practice of Korporate Karma. Distilling the ancient wisdom of the Gita and learnings from the Vedas and other spiritual texts, the author S. Prakash explains how centring the spiritual being clears the path to greater success in both businesses and personal lives. 

The book is an interesting read and has answers to several questions raised by several Board Members and “C” suite leaders. It provides a simple template for a CEO to look into a “Mirror” and introspect where they stand and how they can metamorphosis to leave a lasting positive legacy, in the process of becoming a “Spiritual CEO”.

The world is going through a tremendous transformation, perhaps even a metamorphosis, where it is no longer acceptable to stand on the sidelines, balancing balance sheets and drawing up window-dressed profit and loss accounts. The time has come for leaders and CEOs to merge their success and that of their businesses with the qualities of spiritual awareness and compassion. 

Exploring concepts like Korporate Karma, Spiritual Alchemy, Corporate and Spiritual TBL (triple bottom line), Korporate DNA and the positive influence of tradition, values and beliefs on businesses, this book opens our collective eyes to the urgent need for change.

It also includes practical solutions and tangible guidance on how a CEO—and indeed every business leader—can adapt to the new world and its reality.

The book has been published recently by Westland Publications. 

 

The Author

S. Prakash, the CEO of See Change, India, is a nationally acclaimed author, coach, master story-teller, key-note speaker, heartful leader, organisational turn-around expert and nation builder. His three-and-a-half decades of work includes a rich blend of business, management and leadership experiences.

He has been writing on human behaviour, business success and many other related topics for over two decades and has published ten books in several languages and has authored more than a thousand articles on self-development, spirituality and other subjects.

 

 

In case you wish to order

Pre-order here: http://bit.ly/SpiritualCEO

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As a survivor of the corporate world for over a decade, I can precisely understand the analogy between corporate and jungle. There are myriads of personalities one encounters in a business day and their traits can be pertinently mapped to those of lions, cubs, fox, etc. Although this book doesn’t do vivisection of the personalities, yet the title is very well suited to the environment.

Organized by topics like advertising, burnout, leaders, networking, working hours, etc., the author gives a snippet of advice related to each. It doesn’t deep dive into the topic to explain the nitty-gritty of them but is limited to a single piece of guidance. None of the topics reach beyond a single page except a few where the learning of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata are correlated to exciting times.

It is not intended for a specific category of employees. Whether you are fresher, experienced, a boss, a CEO, or in top management, it touches upon multiple aspects of corporate life. It is not a textbook that will walk you through the concepts with motivational examples but a quick reference guidebook.

Having gone through multiple management books and corporate training, I intended to find some pathbreaking tips. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it. Unarguably, the capsules of wisdom in each chapter hold relevance but some of them are at a pretty elementary level. For instance, being accessible, work-life balance, networking. These tips find a place in almost every management book under the sun.

Irrespective of unable to go beyond my expectations, it is still a valuable asset to people lost in the corporate jungle. Easing out your way when nothing seems to work needs a proficient support system. I believe his book can prove to be one. It is worth a read, and I would recommend it. As an add on, the book is available in Portuguese as well.

(This is where you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book: http://livraria.vidaeconomica.pt/gestao/1493-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico-9789897681868.html)

Related Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3947874200

https://www.amazon.in/review/R171AFEHTP900Z/ref=pe_1640331_66412301_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rvhttps://www.instagram.com/p/CNudl1CLOOS/?igshid=ztqwa3ijwxy3

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It is indeed heartening to note that the Supreme Court of India has finally brought the curtains down on the confrontation between the Tata group and the SP group. The question of stock valuation still remains unresolved but the claims of Mr Cyrus Mistry have been set aside by the court.

(https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/view-a-lucky-half-century-for-this-50-million-tata-stake-comes-to-an-end/articleshow/81743290.cms)

Those who follow me may recall the article below which quotes some examples from the illustrious history of the Tata group. These are examples which set the bar high when it comes to demonstrating how a Conscious Business really operates – with high values and ethics.

The directors also deserve to be complimented for standing by the group and acting as per their conscience in a manner which upholds the basic principles of Righteousness.

ashokbhatia

Respected Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some of you might be twiddling your fingers these days, trying to figure out exactly what is happening, why things have come to such a pass, and if there is some way you could pitch in to resolve the Tata-Mistry issue.

I do believe there is a way you can make a difference. You can do so by taking a stand which would make you look back at your decision in the future with a feeling of glowing satisfaction and contentment.

Allow me to share some of my own thoughts on the subject. I write with all humility at my command. I write this as a lesser mortal who is not privy to the power conflicts at the top levels of the Tata group. I write this as a common man, and also as an ex-employee of one of the companies of the group, namely…

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Branding is a term which originates in the realm of marketing management but is generally applicable to any product, service, entity or person which stands out amongst the crowd and calls out for any Unique Selling Proposition of its. It could be applied to countries, movie directors and even to some fictional characters from literature!

Here are some examples which demonstrate this point better.

Countries

 

 

After the Trump era (2016-20), studies have popped up claiming that the USA has slid down significantly on its soft power in the world. Same is said to be the case with many other countries where brutal suppression of dissent has become a way of life and where human rights have been trampled upon.

China keeps expanding its soft power by promoting movies out of Hollywood exposing the world to its culture. India offers spirituality and its own culture to the world.

The movie Eat, Pray, Love (2010) illustrates the point rather well. A heart-broken heroine travels through different countries. She discovers the true pleasures of the table in Italy, the soothing power of payer in India and the inner peace and balance of love in Indonesia!

Movie Directors 

Apart from other celebrities, those who wield the megaphone in the movie industry often exude soft power.

I confess I am a movie buff. Quite early in life, I discovered that a movie should be selected for viewing not based on its cast but based on its director. Each director has a distinctive perspective on life, and the manner in which he/she presents a theme is as unique as, say, one´s finger prints. Admittedly, the core brilliance of a movie is determined by the producer-director duo. But the unmistakable stamp on the narrative is that of the director. The script, the screenplay, the music, the camera work, the background score, the sets, the costumes, the editing, all these transport us to a different realm for a limited time.

To put it simply, if you sit down to watch a movie by either Steven Spielberg or Gulzar saheb, you know what to expect. Seeing a movie which is directed by, say, David Lean, is as much enriching an experience as seeing one directed by either Hrishikesh Mukherji or Basu Chatterji.

Over a period of time, a movie director builds up a brand equity for himself. It comes from the uniqueness of his style, the choice of his scripts, consistency in quality of his directorial ventures and sheer attention to detail in all the departments of movie making. This earns a well-deserved respect from the discerning viewers, crowned by some degree of commercial success.

The CEO of a Dream Merchandise Factory

A director’s role in shaping a movie would perhaps be comparable to that of either the CEO of a company or the conductor of an orchestra. A CEO’s mindset determines the business strategy of a company. His style of functioning and his value system permeates across all levels of the company. Likewise, the conductor of an orchestra blends the notes of stringed, percussion and other instruments, creating a symphony which is unique. Like a CEO guiding a company or a conductor presenting a symphony, the director also balances the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and comes up with a movie which is entertaining – and possibly educative – in the social context.

A director surely knows how to touch our heart-strings in a meaningful way. In the process, he delivers deep messages, whether social, political, economical or the spiritual kind.

Some Literary Brands

Those of us who have admired the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and Reginald Jeeves are occasionally overawed by the kind of popularity these literary figures enjoy. Both may be fictional, but the influence they exert on our consciousness is exemplary. One would not be wrong in perceiving both of them to be brands in their own right.

Sherlock Holmes: An Honorary Citizen of Meiringen

Ever heard of the charming Alpine town of Meiringen in Switzerland? It is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. Ringed in by snow-covered peaks, it is located on one of the most important trade routes through the Alps for centuries.

One of Meiringen’s attractions is the Sherlock Holmes Museum which recreates the detective’s abode at 221A, Baker Street in London, besides Victorian era memorabilia. The nearby Reichenbach Falls are where, in The Final Problem, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made his hero suffer a premature death at the hands of his adversary Dr Moriarty, only to resurrect him later in The Adventure of the Empty House on persistent demands from the detective’s fans. Well, quite some time back, it had granted an honorary citizenship to Sherlock Holmes.

It stands to reason that the town had granted an honorary citizenship to Sherlock Holmes. A certificate to this effect is displayed in the museum. Also, at the base of the falls, there is a rock inscription to this effect!

When one picks up a Sherlock Holmes story, one is assured of good value for one`s time and effort. Backed by hard-nosed judgment, insightful observations and above-par analytical skills, he delivers. Go to him with a mystery and he demystifies it. His methods and skills have provided clues to investigators in many countries. He is utterly reliable. He delivers. These are the very attributes which go on to build up a brand.

Gentlemen’s Personal Gentleman

Likewise, Jeeves, created by P G Wodehouse, stands for impeccable service and a capacity to deliver results beyond the expectations of the bosses. The manner in which he helps his boss Bertie Wooster retain his bachelor status is a sterling example of his feudal spirit as also an inner cunning. His methods are often rough, but there is no doubt as to his capacity to deliver satisfactory results. He believes that bosses are like wild horses; they need to be managed with tact and resource.

In the United Kingdom, one is apt to run into laundry and other services which bear his brand name.

Many examples can be quoted from literature, fine arts and other creative fields of human endeavour.

In an earlier post, we had considered the perks of building and sustaining a shimmering brand in the market place. The focus there was on companies and individuals. Examples cited above go on to reveal to us the kind of hard work, consistency of effort and persistence which enable a softer brand to emerge. The essential principles underlying the creation and sustenance of a brand remain the same.

 

 

(Related Posts: 

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2021/03/15/the-perks-of-a-shimmering-brand-equity

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/a-brand-called-jeeves

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/sherlock-holmes-the-honorary-citizen-of-meiringen-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/hats-off-to-these-movie-directors)

 

 

 

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Earlier on, we had touched upon the importance of brand equity. One can undervalue the criticality of this attribute only at one’s own risk and peril.

Corporate Brands

Companies benefit immensely from making conscious efforts to keep their brand images shimmering. If asked to quantify the resultant financial uplift though, their CFOs would be found twiddling their thumbs. But it is not difficult to see the kind of benefits which accrue from having a shimmering image, whether in matters of human resources, sourcing or marketing, besides in such grey areas as liaison and government dealings.

Several instances can be quoted from my own stints with the Tata group.

When a INR 5 crore modern leather processing factory was established at Dewas in 1975, the plant was commissioned without any delay, with all necessary government approvals in place. No government officials had to be appeased, whether in cash or in kind. In fact, the then government of Madhya Pradesh went all out to support the complex being set up.

In another case, a senior manager deputed to the headquarters of the Electricity Board to secure power connection for a small manufacturing unit ended up assuring a demanding government officer that a measly amount would be paid upon the issue of the necessary permission. A 50% advance paid to the officer concerned was shown in the manager’s travel expenses claim. A furious general manager called in the manager and gave him a severe dressing down. Yours truly was called in and asked to resolve the issue. My visit to the place cost the company five times the amount demanded. Somehow, I could secure the permission without any further underhand payment and got back to my desk with a feeling of triumph and pride at what had been accomplished. The senior manager soon left the company and moved on to a greener pasture.

Tatas are well known for their sound values and systems. They have a unique way of handling under-the-table demands by all and sundry. When it comes to compliance, the emphasis is on avoidance and not on evasion. As to corporate governance, their 150 year old record is blemish free.

Tatas repersent a fine example of what Alan Wallner is apt to call a Conscious Brand. As one of the thought leaders who happen to be a part of the Conscious Enterprises Network, he believes that branding is not just about physical attributes; rather, it is about the inner presence of a person and of the team that creates the brand of a business – it’s the way we treat other people and work together to create something remarkable.

A Mighty Responsibility

To keep a brand duly buffed up and shining is no mean task. Besides management back-up, a positive culture and clear policies which facilitate an ethical approach to business dealings, it needs extensive training at the front level of any organization.

Experiences of Customer Delight

Sometime during the late 1980s, I once had a problem with a Kodak camera I had bought just about a few months back. Somehow, I had not been careful enough to save a copy of the purchase proof with me. I contacted the shop from where I had bought it and he refused to entertain me in the absence of either a bill or a receipt. But when I contacted the Kodak office in person, they made no fuss. A technician checked my camera and within twenty minutes, I walked out with a brand new fresh camera in my hands.

As a lay customer, I once had a problem with my TataSky direct-to-home service account. When nothing satisfactory happened for a week, I gave a piece of mind to the next person I could manage to speak to. Within a day, not only was the problem addressed but even a senior person called me up to apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Such first-hand experiences restore one’s faith in a brand, thereby giving it a unique advantage – that of free word to mouth publicity!

Converting Ex-employees into Brand Amassadors

At HCL Infosystems, another large company, a separation with a disgruntled star performer was handled very delicately. The outcome was that he ended up being an ambassador for the company, referring candidates for several other key positions in the following years.

Even a massive plant closure involving over 1,000 persons was handled so very decently that there were no protests and red flags of any kind, nor any interference from the local politicians or communities. Key personnel who could not be accommodated were assisted in securing alternative career opportunities, with the Human Resources Department playing a key role.

Caring for the Delicately Nurtured

Unilever recently stated having introduced a policy with zero tolerance towards domestic violence.

 

A ten-year stint of mine with Tatas matched well with my own upbringing. However, by the time the episode touched upon by me earlier occurred, I was in a bubble at the other end of the spectrum of values. I had perhaps permitted my honest visage and sincere disposition to be put to nefarious uses. Sure enough, the fault of accepting a situation of this kind lay somewhere within me.

Personal Brand Equity

It stands to reason that one’s brand equity is built over a long period of time. Once built, it becomes like the fragrance of an exotic flower. It travels much ahead of one, often opening up new vistas, offering a wider canvas for one to perform and excel at whatever one undertakes to do. The observant ones amongst those around us are surely able to size us up much quicker than we can manage to do ourselves.

Professionals need to step back every once in a while and check if their brand image is bright and shining. Keeping one’s brand value burnished helps in career progression. It is also an immensely satisfying slice of life which promotes self-worth and boosts self-confidence.

My experience tells me that these are the kind of inputs which go into keeping a professional’s brand value burnished.

Under-promise, over-deliver

Being aware of our core strengths as well as limitations helps us to assess our chances of success in delivering on a project. By ensuring that we commit conservatively but deliver zealously, we build up a reputation of reliability. There are indeed times when a polite ‘no’ could save us from denting our reputation.

Honesty and openness in relationships

Our colleagues and team members are equally smart. They are quick to sense a touch of opacity on our part. They detest a lack of transparency in us. Dealing with those around us with honesty ensures that they repose their faith and trust in us. As a result, our capability of getting things done improves.

Being a friend, philosopher and guide

All of us have some expertise which may not be directly relevant to our Key Result Area. It could be an insight into the realm of alternative therapies which a colleague can use for one of her family members. It could be about handling rebellious teenagers at home. If we put such expertise to use by helping others around us, word goes around and others rush in to seek our counsel. We might have the image of a tough task master, but this softer aspect of our personality helps us to build a unique brand for ourselves.

Networking

Whether within the organization or outside, networking goes a long way in building up our reputation. The trick, however, is in avoiding those with a negative outlook, while promoting ties with those who have positive vibes.

Keep learning

Keeping the saw sharpened always helps. By refreshing our knowledge pool continuously, we remain a leader in more ways than one. Often, a dash of humility is all it needs to remain ahead of the curve.

Being genuine

By being ourselves, we enhance our dependability. Others feel reassured and refreshed after each encounter with us. They do not mind confiding in us. In turn, this helps us to understand and address their anxiety and concerns better. Our ability to deliver improves.

A brand is all about reliability and dependability. It offers good value for money. So do professionals who work on the basis of deliverables. Smart ones realize that an image cannot be built up purely based on optics and communication. It needs to be backed by real inputs so one’s brand value remains intact and is kept shimmering at all times.

One of the key factors in building a brand and sustaining its image is the kind of value system it represents; moreover, the purpose which guides it.

 

(Illustration: Keller’s Brand Equity Model)

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/bidding-an-adieu-to-mr-ratan-tata

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/building-up-the-employee-brand-value-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/a-not-so-plummy-encounter-with-an-arm-of-the-law)

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