Actualizing the new statement

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It is said that our collective consciousness knows things that we are consciously not aware of. For more than a decade, US businesses have been sending signals on the importance of being a better human being in a roundabout way.

On October 30, 2006, Pete Engardio and Jena McGregor penned an article in Business Week titled “Karma Capitalism” whose byline read, “Times have changed since Gordon Gekko quoted Sun Tzu in the 1987 movie, Wall Street”, and continued, “Has the Bhagavad Gita replaced The Art of War as the hip new ancient Eastern management text?” The article never defined Karma Capitalism nor did it explain what Sri Krishna’s teachings were and how they were relevant to businesses.

In the eighteen chapters of the Bhagvad Geeta, Sri Krishna prods Arjuna, and through him, humanity, to engage in the struggle to rise in internal excellence and emerge as a better human being and teaches him how to do so with the various yoga paths.

On August 19, 2019, the prestigious Business Roundtable issued a New Statement redefining the purpose of a corporation. The 181 CEOs of leading companies such as Amazon and Apple who signed the New Statement, committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders, and away from the shareholders-first ideology.

The link of internal excellence to the performance in the external world has significant implications for the New Statement.

I had been sensing the societal importance of the idea central to the New Statement for more than a decade. In 2008, Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc., published my monograph, “A Small Step for Man: Zero to Infinity with Six Sigma (amazon),” which defined Karma Capitalism as “freedom to engage in business within the constraints of civil laws for the purpose of turning a profit while keeping in mind the wellbeing of all concerned parties (suppliers, employees, customers and shareholders) and not just shareholders.” Dipak C. Jain, the then Dean of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, wrote the foreword to the monograph.

In 2011, Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc., published the first edition of my book, Six Sigma for Karma Capitalism (amazon) which expanded the ideas further. Don Linsenmann, the then Corporate Six Sigma Champion of DuPont, wrote the foreword to the book, and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev was kind enough to answer several questions for the book.

My subsequent discoveries and the New Statement are even more intricately linked.

On March 3, 2013, I had an Aha moment, courtesy of an article in the Weekend edition of the Financial Times. The article spoke of very low defect levels in the Kumbh Mela’s tent city erected to house millions of pilgrims as though the tent city was located in a developed nation, in contrast to the shoddy performance outside. BBC News too supported the Financial Times reporting in their article dated 17 February 2013 titled, “Does the Kumbh Mela experience improve your well-being?”

These articles are telling us that high levels of internal excellence contribute heavily to exemplary performance.

The famed Dabbawalas of Mumbai are another example. These 5,000 semi-literate lunchbox delivery boys deliver 200,000 lunchboxes a day, six days a week, producing 1 defect (late delivery, wrongful delivery) in six million deliveries according to Forbes, and they have been at it since 1890. They are the envy of the corporate world keen to learn how these semi-literate folks with no training in statistics are able to deliver such incredible performance so that they too could replicate it. Unfortunately, they have been looking at it from the prism of reason. The X factors are not to be found there.

The X factors for the exemplary performance of dabbawalas are: (1) Their processes are designed and operated the six sigma way, and (2) Their internal excellence is high. The converse is equally true, an inadequate level of internal excellence is a root cause for shoddy performance in disparate areas of life, not just businesses. Boost internal excellence and the performance will zoom.

The link of internal excellence to the performance in the external world has significant implications for the New Statement.

Consider the 2004 Gallup survey of a large number of business units across many industries which found that there were more than 22 million workers in the United States alone who were “extremely negative” or “actively disengaged.” The report said this rampant negativity was costing the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone. When workplace injury, illness, turnover, absences and fraud were added, the cost could exceed $1 trillion, annually. This cost to the world economy must be in trillions of dollars.

In the light of such large-scale negativity, why and how will one group of stakeholders work for the benefit of all stakeholders? There is but only one way to actualize the New Statement, and it is to introduce a program to enhance internal excellence, emerging as better human beings in the process. No amount of training and the myriad of otherwise useful approaches will cut the mustard.

The high level of internal excellence in the case of Dabbawalas is due to bhakti, or devotion to God. They are all Varkaris (pilgrims) who travel 200 km on foot from one set of temple towns to another every year. To the Dabbawalas, their customer is God; how dare they serve lunch late or deliver it to the wrong address. Bhakti is also the X factor for low defect levels at the Kumbh Mela.

Bhakti cannot be produced on demand. You either have it or you don’t. Fortunately, the pursuit of higher levels of internal excellence to emerge as a better human being is also a well-posed scientific problem. Internal excellence cannot be measured but emotional excellence can, and this is fortunate because the two are strongly and positively correlated. The process with which to achieve a higher level of emotional excellence is meditation, or more generally, yoga, known for thousands of years. The availability of a scientific measurement device for emotions means progress can be audited.

There is an emerging awareness of the importance of emotional excellence in the United States. Peter Salovey, now President of Yale, and John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, coined the term emotional intelligence in 1990. Harvard Business Review has carried multiple articles on emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence sold 5 million copies and it has been translated into fifty languages. Yale even has a Center for Emotional Intelligence whose motto reads, “Emotions Matter.” HBR says that Goleman’s article on emotional intelligence is one of the most archived in their publication.

Emotional intelligence is an intellectual inquiry to fundamentally understand the importance of emotions within oneself and in others while emotional excellence is the wherewithal of how to bring about the required positive changes from within with meditation.

In the light of such large-scale negativity, why and how will one group of stakeholders work for the benefit of all stakeholders? There is but only one way to actualize the New Statement…

Intuition, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence (emotional excellence) are now understood to be critical components of leadership. Yogic processes can enhance intuition.  The reader may also enjoy reading the article, How to Measure and Strengthen Your Intuition in Forbes.

Six Sigma Grandmaster Certification Program and Award Launched

Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc., (SAC) has launched their first-in-the-world Six Sigma Grandmaster Certification program and award. The award is given to organizations and individuals who have understood the importance of internal excellence in the pursuit of exemplary performance in their respective fields of endeavor.

 In six sigma parlance, several awards are given in recognition of increasingly higher levels of expertise in six sigma: (1) Green Belt – entry level certification given for competence in basic six sigma concepts, (2) Black Belt – Advanced level expertise in six sigma, combined with project execution experience, (3) Master Black Belt- Teaching skills and experience in addition to the requirements for the Black Belt, and (4) Champion-Corporate level position who oversees the six sigma initiative in the company and interacts with senior management. Six Sigma Grandmaster Certification kicks up a notch the six sigma certification requirements and includes internal excellence and its link to the performance in the external world. Unbeknownst to the recipients, SAC has bestowed Six Sigma Grandmaster Awards upon several organizations. In India they include (1) Mumbai’s Dabbawalas and (2) Madras Management Association. In the United States, the recipients are (1) BizEd, a publication of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the body that accredits B-school curricula, (2) Bridgewater Associates, (3) Salesforce.com, Inc., (4) Chicago Cubs, and (5) Seattle Seahawks.

In Closing

Economic forces and the Covid-19 pandemic have thrown many challenges for businesses. Businesses will benefit tremendously by embracing the science and practices of external and internal excellence and the benefits will be self-evident. Embracing the science and practices of external and internal excellence is the pathway to actualize the New Statement. India is the ancient home of internal excellence and America is home to the framework for external excellence—six sigma. The two components of excellence must be front and center in the initiatives to further strengthen US-India ties.

Pradeep B. Deshpande is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and a former Chair of that Department at the University of Louisville. He is also President of Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc.