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The leader, the rules and the community


The centre of Buddhist reverence are the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They are not only subject to reference, but also serve as refuge for Buddhists to find calm and strength to face life's suffering. Religions, being bases in ancient times tend to use language that shrouds the everyday meaning from a contemporary reader. Transcribing (not translating!) these three terms into contemporary language reveals an important business lesson :
  • Jewels and refuge: In a rough world of more than 2 millennia ago to find a place one could feel save for a foreseeable future was valuable as a precious stone. It also outlines the need for anybody to find a place of strength that can serve as the base for daily endeavours. The modern workplace should provide such a base. Does yours?
  • Buddha: translated it means "Fully Enlightened One", looking at the historic Buddha you can transcribe it as: visionary leader. He had the insight what needs to be achieved, a vision how to get there and the charisma to rally his supporters to follow his cause. His vision provided one of the three strongest motivators for excellence: purpose. A leader is the first servant of the people he follows
  • Dharma: "The teachings" In the corporate world that would be: the core values, the unspoken contracts, the business processes. Dharma is not a collection of rule books, but is what is actually lived. So that gold framed Vision and Mission statement in the board's office is worthless when corporate reality paints a different picture. Core values are like the constitution of an enterprise. Whatever you are asked to do (executive order) or process rules implemented need to be able to stand the scrutiny of being measured against the mandate outlined in the core values. I like IBM's core values a lot:
    1. Dedication to every client's success
    2. Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
    3. Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships
    You see "making money" isn't a core value (it is the goal of the game called "business", so no special mention in values is needed) neither is "being #1 in ...". The values are quite simple, yet powerful: Dedication, Do what matters, Trust. In the heat of the daily battle, especially around the surprisingly appearing quarter ends, these values sometimes get out of sight, but at the end they are what sustains IBM. There are other outstanding examples of core values/ground rules, the Rotary 4 way test among them:
    1. Is it the truth?
    2. Is it fair to all concerned?
    3. Will it build goodwill and better friendship?
    4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
    So looking at the core values, their lack of or the discrepancy between stated and demonstrated values are a good indicator for corporate health. Having clear values contributes to purpose and allows to strive for mastery, the second motivator for excellence
  • Sangha: The "Community". IT is all enraged about social businesses. Kawasaki mused about The Art of Creating a Community, people form communities around simple things like "Getting a discount". We exist in communities: the family, the horde, the village, the college/university alumni, the soccer team etc. etc. Likeminded people help to maintain the level of motivation, encourage to stay on course and push further. They catch you when you stumble, praise you when you succeed, deepen your comittment to the cause. How does your enterprise form communities? A performance review for a team? Give incentives to a department? I haven't seen much of this, it is mostly the individual who stands in the limelight. Interestingly communities still form, just look at the success of enterprise social software. The need to belong is strong, harnessing it could be just that next level of productivity a company is looking for (a community still needs leadership). This can be a challenge when the office no longer serves as the cave where the horde assembles before the hunt
So the question is: are you working for an enlightened enterprise? Think about it and speak after me:
Buddha??? sara???a??? gacch??mi.
Dhamma??? sara???a??? gacch??mi.
Sa???gha??? sara???a??? gacch??mi.

Posted by on 18 June 2011 | Comments (0) | categories: Business

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