09 June 2011

Integrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics - Future of Management Now

In my past post The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese Classics, I argued that the practices of the future of management discussed in management books and blogs are in fact something very old. They were promoting self-management or self-governance. Such teachings are found in the Ancient Chinese Classics.

Here is a integrated view of the Wisdom of Ancient Chinese Classics. I don't use the term Classical Chinese Wisdom as there are many Ancient Chinese Schools of thoughts. This integrated view is to show the key similarities and differences among the Ancient Schools.

1 I-Ching
The foundation of Chinese wisdom is from I-Ching. It tells us that there are unchanging principles revealed by the Creator in the ways the Heaven and the Earth work. The virtues are captured in the 64 Hexagrams. The main virtues are creation and the 'love and care' for the created. Man can live well by following and applying the right principles for the right situations and living in harmony with 'Heaven and Earth' and with one another. The wisdom is "READ and understand the SITUATION and then apply the RIGHT PRINCIPLES to change the situation for good or preventing the good to decay to bad".

2. The Dao School
The DAO school of Lao Zi recognizes the WAY of operation of the heaven. His main teaching is 'to follow the WAY and not to work against it'. Following the WAY will be effortlessly easy, productive and self-sustaining. One of the virtue is LOVE, the soft rather than hard, the pull rather than push, the forgiving rather than punishment. Lao Zi warns that the setting of rules to compensate for the lack of love will not be effective. It can result in legalism where the rules become the goals and be more important than the people.

3. The Ru School
The Ru School of Confucius teaches Love (Ren 仁), and love to be expressed with the right protocol of behavior called Li 礼.  Love begins with loving our own, those closest to us before extending outwards. Confucius believes in education. 仁义礼智信勇 Love, Righteousness, Rules of Conduct, Wisdom, Trust and Boldness are the virtues promoted by the Ru School. The key difference between the love of Ru and love of Mo (see below) is that Ru prioritize love according to the closeness of relationships where as Mo stresses on equality. For Ru, one shall love his parents and siblings more than relatives, friends, and then acquaintances and strangers.

4. The Mo School
Mo Zi believes in equality of mankind. Love extending to everyone. It stresses on fairness and treating everyone equally.

5. The Fa School
This school stresses on establishing strict Laws and Orders by incentives and severe punishments. It is about forcing the right behavior out of people by fear.

Besides the 4 main schools, there are others popular ones like the Strategies and Warfare School of Sun Zi and others, the Logic School, the Mathematics, the Yin-Yang, and many others. See Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

The Differences
The differences among the schools can best be seen in answering the question:
What if People do not behave well?
  1. I-ching school tells us to study the problem first and then apply the right principles.
  2. Dao tells the leaders to set the standards and then lead by examples.
  3. Ru tells us to educate and teach the people the proper conduct
  4. Mo tells us everyone must be treated the same way. There should be no favoritism; i.e. the rich and powerful should not be above the low and poor.
  5. Fa tells us to punish the violators severely so that they can learn the lessons and dare not try to be funny again.
Here is the mind map that summarizes:
Application to Management:

How can the learning here be applied to management and leadership?
The highest of form of leadership and management is self-management where the people work out from and for themselves. You can find the answers from the above example of "People not behaving well" with the 5 points. To make it even clearer, here are the five principles for developing a self-management organization.

5 Key Principles For a Self-Manage Organization

  1. Situation Analysis with Open Mind and Follow the Principles of i-Ching.
    Staff should be taught to look at any issue with an open without pre-judging and biases. The right solution depends on the particular situation and there is no one-size fit all. Understand the situation, the trends, positioning, context and multi-views of the stakeholders. Apply the harmony of balances of multi-forces and values of i-Ching (summarized in Heaven Hexagram of creative power and Earth Hexagram of love and development). For the teaching of i-Ching see Ancient Chinese Wisdom and look up the section on i-Ching.
  2. Dao tells us to adopt the values and principles of the universe and nature and have have minimum rules to guide behavior. The leaders must teach those principles and lead by examples. Dao tell us to simplify the rules and not to violate the natural principles.
  3. Ru School teaches us that education/learning/training are important and have clear standards of protocols for communication to minimize misunderstanding. We must see things from other people point of view (love). The values of Ru are 仁义礼智信勇 love, righteousness, conduct, wisdom, trust/integrity and courage/candor. Staff development is a key issue
  4. Mo school tells us to have fairness and treat everyone equally. The bosses should not be treated with greater favor than the rest.
  5. Fa school tells us to have clear discipline and accountability - a good rewards and punishment system. The discipline must be strictly enforced.
Comparing with the Bible.
Does not the Bible teaches similar things - servant leadership, Kingdom Principles and Virtues?
What will be Biblical answers to 'People not behaving well?'
Please share your wisdom with me by posting your comments here.

Lim Liat copyrighted 9 June 2011, updated 14 Dec 2011.

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