Social business and buddhism

974787With the financial crisis, many companies have requested philosophers and religious thinkers to consider how to manage their business differently. Many « wise » Buddhists, beyond the Dalai Lama, gave a number of speechs in the world, like Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, who had been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King. By reading his book, The Art of Power, strongly oriented on the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni suited to management, I told to myself that these teachings perfectly meet the challenges of a  social business project. In addition, sometime ago, I discuss with Susan Scrupski about Buddhism and enterprise 2.0. Last but not least, I’ve read an article calling themselves social business and enlightenment. So it seems it makes sens. This is the main points of this teaching related with our collaboration.

At the beginning of his book Thich Nath Hanh discusses the five spiritual powers based on concrete practices that can be applied within a company, so in a social business project too.

The power of faith

First the power of faith. As Thich Nath Hanh says himself, it could instead be translated as the power of belief and trust. If you don’t trust yourself, do not show belief in your project, how do you want others to follow you. Added value, ROI is still debate on this type of project, and often the belief can make a difference. It’s not only about believe an idea,  social business, but being confident in the results obtained by setting up this type of project. This means knowing its objectives and does not go social to be trendy. Just to be able to plan and integrate the added value of this type of project .

The power of conscientiousness 

You will encounter many obstacles that will make you doubt . To continue to move forward, you must rely on your champions, your community. It is not about turning in a closed circle and make autosuggestion. Anyway, there will be more people to tell you that you will fail than people who will encourage you, because it is the contrary of the management style and corporate culture. To resume Thich Nath Hanh’s speech, you need to water the positive seeds, otherwise it’s the negative one that will germinate. This is why attending conferences where people will explain how it is possible, they also have doubted or had to face obstacles, will fill you with positive energy. This is also an important part of the contribution of the conferences, the energy they release.

The power of mindfulness

The power of mindfulness is the ability to see things as they are, the positive and the negative, and accept that both are inherent parts of this type of project. Again, it’s not to give more importance to one than the other, just be factual, step back and prepare the remains of your project to make it successful. You will meet hurdlers, but it is thanks to them that you will progress . We must accept it as such .

The power of concentration

I do not explain, the title is clear. Just take the time to do things, focus on it and do not get swallowed up by the instantaneity and the information overload .

The power of profound vision

It’s about accepting the fact that we are in a society that is constantly changing, nothing is permanent, everything is impermanence. Your project is not mapped out, does not really end (if we are talking about transforming your organization and not just install an enterprise social network). You will learn and fail and your roadmap will evolve according to your feedback and external events. This is the path that is the destination.

Beyond these five powers, Thich Nath Hanh distinguishes three virtues to help you to find your way. Here they are .

Learn to let go

If you are a follower of my blog, this is not the first time that I speak about that. As in a conversation, you can not control everything, far from it. In the opposite, it’s from this lack of control that innovation will be able to make sense. Do not control everything does not mean leave the chaos settled, but accept risk-taking . If you give autonomy, it means trust and let people do. The command and control is not the solution.


Without falling into the « peace and love , this reference to the attitude that you will have with your various stakeholders. That means take the leitmotif as what there are no stupid questions, but different levels of maturity. Promote the right to be wrong or fail, otherwise no initiative will be possible and certainly no innovation. Accept differences to be enrich by the contributions of others.

Profound vision

Finally we return to the idea of ​​profound vision, but there is depicted differently. It could be summarized by the title of Henry Mintzbzerg’s book, real managers, not MBAs. You can be highly graduate, no one has the ultimate knowledge. Learn from the experience of your employees, be grounded in reality and accept the views of everyone. Learn to interact with others and consider their point of view and not only your representations and beliefs.

Otherwise, if you are more sensitive to management, I suggest you to read the feedback from the company Patagonia, let my people go surfing, enlightening.