We have all experienced this. The desire to prevail, to show we know best, to come out as the “winner”. Cultures are based on it and awards are won for it. It is a zero sum game. This attitude promotes a divisive and competitive humanity. Social media often serves to encourage and magnify arguments and the expression of negative and divisive sentiments.
The reality, instead, is that we are one, we are united as a human race, sharing the same destiny on the same small planet. When we appeal to our highest selves, we can rise above the egotistical urge to only promote our own interests against those of others. It is not idealistic to say that we can cooperate and collaborate instead of competing and dividing. It is highly practical.
A New Economics of Cooperation
At Intelligent Management, our work is inspired by the management philosophy of W. Edwards Deming, a scientist and one of the greatest management thinkers of the last century. Deming‘s system of profound knowledge and his recommendations on the role of individuals and the transformation of management systems promote socially and sustainable responsible behaviour. Deming was the founding father of the Quality movement and the man whose teachings helped Japan become an industrial powerhouse after the ravages of the Second World War. This result alone shows how practical his teachings are. He saw something infinitely pragmatic in replacing competition with cooperation as a way of opening up more possibilities.
In a fascinating New York Tmes interview, Giving Capitalism a Social Conscience, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunis warns against the disaster that faces everyone, rich and poor, if we allow our economies to continue to create a concentration of wealth. He explains a concept foreign to the way business is taught, especially in Business Schools:
The exclusive goal of this business, which I call social business, is to solve people’s problems. My book is full of examples of this.
D.B.: I suspect some readers will think, “This sounds idealistic.”
M.Y.: Actually it’s very practical. Hard-nosed business people come to me all the time and volunteer to create social businesses.
Joy and division
Deming spoke about something that is rare in business text books – the concept of joy. He saw that by creating less division, by breaking down barriers between departments and between people and their desire to do good work through eliminating stupid management practices, people could experience more joy in their work. Joy, in itself, is a way of overcoming division.
For Yunis, not only does social business make economic sense, it can also also increase a precious and scarce resource: happiness.
D.B.: You attract people around the world who are challenging traditional ideas about business. What do you find they have in common?
M.Y.: Excitement. Once you’re bitten by this social business bug, you can’t stop. If making money leads to happiness, making other people happy leads to super-happiness.
This sentiment is reflected in the words of another great source of inspiration for us, Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson:
True happiness is the highest form of self-sacrifice.
There, in that state, there is no sense of self
—not even awareness that you are happy.
True happiness is somewhere beyond “knowing.”
All the more so when you bring joy to others.Likutei Sichot vol. 16, pp. 365–372.
At Intelligent Management, we understand that work is so much more than an economic activity. A Systemic approach brings with it an inherently ethical, transparent and win-win mindset, and we aim to contribute to working environments where people can learn that joy is an option.
Sign up to our blog here and shift your thinking towards broader, systemic possibilities for yourself and your organization. Intelligent Management provides education and training on systemic management, W. Edwards Deming’s management philosophy and the Theory of Constraints (Decalogue methodology) in North America and Europe.
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.