Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
VEDANTA IN ACTION.
This is the title of a publication from CM which, whilst it of course has items by Gurudev, also includes selections of writing from other well-esteemed Gurus from the Vedantic tradition as well as leading businessmen. Its focus is the working life. We shall be exploring these essays for the next few weeks on Workings-day as, clearly, they pertain directly to the premise of this section of AVBlog! As ever, you are encouraged to read back over previous posts, to ensure full benefit.
Part 1; Vedanta in Management.
A Vedantic Approach to Management Theory. (Sri Thandaveswara) - a few readers will still be wondering at the inclusion of such as this in a 'teaching' blog - again it is stressed that the whole purpose of Vedanta is to raise questions and encourage deeper thinking as to how 'theory' can be made manifest as a working, every day practice. Ultimately, this is of course for the individual. However, if enough individuals are transforming themselves, then the society around them will also start to transform. This is the essence of the essay now give by Sri Thandaveswara. It is a longish piece, given from first person perspective, and will be split across three weeks. This will be last in the management section. Necessarily, the focus comes from the Indian perspective but, again, the base is universal. Do not flinch from reading, even if you are no longer involved in business yourself - for the principles discussed are applicable even at the intimate level - the greatest 'business' of all is The Self Inc.!
"A culture, to be called alive, should be able to solve the problems and meet the challenges faced by its people. Otherwise it has no validity or future", declared Swami Chinmayananda over the din of the traffic as we drove to the inauguration of The Secret Subjective System of Management program for young business executives organised by the Chinmaya Foundation of Education and Culture at Madras in November 1977. "...and today," Gurudev continued, "the greatest challenge of India is to absorb the modern industrial civilization. It is not easy to assimilate it into our ancient culture, yet it is necessary for the future of the country. In most developed countries, the industrial age has created conflict and disharmony. Should we not be able to avoid it here in India, with al the strength of our ancient ways, based on harmonious living?"
I was thrilled to hear this! For over two decades working as a manager and involved in the management movement, as well as being founder-editor of Integrated Management, I had been dreaming of the time when the link between our ancient culture and modern management would be perceived and developed into a new and authentic philosophy of management.
"You have pinpointed the problem of management today, Swami-ji. Western thinking has yet to produce the true integrative principle and there is hope of finding it here. … but Swami-ji, why do you call this a course in 'subjective' system of management?"
Gurudev replied, "The manager should first learn to control himself. Without self-control, how can he control others? The first need is to understand himself - this is what we seek to teach." The course was enjoyable and thought provoking and the need for a managerial revolution, developing a comprehensive principle for the goals and values of business management, is explored in the following sections.
Need for an Integrative Principle; Management science, after around a hundred years of development, continues to search for its integrative principle. This is a goal which integrates all the different aspects of business into one common social and economic goal. Western management, which is based on experience, research and experimentation, has perceived management in objective terms, largely as an exercise of acquirable skills in an environment composed of physical and human resources, pursuing secular objectives. These objectives originally comprised of profit-making have been expanded to include customer service, employee welfare and good neighbour/good citizen policies. However, these expansions have come more as responses to survival needs of the enterprise, as acts of business statesmanship, than as perceptions of a deeper obligation to humanity at large.
Contemporary management theory broadly divides itself into a few 'schools of thought' - however scholars are hesitant to call them 'schools'. Hayne and Massey, two of the foremost scholars, classify them as 'streams' of thought on management. Others call them 'approaches' to management. Nearly half of these approaches are concerned with quantitative techniques, including the application of economics in decision making. The other half are concerned with implementing decisions in environments composed of human and physical resources. The unstable state of management theory is instanced by the following comments from Hayne and Massey; "Frequently, generalizations in one book...are admittedly opposed to those of another. The present state of knowledge of management calls for great humility and open-mindedness. Seven approaches to organization are six too many...A modern synthesis is needed to pull together ideas from all approaches… Two tendencies have hindered progress; one is the adherence to dogmas based on assumptions and casual observation. The other is the inclination on the part of the critics of these dogmas to disregard all other existing hypotheses."
To be continued next week, but from that last quote, perhaps it can be seen that the error at corporate level is exactly what happens at social level and, therefore, at individual level also.