Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spirituality and Organisational leadership: Can profit and ethics shake hands

Professor Walter Baets

Is accounting profit any different from destruction of societal value ?
Last week, we have been able to participate in a conference on Spirituality and Organisational leadership in Pondicherry, India. A very interesting gathering of management scholars and managers, that share the care for meaning in what they do. Of course the region is intriguing, since it is the land of Sri Aurobindo, and there is at least the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville that are very peacefull places, inviting for contemplation, and worth more than a visit.

The conference closed on a debate around the theme: Can profit and ethics shake hands. I had the pleasure to be invited to take part in the panel and learned that profit is probably understood differently in different managerial cultures. Referring to Gandhi, one of the panellists suggested that the purpose of business is to make as much profit as possible, in order to return it afterwards to society. We were clearly on two different concepts of profit, but fortunately on the same concepts of ethics and responsibility. February 18, 2009 Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Consciousness and Development
I would like to draw your attention to an electronic publication, made by an NGO, named Spanda, about Consciousness and Development. I am honoured to have been able to contribute to it, along with people like Peter Russell, Ervin Laszlo, Amit Goswami, Rupert Sheldrake, Sahlan Momo, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart, Toru Sato, Steve McIntosh, Christian de Quincey, Riane Eisler and John Renesch. A precious New Year's gift that I am very pleased to offer you. December 27, 2008 Comments (2) TrackBack (0)

Principles for Responsible Management Education
Last week, on December 4 and 5, around 300 management educators (deans, directors, professors) met in the UN Headquarters in New York, for the First Global Forum for Responsible Management Education (PRiME). The principles themselves have been drafted by an Academic Task Force and handed to the Secretary General of the UN on the Global Compact Summit in July 2007 in Geneva.
This Forum, amongst others, was a continuation of an ongoing discussion amongst academics, on how the Global Compact Principles, already translated in the PRiME Principles, apply in Management Education. There were workgroups on Research, New Learning Methodologies, How to start, etc. I had the pleasure to present the results of the workgroup on New Learning Methodologies and I am happy to share with you the findings/suggestions. December 07, 2008 Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Complexity theory: where are we?
Last week I participated in the fourth Organization Studies Summer Workshop titled "Embracing Complexity: Advancing Ecological Understanding in Organization Studies", in Pissouri, Cyprus. If interested, I presented a paper titled: The ecology of management: Cassandra, a holistic diagnostic for sustainable performance. One of the keynote speakers was Frederick Turner, and he gave a wonderful overview of the state of the art of complexity, that I want to share with you.
Complexity gives a new view on causality. It re-introduces freedom, since the universe is not fully deterministic. Keep in mind that unpredictable does not mean unintelligent. Since freedom regains its importance in science, choice, intention and purpose become real issues. Choice might not be so mysterious as we have made it.
Feedback became the norm. Material qualities and abstract physical laws are consequences of feedback and not the other way round. Even based on positive feedback, complex systems can be very robust. Positive feedback is in no way less robust than negative feedback. Unpredictability is a matter of survival.
We have a new concept of time: time will not go away. Classical science has always made an attempt to rationalize away time. Time is irreducable and irreversible, which gives birth to emergence.
We have a new ontology of recognisable shapes. We have understanding of a new class of shapes: fractals, strange attractors, etc. (in between shapes, strange, entangled, but beautiful shapes). New shapes allow for new questions to be asked.
We have strange attractors instead of dualism. Function and purpose become central issues. The strange attractor (a fractal form) is an ideal form. New species are strange attractors. Are values to be considered something different than strange attractors?
Modelling, eventually, needs new tools, that go above and beyond observations, hypotheses, testing, etc. Non-linear dynamic modelling, or fractals, and the like allow to play around with the interactions and to see when and how we visualize reality. But we still have to learn how to use these tools.
Finally, Turner asked a few questions that I am glad to repeat:
What is the role of emotions in the new science (are they the drivers? are they strange attractors?)
What is the role of aesthetics?
Does promising makes determinism (or is it freedom?)
How does intention change the brainstructure?
All these facts and questions, management research has ignored asking for years. But more and more management researchers are concerned with understanding reality. June 09, 2008 in complexity and management Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

A better business model
First of all an ode to "Ode". Ode is a very interesting, fresh and meaningfull magazine. According to his founder and editor, Jurriaan Kamp, a magazine for intelligent optimists. It believes in progress, ongoing opportunities and the creativity of humankind. February 09, 2008 in Social entrepreneurship Comments (2) TrackBack (0)

Leaders need Salsa
Not my words, but those of Juana Bordas (Salsa, Soul and Spirit). She gave an interview in my favourite Ode. March 01, 2008 in organisational metaphors Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

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