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Management Through Fusion
A thought provoking transformational work on reforming and re-engineering management education by bringing together the modern theory and practice of management sciences and age-old wisdom that India stands for.
Om Asato maa Sad-gamaya;
Tamaso maa Jyotir-ga-maya;
Mrtyor-maa Amrutam gamaya.
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih.
O Lord Lead me from the unreal to the real.
Lead me from the darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
May there be peace, peace, and perfect peace.
- a Sanskrit invocation from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishads 1.3.28
In today's globalised economy the intensity and pressure to reward shareholders and to beat the stock markets has set in motion a series of corporate scams and frauds and as every day passes by the scale and magnitude of these scams are growing and every scam betters the previous one in terms of trust, the degree of manipulation, and destruction of shareholder value. Billions of dollars are lost and it is becoming challenging for every regulator throughout the world to tackle these situations and in most cases better regulation follows only after the scam hits. The very fundamentals of corporate governance are shaken and the role of independent directors and auditors are questioned. Sometimes the reputation of these so-called independent directors and auditors are world class so that it becomes harder to suspect them and after the scam hits it becomes even harder to believe that they could have been involved. The beginning of the new millennium set in motion a series of scams in the corporate world starting with Enron in the USA to Satyam in India. And to my knowledge and understanding these are some of the companies who have been caught and there could be more skeletons that may role out from time to time.
Where is the flaw and how it can be eliminated? To me the flaw lies in the way global management education is administered. Professionals who hold management degree from internationally reputed B-schools perpetuate most of these corporate scams and a point in case is to look at the independent directors of Satyam, which rocked the corporate fraternity, belong to some of the best known B-schools and have a formidable reputation. As a reader you may look at these names and come to your own conclusion, I don't want to mention each of their names and background, because it is a tragedy of errors both omission and commission.
Most of the management institutes and B-schools focus on how to win the rate race and how to better the best managers and they really do not focus on the ways and means to achieve this goal. Rather they are trained to be ruthless and are thought to beat the street. To me, I feel the remedy to this malice is to re-engineer the fundamentals of management education and to focus more on the ways and means to achieve the goal rather than just focusing on the goal. One has to keep asking the question why these scams are perpetuated and the answer lies in a simple fact that greed and motivation to be on the top, irrespective of values, ethics, and principles.
There has been lot of focus on leadership based on principles, but it takes more than that to avoid these kinds of greed and fraud. After giving much thought, I have come to the conclusion that the remedy would be to fuse the highest standards of modern education with the age-old wisdom and tradition that lies in India. This thought provoking change has transformed me to look within than to look outside to bring about this much needed change. Towards this journey, I have brought and adapted the best of management practices preached by the top B-schools with the age-old wisdom of India.
To me the age-old wisdom is based on these five pillars,
This age old wisdom has to be knitted with the modern management theory and practice, so that the outcome is based on a time tested value system rather than just principle based leadership coupled with latest technologies and practices that goes in the making of a modern manager.
After in-depth research and meeting scores of people in both walks of life that includes executives from top-notch global organizations and people in the spiritual domain, I have come to a conclusion that these two domains should not merely co-exist, but they have to function in unison for the betterment of this world in general. With strong conviction, I can say that both these worlds have to come together and merge for a new system of management education that would transform the fundamental thinking of a modern day executive and manager. Leadership based on principles has to be transformed and morphed into leadership based on age-old wisdom and value systems that would just not only lead the corporate world but also be the basis of political and economical leadership alike.
Historically India has never used her military powers or any other factor to stretch her boundaries or to invade another country. This is because of this age-old wisdom that has always been part of its leadership. India has been the womb for many great revolutions and great people like Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Sathya Sai, and many more. This is not by accident, it is a well-planned Divine intervention and the list of people who have transformed not just their country but across national borders and they continue to inspire millions across the globe for generations, even after they have left this mortal body.
It is no way different to modern management goals, just that the means and path varies. If people like Gandhi could bring revolutionary transformational change that gave the birth to an Independent India, and when he could inspire millions across the globe with his virtues and simplicity and could connect to the next generation and generations to come, imagine what kind of company one could create if one is able to follow this path. You could have an organization that would transcend boundaries not by the definition of a Multinational Corporation, but by the fundamental values and ethics that will be the new definition for globalization rather than geographical boundaries or any other commercial or economical factor. Such an organization would attract not mere investors for their transparency and virtues, but also customers and partners who would share a common vision and ideals that would drive the future.
Imagine that you own a corporation literally free of unwanted systems and controls that rob top-management time and resource in the form of monitoring and controlling systems that most often leads to complex legal tangles across various legal systems that burns millions of dollars and takes away with it priceless time. Today's management education is centered around the concept of how to face these unwanted situations and how to come out of it by what ever means and ways one can think of. I am aware that no course or curriculum says it in so many words but the end result is very obvious.
Today regulatory environment directly decides the nature and scope of a business or sector. Regulatory intervention often arises because of organizations trying to manipulate regulatory framework and in the pre-text of customer benefits and end-user benefits these organizations call it fair play, to maximize their own standing, profits, and growth. Most often they fail to understand that it takes another organization to replicate it and better them in their own game. This cycle keeps repeating itself and there is no end to it, ultimately consultants of various natures from legal to accountants make money in this process.
To me all this can be avoided if one starts focusing on education right from the primary school level up to professional levels, so that the fabric of every individual is tuned to a value system that will not compromise for mere economic benefits or monetary reasons. The aim and goal of this research is towards this, a transformational management education that will produce managers amp; leaders who will stick to a value system based on age-old wisdom. The current economic crises the world is going through and many corporate and economical scams that we witness today is a by-product of the current education system that merely focuses on success and does not emphasis on the ways and means to achieve the goal. How to prevent these situations from re-occurring and what is the solution if there is one? How can age-old wisdom be a solution and how can one integrate this age-old wisdom into modern management theory and practice? For this one has to first understand what these age-old wisdom stand for and how it can be related to modern management theory and practice.
Management Fusion 1: Satya
In simple terms Satya means truth, the truth alone. This is one virtue along with Ahimsa that Gandhi stood for and never compromised. Today's corporate world to a large extent is devoid of Satya at all levels. If Satya can be sustained and practiced at all levels in an organization, then there wont be need for any controlling or monitoring mechanism or systems. A free and open organization where individuals will truly understand their real roles and responsibilities, devoid of any falsehood and the need to manipulate or alter any information or action while discharging once duty will never exist. This will result in high level of trust and will ensure that each and every one will co-exist irrespective of their fundamental nature to be different and independent. At the top most level, the top management should start practicing it and should inculcate Satya as one of the foremost cultural fabric of an organization and has to send a loud and clear message that at any cost Satya will never be compromised and people who adhere to this highest truth will be duly rewarded and recognized. Top management should start leading by example and ensure that the organization structure is structured in such a way so that each and every where the principles of truth gets the highest priority ahead of anything else. Once truth is established at all levels then other things will automatically fall in place.
Corporate governance is nothing but providing or declaring or disclosing truth about information, actions, and situations pertaining to an organization or a corporate to all its stakeholders so that they will be informed to take appropriate decisions. But more often the law of corporate governance is held but its spirit is broken. This is where the difference between truth and Satya lies, and one has to understand this, a mere translation will not suffice and the truth deeper into these words have to be known, learnt, understood, and practiced. Some times it is very difficult or even impossible to translate these words that are associated with age-old wisdom. When it comes to the modern concept of truth, breaking the spirit of the law is more often an accepted norm, but a definition under Satya has no room for all these. You can never separate the spirit and deed and they are inseparable in Satya. Satya has no duality and it does not change at any circumstance or situation. Satya is beyond time and space and it triumphs by its own strength without any support in terms of witness or evidence. This is the greatness of Satya and if an organization is able to follow this in all ways and at all levels, one will have an organization devoid of scams and where individuals will have a common goal to upheld the truth at all times and by all means. All stakeholders from employees, investors, partners, governments, vendors, and customers will be assured of best practices and resources that are today spent in decorating balance sheets or products will start diminishing with time and this itself would translate in better products and services for the customers and will also ensure low cost of products and services at all levels. Everyone will get his or her rightful due and to me there can never be a better tool for advertising than word of mouth.
Management Fusion 2: Dharma
An organization that focuses on Satya will automatically translate action upholding the path of Righteousness or what in age-old wisdom they call it Dharma. Dharma is the second stage and it cannot exist on itself without the foundation of Satya. Just not actions that have to pass the test of Dharma, every thought and intention should imbed in it the virtues of Dharma. If Satya is an intangible virtue, then Dharma is its tangible or visible pair. Modern education to some extent talks about few virtues like good, bad, right, and wrong but Dharma is more than these virtues as these virtues can be manipulated and justified according to some and based on situations. But Dharma being a twin of Satya is beyond all this and it is Satya in action. Every corporate action whether it is focused inward or outward must adhere to this highest virtue and pass the test of Dharma.
Today's corporate world, there is lots of debate on the independence of the independent directors, the role of auditors, the function and scope of regulators and to a greater extent the intention of lawmakers. Independent directors and auditors are appointed and function on the basis of competence within them and their ability to deliver "in-line" with the goal of the management or promoter. But very often we go by the external attributes of these individuals or agencies forgetting that these can only be a support function. If the core of the organization is not in line with the highest standards and values, even then these individuals or agencies support this, hiding in the pretext of confidentiality agreements or non-disclosure agreements and clauses, which are carefully crafted to follow the agenda set out by the management or promoters. A case in point is the latest corporate scam and fraud by the promoters of Satyam. One can very well see the illustrious background of the independent directors and the competence of the auditors. There is no lack for the external attributes. If media news has to be believed then, without doubt the role or nexus of the lawmakers and other governmental agencies cannot be ignored. The fundamental flaw being is that the whole system, which is made of these agencies and individuals, lacked the highest virtues of Dharma. These scrupulous characters claim that what ever they have done is not illegal. While discharging their duties as independent directors on the board of Satyam they have done every thing that stands and passes the legal scrutiny. But if one can put these same actions and intentions under the scrutiny of Satya and Dharma, one can see how miserably they fail! That is the basic and fundamental difference these age-old wisdom and modern ethics and values offer. The independent directors of Satyam, as already, I had mentioned have a towering academic and professional background and their achievements cause envy among peer group, but, what use is it, if they were in collision with the promoters or they have not discharged their duties by protecting all the stakeholder either by in competency or otherwise? Any one who reads corporate history will know that these are not isolated cases and they keep happening from time to time. It has become a statement of style to say that the actions and intentions pass the deed of the law but fail in spirit.
The financial meltdown coupled with economic crisis the world is seeing today is unprecedented, in terms of magnitude and enormity of the whole crisis and its geographical spread across nations and boundaries, sparing none whatsoever. This crisis has once again brought the spotlight on executive pay, compensation, and bonuses. It has come to light that many financial companies and banks have "rewarded" their top management with bonuses and largesse that has never been heard off! Yes, once again these actions pass the judicial scrutiny without any second thought, but if you scrutinize these actions under the virtues of Dharma, it will clearly evolve and emerge that these actions have arisen out of greed and selfish motive that has no boundaries and they have indulged in unethical practices mounting to rape of trust and massacre of shareholder's wealth and genocide of stake holder's value and money. Again these companies belong to a genre of huge publicly listed multinationals, supposed to be highly regulated and a board of the highest professional background governs these companies. Now an objective analysis of the situation will reveal that any amount of regulation and professional competencies cannot insulate or protect investors or stakeholders. Rewarding a very high compensation package sounds a legitimate right for the so called returns these highly qualified and experienced professionals give, but if one asks a simple question, whether it is Righteous to dole out such bonuses and incentives then the answer is obvious. It is not Righteous on any account, I am sure there are numerous other professionals who are waiting to prove their competencies for a fraction of the compensation package that was awarded to these "tainted" executives.
In the quest for hiring the best talent for the job, companies (boards) often go to any extend possible and what they get in turn is destruction of shareholder's wealth and a scam-tainted company! Dharma flows from Satya and the path it flows is content, when Dharma is the vehicle one travels then there is no room for greed and motives that satisfies the desires of the self. All modern theory and practices, focuses mainly on short-term gains and goals, companies are under watch for their quarterly earnings and performances. Managers and executives know that they have to make hay while the sunshines, and they know that winter is not far behind. So they make the best of now and are not concerned about long-term affect, this result in shortcuts and ways and means that will not pass the test of virtues that the age-old wisdom stands for.
At all levels, right from the board to top managements, managers to subordinates, and officers to shop floor technicians the virtue of Dharma has to be followed rigorously without any deviation or dilution. Every action should pass the test of Dharma and every thought and intentions should be borne out of Dharma, if it happens one can be rest assured that the need to any external regulation or regulatory mechanism will cease to exist.
Management Fusion 3: Prema
Unprecedented is the rivalry just not among corporate or business houses but between brothers and families for materialistic pursuit and market share! While saying this, I want to make it very clear that, I am not against competition or profit making. But at the same time one has to understand that competition is different from rivalry and the ways and means to pursue competition has to be scrutinized. Today corporates use unethical practices to further their cause; they indulge in "influencing" governmental policies that compromise, just not the interests of competition but a larger audience like the end-user, economy, and nations at large. All these unfair and unethical trade practices emulate from the desire to make materialistic pursuits and the urge and desire to be on the top, irrespective of the means and path they take to reach there. A careful analysis and review of actions and deeds of many top executives, managers, leaders, and promoters will reveal that ego plays a very crucial part. History reveals that many a corporate battle that encompasses Mergers amp; Acquisitions are a result of high ego state of a few individuals, who have the power and charm to influence a larger audience in pretext and context of shareholder value, strategic fit, synergies, and long-term value proposition. But time has proved that none of these value existed and just to win over the deal these so called value proposition were articulated in way that convinced the shareholders. What seemed to be a strategic fit ended up as an individuals desire to be on the top and win deals irrespective of what the majority gained or lost.
Predatory pricing, monopolistic attitudes and trade practices, and other unethical trade practices to garner market share and beat the street has more often resulted in long-term value erosion and has deeply hurt and compromised consumer interests and interests of nations. World over litigations and court room battles have dominated headlines where millions of dollars of shareholders' money and trust have been eroded, diminished, and compromised. Standing to competition is totally different from stamping out competition.
High virtues and values have to be inculcated to managers and leaders to respect consumer interests, practice fair trade, and put nation first than individual goals and aspirations if it is not in-line with the larger interests or if it compromises the genuine interests of consumers and governments. People who craft policies should not only stand up against the "lobby" but should stamp out and stand for the nation whom they represent.
All this can only be done if the virtue of Prema or what defines it, love, respect, and sensitivity for fellow countrymen should be upheld at all levels. Prema is just not love or what modern literature defines love. As highlighted earlier, accurate translation of words that are associated with age-old wisdom results in distortion of the original meaning the word stands for.
Values and virtues like Satya, Dharma, Prema, Ahimsa, and Shanthi cannot be explained by a word or a meaning can never be associated with them. In them they have Jiva (life), Artha (meaning), Bhava (expressions), and Jana (wisdom). A simple translation will not suffice and one has to understand that it takes more than routine translation to bring out the lateral meaning and purpose they stand for. From this context one has to understand and apply these virtues, that is why it becomes so special and one, which can never be associated with time and it is truly timeless. It existed way before mankind came into existence and it was formed for the existence and betterment of mankind and all beings that have life and all things that compliment and supplement this life.
Now, coming back to Prema and how it influences and aids management decisions and goals, if any manager or leader is able to inculcate this virtue in the decision making process and understands that every thought, deed, and action of his will have a bearing on others and not only on others but also on himself at one point of time or the other, then many unnecessary litigation and resources need not be diverted to prove and protect once intentions and decisions.
I am not saying that an organization should love its competitor who wants to hurt its business goals and want to cause erosion in stakeholder value. What I am advocating is that, one should have sensitivity and understanding of the environment in which one operates and it necessarily need not be competitors alone. Competitors are just one bead, in many cases in pursuit of organisational goals, one causes irreparable damage to nations and compromise consumer interests. Dominant market share has become a necessary yardstick or benchmark to drive economies of scale, but what is more important is how we get to that dominant position and what we do to retain that dominant position. One has to have the courage and will to accept competition as a way of business, and just not do rightful things but Righteous things to be the winner.
Management Fusion 4: Ahimsa
In simple terms, Ahimsa means non-violence. So what does violence have to do with business or running an organization? Of course all of us are aware that no executive or leader, takes a gun and shoots his subordinates, competitors, or any stakeholder nor does he or she propagates violence to garner or retain market share. So in what context does Ahimsa fit into theory and practice of management sciences that aide's strategic goal of an organization? Ahimsa just does not mean use of weapons of any kind, it does not just mean physical fights of any order, or it does not mean verbal abuse. So what does Ahimsa mean? A person's thought to rob or manipulate or deceive stakeholders is violence and none should forget actions are fallout of thoughts. If one cannot control thoughts these thoughts would manifest into words and what begins, as mere exchange of opinion or indifferences will result in action perpetuating in violence. It is utmost important that at all levels thoughts should be clear and any thought that would aide in compromising or deviating from age-old wisdom will result in violence and will fail the test of Ahimsa.
There wont be any room for Ahimsa, if an individual or an organization follows the path of Sathya, Dharma, and Prema. When one's heart and soul is filled with Prema there can be no place for Ahimsa of any order or form. Many business empires have resorted to violence in the form of business agreements and deeds that governs joint ventures or strategic alliances. They break license agreements or infringe upon patents to gain monetary benefits. Today's organizations spent more time and money on safeguarding patents than innovation. All these actions in age-old wisdom are considered to be violent and any thought, word, or action that does not pass the test of Dharma is violent.
It is in the foremost interest of all concerned while coming together in one form or the other as alliances, partners, vendors, customers, innovators, and regulators that each and every one stick to the principles and virtues that shun and contempt all acts of violence or in other words that all acts should be governed by the virtue of Ahimsa. It has become the norm of the day and sometimes it is glorified, if an individual or an organization infringes intellectual property of others for their own selfish reasons. At the same time, every innovator should follow the virtue of Prema; ensure that his or her innovation has a greater goal than to just maximize profits. Profits should necessarily be a part of any innovation that comes out of a business organization, but it should never be the ultimate goal. If an innovator is able to avoid greed and install in him Prema, then he will understand that his innovation will have an impact on a larger audience and this will result in avoidable litigation, which indirectly eats into the profits earned by the innovator. When profits are reasonable and the virtues of an innovator is embedded in Prema then there wont be any scope for any kind of manipulation by competitors and this will result in Ahimsa.
Family owned corporates and organizations are spending scores of money in succession planning and avoid potential sibling rivalry. More often, siblings end up in courts to sort out their differences and what too decades of hard work and scarifies of thousands ends up in litigation. Sibling rivalry is one form of violence that has to be totally eradicated; it is the extreme form of "passive-violence", which may erode shareholder's value for a very long time. Best legal minds are brought in and millions of dollars are spent, end result, shareholder value gets evaporated, employees lose their job, and what was vision and struggle for the previous generation to build the organization will turn out to be a tragic case study analysis in top B-schools! If the highest virtues of Prema amp; Dharma are nurtured as part of the DNA from childhood, I am sure all these can be avoided and people will have a broad outlook to accommodate other's views and will learn to respect them.
In the name of strategic planning, corporate boardrooms today engage in violence of a different kind and form. Managements and promoters indulge in violence in collision with independent directors and auditors to manipulate and mislead investors. Executives and managers, to dress their results, indulge in this violence. Misleading and in the name of "smart" advertisements, companies practice violence to grab consumer attention and wallet. Potential job seeking candidates indulge in violence; in one form or the other "glamorize" their resume to get placed. It has become the norm of the day and sometimes it has become an accepted norm to encourage violence. Every individual and organizations should have zero tolerance for violence of any form and should incubate Ahimsa, so that business as a whole is free from murder and slaughter if thought and intentions, which will form the basis for actions and results devoid of violence.
Management Fusion 5: Shanthi
Ahimsa will usher a regime of Shanthi or what is called peace! A peace of different order, not what is defined by modern thought and outlook, this peace will be permanent and to reverse this peace called Shanthi would be impossible. Today young executives and managers are battling out to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and few succeed in arriving at this balance. They lose their peace and sometimes resort to unhealthy habits and practice ruining not only their career but also their families and society. An organization should be an embodiment of Shanthi and its individuals should be embodiments of Prema, individuals should uphold Satya and the organization should uphold Dharma, what will result is Ahimsa that will show and lead the path to Shanthi. Peace as defined in relation to war is totally different from Shanthi. Age-old wisdom's strength lies in not in relative terms but absolute terms. As Satya stands on its own strength, likewise Shanthi has no relative terms. It is not peace after war or peace between nations. Shanthi engulfs peace, prosperity, content, happiness, success, and bliss. An organization, which follows the virtues of Satya, Dharma, Prema, and Ahimsa, will automatically be credited with the virtue of Shanthi. One has to understand that other virtues like Satya, Dharma, Prema, and Ahimsa should be and can be practiced, but to my understanding, Shanthi cannot be practiced. When one adheres to other virtues then Shanthi will dawn upon automatically and if one lets go these virtues then Shanthi will vanish by itself. So this is a virtue, which is a byproduct of other virtues and can never be acquired in isolation. It is important that an organizational culture weaves the virtues of Satya, Dharma, Prema, and Ahimsa for the fabric of Shanthi to be produced.
Organization Of This Book
With this introduction of the five pillars of the age-old wisdom and how it can influence management sciences, I will now go to the next important aspects of how these virtues play an integral part in our life as a business leader or a manger to avoid conflict and to build an organization that will set the highest entry barrier for others to replicate. What it takes to build such an organization and what are the essentials towards this goal will be dealt in detail.
In the coming chapters, I will focus on specific topics of management science that will encompass a wide range of topics like general and strategic management, financial amp; human resource management, organisational dynamics amp; leadership, other relevant aspects of modern management sciences and how to integrate the virtues of Satya, Dharma, Prema, Ahimsa, and Shanthi to from what I call Management Through Fusion.
THE ELEMENTS OF FUSION
What are the essential elements that have to be acquired in order to make this fusion happen and ensure that this concept does not merely become an academic exercise? It is important that each and every leader and manager, who sets out in this globalised economy to make a mark for oneself to learn and practice these essential elements that will transform the very thought process through a system that has been tested for ages and stood the test of time, culture, and change. Management education has been transformed over the years to accommodate the changing global scenario that takes into account the factors and other attributes that influence the environment like geo-political environment, socio-cultural environment, and technological environment. During this transition, management education has failed to set standards that will form the basis of doing business across national borders without altering the fundamental concept of an enterprise to make profits. Focus has been on aspects that accommodate cultural changes and environmental changes both internal and external to maximize either through strategic fit or strategic stretch. Yes, it is important that a global enterprise adopts to a changing environment that pans across nations and responds to the local demands, saying this it is more important that these global or multinational companies define and practice a culture that will not only adapt to changing global environment, but also set standards that will re-orient the very process that will define the environment of doing business. In other words, it is important that enterprises clearly define ethical way of doing business and the ways and means to achieve this goal. This should not be merely a document towards integrity and transparency; it should be the very fabric and the DNA of every organization across nations. Moving away from ethics that is based on relativism to ethics based on time tested and age-old wisdom that has been nurtured for centuries and passed on over generations.
This concept directly conflicts with the modern management theory and practice, which propagates relativism that is based on the local needs of a particular environment or geography. Though enterprises have a common organisational culture that is vigorously implemented across all its units and subsidiaries irrespective of where they are geographically located. But this has no way ensured transparency and this has not dithered enterprises and its managers from fraud and scam. End of the day all stakeholders feel let down and for many stakeholders it does not matter how an organization is structured or what culture it adopts. All these are mere internal systems that act as thread that holds various beads within an organization. What matters is how these systems respond to the external environment. In most cases, employees may not even be aware of investors who have invested in the company and other stakeholders who form a part in running the business. Organisational culture limits itself to employees and other support systems and process within the four walls of an organization. To narrow down further is it work culture and how an organization responds to environmental factors. This is no way has a bearing on how ethical an organization is or how it will respond to calls or situations that may not be very appropriate or how will it respond to external pressures and peer pressure towards an enterprise goal of profits and to be at the top.
Age-old wisdom has in it, which transcends time and boundaries both internal and external and takes care the interests of all the stakeholders. A deep analysis will reveal that, age-old wisdom does not categorieses between different stakeholders and it stands by the principle that relativism is mere a futile exercise and goodness and righteousness cannot have boundaries or segmentation. In this culture an act or even a thought will not compromise the legitimate and righteous interests of any stakeholder and to the contrary it will enhance the value and secure the interests of all the stakeholders.
In this chapter, I will deal in detail the various elements that has to be harnessed and nurtured for a sustained and perpetual environment that will never compromise but will be ready to sacrifice to build a platform that will last beyond time and that will withstand any volatility that has become the norm of today's business environment. It will ensure that the conduct of business and organizations will be free of malice and will be an open and transparent process where there will not be any room for any kind of thought and action that will not be in-line with the principles of Satya, Dharma, Prema, Ahimsa, and Shanthi.
The ultimate essence of Bhagawat Gita is Karma or action. Among the various elements that will nurture a culture based on the age-old wisdom and usher Management through Fusion, Karma plays the most pivotal role. What can define Karma and if it can be defined by a single world called action then what is the differentiating factor? Today each and every individual, corporates, and organizations indulge in actions and work towards a result. Broadly Karma can be defined as action, but actions that do not merely focus on the results. Irrespective of the results, Karma says that one has to focus on the task on hand and leave the result out. In today's modern management theory and practice, we are obsessed with results irrespective of the effort and the means to achieve these results. This is the fundamental problem, people are not recognized for their effort or intentions, but what gets highlighted is the result and the result alone. In this pursuit, individuals and organizations in context of "bending" rules break them and go to any extent to attain the result. This situation has to change, I am not saying that the results are not important, but ways and means to reach the goal is as important as the result. One has to be bound by duty and responsibilities and thereof what comes has to be based on the effort put in and not the end result. There is catch here, once we start focusing on the effort and the ways and means, the result gets diluted and it may end up as an excuse for underperformances and failures. Yes, there is a good scope for such a situation, but when the same Karma is based on the five pillars of Satya, Dharma, Prema, Ahimsa, and Shanthi then the scope for such a situation diminishes altogether. How can one integrate this age-old wisdom into corporate actions of what I call Karma?
Mere action is what we focus on today and it has been the roots to many ills both at the corporate and political level. Leaders and managers focus a lot on action and what they forget is what should be the basis of these actions. If an organization is able to practice Dharma, what can be defined as righteous actions then one can imagine the fruits that these actions will bare. When an organization is able to adhere to Satya at all levels and in all circumstances then Dharma or Righteous Actions will automatically follow. If Satya is the intention and thought, then Dharma is the action that this thought and intention bares or in other words, Dharma is Satya in action. Numerous and countless resources are spent on processes and systems that monitor quality, production, efficiency, and output. All these are one way or the other related to actions and the process to monitor and control them. But what we forget is these actions are merely defined by the outcome and never focuses on the action itself. So a culture that nurtures and encourages Dharma has to be incubated and grown. Mere actions should be given a go by and righteous actions and Dharma should be the norm of the day at all levels.
Every manager when he conducts a review of his subordinates keeps asking one fundamentally flawed question as to what one has accomplished rather than asking what efforts one has taken towards the goal. To me at all times it is not possible to reach the goal, in the pursuit of the goal, organizations and individuals go to any extent to reach it, forgetting that the present is the product of the past and the seed for the future! So it is very important to adhere to the ways and means rather than focusing on short-term goals. To put in modern management perspective, past is experience, present is experiment, and future is expectation; you have to use your experiences in your experiments to reach your expectations. Now imagine a scenario when one has a tainted past filled with fraud and scam, so this will lead to a situation where once experiences may not be recognized and the environment may not allow you to use your experiences to experiment to reach your expectations. Never forget that present is the product of the past and the seed for the future. If you compromise your past, or if you chose short-cuts and focus too much on short-term you are bound to crash out sooner or later and end up without a future.
Towards the pursuit of the goal one forgets that if one has compromised or manipulated the means then one day one has to face a greater pain than the one that faces by not attaining the goal in the short-term. One has to have self belief that the age old wisdom does not merely focuses on the ways and means, but gives lots of importance to the end result too, provided the end result is a product of Dharma. Any actions devoid of Dharma and Satya will lead to violence and hatred (opposite of Ahimsa and Prema) and will result in loss of peace or Shanthi.
Very often wrong actions or bad Karma is a product of Maya. People at various levels both in the world of business and outside live in a state where they forget the realities of life and live in their own world and perceive that this world is the real and other factors of environment does not exist. They discount these real or factual factors and commit themselves very deeply to the world, which they have created. Maya can be defined as Illusion or Delusion. Maya is a state where Satya diminishes and illusion takes over Satya. The absence of Satya is Maya and where Satya is absent there is only darkness and falsehood.
A business leader or manager in today's globalised world lives in Maya without knowing that it will burst like an over inflated balloon. Each and every corporate scam or fraud is committed because the people who indulge or commit these scams or fraud live in a state of Maya. Without knowing the realities of life they indulge in thought and actions that goes against the very fabric of peaceful coexistence among others. These people are driven by the passion that they can cheat all people at all times, but they fail to understand that one day or the other; sooner or later they will get caught and they have to face ground realities. In this process they successfully destroy wealth and ensure that ordinary people's life gets destroyed.
People's pursuit for genuineness has risen because there is no Satya amp; Dharma. Everywhere it is the state of Maya that has taken over. Falsehood along with importance for materialistic pursuits has driven people's ambitions and aspirations. This has created a situation to indulge in rat race without giving due priorities to the basic and fundamental aspects of life and living. Right from children to teens and from adolescence to adults the norm of the day has become to flash latest technological toys irrespective of their utility.
Enterprises and their leaders and managers in their pursuit to be part of the top 500 or 100 and the recognition and power these associations bring has driven them to take actions and adopt ways and means that produces results, which are not sustainable and permanent. They live in the illusion that being among the top 100 or lists that today's business world recognizes is more important than any other aspect. External agencies and organizations rank enterprises based on many financial factors like market capitalization, revenue, scale amp; size, and profitability; business leaders are ranked based on the level of compensation they take home, the bonuses they earn, stock options allotted to them, and how powerful and influential they are, but no one ranks any corporate or leaders based on how transparent or how honest they are, or the most respected leader. This creates an imbalance and drives leaders and managers to the world of Maya where only materialistic pursuits and benchmark themselves against priorities that keep changing from time to time and that has no significance on the long-term and what really counts is that how they have reached the top and how long they can be there by continuing to do things that are righteous and bear results that will not have an iota of suspicion or manipulation.
Organisational culture and structure along with core-competency and global strategy drives an enterprise and motivates an enterprise to be at the top and find newer ways and means to reach the top. But all these factors fail to asses the long-term damage and do not address the core issue of protecting all stakeholder interests. Most often internal organisational factors are geared to meet external challenges and to create new opportunities to sustain profitable growth either through strategic fit or strategic stretch of internal resources and capabilities with external factors. This principle or fundamental strategy is flawed, because many enterprises have skeletons hidden inside and from time to time and especially during testing times these skeletons roll out and cause irreparable damage both to materialistic wealth and trust and confidence people have on enterprises and regulatory systems at large. All this is happening because of business leaders and the environment that govern them and benchmark them, live, sustain, and thrive in the world of Maya where Satya is compromised in the pretext and context of organisational goals and enterprise goals of profiteering and maximization of stockholders or shareholders wealth.
Instead of living in this Maya, which is very temporary and fragile, leaders and organizations must create a framework and build a structure that will harness the strength and eliminate weaknesses to recognize and set standards and benchmarks that will truly reflect the real purpose of existence and will motivate and encourage organizations and its leaders to be part of a system that recognizes and rewards honesty, integrity, respect, and truth. Enterprises and its managers must be recognized by their levels of disclosures and transparency, ratings must not be made just on commercial feasibility and financial strengths but must also include the truthfulness and transparency levels that they adhere to and the ability to disclose key information pertaining to business that is perceived to have a negative impact on the price movement of the stock. Rather than rewarding managers for creating stockholder wealth, it would be more prudent to reward them for protecting the long-term interests of the stockholder by disclosing critical information so that the stockholder be given a choice to exercise his or her option whether to stay invested or not.
In the world of Maya, managers are rewarded for the wealth created by them in the capital markets, but no one seems to bother during a boom phase how this wealth is created. No one questions whether the price is justified, the accounting norms and standards adopted, is it sustainable, and how these results are obtained; but on the contrary the same investors cry foul during a market crash and start questioning each and every aspect of the past, the present, and the future. If at all the same investors had recognized the importance of the ways and means and was able to break the aura surrounding the world of Maya during the boom phase, it is certain that one need not go through the pain and suffering during a lean phase or a market crash.
It is utmost very important for corporations and business managers and leaders to be always grounded and rooted in reality than to let them take off into the world of Maya, which is bound to burst at one point or the other. The wealth created in the world of Maya, help only a handful of people who know, they can manipulate the sentiments and emotions of people for their own motives and draw them into the world of Maya with the promise and assurance of an enduring and perpetual wealth and growth only to find that they have lost every thing and at the end they have nothing to hold and take back bitter memories and experiences that will last a life time and beyond.
With a fair idea that Maya leads to wrong actions and thoughts, now one has to know what will lead you to the world of Maya. The prominent factor that one has to be aware of and be very cautious to protect one self from getting dragged into the world of Maya is Agjana. Agjana can be defined as Ignorance. People who create the world of Maya and people who get attracted by Maya are people who are ignorant. This ignorance is drawn from the fact that these people are not aware of the realities and live in the world of Maya, which is filled with seemingly good things and promises a state of eternal happiness and enduring peace. But in reality this is not the fact, people who indulge in scams and frauds are ignorant of the fact that at all times they cannot succeed and the victims of these scams are people who are drawn into the world of Maya not knowing that this will not last and they have to crash land.
Corporate leaders and organizations along with external environment and regulatory framework must equip themselves with Satya as to what is really important and what will be more perpetual and enduring. Regulatory bodies and authorities, world over should strive to create a regulatory framework that will prioritize key aspects of governance and will eradicate ignorance. Agjana also arises when one is filled with wrong information and priorities. If one is grounded in realities and right priorities then one can be rest assured that one will be armed with the right knowledge that will lead to wisdom.
In today's globalised world there is no point in just blaming organizations and its leaders for manipulation and misrepresentation of financial and other operating figures, an equal share of blame has to be passed on to the environment that these organizations operate and function. The environment includes, investors, rating agencies, laws, and regulatory bodies that recognizes and rewards performances based only on financial and operational factors and the ability of the organization and its managers to reward shareholders. This ignorance has to be eliminated and due recognition has to be awarded for right disclosures. Regulatory framework operates on the principle that each and every individual and organization adhere to all the rules and regulations until they are caught deviating or breaking these laws. Unless and until organizations are caught the regulator assumes that everything is okay and things are progressing as per the rule of the land. But in reality many organizations and its managers indulge in one form of manipulation or misrepresentation or the other to enhance their standing and these actions has a direct impact on the price movement of their respective stocks. In the pretext of self-governance, external environment and agencies trust and entrust most of the supervision to independent directors and auditors who are directly appointed by the management or promoters of the company and whose compensation is also decided or influenced by the company and its management. In this scenario it may not be possible for the independent directors and auditors to expose or disclose sensitive information and they may not have the moral authority and powers to question the management. This situation arises out of Agjana that these independent directors and auditors are true representatives of all the stakeholders and reflect the true spirit of the organization at all times. In practice if this were true then the world would not have seen an Enron or Satyam!
How independent are these independent directors and how many independent directors have been prosecuted in corporate history for colluding with promoters or management? They take cover under the same law, which regulates and punishes them in the disguise that the management did not disclose it to them and they were kept in the dark and that they functioned to the best of their ability and concluded business based on the facts provided by the management. This also arises out of Agjana, how can independent directors just put their stamp on information provided by the managements without verifying the facts and truthfulness of the information provided? These independent directors are paid for this and they have to ensure that all information provided by the managements are verified and cross checked and any doubt has to be disclosed and remedial action sought.
Auditors hide in the pretext and context of client confidentiality and in most cases are let of the hook by powerful lobbying of their professional bodies and lack of so called evidence that they collided with managements to alter or manipulate financial statements. Each and every one knows that both the auditors and independent directors are in hand and glove with the managements and without their help no management can commit frauds of magnitude that shakes the corporate world. Knowing very well, investors and regulatory bodies continue to live in this world of Maya led by Agjana!
Love or Prema for knowledge and Ahimsa or non-violence in thought has to be nurtured and practiced by one and all and steps have to be taken for transformation of the thought process through the process of Dharma and Satya so that the road ahead is filled with Shanthi.
Agjana arises from the fact that one is not able to distinguish between right and wrong. The fundamental issue or problem that faces managers today is their ability to discriminate what is good and what is bad, this discrimination comes with a caveat, what is good for you may not be good for others and what is good for others may not be good for you. Similarly what was right yesterday need not be right today and what is right now need not be right tomorrow. In this lies the truest test, in this changing world, it is so dynamic that it is very important for every business manager to understand that long-term implications of each thought and action. Relativism should give way to universalism without altering the basic fabric of a multinational company. It is important to understand and act and respond locally but it is even more important to understand that the power to discriminate should emanate from the fact that what is good for you should also be good for others or in other words, the power and knowledge to discriminate should pass the test of universalism. This is where the age-old wisdom through Viveka or what is called as Discrimination aides and supports this universalism. Time cannot change the colour of Satya and situations cannot alter and dilute Dharma. Viveka is the power to discriminate factors based on permanency and universalism. Age-old wisdom and its philosophy is beyond time and space, it is universalism.
Every business manager should strive to harness the skill or ability of Viveka, managers and executives at the top level and to some extent in the middle level, constantly focus their time in decision-making and without the ability of Viveka it is impossible to arrive at the right decision. It is imperative that each and every organization should nurture the culture within the organization and all its stakeholders the culture to discriminate and ability of Viveka. If this is practiced then no organization will need to go the extra mile in hiding or subverting negative or sensitive news or information. When the environment in which an organization functions is able to discriminate between the right and wrong and this discrimination should be based on the five pillars of age-old wisdom and should lead to Shanthi. Then one can be sure that the world of Agjana will cease to exist and this will break and destroy the world of Maya and will lead to permanent peace or Shanthi.
Independent directors, auditors, and other external agencies should strive and put their best foot forward to inculcate the virtue of Viveka. An environment which thrives and grows on this platform of Viveka will surely result in best corporate governance practices coupled with lesser resources and time to monitor and regulate; resulting is cost saving and resource optimization.
Business leaders should equip themselves with the knowledge and wisdom to discriminate irrespective of short-term volatility and changes associated with negative sentiments. This requires courage and internal strength to face the present in the hope and trust that the actions of today will lead us to a brighter and better future.
Most vices are committed because of the disability to discriminate and making the wrong choices, which will have a bearing on the future course. Every business enterprise sweats itself to secure its future through either core-competency or through competitive advantage. This fact brings to light that every organization is more concerned about the future as much it is concerned about its present state. But in the pursuit to secure the future, organizations and its leaders make decisions only based on their current needs or immediate future needs forgetting that their actions and needs and in direct conflict with each other. This situation can be only corrected through the prism of Viveka, in knowing what is needed and calibrating each and every action based on this need. When one is able to practice this then one will never be able to compromise and this will lead to situation where each and every individual within an organization will be able to discriminate and learn and know that collective goodness is better than individual preferences and this collective goodness should be born out of Prema so that it totally diminishes any scope of for collective wrong doing.
A manager should have the ability to chose and exercise the right option that is ahead of him based on long-term returns and permanency, rather than short-term reactions and rewards. In line with this principle the manager may face much resistance and may end with lots of challenges and obstacles, the path is never going to be easy. Saying this it is very important that the manager does not loses focus and is able to use the virtue of Viveka to dispel Agjana and not lead himself and others to the world of Maya. If a manager is able to practice Viveka at all levels and at all times then such an organization will truly transform into a global organization that will be able to attract capital and talent and that will have a unique brand and culture. All stakeholders will surely realize the benefits of such a decision making process and will learn that each and every decision made by the organization is devoid of any personal gain or in other words all decision made by the organization will ensure and protect the interest of all the stakeholders in the long-term. A truly honest and transparent organization without
As I write, the whole world is crippling under a huge financial and economic crisis that threatens to wipe capital, people's lives, and future. A state of economical and psychological depression is sweeping across nations. Banks and financial institutions are collapsing and economic managers and governments are trying to find new ways and means to salvage the situation. But in the first place one has to ask how such a situation struck the globe? The answer is fairly simple and straightforward, the people, managers, leaders, regulatory bodies, and governments who are responsible for this crisis turned a blind eye to the virtue of Viveka and they did not discriminate between right and wrong actions and they were coloured by the glasses of Agjana that led them into this Maya that everything they did would result in capital gain and appreciation and if at all financial returns could move in a direction, it will move only upwards. Only to find that it was their inability to discriminate the choices in front of them that plunged the world to its current crisis. It is time we learn our lessons from the age-old wisdom and build a future that will be free from Agjana and Viveka will be the basis of decision-making based on the five pillars of Satya, Dharma, Prema, Ahimsa, and Shanthi. Each and every element that governs the concept of Fusion should be based on the five pillars of age-old wisdom; otherwise it will not lead to any transformation. Mere change will not suffice and total transformation at all levels and both in thought and action should be practiced.
What is the basis of Viveka? How can Viveka be practiced? The power to discriminate and the ability to choose between the right and wrong and the courage to take decisions that will be based on collective goodness incorporating Prema can be obtained only through Vairagya. Vairagya can be defined as Detachment. Detachment forms the basis of Viveka, without detachment one cannot practice or acquire the virtue of Viveka. Viveka is the power and ability to discriminate and without being detached one can never be able to discriminate.
Organizations, managers, and leaders are obsessed and attached to results and outcome. They go to any extent to safeguard their interest irrespective of the fallout that it has on the majority. Attachment to results and undue ownership and the need for recognition and visibility dilutes and contaminates the thought process and the virtue of Viveka is compromised. This will lead to a situation where personal interests and interests of perceived peers will rein supreme. This will severely jeopardize the interest of stakeholders and will drive managers and organizations to chose and exercise options that will serve their own interest.
In today's modern world individuals are attached to so many things that they forget that these things turn to be a huge burden in the journey of life. To understand Vairagya more intensively, one has to go back to Karma. Karma is righteous actions and I have already mentioned that it does not much care for the outcome or results. When a decision maker is only concerned or unduly attached to the result his decisions may bare then the decision maker will go to any extent to practice and use unethical ways and means in order to obtain the desired results. Therefore it is important that for a culture to reward outcome should be substituted with a culture that rewards outcome and recognizes and rewards the ways and means to get the result. This will eliminate all possibilities to manipulate and alter factors and variables and will dilute the need to misrepresent figures.
Very often executives at the middle and lower level complain of undue favoritism and partiality to a select set of employees or to a particular employee. This situation arises because of the attachment a manager has on that particular employee and this results in imbalance and de-motivates others who feel let down. This will kill employee morale and will harm the organization and employees will resort to ways and means to please their bosses. This will directly result in a situation that will compromise the functioning of each and every employee resulting in a culture where merit will be displaced by hypocrisy and a culture that will promote tolerance to underperformance and a culture that will recognize and reward employees not based on merit and performance but based on factors that will severely and adversely promote mediocrity and favoritism.
The need to manipulate and misrepresent facts and figures while disclosing key information pertaining to the functioning of an organization arises because the person who is responsible for the outcome is unduly attached to the results and the actions and rewards these results bare. If one is able to detach oneself from the outcome and stays focused on the effort and ways and means then this situation will get corrected. The need to create and maintain an image and reputation and the attachment towards worldly fame and luxury is the root cause of many evils and actions that are not in-line with the highest value system. The attachment born out of owning and having things that are beyond once need causes an individual to participate and encourage unethical actions. One has to learn to be a Lotus in a pond, though the Lotus is immersed in the water it never gets wet. Similarly though you may be immersed in the world of actions and results, you should ensure that these actions and results have no direct bearing on your living. This way you will be able to make the right choices that will enhance and add value to all stakeholders involved and will be a platform where others will be motivated to do the right things for all people rather than do things for the right people.
When one has mastered the virtue of Vairagya then the virtue of Viveka will automatically develop leading to destruction of Agjana and protecting you from the world of Maya and lead you to Karma based on Satya and Dharma, which in turn will be the basis of Prema and Ahimsa, and this will result in Shanthi. This highest state where one has mastered and perfected the art of Fusion is called Moksha or what is called as Liberation.
Moksha is a state where duality ceases to exist and where one can see things with immense clarity and forethought. This should be the pinnacle or the highest aim and aspiration of any organization, leaders, and managers. In the state of Moksha an organization is liberated for the ups and downs of the worldly actions and will be able to root itself firmly on a foundation that will help the organization and its managers to surmount any adverse environmental changes and impact. Even in the current economic crisis the world is seeing, governments are injecting huge capital into banks for them to lend to revive the economy, but banks continue to be cautious and they don't lend easily due to the fear of nonpayment. Now imagine that you are part of an organization, which has reached the state of Moksha, then this organization will stand for highest value system and ethics, which itself will form the basis for attracting capital and other key resources. In the first place such an organization would not have been affected by any adverse economic downturn. It would have weathered any storm and it would have been adequately prepared to convert any crisis into opportunity by better governance and through participation of human resources at all levels, thus eliminating and protecting the organization from leading it into the world of Maya. To the contrary it would have been an organization where actions or Karma based on Satya and Dharma would have kept in good stead and all investors and stakeholders would have continued to benefit and will be ready to support the organization during such times of crisis and downturn.
Note: Article is not concluded; watch out this space for more in the days to come.