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THE CULTURE OF INTEGRAL

MANAGEMENT

M.S. Srinivasan

(This article is an introduction to the E-magazine on Management: Fourth


DimensionInc: Towards Integral Management
thttp://fdi.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/cms/index.php)

The Present
Condition

The corporate world is in turmoil, which can be an opportunity for radical change
or a quantum leap in evolution. The scams, meltdowns and bankruptcies have
triggered a rethinking on capitalism and Marxism, which when pursued with insight
and wisdom can lead to a higher synthesis. These are the best of times and the worst
of times. Business and Management is going through an evolutionary transition.
Globalization of business has added new complexities and problems which require a
fresh synthesis. Ethics, values, ecology, quality, customer satisfaction, innovation,
balancing the need of local cultures with the global realities are some of the difficult
issues facing multinational business. In the human dimension, an increasing number
of people in the corporate world, especially the creative and talented, are seeking for
something more than money and career, for an inner fulfillment in the mental, moral
or spiritual spheres. The well-known management guru Peter Drucker, in one of his
definitions of Management, says: ‘Management… deals with people, their values,
their growth, and development, social structure, the community and even with
spiritual concerns’. This gives an indication of the main factors which will shape
global business and management of the future…people, values, growth and
development or evolution and spirituality. In fact, all these factors are already
emerging in business and management. This is the context which determines the
main objective of this e-magazine, which is to clarify, augment and reinforce this
higher aspiration emerging in business and management with enriching perspectives
from an integral spiritual vision.

The Need for a Holistic


Approach

But in our present globalized world, which is becoming increasingly aware of its
unity and interdependence, business cannot remain isolated from the larger whole of
society, culture and the environment of which it is a part or in which it functions. So,
though our primary focus will be on business and management, other related issues
like human growth and wellbeing, economic and social progress, culture, national
development, ecological sustainability, the contours of the future world, and above all
the higher aims and values of human and terrestial life, will be part of our corporate
review. For we believe that the highest aims of Management must be in sync with the
highest destiny of human and terrestial evolution. Infact, this is the ancient Indian
Ideal for all sciences and all human activities, embodied in the concept of the Shastra.
If we accept this ideal, we cannot shy away from philosophical and existential
questions in management. Interestingly two Mckinsey consultants, Craig R. Nickman
and Michael A. Silva in their book Creating Excellence state ‘The visionary executive

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frequently talks about philosophy, the corporate direction and values he thinks will
keep the company successful. The non-visionary executive never talks about
philosophy, and in fact does not appear to have one. “I’m too busy to fool around
with abstractions and fantasies,” he says’.

The Integral Ideal

Our ideal is to create an enduring culture of integral management which will lead
to a better quality of the corporate life. Such a culture cannot be created by mere
systems, techniques and skills. It can be built only by developing the ideal mind,
ethical and aesthetic refinement and spiritual growth. Uplifting Philosophy, inspiring
Values and long-term Vision are the pillars which will support the temple of this
higher culture. An integral inner and outer Discipline which can concretize the ideals
of philosophy in the consciousness of people and materialize them in the outer life is
the Priest who will install and enliven the Diety in the temple. This is how all great
cultures which made lasting contributions to human progress, like the Indian, Chinese,
Greek, were built. The other feature or core competence of such a creative culture
will be the ability to think in the long-term, foreseeing and invoking the possibilities
and potentialities of the Future, and actively preparing for this future in the present.
The modern corporate world, especially global business, has a great potential for
making a lasting contribution to human evolution. But to realize this potential it has
to build an uplifting corporate culture on the lines we have indicated earlier.

Our explorations in integral management will be guided and inspired by three


fundamental perceptions related to the nature of human being, evolution and yoga.
The human organism, individual and collective, is a four-fold being made of body,
life, mind and soul or a physical, vital, mental and spiritual dimension. The ideal of
human development is to develop fully all the potentialities of this four-fold being in
man and integrate them harmoniously around the spiritual center of the human
organism, the Fourth Dimension in Man. This ideal has to be reached through a path
of progressive evolution of consciousness. And the process, which will steer this
evolution is the science of Yoga. Our effort will be to capture this endeavour in the
management sphere through the magazine.

So our approach to management is not exclusively spiritual but integral and


evolutionary. The Fourth dimension has to be reached not by discarding or neglecting
the other three dimensions-physical, vital and mental-but by a progressive sublimation
of their motives and potentialities. The spiritual growth has to be achieved not by an
arbitrary imposition of a spiritual ideal on the individual or the organization, but
through a process of mental, moral and aesthetic refinement of the present motives
and ideals of management. The integral approach will take the corporate world as it is
in its present condition, identify its higher aspirations, indicate the still higher
potentialities which remains unmanifest at present and which will help the corporate
soul to take the next higher step in its evolution.

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