"The Times of India" on Tuesday 26th of March 2002
Does the recent interest exhibited in non-fiction titles such as The Soul of
Business, a Spiritual Audit of Corporate America, The Stirring of Soul in the
Workplace, The Three-Minute Meditation etc. in the US point to possible evolution
of the "enlightened corporate sector"? Do Indian Managers, born in
a land that has offered "yoga and meditation" to the world corporate
sector (to overcome stress), have the "first-mover advantage"? These
are the questions that should interest "enlightened" managers in "progressive"
Regardless of the size of a firm, much of the work is accomplished by people
working together as a team. During the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese firms recognised
the virtues of team work over individualistic style of functioning. Thus arose
the concept of a "team" - a cohesive group with well-defined objectives
- where each member had a specific role to play.
However, the Japanese found the task of balancing group ethos with individual
drive and motivation a difficult task had to selectively promote the concepts
of "individualistic" engineers, and a general flexibility for members
to move across teams, to nurture the entrepreneurial talent within the organization
Apart from "motivational" aspects in different cultural settings,
another important behaviour that has gained attention is "stress".
International research on stress related factors has found that while Swedish
executives experience the least stress, executives from United States , United
Kingdom and the former West Germany are able to manage the stress effectively
unlike their counterparts in Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Egypt, South Africa and
Both Newsweek and Time have recently devoted special articles to stress and
stress busters. The common theme has been that chronic stress is harmful to
both employees and employers and that the solution lies in the ancient Indian
practice of yoga and meditation. Yoga as the union between the mind and body
is seen to offer solutions to stress related problems, which the physical workouts/exercise
cannot offer. Not to be outdone, numerous titles and solutions related to spirituality,
all home grown, have appeared on the scene.
The recent work of Danah Zohar on spiritual intelligence, John Kay on implicit
or trust relations within the firm and between the firm and its stakeholders
and Avinash K Dixit on the science of strategic thinking point out future directions
for the corporate sector.
Zohar refers to spiritual intelligence - a form of creative thinking which
is concerned as much with rule making as rule breaking - as the basic foundation
for an effective EQ (emotional quotient) and IQ. She says that SQ could be explained
in terms of the lotus model with its centre and six petals, corresponding to
the seven charkas described by the Hinduism's Kundalini Yoga. According to Kay,
the essence of a firm is defined by the totality of relationships among, first,
its shakeholders and second, between itself and other firms. This unique structure
of formal and informal relationships, which cannot be easily replicated, is
the real source of a firm's competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Dixit mentions that unlike a traditional firm which tries to "hold"
rather than "share" information, a progressive and enlightened firm
makes sharing its dominant strategy.
According to Time's special article on Yoga, "enlightenment and good health
require a proper balance between the seven major charkas apart from a free flow
of the life force which, in turn, is acquired through awakening of dormant Kundalini
energy". The Indian philosophical tradition attributes perception to the
mind, conceptualisation to the intellect and "illumination" to the
self. Further, they speak of an ascent from "intellect" through meditation.
The integration of inner self with the cosmic spirit - otherwise, referred to
self-realisation - is considered the route to highest knowledge. In other words,
spirituality at the workplace is considered necessary not only in terms of imaging
stress but also as an aid in reaching higher levels of consciousness.
Mataji Shri Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, says "En masse inner
transformation of human beings by self-realisation is the reality now. Everyone
can now become aware of the absolute truth and reality through Sahaja Yoga.
Sahaja Yoga is the spontaneous union of individual consciousness with the all-pervading
power through the awakening of the residual power of the Kundalini which lies
dormant within all human beings in the triangular bone at the base of the spine,
called the sacrum - the sacred bone.
Perhaps it is time for Indian corporate to draw upon the great traditions of India's ancient spiritual and philosophical heritage.