October 01, 2017

Science behind Change Management

Have you wondered why some new ideas are readily accepted, while others are not? Sometimes what you think is a small change faces a lot of resistance and other times drastic changes are done easily. This is often debated in management classrooms and a lot of theories and approaches in psychology/ organization dynamics try to explain this.

Many scientists/ engineers who become managers and consultants struggle with handling/ managing change. This also stems from the fact that our education system breaks down learning and knowledge into separate compartments and do not readily allow mixing of concepts. Science is a disciplined approach to explain the workings of the universe. But we have restricted that to physical objects that we can perceive because it relies on observations and measurements. Hence, psychology or behavioral science is treated differently and people are made to believe that these are different.

All of us remember reading 'Newton's Laws of Motion' in our school days. If you read the first law carefully, it gives us a great insight: "An object will continue to remain at rest or move in a straight line unless it is acted upon by an unbalanced force". What this tells us is that there are 3 types of inertia - Inertia of rest, Inertia of motion and Inertia of direction.

This law holds good also to behaviors and organization dynamics.
  • More the mass (group size), more is the inertia
  • More the speed of movement (growth, speed of the process to be changed), more is the inertia
  • More we move in the direction of least resistance (straight line, or downhill, for example), more is the inertia
And more the inertia, more is the force required to alter course.

Now comes the interesting part - we have also studied the concept of levers where fulcrums/ pivots can magnify the force applied. So while one approach could be to keep increasing the force to alter the course, a smart way is identify the right pivot and apply the right amount of force to make the change.

The key is to identify the right pivot - what is called as leverage in management jargon. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that emotions are a thousand times more powerful than intellect. A strong intellect can keep a check on the emotions, but when a storm/ wave of emotion comes in, the intellect gets washed away. Something that you can hold on to in such situations are your values.

Do we choose an intellectual, emotional or value lever? That is what a good change management design is all about. Need help designing your change management program, you can reach out through the comments section.

True science should be able to explain physical, mental, emotional - all layers of the universe along with their interdependence. This is what we call as spiritual knowledge in this land. And it is time we encourage a holistic learning/ perspective to life around us.

July 11, 2017

When zero is the same as infinity

I once asked Poojya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, "I am very possessive, what should I do?" The usual response to such a question is acquiring knowledge to drop the possessiveness. However, Guruji's response was, "Become more possessive, feel possessive about the whole world, the whole universe". It was many years later that I really understood the depth of the statement.

Adi Shankaracharya's Atmashatkam (Nirvanashatkam) has a line that says 'अहम् भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता'. Here भोजनं (bhojanam) not only implies food, but the objects of experience or enjoyment. The phrase then means - I am neither the object of experience/ enjoyment, nor the process of experiencing/ enjoying, nor the experiencer/ enjoyer. 'चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम्'. I am the eternal bliss-form element that is Shiva.

At another satsang, I hear a very beautiful bhajan that said 'मैं हूँ मंजिल, मैं हूँ सफ़र भी, मैं ही मुसाफिर हूँ' The devotee here says - I am the destination, I am the journey and I am the traveler himself'.

One wonders how can both these be true. At one point, I say that I am nothing and the other point I am everything. This is the beauty of spiritual knowledge that not only accepts multiple dimensions of Truth, but also propagates it. On one hand it allows you to detach and drop all that is sensed and perceived. On the other hand, it also tells you that all that you see around has emerged from the same 'Me' and it is all 'Me'. I believe that this multi-dimensional knowledge is the strength in the culture of भारत (India).

It is like a having a dream. You are not in the dream, nor are you the dream - yet the dream is in you and so are all the characters and their experiences. Depending on which side of the mirror you are, your spiritual journey is towards zero or towards infinity. You will reach the same destination.

Deeper understanding of the existence that we perceive will take you to the same level as disassociating from the existence. Either embrace the whole thing with deeper understanding and realize the nature of the dream. Or drop it with detachment and watch the movie.

The infinity that we see around us is nothing but a zero - like the infinite dream world is nothing in the waking reality.

Enjoy the confusion and bliss at the same time...

July 04, 2017

Water in the wave

Richard Feynman (of the Feynman lectures in Physics fame) in his first lecture asks a very interesting question - If you knew that there would be a cataclysmic end to the world and you could leave one message for the next civilization - what would that be? Something short and insightful that modern science has taken ages to figure out. While each of us could have a favorite, Feynman said the basics of atomic physics or 'everything is made up of atoms' would be a good one to leap frog generations of research (atoms here imply the building blocks of protons, neutrons and electrons).

It is not just for the scientific reasons, or to pass on to next generations. This knowledge is necessary for us to know even in our own lifetime. We now also know that matter and energy are interconvertible as given by Einstein's famous equation. The recent discovery of the 'God particle' also takes this to a deeper understanding that even the building blocks of atoms are eventually made up of the same particle.

So, at one level everything around us is made up of the same substance (energy/ atoms), yet, has different forms and uses. Knowing this brings a certain level of calmness and expansion in the mind. This knowledge is, in fact, a pre-requisite for someone on the spiritual path and is the essence of all religious philosophies. Even modern day corporate management research show that the sense of being connected to a larger ecosystem brings a high level of confidence and success.

This is one point where everything merges - science; religion and spiritual knowledge; and the experiences on the spiritual path. In the movie 'Matrix - Part1', when Neo finally realizes this knowledge, he attains peace and gets his superpowers.

As Yoga Vashishta puts it: 'Like, when you are focused on the water, you will see only the ocean and not the wave; so will a knowledgeable mind focused on the pure consciousness (Brahman) will see only It all around'. What do you see in the wave - a wave or water in the ocean?

'Now' is as good a time, as any other, to start the journey from the wave to the water. This journey, like any other, is possible only with a guide. We are blessed to have a living spiritual Master - Poojya Sri Sri Ravishankar ji walking this world amongst us. His simple breathing and meditation techniques like Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj Samadhi meditation are a great aid along with his guiding principles of the Art of Living.

Come and experience the ocean…

June 16, 2017

Realm of many possibilities

Imagine if the human race ceased to exist and the ruins were to be discovered centuries later by a new civilization. What would the thoughts be on the way we communicated and shared​ knowledge? Given the kind of electronic technologies we use today, most of the knowledge/ information is stored in silicon chips and transferred via cables and mobile towers. If these degenerated over years, the next race would question many things that we take for granted. For instance, how were we able to talk to someone without a physical wire over long distances? How did we know what is happening in any part of the world instantly? How did we know about the galaxies and stars?

The new race would restart their journey of discoveries and inventions. It is not necessary that the new technologies would be the same as the ones we use today. In such a situation, one would surely end up believing that any earlier race/ civilization would have been very primitive and staying in forests and caves without any advancements.

Any story that survived from this civilization would be looked at as myth. Now, if we look at us today and think of civilizations that may have existed millenniums ago; are we not in the same boat? We look at how advanced the older civilizations were, from the prism of what we do today. Since we do not understand that, we label many events as myths. How did the Rishis get the knowledge of the galaxies and stars sitting on earth? How did they figure out different types of weapons? How did they store and access knowledge? Were they able to communicate real-time across the world? We do not know these answers in the same way as someone would laugh off if they were told that we store information in small chips made of silicon and metal!!! And that there are invisible waves that travel all over the world and transmit this information!

Life on this planet and universe is not linear, not even circular, but spherical - according to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. When we open up to the many possibilities that events can take, it gives us a much better understanding of life itself. While there may be some real myths, we also need to understand the limitations of what we can perceive and observe. There is a very small band of frequencies that we can see, hear, smell, taste and even feel. Acknowledgement of the limitations itself can open up the mind to 'Maybe’ and that is the first step on the journey… into the realm of many possibilities...