Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management


Page 29 ~ So far it has been said that a company is a system, i.e., a set of interacting forces, and that it is a field in dynamic equilibrium that finds its expression through an idea in a form with a demand.  This combination of a field and a set of interacting forces is the organization.

The word “organization” can be used in several ways.  It means the relationship between people and things when doing work.  It also means the right sequence of events.  A well-organized situation has a structure of rules, methods, and procedures that are known and mutually support each other.  The good organizer, on the other hand, is someone who gets a process moving on time with the minimum of delays and crises.  Thus, in organization there is both a structural and process dimension.  However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.

Most thinkers oppose structure to process.  For example, the question is often asked whether structure monitors process or process monitors structure.  Traditionally, modern science has emphasized process in contrast to the ancient Greeks, for example, who emphasized structure.  This structure-process opposition has dominated our thinking in the West and has fostered the religion-science dichotomy, with religion favoring structure and science favoring process.  In industry this same conflict exists and is brought out in the denigration of the bureaucrat and the exaltation of the aggressive, result-oriented executive.  

If we are to have an understanding of organization that will enable us to set up situations in which growth, as well as expansion and self-regulation, can occur, we must understand that we cannot oppose these two and therefore must come to terms with the polarity of structure and process.

March 31st, 2020 ~ Field is described as “behavior space.  Structure, as described here, includes procedures.  Is procedure related to process?  At the end of the 2nd paragraph, Low writes: “However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.”  We are currently seeing this dichotomy play out in the race to “lower the curve” with the Corona Virus.  Although sad and frustrating, it is interesting to see how the federal government is dealing with the 50 states in the US.  Structure-Process.  Religion-Science.  There is a battle between science-believers and skeptics.  Proponents of the bureaucracy of the federal government and letting the states solve their own problems.  Sometimes they are even competing with each other.  The science of dealing with the virus battling with the structure of the government.   Can the two entities come together fast enough in order to deal with the polarity of structure (government) and process(science)?

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Each of these ideas is the energized core of a unique design for a business.  The exploitation of each idea requires a comprehensive intellectual grasp of the totality of a business viewed as an interacting system.”  The task demands “special intellectual ability to visualize the translation of ideas and strategies into controlled operating systems responsive to dynamic change.”

March 30th, 2020 ~ This seems like it would be really challenging to to pull off.

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The form that a product takes is given by the material, equipment, and components of the company.  These are provided by the shareholder dimension.  The form represents the cost of the product.  The form of the product is, therefore, the commitment of the shareholder in action.

But a product is not simply an idea in a form.  There must be a demand for the idea before it can be said to be a product, and this is provided by the customer.  It is a form that frames the evanescence of an idea, but it is demand that makes it real.  By demand we mean need, with the willingness and ability to work, i.e., pay, to have the need satisfied.  Through demand the form meshes or fits in with other forms.  Through demand a link or interchange is established between the company-as-product and its environment.

The recognition of the product as an idea in a form with a demand, and therefore of the idea being “the central and dominating value” in a company, puts the total human being back into the industrial scene.  The perception and realization of an idea is the employee dimension in action.  “A business devoted to the identification of central ideas, the formulation of strategies for moving swiftly from ideas to operations, will differ in structure and activity from a company primarily concerned with management of money or physical resources.”

Undoubtedly the major concern in industry to date has been with materials handling.  “Human relations” has been addressed to a very large degree to ensuring that people do not get in the way of the material.  But to survive in the future the problem for industry will be increasingly one of idea generation.  A company could be looked upon as an organism whose primary food is ideas.  Ideas originate along the employee dimension.  Strictly speaking, however, it will not do to say that men “create” the idea.  Man’s creativity is realized in the expression of the idea, in “pressing out” the idea, and so making it fact.

Management by idea is a broader concept than management by objective, or long-range planning.  In some of the more advanced industries, top management has defined a “core idea” around which total company effort can be designed, such as ” a shift in the definition of a business from one concerned with the sale of a product to one concerned with the delivery of a complete system of customer values–as in airlines marketing packaged vacations and computer manufacturers marketing systems to solve customer information problems.”  


March 29th, 2020 ~  The idea mentioned often in the beginning of the book is poignant in society right now, given the virus outbreak and the shutdown of the economy as we know it.  I have wondered about idea, form and demand.  What does the consumer demand in how it relates to what I am working on–food, consulting services, and the gig economy.  That has been thrown upside down, it seems.  Resourcefulness seems like it will be at a premium.  The author talks about not only a product but a “business concerned with the delivery of a complete system of customer values.”  Stay tuned.

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Much of the work done at middle and senior management level, much of the consultation work, is simply the expression of ideas in a verbal form through reports, financial statements, contracts, and decisions.  The result that ensues from the work of a financial, engineering, or industrial relations consultant is no less a product than the result of a heavy steel worker or an automobile engineer.  A medical diagnosis is a product, and so is a lecture.  A lecture may be written or given orally, it may be fixed in some laboratory apparatus, or given incidentally to the process of constructing, maintaining, or operating a machine.  In any case, it is a product as we have defined the word.

Materiality is but one way to make an idea endure; ideas are also captured by the mind through language.  A word is an idea in a form with a demand.  Words are products, and just as  one product subsumes another product, so some words or elements of language subsume others.* 

Normally the economist does not consider banking as a product.  It is considered a service.  But this service is still an idea in a form with a demand.  The idea is that there should be readily accessible finances, and the form is that of the check, the bank statement, the overdraft, etc.  The term “Product” will therefore be used to cover the full range of the expression of an idea in a form with a demand and will include those services that a bank, insurance company, or a hotel provide.

*A fact is the express of an idea; it is that which arises when the idea has been limited by matter, energy, space, and time.  We are inclined to believe that a fact is a mental construct only, yet it is well to remember that the word “fact” is derived from the Latin “facere,” which means “to do” or “to make.”  From facere is also derived the French word “fait,” which means “do,” “make,” and “fact.”  What a man makes or does derives from the idea that he perceives.  All the artifacts of men are in a way “facts.”  The manufacturing that a man originally did consisted of expressing the idea through fact by hand (In Latin, manus means “hand”).  With the rise of capitalism, machines have taken the place of hands, but manufacturing is still basically the express of an idea through a form even though it occurs in factories rather than is studies. 

March 26th, 2020 ~  In Jiddu Krishnamurti’s work, seeing things as a fact rather than an idea is very important.  Idea is mere thought.  It is a concept.  Seeing things as fact is more permanent.  He refers to facts as “seeds” of a flower, if seen, will eventually wither away.  Ideas are thoughts, which are related to time and past and future.  These lead to fear.  Seeing things as facts will flower, and wither away, if you let them. 

This is all grist for the mill, as Steve Hagen said in Meditation Now or Never.  Ironically, there is a quote early in that book made by Jiddu Krishnamurti that, and I am paraphrasing, that there is “only this” in meditation.  It is now or never.  That quote led me to inquire about who this Jiddu Krishnamurti was.  It forever changed my life.  So these ideas, no pun intended, are in good company.  Let’s explore as friends together Ideas and Facts. . .

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The notion of idea is, of course, very important philosophically, and many philosophers have struggled to define it unequivocally.  The notion is, nonetheless, of practical importance in the world of commerce and industry.  The level of a product, and therefore of a company, is a function of the level of the idea of which that product is the expression.  Furthermore, the potential for growth that a company has is directly related to the level of the primary product of that company.  In a well-known article it is pointed out that the railroads stopped growing even though the need for transportation increased.  This did not occur because the need was filled by others, but simply because it was not filled by the railroads themselves.  The railroads let others take customers away from them because “they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business.  The reason they defined their industry wrongly was because they were railroad-oriented instead of transportation-oriented.”  Hollywood also perceived its business incorrectly and suffered as a consequence.  “It thought it was in the movie business when it was really in the entertainment business.  ‘Movies’ implies a specific limited product”   (i.e.,  lower level idea).

Peter Drucker underlines the importance of what we are saying when he asks, “Is a company that makes and sells kitchen appliances, such as electric ranges, in the food business?  Is it in the homemaking business?  Or is its main business really consumer finance?  Each answer might be the right one at a given time for a given company.  But each would lead to very different conclusions as to where the company should put its efforts and seek its rewards.”  The answer depends upon the idea. 

It is only incidental to the manufacturing process that material so frequently provides the form.  Modern industry is seeing a rapid increase in work directed simply to expessing ideas in verbal form.  With the change to power through influence with its concomitant change to professionalism, the expression of ideas in verbal form will become increasingly important.

March 25th, 2020 ~See here, the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, talk about Idea.  As Krishnamurti has said, in this blog, if you follow his “ideas,” your business will probably fail; and you won’t really mind.  K talked about creativity coming from that place where you don’t actually have to act–just being in that space is creativity–that space coming from meditation.  He talks about creativity here.  Will all this said, we are in the ballpark in discussing Albert Low and Jiddu Krishnamurti, are we not?

I often wondered if RawDaddy’s, the vegan fast-slow food concept my brother James started was in the food business or vegan/gluten-free food business.  Competing in the food business always seemed daunting–daunting due to underfunded and personally not wanting to put all those hours in that typical food business owners did.  Plus, competing with unhealthy food concepts.    In the vegan and gluten-free space, we had less competition, but less customer potential customers.  Sometimes, it seemed like we were in the entertainment or production business.  Every Sunday at the Farmers’ Market, it felt like we were a show for people, especially when the market was full of people.  Setting up the booth, fulfilling multiple roles–from making and preparing the food, working the cash register serving the drinks, to trading with the other vendors, it was a real ordeal.  For many years, I would fall asleep in my van just outside the market before heading home for just a 30 minute drive.  This product and entertainment was borne from our years growing up in a family giving holiday parties at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Easter, not to mention other parties for special events.  What is the Idea? . . .

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Looked at this way it becomes difficult to find the boundaries of an object.  An automobile melts into subsuming and interacting ideas of steel, rubber, gasoline; ideas of friction and compression; ideas of fleets of cars, tanks, and jeeps; ideas of vacations, business trips, and visits to friends.  An automobile is a system of ideas—ideas that stand in mutual relation with each other while retaining  their integrity.  Ideas reveal endless relations between phenomena expressed in form in a beginningless and endless flux.

The definition of a product emphasizes the importance of the idea.  It should be noted that an idea can only be directly perceived, or better still, what is perceived  is only perceived through the idea.  Zen has a saying that admonishes one not to confuse the finger that points to the moon with the moon itself; an eye cannot see itself.

Anything that can be said about the idea is not the idea, but an expression of an idea about the idea.  A point comes when undertaking a descriptive analysis of experience, where words fail and all that can be done is to shrug one’s reality, not its muscles or nerves.  It must be accepted that certain concepts are almost undefinable, and among such undefinable, and among such undefinable concepts is an idea.

It may, however, be useful to say what the concept “idea” is not meant to convey.  It must not be construed as in opposition to some greater reality, some more substantial like a rock, a brick, or a pile of gold.  It is different from thought.  A thought may be the way in which an idea finds expression, but an idea can also find expression through music, painting, dancing, gestures, symbols, and so on.  It is not to be found separat from experience.  In other words, it is not a “spiritual” or “mystical” thing that floats in som unworldly ether.  It is not something that “one can be conscious of.”  It is neither unique nor general, and th words “it” and “something” are used above only as an admission of failure.  The idea is not, however, nothing.  The very coherence of the world depends upon the idea that reveals to us the relationships of this world.

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But our definition of a product as an idea in a form is not complete.  It was only when the block-of-wood-that-could-be-a-doorstop was put into juxtaposition with doors and wind-in other words when a demand was envisaged-that the block of wood truly took on the characteristics of a product.  A product is therefore an idea in a form with a demand.

An idea reveals relations between phenomena, as opposed to a fact that could be said to express those relations.  The idea is the center of gravity of the field in which it is perceived.  The best analogy would be a center of light.  The “form” of a product corresponds to the expression of relations revealed by an idea.  Ideas alone are in demand, and old-time salesmen knew that they should “sell the sizzle and not the steak.”  Wherever one looks there are ideas that have been put into forms that have a demand: a pen, a desk, a room, or a building were originally ideas conceived by a man.  Some of these ideas subsume a great number of other ideas.  A car, for instance, subsumes thousands of ideas, including those that are expressed by the engine, the car body, the transmission, and the wheels, as well as those that are expressed in traffic laws, maps, and roads.

Some ideas can be specifically traced to their origin, others cannot.  Where was the idea of a wheel first perceived?  Who perceived a tie as being suitable apparel?  The building you are in would have been conceived by an architect; the automobile was first designed by an engineer.  Bell first perceived the telephone and Edison the electric light bulb.  Whether or not the author is known, the idea originated with man.

It is through form that an idea becomes “something.”  Man fixes his idea in matter through energy, space, and time, or in the expectations of others, and so “expresses” his idea.  This expression imposes limits upon the idea, isolates it, separates it from all others, and so makes it “a thing.”  

March 21st, 2020 ~ Idea vs.  fact.  This is discussed in Krishnamurti’s work, including this video: What is Guilt?”.  I blog about it here.  The author describes the difference between the two: revealing relations between phenomena as opposed to an expression of those relations.  Is the author saying putting an idea into form is related to fact?  He says that salespeople “sold the sizzle and not the steak”.  Sell the the multitude of ideas around a “form” and not the form itself.  Unfortunately, salespeople “hook” us into buying as opposed to “attracting” us. 

Can we really ever know the origin of something such as an idea?  

What I love is the structure of this Idea >>>Form>>>Demand===Product!

Finally, the author says: “Man fixes his idea in matter through energy, space and time, or in the expectations of others, and so “expresses” his idea.  This expression imposes limits upon the idea, isolates it, separates it from all others, and so makes it ” a thing.”

Chapter 4 Uncategorized Zen & Creative Management

Management By Product

Page 22 ~ That a company is a holon is reflected in what the employees, shareholders, and customers seek from their interrelationship.  What they seek is also ambivalent.  The employee wants challenge; but he also wants to be unique and seeks recognition to prove his uniqueness.  The shareholder wants security of and growth in his investment; but he also wants high dividends.  The customer wants a high-quality product that will satisfy his needs; but he also wants low prices.  We shall deal more precisely with these polarities later, but for the moment let us recognize that it is through the product that the first set of needs (challenge, growth, and quality) may be satisfied, while it is through organization that the second set may be satisfied.  Let us know, therefore, give our attention to the product.

Take for example a roughly cut, wedge-shaped piece of wood.  Now let us ask ourselves whether this is a product.  Most people, if they were asked this, would say no, because it is useless and no one would want it.  If they are pressed, however, someone will likely seize on its shape and suggest that it could be used as a doorstop, and that if it were somewhere where there was plenty of wind and doors, indeed it could be a product.  Dime stores sell rubber ones only slightly more elegant than our wedge of wood, and they are products.  Let us consider this example for a moment and ask ourselves at what point the wedge of wood changed its character from a useless object to a product.  It was when an idea was introduced.

A product is an idea in a form.  In the case of the doorstop, the material out of which the form is made is not very important –it can be of wood, metal, rubber or plastic, but the idea is constant: a wedge-shaped something that can be pushed under a door.

March 19th, 2020 ~ This reminds me of the self and body and whether they exist inherently from their own side or not.  Whether they are empty or not.  Can we find a body that doesn’t stay the same and yet can still be called the label “my” body?  How can something change and yet still be the same to qualify as something existing independently?  How can a “self” change yet still be something that exists from it’s own side? When we say own side, we mean independently coming into being, arising and ceasing to exist–with no help or relation from something other than itself.  

So, that doorstop isn’t a doorstop until it is called a label, in this case doorstop.  Until it is a mind object.  Going back to the body, if we take a hand or a finger off the body, is it still a body?  How about an arm, leg or foot?  When does body stop being a body?  When the life is gone?  Was it ever a body?  When does the wood become a doorstop?  Can it then stop being a doorstop after initially becoming a doorstop?  It is the idea that makes these things so.  It is the mind that comes up with “idea.”  But it is really not a door stop.  It is only a door stop because we think it is.  

Before the label, there is the base, which is a phenomenon with certain characteristics.  So the doorstop is a phenomenon with the characteristics such as wood fiber and shape.  From this basis, we then call it a label–doorstop.  In Chinese, it would be something else.  Even this base doesn’t exist from its own side or exist independently.  It is empty, as is everything else.  Just like products, ideas and forms.  They exist because of our minds.  

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On the contrary, “so far from being controlled by the market, the firm to the best of its ability has made the market subordinate to the goals of its planning.”  Galbraith is equally categorical when he says that profit maximization is no longer necessary.

The second difference in management theory is exemplified in the writings of Drucker and Galbraith.  Drucker says, “Organizations do not exist for their own sake, they are a means; each is society’s organ for the discharge of one social task.  Survival is not an adequate goal for an organization as it is for a biological species.  The organization’s goal is a specific contribution to individuals and to society.  The test of its performance, unlike that of a biological organism, therefore always lies outside of it.”  For Galbraith the primary purpose of an organization is to survive: “For any organization, as for any organism, the goal objective that has a natural assumption of pre-eminence is the organization’s own survival.”  We may well ask who is right.

Within the framework of the theory being proposed, both are right: Galbraith is viewing the organization as structure, Drucker is viewing the organization as process.  Galbraith, in fact, coined the word “technostructure” and it is significant to note that he did not coin the word “technoprocess.”  Drucker, on the other hand, developed management by objectives, which is essentially a process-oriented type of management.  We have seen that the company must be viewed as a holon and that there are two tendencies at work: an integrative or survival tendency and an assertive or mission tendency.  The conflict between Drucker and Galbraith can be shown to be simply one of point of view.

March 18th, 2020 ~ Process & Structure–we will be reading discussing these two in great detail.

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Ernest Dale says that presidents, faced with the need to balance alternatives who act in a way to optimize the return for the different forces making up the field, find that they are unable to act at all.  He is right in saying this since he is talking about the president-as-person, not the president-as-role.  Dale is also right when he says that it is not surprising to see that many presidents find the only way out is to act irrationally, and this irrationality eventually pervades the entire organization.

The point of view we have developed so far assists in reconciling the various conflicting points of view of management theories.  First, there is a divergence of opinion about which of the three primary elements is pre-eminent.  Professor Dale’s view, which is the one held, or at least expressed, by most businessmen and business theorists, is that the primary task of a company is to make a profit for the shareholders.  Peter Drucker’s viewpoint is different:For him the primary task of a company is to produce a product and fulfill a particular role in society.  Just as Dale feels that the objective of providing a return on investment is an ethical obligation, Drucker feels that the objective of serving society through the market is also an ethical obligation.  Drucker also tends to dismiss or play down the importance of the employees’ needs and wants.  “The large business organization does not exist for the sake of the employees.  Its results lie outside and are only tangentially affected by employee approval, consent and attitude.”

For Galbraith, on the contrary, the company exists for the employees; that is, the technostructure: “. . . the association of men of diverse technical knowledge, experience, or other talent which modern industrial technology and planning require.  It extends from the leadership of the modern enterprise down to just short of the labor force.”  No doubt there would be a sufficient number of union leaders who would want to know why Galbraith stops “just short of the labor force.”  Galbraith does not believe the company is ethically obliged to serve the market or the shareholder.

March 17th, 2020 ~  These observations are just as poignant today.  Who has the power and leverage?  It depends on the market, product, location and so on.  Getting an idea of how past economists viewed things is important.  One of the areas sorely lacking in capitalism today is how big companies are.  The idea that monopolies are taking place in the current market are very much overdue.  Income inequality is ridiculously off the charts high.  It makes people jealous and bitter.  It reminds me of what the Dalai Lama says about cars.  When someone is your area gets a fancy car compared to what everyone else has, it makes people jealous.  We are so beyond that.  It is multiple cars and huge fortunes.  They say CEO’s of these large corporations are sociopaths.  How can they tolerate making so much more money than the employees that often do the hard labor; much of this labor is oversees where they don’t “see” it.