When my partner and I started Touchpoints, we wanted to put a framework that will stand the test of time. We pondered about it being technology oriented, domain driven, etc. Eventually, we decided on exchanging notes on our own core values and guiding principles. If we had common core values and guiding principles, the possibility of conflict as well as confusion would be minimized. We decided that while conducting business, transactions or communication we are more than likely to arrive at the cross roads of decision. We would then lean on our core values and guiding principles to show us the right path.
Today, almost three years into the business, we can highlight number of situations, during which, we have potentially been swayed towards what could have been lucrative and resulted in immediate fortune for a minor compromise in our principles. Our ability to say NO and move on to the right opportunity, I believe, has kept us in good stead and we have been able to keep a clean and fearless conscience about ourselves and our endeavors.
The link between values and a purely economic function like management was highlighted by Kaushik Basu, the Economist in the Cornell University in article July,2001 issue of India today. In the article TRUTH ABOUT LYING this is what Kaushik Basu mentioned:
Lying and honesty are intriguing subjects that have engaged philosophers for centuries. Social scientists took very little interest in them. This has suddenly begun to change. It is a much more mundane concern with lying and honesty that has been engaging economists and political scientists in recent times, but it’s a concern of some pervasive importance. Social analysts, notably Francis Fukuyama and Robert Putnam, have argued that societies with a high level of trust — i.e. where people tend to be honest, adhere to promises and respect contracts — tend to prosper. So, faster growth is not just a consequence of appropriate economic policy, savings rate, human capital and fiscal deficits but, somewhat surprisingly, the level of honesty in the citizenry.
This is one area in which the Indian citizenry can do with a little bit of brushing up. The damage usually gets done early, when children are taught that “honesty is the best policy”. As they grow up, they realize whoever taught them that lesson was not quite honest. There are many situations in life where a quick lie, a broken promise or a reneged contract can bring in gains.
Many people make a mistake in trying to cash in on these gains too often, not realizing that each time one does it, one tends to damage a little bit of one’s reputation. If a person breaks too many promises, people will be wary of getting into agreements with him. In other words, excessive dishonesty and corruption, as in our society, is a sign of several things but, importantly, of myopia.
To a person interested in nothing but his own welfare, the Machiavellian lesson would be simple: try not to tell lies so that you can get away with the rare one when you have to. So even if people were very selfish, if they calculated their own interest rationally (that is, without short-sightedness), they would be more honest than they typically are.
Gandhiji once said, “You cannot be honest in one department of life and dishonest in another…..you have to function as a whole”.
We can therefore see that today even the hardheaded experts on management practices are willing to look at the values, which are behind management successes.
I am very excited about the concept of CREST (Center for Research, Education, Sadhana & Training) Center for Research, Education, Sadhana and Training is a program offered by Sahaj Marg Spiritual Foundation to impart personal and spiritual discipline along with knowledge to create living examples of the Sahaj Marg way of living. These courses are designed to cater to all dimensions of existence: the physical, the mental and intellectual, the moral, and the spiritual. Courses will be conducted under the ancient gurukula concept, with trainees living under ashram conditions, providing for a comfortable life in a Spartan setting, without luxury, but spiritually enriched.
The advantage of going back to our roots and trying to understand how management strategy and practices can be evolved by using the traditional Indian wisdom and ethos, therefore, can lead to immensely practical results. Yes, we will have an alternate problem in such a society – no Sarbanes Oxley, no Governance issues and true performance based outcomes driven by strong values and guiding principles. Meaning – IT companies will have not much to forecast growth on. I would rather live in such a society – wouldn’t you?