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Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Page 4

In industry, “growth” commonly means but one things: to get bigger.  Success is equated with size, rationalized as economy of scale, and projected as a national faith through the G.N.P. index.  Hollywood, Broadway, General Motors, and more recently the conglomerates are the result.  A balloon, as it is blown up, gets bigger–but this is not growth.  It is simply expansion.  As many a breathless and startled reveler has discovered, bigger is not always better.  The capacity of the balloon does not grow, but the capacity is subjected to more and more demands.  Expansion could therefore be seen as using more and more of a given capacity.  Growth, on the other hand, means increasing the capacity of the system as well as the demands that are made upon it.  Partial reorganization of a company would bring about expansion or integration.  Expansion occurs when the reorganization causes those parts of the organization that are addressed to increase their demands upon the rest of the system (for example, a work simplification program).  Only total reorganization can bring about growth.  Only total reorganization can bring about growth.  Without growth the forces of differentiation and integration–process and structure–become unresolved conflict, causing fragmentation, empire building, and eventually the decline of the company.

We can therefore differentiate three forms of “orderly” change that can occur within a company:

  1.  The change of integration, which we shall call self-regulation.
  2. The change of expansion.
  3. The change of growth.

Philosophers have long been aware that our experience of the world is not simple but complex.  A few moments’ reflection will show most people that what we experience, how we experience it, why we experience it, and that we experience at all are different sides or dimension of experience.  What we experience gives rise to facts.  How we experience gives rise to functions.  Why we experience this rather than that gives rise to structure.  That we experience at all gives rise to a mystery, related in some way to Will.

February 21st, 2020 ~

Expansion vs. Growth: I have talked with small business owners, mainly in the food industry.  Recently, an owner of a beloved bakery told me she has been repeatedly invited to expand her business.  She has owned the business for several decades.  Early on, it was in the background of her mind to expand.  Now, she can’t imagine it.  Her footprint is all over the bakery and it just wouldn’t be feasible to replicate this at another location without losing quality.  Not to say others haven’t done it.  The same goes for pizza making.  An owner I know has said the quality of the dough goes down if you can’t thrown the pizzas by hand.  When you use machines, it is evident in the quality of the pies.  So, maybe many businesses expand when they franchise.  But are they really growing their business.  What do you think?

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Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Page 3

Classical organization theory suggests that there is “the company” and that there is “change,” and these two are in some way in opposition.  Monolithic organizations have been set up with the view that the company acquires significance through its stability.  Emphasis has been put on the hierarchical structuring, and a tendency toward “power structuring” has enabled the company to acquire inertia, or resistance to change.  this inertia has a positive side in so far as it assists the company to face the forces of degeneration and deterioration.  On the other hand, the emphasis on the hierarchic structuring of the company has inhibited the generation of ideas.  It would be nearer the truth to say that an organization should be the orderly expression of change.

An organization changes along three “spatial” dimensions: lateral, horizontal , and vertical.  Its functions become increasingly more differentiated and complex (the lateral dimension).  New systems, procedures, and understandings bring about new integrations or new orientation, and there is a tendency toward different and new wholes to be created within a company (the horizontal dimension).  The organization also changes in another dimension.  As the company grows, higher level ideas are introduced, enabling it to encompass an increasing field of phenomena (the vertical dimension).

Change can occur at many different points within the system.  The emphasis on the vertical dimension or the hierarchic structure tends to resist the influence of many of these changes.  This results in the “cataclysmic” approach to reorganization according to which a company is organized at a given time and then, through a continuing failure to adapt, it reaches a crisis, at which point a new reorganization becomes necessary and the cycle is repeated.  By regarding a company as a system open to its environment, having many dimensions, each of which is inducing change, the cataclysmic approach can be replaced by a more dynamic approach based on growth.

February 20th, 2020 ~

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Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Chapter 1–Page 2

Page 2 ~ In addition to job description and organization charts in a company, there are other elements such as budgets, forms, appraisal systems, systems for introducing new products to the company, salary-administration systems, long-range forecasts, management-development systems, goal-setting systems, data-processing systems, and management-information systems.  All are developed independently with very little integration and frequently with an increasing despair on the part of those who are called upon to develop the systems, through the recognition of how little relevance or connection there is between what they are doing and what the rest of the company is doing. 

The framework within which reorganization is at present undertaken is one in which analysis, or reduction, alone is known and recognized.  This inadequate framework brings about a violation of harmony, of structure.  “Everyone knows” that to solve a problem one must start by breaking the problem down into smaller problems and, where necessary, these into yet smaller problems.  One then goes about solving each of these simple problems and then synthesizes or integrates the solutions in a steadily ascending hierarchy.  However, to break a problems down is to reduce the level of the problem, and by changing its level one changes the problem entirely.

To organize but part of the company is like trying to bake half a cake.  Often a manager will say, “Well, first let us set up this and that department, or this and that role within the department, or perhaps this and that systems.  let us get those working, and then later on we can turn our attention to the rest of the organization.”  This is something like a housewife saying, “Let us first of all put in the flour and water and perhaps some currants, and later on we will get around to the eggs and sugar and the rest of the ingredients, when we have cooked the first part of the cake.”

February 17th, 2020 ~

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Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Shareholder, Employee, Customer: The Basic Triad

A company is a multidimensional system capable of growth, expansion, and self-regulation.  It is, therefore, not a thing, but a set of interacting forces.  Any theory of organiztion must be capable of reflecting a company’s many facets, its dynamism, and its basic orderliness.  When a company organization is reviewed, or when reorganizing a company, it must be looked upon as a whole, as a total system. 

A system can be defined as a set of independent but mutally related elements.  The different jobs or functions in a company are the “independent elements”; each has its own reason for being; each isdone by a different manager, each of whom is expected to act to some extent as an autonomous and independent whole.  This, after all, is what we mean by responsibility.  But the mutual relatedness of the job with other jobs in the company is as important a feature of the organization as the content of the job itself.

This mutual relationship corresponds to the structure of the whole, and it must be emphasized because it is frequently ignored when organizations are reviewed.  When managers reorganize they often do not give very much attention to how parts of the system are related in time or structure.  Furthermore, this relatedness is something that is poorly understood.  For example, managers frequently write job descriptions in complete isolation from what the company as a whole is trying to do.  Although organization charts are drawn, they often ignore the content of job descriptions.  A gesture is sometimes made in the direction of relatedness and structure by putting dotted lines on the organization chart, but these frequently serve to confuse rather than to clarify the issue.

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Zen & Creative Management

Foreward–Page 4

February 12th, 2020 ~ This book has taken shape over several years and is offered with several aims in mind.  First, it is hoped that some of what is suggested will strike a resonant chord in the minds of readers and give them direction for their own consideration of organizational issues.

The life force that organizes species, organs, and organisms also molds organizations.  Human beings cannot conquer nature-they are nature in action.  The creative leaps made by man and the creative leaps made by nature are of the same kind.  Nature makes use of what may be called “un reculer pour mieux sauter,” a recoiling, in order to leap that much better.  When nature’s evolutionary drive has reached a cul-de-sac, it withdraws and breaks out from a new point in a new direction.  I am suggesting that Zazen is a discipline that uses un reculer pour mieux sauter; this approach provides greater facility in dealing with those organizational cul-de-sacs that are both frustrations and opportunities.  Zazen seems to be as old as mankind; what is new today is its availability to the West, and specifically, its availability for dealing with the complex, multifaceted problems encountered in organizations.

February 12th, 2020 ~

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Zen & Creative Management

Foreward–Page 3

For example, instead of wastes being the very basis for new life and growth, they lie on one side–unusable, polluting.  When people no longer fit the system, they are unemployed, poor, discarded.  In nature there is interpenetration; each is a whole supporting and sustaining the whole.  In technology there are only parts; everything is a part of something and everything is ultimately replaceable, and, ultimately, meaningless.

It is not that technology is “bad.”  It simply lacks any self-regulating mechanism.  Technological thinking is a marvelous creation but, as Matin Heidegger has pointed out, it is its very success that must be feared because it so captivates, bewitches, dazzles, and beguiles us that it threatens to become someday accepted and practiced as the only way of thinking.  “Then man would have denied and thrown away his special nature–that he is a meditative being . . . The issue is keeping meditative thinking alive.


  This meditative, intuitive thinking assumes wholes are intrinsic, that they are relative, and that we cannot reduce the complexity of a whole without changing its nature.  This calls for an awareness of the organic integrity of a concrete situation–an openness to all its aspects.  In Zen Buddhism such an openness and awareness is called Zazen.  Within the practice of Zen lies an alternative way, one of the very few remaining ways, of facing our predicament.

Zen is the outcome of the profound need each of us has for meaning, which can only truly be found when we have understood clearly who and what we are.  Zen is not exotic or otherworldly; it concerns practice more than theory.  In the practices of Zen a person comes to terms with life in a meaningful way.  Many would say that if only they could become better managers., their lives would be more meaningful/.  It would be truer to say that if we could find our true meaning, we would stand a chance of becoming better managers.  Becoming a better manager would be a byproduct of a practice aimed at reaching the source of our most pressing need: the need to be whole and significant.  The solutions to our managerial problems are inextricably connected to the solutions to our personal problems.

 

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Zen & Creative Management

Foreward – Page 2

“A full dilemma, moreover, as this book will show, has four horns, not just two. The societal dilemma also includes the need to control inflation, which still threatens the financial structure, and also free access to credit, which has become a principle feature of that structure. Each of these four is dependent on the others and none can be resolved in isolation. Each is a dimension of the whole”.

Traditional scientific thought has brought us the marvels of the computer, TV, car, airplane, high-rise buildings, air conditioning, labor-saving devices, miracles in medicine, and space exploration.  But it is bringing disaster along with it.  The very success of scientific medicine has already caused overpopulation: cities are crowded, and we are beginning to fight over scarce resources such as fish, fresh water, and oil.  Technology applied to agriculture, through fertilizers and the chemical control of pests, promised to feed the starving millions, but at the cost of soil erosion, air and water pollution.  New construction technology has enable us to produce high-rise buildings, roads, bridges, and airfields; it has also given us urban blight and decay, turned rich land into concrete deserts, and made peace and quiet scarce resources.  And this is without an industrially developed Third World.

This is not news.  It is something we have worried about and would now prefer to forget.  The optimists still look to technology to dig us out of the hole into which we are sliding, a hole which technological thinking dug in the first place.  The pessimists are burrowing into computer games, TV sitcoms, and state lotteries, hoping some windfall will save them and their families.  Both optimisms and pessimism, however, are inappropriate since both rely upon one-sided views of the situation.  Even so, both are right!  The optimist is right because life will always find a way; the pessimist is right because technology cannot be that way.

Technology is the result of abstraction.  Science alters the world in order to be able to cope with it.  What can be measured or weighed is accepted, and what cannot is ignored or denied.  Technology would fit nature, including the human being, to the procrustean bed of logic and so destroy the organic wholeness that gives life meaning.  When this organic wholeness is destroyed, there are parts which no longer fit, or fit badly. 

February 10th, 2020 ~

I remember back in the 70’s how inflation was so impactful. I was 12 and the gas crisis hit. Since then, there has been this fear of inflation coming back to hit us. Alan Greenspan was always trying to limit inflation. He tried to limit the economy when things were heating up with regulations and not raising the interest rate. Then in the 90’s the banks became so big and so did the investment banks and they allowed to be in the others industry. Was it Glass Spiel Act and derivatives? I think this is what we try to do. We fix something here but we don’t take the whole into account. This is the beauty of Albert Low’s book. He comes up with systems that I wouldn’t have come up with or thought of. He links certain actions with certain departments. For example, he as a really good diagram in the appendix.

There is a new story about locusts in Africa.  I remember reading about locusts ruining crops in our history books and never thought this could come back and be an issue in today’s world. 

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Zen & Creative Management

Foreward

“I look at Zen not as a religion but as a way of thinking, and at scientific breakthrough--the joy of creating something--as a form of enlightenment.”
Albert Low
Author
“Conflict is the very source of creation; thus, what is most to be feared by the company that wants its management to remain creative, is loss of a sense of conflict through the resolution of conflict by an old man's methods.”
Albert Low
Author

Management calls for creativity and reasoning, intuition no less than analysis.  The manager does not simply struggle with problems but has to wrestle with dilemmas.  Dilemmas arise out of the whole; problems come with the luxury of being able to reduce the whole to component parts. With dilemmas, unlike problems, there are no right solutions; one can only choose the most suitable decision. This has always been the case but nowadays managers do not simply have to wrestle with dilemmas that arise within their own companies, but also with those that arise from the interaction of their companies with society as a whole.

Karl Marx said that every system carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.  Another way of putting this is to say that when a system comes to maturity, dilemmas rise to the surface.  Pollution is fast becoming the number-one threat to the future, outpacing other threats such as overpopulation, depleted resources, and nuclear disaster.  Pollution, however, is but one horn of the societal dilemma.  The need for full employment is another.  The present specters of depression, unemployment, poverty, and disillusionment are the other side of the story.  The pendulum will swing again, jobs will once more become plentiful, but how much more litter, discarded chemicals, waste material, and waste gasses can our planet survive?

February 8th, 2020 ~

So, the dilemma is often times businesses wanting to decrease the tension that exist within it. Businesses like family and other entities have tension. It reminds me of contrast-desire is created by the contrast of the universe. We have to get comfortable with tension in business. Businesses try to relieve the tension by coming up with systems, among other things, without taking into account the whole that businesses are a part of. Throughout the book, he talks about different aspects of a business. He breaks down work and different types of work – The work is not about the “right” solution. There are no right solutions.  I like this concept very much.  We seem to think that there is only one way to do things.  It makes for decision making that is harsh.  Sometimes there isn’t much we can do but show compassion towards ourselves and others.  That things aren’t easy and we shouldn’t pretend that we know what we are doing when it comes to decision making in business.  Karl Marx comments: “every system carries within it the seeds of its own destruction” is interesting.  It seems like Capitalism and Democracy are showing signs of this.

In terms of creativity, Krishnamurti talks about how creativity doesn’t come from conflict.  Looking at these differences between these two great minds is interesting to me. 

 

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Zen & Creative Management

The Economy, Spirituality & Business

Modern capitalism is absolutely irreligious without internal union, without much public spirit, often, though not always, a mere congeries of possessors and pursuers.
Maynard Keynes
Economist
Are we confronted with a tragic, insolvable dilemma? Must we produce a sick people in order to have a healthy economy, or can we use our material resources, our inventions, our computers to serve the ends of man? Must individuals be passive and dependent in order to have strong and well-functioning organizations?
Erich Fromm
Humanistic Philosopher

February 5th, 2020 ~  Here we go–day 1 in typing in a page daily from the book Zen & Creative Management by Albert Low and commenting.  I first got the idea back in November.  After seeing that post tonight while learning about categories and tabs in WordPress sites, I learned how I could have multiple blogs on the same website.

As in the Book of Life Blog about Krishnamurti’s work, the author’s words will be italicized and my comments won’t be italicized.  I hope we all learn more about bringing spirit into the workplace!  The reason I am typing the book is many fold:

  • I like to type
  • I saw this technique of typing other people’s work to help get the creative juices flowing for one’s own words to flow in the movie “Finding Forrester” with Sean Connery and Rob Brown.
  • This book is hard to find.  Hopefully, some people will come across it and learn from it. 
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Zen & Creative Management

Shareholder, Customer, Employee–The Basic Triad

Chapter 1:

Shareholder, Employee, Customer: The Basic Triad

A company is a multidimensional system capable of growth, expansion, and self-regulation.  A system can be defined as a set of independent but mutually related elements. The different jobs or functions in a company are the “independent elements”; each has its own reason for being; each is done by a different manager, each of whom is expected to act to some extent as an autonomous and independent whole.  “But the mutual relatedness of the job with other jobs in the company is as important a feature of the organization as the content of the job itself.

This mutual relationship corresponds to the structure of the whole, and it must be emphasized because it is frequently ignored when organizations are reviewed.  Structure is a big part of this book, along with process. When managers try to reorganize, they don’t take into account how the parts are related in time or structure.  When organizations charts are drawn up, job descriptions are often ignored.

In addition to job descriptions and organization charts in a company, there are other elements such as budgets, forms, appraisal systems, systems for introducing new products to the company, salary-administration systems, long-range forecasts, management-development systems, goal-setting systems, data-processing systems, and management-information systems.  Very little relevance or connection is made between each element and the rest of the company.

The framework within which reorganization is at present undertaken is one in which analysis, or reduction, alone is known and recognized.  This inadequate framework brings about a violation of harmony, of structure. It appears that problems are often broken down into parts in order to solve them.  However, it reduces the level of the problem and can change the problem entirely.

If we are to have a harmonious and integrated system, we must constantly bear in mind that a company is a whole, a total system.  Nevertheless, it is a composite and multi-dimensional system. The author compares this to baking half a cake. “Let us first of all put in the flour and water and perhaps some currants, and later on we will get around to the eggs and sugar and the rest of the ingredients.  It doesn’t work.

Classical organization theory suggests there is the “company” on the one hand and “change” on the other and that these two are opposed to the other.  It reminds me of the idea I have heard about huge companies like Microsoft and Google, and how they are like huge freight liner ships. When they want to turn and change course, it takes time and they can often miss opportunities, much like IBM missed windows Windows OS and PC’s and Microsoft missed search engines and Google stepped in.  Google missed Facebook, etc.   What will Amazon & Facebook miss?  Ethics?  Big companies have strong hierarchical structuring and acquire inertia and are resistant to change.  On the downside, it inhibits the generation of ideas. It would be nearer the truth to say that an organization should be the orderly expression of change.

An organization changes along three “spatial” dimensions: lateral, horizontal, and vertical.  It’s functions become increasingly more differentiated and complex (the lateral dimension).  New systems, procedures, and understandings bring about new integrations or new orientation, and there is a tendency toward different and new wholes to be created within a company (the horizontal dimension).  The organization also changes in another dimension. As the company grows, higher level ideas are introduced, enabling it to encompass an increasing field of phenomena (the vertical dimension).

Change can happen at many different points within the system.  The emphasis on the vertical dimension or the hierarchic dimension leads to resistance to change.  The results are known as “cataclysmic” change when reorganization takes place. The resistance to change can lead to crisis at which point a new reorganization is needed.  By regarding a company as a dynamic system, the “cataclysmic” change can be replaced by a more “dynamic” approach based on “growth”.

Growth here is compared to expansion.  Big business, Hollywood, etc are trying to get bigger.  He uses the example of a balloon being blown up. It is expanding, not growing.  The capacity of the balloon does not grow, but the capacity is subjected to more and more demands.  Expansion can be seen therefore as using more and more of a given capacity. Growth on the other hand means increasing the capacity of the system as well as the demands that are made upon it.  Partial reorganization of a company would bring expansion or integration. Expansion occurs when the reorganization causes those parts of the organization that are addressed to increase their demands upon the rest of the system (e.g. a new sales drive).  Integration occurs when the reorganization enables parts of the system to interact more easily (for example, a work simplification program). Only total reorganization can bring about growth. Without growth the forces of differentiation and integration – process and structure – become unresolved conflict, causing fragmentation, empire building, and eventually the decline of the company.

We can therefore differentiate three forms of “orderly” change that can occur within a company:

  1. The change of integration, which we shall call self-regulation.
  2. The change of expansion.
  3. The change called growth.

Page 4 bottom page

November 13th, 2019 ~ I find this comparison of growth vs expansion interesting, and somewhat difficult to imagine.  I find talking with our groundskeeper at the house gives me a chance to compare these two concepts.  When I want more work done on the property, it is usually the same type of work, just more of it.  I weigh whether to take away similar jobs at different times of the month to avoid increasing our bill.  Sometimes, there are handy-person tasks I ask him to do, but it never materializes.  

The author says that only total reorganization can bring about growth.  So even though conflict is good, if it goes unresolved, it results in fragmentation and eventual decline of the company.  Resolving the conflict between process and structure.  This is not easy to grasp.  Having real life experiences in the workplace to compare it to is quite helpful.

November 14th, 2019 ~ Process and Structure are important here.  That is the theme to remember throughout the book: Process & Structure.