Components for Innovative climate

Are you thinking about ways to transform your workplace into an environment more conducive to innovation? This article takes a closer look at six components of creative climates that have shown to be significant at facilitating creativity according to new research.

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 This article will continue investigating creative climates with the goal of identifying the most substantial components that facilitates creativity.

What is a creative climate?

A climate can be seen as various aspects of the psychological atmosphere in a team and the surrounding organizational environment. The climate often conveys expectations about which behaviors and attitudes that are acceptable. In the creativity research field there has been many attempts to conceptualize the idea of a ‘creative’ climate – i.e. such a climate that facilitates outcomes that are creative. Examples of such conceptualizations are the Team Climate Inventory by Anderson & West (1996), the Creative Climate Questionnaire by Ekvall (1996) and the KEYS by Amabile et al. (1996).

Many components of a creative climate have been proposed during the years. Some examples are the degree of individual freedom, psychological safety, support and positive relationships among team members, vision provided by supervisors, creative encouragement, mission clarity, available resources, and even joy (Denti, 2011).

The search for significant components of a creative climate

we   want to highlight six components of a creative climate that have been shown to be among the most salient in predicting creative and innovative outcomes. To identify these components, we have scrutinized two recent meta-analytic studies on factors that influence creativity and innovation (Hülsheger, Anderson & Salgado, 2009, and Hunter, Bedell & Mumford, 2007). Meta analytic studies have the best ability to detect effects across multiple settings since they combine the results from a large amount of studies¹. The factors are presented in no particular order.

1. Challenge

Complex, challenging and interesting tasks and goals spur intrinsic motivation, which is a critical component of creativity. Yet here also lies an important caveat. Tasks and goals should not be too overwhelming because then the challenge risk becoming an obstacle – effectively stifling motivation.

Also see The Best Motivation for Innovation is ‘Being in Flow’ by Bengt Järrehult.

2. Intellectual debate

When working with complex and challenging tasks, problems often surface. The nature of these problems is that they are often novel to the people that encounters them and complex in that they can be solved in different ways. To ensure that a project can move forward, many viewpoints must be heard and people must feel secure enough so that they put forward their best ideas. In organizations where there is no debate people tend to stick to “tried and true” ways of doing things – applying old solutions to new problems.

3. Flexibility and risk taking

A basic reality of creative endeavors is that they are inherently uncertain. Often, there is no valid information that ensures that an idea or an innovation is guaranteed to succeed. Even a creative idea itself may not be practical enough to be realized into a new product, service or process improvement. Thus, risk is inherently built into innovation. Research shows that tolerating this risk, not minimizing it, is the best strategy. Thus, it is crucial that organizations accept and allow risk, encourage experimentation and failure.

4. Top management support

Another salient component of a creative climate is the perception of support from top management. This support entails both espoused support; when top management communicate norms that encourage innovation, risk taking and experimentation, and enacted support. This latter form of support is perhaps the most important, since it is the amount of resources such as money, time and facilities that top management is prepared to commit to innovation. If resources are not available, employees will see through the rhetoric of encouragement, effectively undermining these efforts.

5. Positive supervisor relations

Support for new ideas by the supervisor or team leader is critical for the further development and implementation of these ideas. Especially supportive leaders listen and give feedback to ideas, and tolerate a certain degree of experimentation. Furthermore, leaders should publicly recognize and reward creative efforts.

6. Positive interpersonal exchange

The last salient component of creative climates is joy. When team members experience a sense of “togetherness” that comes with a common goal, team members will want to cooperate efficiently for their mutual benefit. This increases both team performance as well as individual performance. With increased togetherness communication is facilitated, which will allow different perspectives and keep conflict away.

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Tame Problems and wicked problems

The clear definition of the problem also unveils the solution.
The solution is determined according to criteria revealing the degree of effect— goal is achieved fully or partially, outcome is true or false.

Systems are difficult to work with, and seeing things for what they are is an essential first step.  Horst Rittel in the late 1960s distinguished between “tame” and “wicked” problems.  This is not the distinction between easy and hard problems—many tame problems are very hard.  But wicked problems, while not evil, are tricky and malicious in ways that tame problems are not.  The unexpected consequences we’ve seen have been because systems problems are wicked.  We will understand systems better—and why they spawn unexpected consequences—if we understand a little more of the properties of wicked problems and approach them with appropriate respect.

wicked

Tame problems can be clearly stated, have a well-defined goal, and stay solved.  They work in a Newtonian, clockwork way.  The games of chess and go are tame.  Wicked problems have complex cause-and-effect relationships, human interaction, and inherently incomplete information.  They require compromises.

For example, mass transit is a wicked problem.  Everyone likes mass transit—unless it comes through their neighborhood, it consumes road lanes, or they have to pay for it.  The difference between something that works in the lab, on paper, or in one’s head versus something that works in the real world and is practical to real people is a characteristic only of wicked problems.

Tame and wicked problems differ in many ways.*  See if the traits of wicked problems as described below sound familiar, either with the examples mentioned here or with situations you have experienced yourself.

  • Problem Definition.  A tame problem can be clearly, unambiguously, and completely stated.  Math problems are tame.  By contrast, there is no absolute statement of a wicked problem.  To state a wicked problem means to also state its solution.  That is, the problem can’t be stated without a proposed solution in mind, and coming up with a new solution means seeing the problem in a new way.  Avoid locking in a problem definition too soon.
  • Goal.  A tame problem has a well-defined goal, such as the QED in a proof or the checkmate in chess.  With a wicked problem, you could keep iterating and refining your solution forever—or go back and consider other solutions.  After all, if a wicked problem is something you can’t define, how can you tell when it’s resolved?  You don’t stop because you’re done (you’ve reached the goal) but rather because of external constraints (you’ve run out of money, time, or patience, for example).  You must strive for an adequate solution, not a perfect one.
  • Solutions.  Solutions are unambiguously correct or incorrect with tame problems.  The solution to a wicked problem is not judged as correct or incorrect but somewhere in the range between good and bad.
  • Time.  The solution to a tame problem can be judged immediately (that is, there is no maturation time), and the problem stays solved.  Euclid’s geometry proofs are still valid today.  Evaluating the solution to a wicked problem takes time (because the results of implementing the solution take time to be appreciated) and is subjective.  Is that a good design?  Maybe, but maybe not.  Like the response to art, different people will have different answers, and the solution causes many side effects (unintended consequences), like medicine in the body.  Additionally, a “solved” wicked problem may not stay solved—wicked problems aren’t solved but are only addressed; they’re treated, not cured.  Your perception of how good the solution is may change over time.
  • Consequences.  Trial and error may be an inefficient approach with a tame problem, but it won’t cause any damage.  Implementing or publicizing a proposed solution doesn’t change the problem.  With a wicked problem, however, every implementation changes reality—it’s no longer the same problem after an attempted solution.  After a failed attempt, the solution you realize you should have tried may now not work.
  • Reapplying Past Solutions.  A class of tame problems can be solved with a single principle.  A general rule for finding a square root or applying the quadratic formula will work in all applicable cases.  By contrast, the solution to a wicked problem is unique.  We can learn from past successes, but an old solution applied unchanged to a new problem won’t produce the old result.  Many unexpected consequences arise when we rush to reapply (without customization) a particular solution we’ve seen before—there will likely be unseen differences between the old and new problems.
  • Problem Hierarchy.  A tame problem stands alone.  It is never a symptom of a larger problem, but a wicked problem always is.  For example, if the cost of something is too high, this can be a symptom of the higher-level problem that the company doesn’t have enough money.  Often, we can’t see the higher-level problem (“This new software is terrific!  I can’t imagine what could be better.”).

Critical problems require a different approach. Because these problems threaten the very survival of the organisation in the short term, decisive action is called for, and people are required to follow the call for action in a highly disciplined way. In the absence of time to do a detailed, objective analysis for cause, solutions may be adopted that are based on causes that are assumed to be valid. But a partially successful response is better than standing by idly as the organisation expires. A not-uncommon critical problem is a company running out of funds to support its continuing existence. With this type of problem a ‘leader’ takes charge, often using an authoritarian command and control style.

Genba – Kaizen – Japaneese Management Philosophy

Genba  is a Japanese term meaning “the real place.” Japanese detectives call the crime scene genba, and Japanese TV reporters may refer to themselves as reporting from genba. In business, genba refers to the place where value is created; in manufacturing the genba is the factory floor. It can be any “site” such as a construction site, sales floor or where the service provider interacts directly with the customer.

 In lean manufacturing, the idea of genba is that the problems are visible, and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the genba. The genba walk, much like Management By Walking Around (MBWA), is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice genba kaizen, or practical shopfloor improvement.

 In quality management, genba means the manufacturing floor and the idea is that if a problem occurs, the engineers must go there to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources. Unlike focus groups and surveys, genba visits are not scripted or bound by what one wants to ask.

 Glenn Mazur introduced this term into Quality Function Deployment (QFD, a quality system for new products where manufacturing has not begun) to mean the customer’s place of business or lifestyle. The idea is that to be customer-driven, one must go to the customer’s genba to understand his problems and opportunities, using all one’s senses to gather and process data.

A term commonly used in Japan is gemba kaizen. It is an expression that conveys commitment to continuous improvement of practices and processes as a business philosophy. Translated to English “gemba” means shopfloor and “kaizen” means continuous improvement. This certificate prepares students/workers to actively participate in implementing ongoing, world-class manufacturing activities necessary to keep their company globally competitive now and into the future.

The term “gemba” was introduced to Westerners by Masaaki Imai in 1997 to describe the “real place” where products are developed and made, and where services are provided. Small kaizen enhancements to these key operations will multiply into greater success and profits many times over. One of the more attractive features of gemba kaizen as a management philosophy is its independence from technology, complex procedures, or equipment, because gemba kaizen techniques focus on techniques like total quality management, just-in-time, total product maintenance, and visual management to deliver maximum quality. For some companies, gemba kaizen has become a leading philosophy for implementing “lean thinking” into their processes and products. The result has been elimination of waste (in terms of materials, effort, money, time, etc.) and an improvement in fiscal performance. Not surprisingly, gemba kaizen’s approaches to eliminating waste are also one of the easiest and least costly steps to take in improving environmental performance.

The concept of gemba management has its own “golden rules”, and the first rule is: when a problem arises, go to gemba first. Much of what occurs in gemba can be passed off as routine, repetitive, and even boring work tasks, but it’s amazing how often we tend to overlook the importance of understanding the processes in gemba to financial and environmental performance. To take the concept of gemba performance to its ultimate level of simplicity, gemba kaizen offers the “5S” steps of good housekeeping:

Seire: Distinguish between necessary and unnecessary items in gemba and discard the latter.
Seiton: Arrange all items remaining after seiri in an orderly manner.
Seiso: Keep machines and working environments clean.
Seiketsu: Extend the concept of cleanliness to oneself and continuously practice the above three steps. Shitsuke: Build self-discipline and make a habit of engaging in the 5S by establishing standards.

Western companies typically modify the above approach into the following 5S:
Sort: separate out all that is unnecessary and eliminate it.
Straighten: Put essential things in order so that they can be easily accessed.
Scrub: Clean everything — tools and workplaces — removing stains, spots, and debris and eradicating sources of dirt.
Systematize: Make cleaning and checking routine.
Standardize: Standardize the previous four steps to make the process one that never ends and can be improved upon.

If  pondering what steps to take to improve environmental, health, and safety performance as operating budgets continue to tighten, go to gemba.

Gemba Kaizen is a practical guide to implementing kaizen in any business by teaching employees how to pay attention to details, use common sense and work smarter to boost results where they will do the most good.

kaizen masaki

It is a method of improving operations in order to convert our business into a self-sustaining, continually improving, visually controlled workplace.

In Japanese gemba means real place, the place where real action occurs and where the value-adding activities occur. When the earthquakes shook Kobe in January 1995, TV reporters at the scene referred to themselves as “reporting from gemba”. In business, the value-adding activities that satisfy the customer happen in gemba. In particular all businesses practices three major activities directly related to earning profit: developing, producing and selling. Without these activities a company cannot exist. Therefore in a broad sense, gemba means the sites of these three major activities.

Masaaki Imai says “Gemba Kaizen is when Kaizen is used in the gemba, for which there are three basic steps—pay attention to housekeeping, eliminate waste and standardize”.
As Masaaki Imay says “the workplace is viewed with a great deal of reverence in Japan. The place where your product is being manufactured is sacred. In many Western firms, managers treat the gemba as lowly and fit only for lower level employees. So they sit in their fancy cabins and make decisions based on what we would call ‘fabricated data’.
visit the gemba for a more hands-on experience”. In kaizen management are encouraged to take a deep interest in and to keep in close touch with gemba and to visit it regularly. This is quite different from western practices. In the West it is suggested that the management generally have little contact with gemba. They are largely desk-bound. They are happy to distance themselves from what actually happens at gemba.

After Toyota achieved Just in Time production, they starter looking at their vendors. Their autonomous study group was formed under Taiti Ohno. The group visited gemba of a vendor each month and conducted Gemba kaizen for three or four days. This proved to be very effective.
Toyota began conducting Kaizen Blitz to suppliers in the early seventies, which involved the movement of machinery, modifying equipment, change in electrical connection, etc.

Masaaki Imai first advanced his kaizen theory in his book “Kaizen the key to Japan’s competitive success” in the mid-1980s. He expanded this idea in late 1990s in “Gemba kaizen: a commonsense, low-cost approach to management”, a sequel to the first book. In this book Imai emphasizes how to maximize the results of kaizen by applying it to gemba – business processes involved in the manifacture of products and the rendering of services, areas of business where the real action takes place.
He posits that Japan has succeeded in implementing this philosophy because of the way the role of the Japanese supervisor evolved. According to Imai, Japanese supervisors are given precise descriptions of their roles and accountability, enabling them to control processes on a regular basis.

They are empowered to manage the work and the workforce through specific supervisory skills. Moreover, the emphasis on learning and performing these skills at the actual work site provided the groundwork for the gemba philosophy, a central component of both kaizen and the Toyota Production System.

Kaizen gives supervisors the responsibility of managing the five Ms (manpower, material, machines, methods and measurement) that allow workers to produce the output of production identified as: quality, cost, delivery, morale and safety.
How this translates onto the job floor can be seen in the following list of supervisory responsibilities:

  • prepare work standards (job instructions)
  • provide training and make certain that operators do their job according to standards
  • improve the status quo by improving standards
  • take notice of abnormalities and address them right away
  • create a good working environment

Gemba kaizen advocates that manager must maintain meaningful contact with the operational side of the event in order to track potential sources of risk.

Gemba is a place where manufacturing activities are conducted, as well as the place where employees have direct contact with customers in the service sector. Gemba can be dining room of a hotel, a car dealer’s service department or a doctor’s examination room. One place that is not gemba is the manager’s desk. According to Imai, managers often avoid going to gemba because they do not want to be embarrassed by their ignorance.

In kaizen management go to gemba regularly. They stay in one spot for several minutes and observe reality. In so doing they learn much. They will identifiy many areas that can be improved with little, or no, cost to the organization. Imai provides five simple but golden rules for gemba management:

  • when an abnormality arises go to gemba first
  • check the gembutsu (the relevant item)
  • take temporary countermeasures on the spot
  • find and remove the root cause
  • standardize to prevent recurrence

Gemba should be the site of all improvements and the source of all information. Therefore, magement must maintain close contact with the realities of gemba in order to solve whatever problems arise there.

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Maintaining gemba at the top of the management structure requires committed employes. Workers must be inspired to fulfil their roles, to feel proud of their jobs, and to appreciate the contribution they make to their company and society. Instilling a sense of mission and pride is an integral parte of management’s responsibility for gemba.

Komatsu’s Genba Philosophy Underpins a Tradition of Product Support

As a means of finding customer solutions, Komatsu has been using an approach that places emphasis on the genba, or workplace where the customer actually operates the equipment, to steadily solve each issue. Especially in the early days, when  business centered on exports from Japan, many Japanese engineers were assigned around the world to provide product support. In order to carry on this tradition throughout the Komatsu Group Network, including  distributors,  have been making concerted efforts to provide training.

Komatsu Support Extends to Managerial Training
Komatsu has been hosting Global Training Institute (GTI), an 11-week program to strengthen and promote the professional development of middle management staff of product support divisions at its subsidiaries and distributors. Besides business strategies in the mining and construction and utilities businesses, the GTI program focuses on quality assurance activities, the KOMATSU Way as exemplified by the concept of a Win-Win-Win (beneficial for customers, distributors and Komatsu as a manufacturer) relationship and Kaizen activities, as well as various programs for the execution of business operations. Training is provided at optimal genbas, mainly at Komatsu bases in Europe and the United States in addition to Japan, in order for participants to learn about respective business fields. Lecturers are primarily from within Komatsu, including members of top management, directors and managers. Thanks to this training program, Kaizen activities, which have been formulated during the program period and brought back to participants’ home countries, have contributed to producing tangible results.

Critical thinking – cognitive skills for next generation management

The Importance of Critical Thinking Skills

Over two decades ago, the Secretary of Labor appointed a commission to determine the skills our young people would need to succeed in the working world. The commission’s fundamental purpose was to encourage a high-performance economy characterized by high-skill, high-wage employment. Although the commission completed its work in 1992, its findings and recommendations ring true in the new millennium.

The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) report identified critical thinking skills as being essential for a high-performance workplace. The post identifies a three-part skills foundation: basic literacy and computational skills, the thinking skills necessary to put knowledge to work, and the personal qualities that make workers dedicated and trustworthy. This foundation in thinking skills includes creativity, decision making, problem solving, seeing things in the mind’s eye, knowing how-to-learn, and reasoning. Today’s work place puts a premium on reasoning skills and an ability and willingness to learn.”

The findings in the SCANS report have been reinforced in subsequent studies.  In 2009 the Economist Intelligence Unit published a report, The Intelligent Enterprise:  Creating a culture of speedy and efficient decision-making. The report states that “despite the wide recognition that accurate and timely decision-making is crucial, most firms’ ability to make good decisions needs improvement.”

The Conference Board identified two key skills needed by successful leaders in their report, Developing Business Leaders for 2010—analytical ability—especially the ability to sort through information sources and focus on the most relevant aspects—and the ability to make sound decisions in an environment of ambiguity and uncertainty.

In September 2011, the Corporate Executive Board surveyed 5,000 workers, globally, and found a lack of analytical skills was “pervasive among both the general employees and among management.” Only 38% of the average workforce uses a balance of judgment and data in their decision making.

Critical Thinking Skills are Essential

Critical thinking skills can be defined as the ability to exercise sound reasoning and analytical thinking, using knowledge, facts and data to resolve workplace issues.  They are essential for:

  1. Solving problems and making decisions. Rapid changes in the workplace require delegating decision making and problem solving farther and farther down the organization. Among today’s workers the critical thinking skills for analysis, problem solving, and teamwork are in high demand and short supply.
  2. Problem prevention. Preventing problems does not happen automatically. Identifying potential problems and planning preventive and contingent actions require good, solid analytical thinking.
  3. Effective teamwork. The benefits of teamwork are oft reported; but teamwork is not automatic. Teams experience growing pains and they take time to mature into productive units. Team members need critical thinking skills for communication, conflict resolution, decision making, problem solving, and self-management.
  4. Empowerment. Effective empowerment means providing the responsibilities and the skills for people to manage their own work and to do it effectively. To keep teams cohesive, a common language for solving problems and making decisions is needed.  These skills empower people to work together to solve problems, make better-balanced decisions, and manage business-critical projects.

The Challenge of the 21st Century

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that during the 2010-20 decade, over 54.8 million job openings are expected and more than half—61.6%—will come from the need to replace workers from the baby boom generation as they retire or otherwise permanently leave an occupation. A lack of critical thinking skills among new employees compounds the loss of institutional knowledge held by employees leaving the workplace.
  • As organizations become more global, the diversity of the workforce requires a common approach to resolving organizational issues that can surmount cultural and language barriers.
  • The information explosion continues to move at a rapid pace with no end in sight. This accelerates the rate that technical knowledge becomes obsolete while exponentially flooding our lives with data. As a result, the ability to organize and evaluate information with an analytic eye is increasingly important.

Putting the puzzle together

Rapid fire changes in the workplace mean increased responsibilities for many employees. These new responsibilities mean that analytical skills, driven by a process that is underpinned by logic and good questioning, are key to maintaining competitive advantage. Sharpening the thinking skills of workers and providing a context in which they want to and can succeed is a key to solving the 21st century challenge of staying competitive in environment of rapid change.

Research conducted in recent years by Pearson, as well as by a variety of independent academics, has shown that people who score well on critical
thinking assessment are also rated by their supervisors as having:
Because it is often difficult to discern such critical thinking skills through a resume or job interview, many organizations are turning to assessments
to help them evaluate candidates. One of the most widely used assessments in this area is the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, from Pearson TalentLens. The Watson-Glaser offers a hard-skills appraisal, and is suited for people in professional and managerial positions.
Perhaps not surprisingly, independent research has also found that the higher up the ladder a position is, the more essential critical thinking becomes. People who are successful in these positions tend to be able to learn quickly, process information accurately, and are able to apply it to decision-making. One of the most well-established research findings in
industrial psychology is that cognitive ability is directly related to performance in all jobs5.
Critical thinking, one type of cognitive ability, is of particular importance where sophisticated decision-making and judgment are required.
It is not uncommon for organizations to ignore such research findings when they are engaged in succession planning or top-level executive searches. Organizations often assume that everyone at the highest corporate levels is bright and a “good thinker,” so they don’t assess their candidates’ critical thinking capabilities. However, a 2009 study by Ones and Dilchert6 found that there is variability in critical thinking ability within groups of executives (as well as among supervisors and managers). Although executives generally did perform better on critical thinking tests when compared with other groups, there was a wide range of higher and lower scores.
Simply put, the research found that some top executives are better at critical thinking than others – and so are likely to be more successful. It is important to note that research has also found a positive correlation between certain personality characteristics and job success.
Consequently, organizations that include both critical thinking and personality in their battery of assessments tend to get a more comprehensive view of a candidate than do organizations that use either personality or critical thinking assessments alone.

fortunately, critical thinking can be taught. Pearson has developed the following RED Model – Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Arguments,
Draw Conclusions – as a way to view and apply critical thinking principles when faced with a decision. This model is particularly helpful in critical-thinking training programs.
Recognize Assumptions.

This is the ability to separate fact from opinion. It is deceptively easy to listen to a comment or presentation and assume the information presented is true even though no evidence was given to back it up.
Perhaps the speaker is particularly credible or trustworthy, or the information makes sense or matches our own view. We just don’t question
it. Noticing and questioning assumptions helps to reveal information gaps or unfounded logic.
Taking it a step further, when we examine assumptions through the eyes of different people (e.g., the viewpoint of different stakeholders), the end result is a richer perspective on a topic.
Evaluate Arguments.

It is difficult to suspend judgment and systematically walk through various arguments and information with the impartiality of a Sherlock Holmes. The art of evaluating arguments entails analyzing information objectively and accurately, questioning the quality of supporting evidence, and understanding how emotion influences the situation. Common barriers include confirmation bias, which is the tendency to seek out and agree with information that is consistent with you own point of view, or allowing emotions – yours or others – to get in the way of objective evaluation. People may quickly come to a conclusion simply to avoid conflict. Being able to remain objective and sort through the validity of different positions helps people draw more accurate conclusions.
Draw Conclusions.

People who possess this skill are able to bring diverse information together
to arrive at conclusions that logically follow from the available evidence, and they do not inappropriately generalize beyond the evidence.
Furthermore, they will change their position when the evidence warrants doing so. They are often characterized as having “good judgment” because they typically arrive at a quality decision.
Each of these critical thinking skills fits together in a process that is both fluid and sequential.
When presented with information, people typically alternate between recognizing assumptions and evaluating arguments. Critical thinking is sequential in that recognizing faulty assumptions or weak arguments improves the likelihood of reaching an appropriate conclusion. Although this process is fluid, it is helpful to focus on each of the RED skills individually when practicing skill development. With concentrated practice over time, typically several months, critical thinking skills can be significantly increased.

Philosophy in Business – A perspective

The financial and climate crises, global consumption habits, and other 21st-century challenges call for panacea or elixir.  . Credit, climate, and consumption crisis cannot be solved through specialized expertise alone. These problems, like most issues businesses confront in the global marketplace, feature complex interdependencies that require an understanding of how political, financial, environmental, ethical, and social interests influence each other. Expertise and experience will not make you a better analyst of the evidence. In the case of experts ,the abilities to ride above difficulties, to reinvent yourself up and start all over again, to reduce unmanageable difficulties to manageable proportions – all such admirable attributes are psychological, not physical: or, put another way, they are ‘emotional’, not ‘rational’.

What managers truly want is a guide to those psychological behaviours – their own even more than those of their subordinates – that will achieve a higher, indeed, the highest degree of competence.

The world is changing fast—we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. How we work, what we work has always mattered. But today, it matters more than ever and in ways that it never has before. Technology has joined us together across time, distance, and culture faster than we have developed frameworks to understand one another. That’s why we must change the way we behave, consume, and build trust in both our business and personal lives.

We have to innovate in how we approach our relationships with others if we – and the organizations and institutions that we represent – are to thrive in this new world. We also have to change our idea of success. The singular pursuit of success might be the very thing that causes it to elude us. Those who instead choose to pursue significance in their work and life find success for themselves and others along the way.

 we need to broaden our understanding of problems by looking deeper at our own beliefs, values, ethics, and character, and then understand how they relate to those of others who share a stake in our problem-solving efforts.

Philosophy can help us address the existential challenges the world currently confronts.  Companies translate their values into corporate practices and behaviors that result in sustainable competitive advantage. Philosophy applied to help businesses develop ethical corporate cultures: Philosophy is powerful enough to tackle sprawling issues. The discipline can be applied to the day to day business problems after existing for more than 2,000 years.

 We’re constantly fascinated by new ideas in organizational governance and behavior. Philosophy for business guides us to implement ideas, values, and principles to work for our  organization.

BUSINESS AREAS PHILOSOPHY CAN BE APPLIED

  1.   Imbibe Values and principles like Consistency, self-knowledge, fairness, self-discipline, thrift, responsibility for our actions and their effects on others,
  2.   Ability to lead by example
  3.   Vision and management philosophy with guiding principles
  4.   Business Ethics
  5.   Corporate Social Responsibility Policy
  6.   Lean’ Principles to Service Industries
  7.   The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
  8.   Implementing the Law of Attraction
  9.   Developing the right corporate culture helps companies be  more profitable and provides sustainable competitive advantage.
  10.   Corporate values
  11.   Authentic leadership
  12.   Mindful leadership
  13.   Organizing Knowledge – Knowledge based view.
  14.   Leadership as Holarchy
  15.   Self Governance and peer Governance
  16.   Transformational Leadership
  17.   Transforming Organizations to Transform Society.
  18.   Develop a Powerful Creative Imagination
  19.   The Role of the CEO & Top Management Teams
  20.   Conflict Management, Politics & Negotiation
  21.   Cross-Cultural Management
  22.   Buddhist Economic Principles

Minimalist design and Zen gardens

Minimalist Product Design from Zen

The Japanese rock gardens  or dry landscape gardens, often called Zen gardens, are a type of garden that features extensive use of rocks or stones, along with plants native to rocky or alpine environments that were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation.

The Japanese rock gardens ) or “dry landscape” gardens, often called “Zen gardens”, are a type of garden that features extensive use of rocks or stones, along with plants native to rocky or alpine environments that were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation.

Japanese gardens are gardens in which the plants and trees are ever changing with the seasons. As they grow and mature, they are constantly sculpted to maintain and enhance the overall experience. The underlying structure of a Japanese garden is determined by the architecture; that is, the framework of enduring elements such as buildings, verandas and terraces, paths, artificial hills, and stone compositions.

Karesansui gardens can be extremely abstract and represent miniature landscapes also called mindscapes. This Buddhist preferred way to express cosmic beauty in worldly environments is inextricable from Zen Buddhism.

Dry landscape dry garden is a garden style unique to Japan, which appeared in the Muromachi period (1392-1568). Using neither ponds nor streams, it makes symbolic representations of natural landscapes using stone arrangements, white sand, moss and pruned trees.

The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water has an aesthetic function. Zen priests practice this raking also to help their concentration. Achieving perfection of lines is not easy. Rakes are according to the patterns of ridges as desired and limited to some of the stone objects situated within the gravel area. Nonetheless, often the patterns are not static. Developing variations in patterns is a creative and inspiring challenge.

 Stone arrangements and other miniature elements are used to represent mountains and natural water elements and scenes, islands, rivers and waterfalls. Stone and shaped shrubs are used interchangeably. In most gardens, moss is used as a ground cover to create “land” covered by forest.

Other, mostly stone, objects are sometimes used symbolically to represent mountains, islands, boats, or even people. Karesansui gardens are often, but not always, meant to be viewed from a single vantage point from a seated position.

  The influence of Zen on garden design was (probably) first described as such by Kuck in the early 20th century and disputed by Kuiter by the end of that century.

Though each garden is different in its composition, they mostly use rock groupings and shrubs to represent a classic scene of mountains, valleys and waterfalls taken from Chinese landscape painting.

Today, ink monochrome painting still is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. A primary design principle was the creation of a landscape based on, or at least greatly influenced by, the three-dimensional monochrome ink landscape painting. In Japan the garden has the same status as a work of art.

 The beauty of one of Japan’s most popular Zen gardens has long eluded explanation. Now neuroscience scientists have found that its minimalist design suggests a pleasing picture to our subcontinents.

The 500-year-old Ryoanji Temple garden in Kyoto contains five outcroppings of rocks and moss on a rectangle of raked gravel. Using symmetry calculations the researchers have discovered that the objects imply an image of a tree in the empty space between them that we detect, without being aware of doing so.

The finding suggests that Japanese garden designers – originally priests – balanced forces from visual science.

The trunk of the hidden branched tree lines up with the preferred garden-viewing spot of ancient temple floor plans, repeating the calculations with random rock groups failed to generate any similar patterns.

Earlier work by Ilona Kovacs, a visual scientist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, showed that the human brain uses similar symmetry lines, like those of a child’s stick figure, to make sense of shapes.

In the Zen garden, you have even less to go on with just the best points, or rocks, along the symmetry lines. The brain may recognize the tree during meditation and other Zen states.

Through the years, people have come up with various interpretations for the rock clusters themselves, a mother tiger herding her cubs across a river, mountaintops poking through the clouds, and strokes of Chinese characters.

These logical descriptions miss the point;   the suggestive symmetry explanation fits the Zen mind better. It has always been thought that the priest-gardener’s layout was something that didn’t come from the conscious mind, but from a deeper level. They could have easily intuitively developed that kind of tree layout.

 The garden, like Mona Lisa’s smile, has intrigued visitors for centuries. Tour guides bringing visitors to the ‘best’ spot to view the garden stop exactly where the symmetry lines converge.

A miniature dry landscape garden

There have been many attempts to explain the karesansui garden’s layout. Some of these are:

The gravel represents ocean and the rocks represent islands.

The rocks represent a mother tiger with her cubs, swimming to a dragon.

The rocks form part of the kanji for heart or mind.

A recent suggestion by Gert van Tonder of Kyoto University and Michael Lyons, of Ritsumeikan University, is that the rocks form the subliminal image of a tree. The researchers claim the subconscious mind is sensitive to a subtle association between the rocks. They suggest this may be responsible for the calming effect of the garden.

The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture where in the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture.

Minimalist architecture simplifies living space to reveal the essential quality of buildings and conveys simplicity in attitudes toward life. It is highly inspired from the Japanese traditional design and the concept of Zen philosophy.

Zen concepts of simplicity transmit the ideas of freedom and essence of living. Simplicity is not only aesthetic value, it has a moral perception that looks into the nature of truth and reveals the inner qualities of materials and objects for the essence.

The Japanese aesthetic principle of Ma refers to empty or open space. That removes all the unnecessary internal walls and opens up the space between interior and the exterior. Frank Lloyd Wright was influenced by the design element of Japanese sliding door that allows to bring the exterior to the interior. The emptiness of spatial arrangement is another idea that reduces everything down to the most essential quality.

The Japanese aesthetic of Wabi values the quality of simple and plain objects. It appreciates the absence of unnecessary features to view life in quietness and reveals the most innate character of materials. For example, the Japanese flora art, also known as Ikebana has the meaning of let flower express itself. People cut off the branches, leaves, and blossoms from the plants and only retain the essential part from the plant. This conveys the idea of essential quality and innate character in nature.

Product Design

  Minimalism is a design trend that started in the 20th century and continues today, most prominently through companies like Apple and various graphic and visual designers. A minimalist design is a design stripped down to only its essential elements.

The unofficial mission statement for minimalist design came from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe:

Less is more.

Another motto was from designer Buckminster Fuller:

Doing more with less.

There is not much else to add to that, other than reiterating that minimalist design is more of a principle than visual design. It does not matter if you are designing a website, a flyer, a user interface, a piece of hardware, a house, or anything else – you remove the unnecessary and keep only the essential elements.

Naturally, the focus on simplicity also spilled over into consumer products, with designer Dieter Rams (also more on him below) using minimalist design in products for Braun. IKEA, the Swedish furniture company, is another example of minimalist designed consumer products. The furniture is so simple that it is designed for everyday people to be able to assemble with ease, often without even needing instructions due to it being self-explanatory.

In addition, of course, minimalist design carried over naturally into the digital realm, with visual and web designers applying minimalism principles into their own designs and designs for clients. In a minimalist design, every detail has significance. What you choose to leave in is vital.

Knowing the history and key figures of minimalist design is nice and all, but knowledge without action is useless (outside of entertainment purposes, of course). So here are some resources on the right practical approach to minimalist design.

Principles of Minimalist Web Design

 Less is more – use only elements that are necessary for your web design; the end effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

 Omit needless things – don’t include unnecessary elements in your designs; include only what’s necessary to the content and function of your website (including certain design and graphical elements that directly affect readability and usability).

 Subtract until it breaks – remove elements until your design stops working the way it should (stops being user-friendly or stops delivering your intent experience); the point right before that is when you’ve achieved the most minimalist design possible.

 Every detail counts – what you choose to leave in is vital, so think of the feeling you want visitors to have, then include only the details that will create that feeling (funky, modern, clean, sophisticated, and so forth).

 Color minimally – use only the colors that interact well with each other and create the feeling you want visitors to have.

 White space is vital – do not try to fill every space, instead use white space to emphasize certain elements over others.

The Ins and Outs of Minimalist Design – a Design Shack article that looks at key aspects of minimalism in web design and showcases examples from designers who got it right. The key aspects it covers are:

 Typography – choose clean, simple fonts with a high level of readability.

 Strong grid alignments – a readable and pleasing arrangement of content; our eyes are familiar with this pattern, and we want items to line up in a predictable manner.

 Contrast – increased contrast can drastically improve your design’s readability and user-friendliness.

 White space – emphasize where you want viewers to look while making them feel comfortable and less claustrophobic.

Buddhism is a philosophy.

Buddhism is a philosophy. It is not a religion and its principles have a profound benefit in management practices.

Regardless of the exact number, it is fair to say that a sizable number of individuals in the world are influenced by the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhist belief influences management practices that a wider application of the principles may be beneficial to management practitioners, regardless of religious orientation.

Buddhism beliefs and philosophy, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, is a branch of Eastern philosophy. Since the time of its start, Buddhism has had a firm philosophical element, which is defined by love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. Buddhist philosophy rejects a number of traditional notions like those of atheism, theism, monism, and dualism. Dualism is a Philosophical system that seeks to explain all phenomena in terms of two distinct and irreducible principles unlike monism and pluralism. Plato’s teachings define, as there is an ultimate dualism of being and becoming, of ideas and matter. Aristotle Greek philosopher, criticized Plato’s doctrine of the transcendence of ideas, but he was unable to escape the dualism of form and matter.

Buddha criticized all these concepts and encouraged his disciples to discuss the problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology. Traditionally, metaphysics refers to the branch of philosophy that attempts to understand the fundamental nature of all reality, whether visible or invisible. It seeks a description so basic, so essentially simple, and so all-inclusive that it applies to everything, whether divine, human, or anything else. It attempts to tell what anything must be like in order to be at all.

Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning together with appropriate enabling conditions.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge. In Plato’s view knowledge is merely an awareness of absolute, universal Ideas or Forms, existing independent of any subject trying to apprehend to them. Though Aristotle puts more emphasis on logical and empirical methods for gathering knowledge, he still accepts the view that such knowledge is an apprehension of necessary and universal principles.

Buddhism is neither a religion in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not a system of faith and worship owing any allegiance to a supernatural being. Though there is no blind faith, one might argue whether there is no worshiping of images etc., in Buddhism.

 Buddhists do not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favors, but pay their reverence to what it represents.

 Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Buddhism is considered by some to be more of a philosophy than a religion. Buddha never declared Himself God. Almost all the other religions essentially entail some form of theism. However, Buddhism, in itself, is considered non-theistic or atheistic. It does not emphasize the existence or non-existence of a God or Gods any point of time. In addition to that, Buddhism does not have doctrines in the same sense as other religions do. The major concepts covered in Buddhism teachings include.

Epistemology

One of the major philosophies that differentiate Buddhism from Hinduism is that of epistemological explanation. Buddhism has a smaller set of valid justifications for knowledge than Hinduism. It does not believe in a blind and inflexible acceptance of the established principles.

Metaphysics and Phenomenology

The philosophy of Metaphysics rejects the notion of a soul or a permanent self. The concept of continuous identity is nothing but a delusion. In the early days of Buddhism, philosophers formed a metaphysical system that advocated the breaking down of the experiences of people, things, and events into smaller perceptual units called dharmas (or phenomenon). Even the issue of the person, was debated upon by the different schools of Buddhism. The concept was introduced to replace the one of atman (self).

 

Dependent Origination

A basic belief of Buddhism consists of the doctrine, which asserts that neither the events of our life predetermined, nor do they take place at random. Rather, it states that the events in our life have, in fact, no independent existence. It refuses to accept the notion of direct causation of events. According to the doctrine, certain specific events, concepts, or realities are always dependent on a number of other precise things. For example, cravings depend upon emotion, which in turn is dependent on our interaction with the environment. Similarly, almost all the events are affected by another happening. Even the alleviation of decay, death, and sorrow depends indirectly on the alleviation of craving, being ultimately dependent on an all-encompassing stillness.

Interpenetration

The doctrine says that the entire phenomenon in this world is linked with one another. Buddhism has used two images to symbolize this doctrine. One is that of Indra’s net, set with jewels. The jewels have an extraordinary property; they reflect all the other jewels. The other one is that of world text. It depicts the world as consisting of an enormous text. The words in the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world.

Ethics

The main ethics of Buddhism consist of the eightfold path, comprising of…

Right Speech

Right Actions

Right Livelihood

Right Effort/Exercise

Right Mindfulness/Awareness

Right Concentration

Right Thoughts

Right Understanding

According to Buddhism, the rationale behind leading a meaningful life is to have ethics. A person should always strive towards increasing the welfare of not only his own, but of all the living beings. This will help in cessation of suffering, which is so widely prevalent in this world.

Buddhism offers an interesting perspective on the practice of management.

While the literature on the effect of Buddhist beliefs on managerial practice is quite limited, Fernando and Jackson (2006) did find that religion, including Buddhism, played a significant role in the decision-making of managers.

Buddhist beliefs are very consistent with Western scientific beliefs. Buddhism has a pragmatic orientation, deals with cause and effect relationships, focuses on problem solving, and recognizes the importance of observation and verification. All of these are relevant issues to managerial research and practice.

 Buddhism has great influence towards managerial activity and, therefore, is primarily sociological in nature. The importance placed on the “middle way” or moderation in all aspects of life tends to produce more consistent and moderate behavior.

Extreme positions, including strategic choice are generally not reviewed as favorably. The belief in no self tends to produce a more collectivist orientation and supports a stronger focus on interpersonal relations. The Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path have implications for ethical behavior. In particular, Buddhist beliefs can manifest themselves in a number of different aspects of management including leadership behavior, personal development, team building, the use of harmony over conflict, and a more gentle approach to people management. The Dharma, as manifested in the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Five Precepts, and the various sayings attributed to the Buddha have much in common with modern managerial practice.

The ideal Buddhist organization is one in which less emphasis is placed on command and control, and greater emphasis is placed on developing the abilities of individuals to manage themselves.

Buddhist principles are collectivist in nature, and this orientation towards the importance of the group over the individual has positive implications for team building and functioning. Buddhist philosophy is consistent with a collectivist view.

Buddhism promotes a different economic system. Referred to as “Buddhist economics” , the concept maintains that quality of life is not dictated solely by maximizing one’s utility, but also includes non-material factors as well.

The wisdom of the Buddha can also provide timeless advice for modern day managers regardless of religious orientation. The Buddha’s recommendations for modern managers could be summarized as follow: be mindful, be compassionate, consider the fact that you are only part of a complex and dynamic situation, be flexible and open minded, and recognize that nothing is permanent – not the organization, not strategies that may work now, not you, or your leadership style. Enlightened management is about accepting change, creating harmony among those you work with, and treating all people with dignity and respect.