Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Conscious Capitalism

Patricia Aburdene wrote a book (Megatrends) in 1990 that successfully predicted the shift from an industrial to an information economy. Today, information technology is a trillion dollar sector. Her later book, Megatrends 2010, predicts a shift from greed driven business to what she calls conscious capitalism. Conscious capitalism is an environment where "transcendent values like trust and integrity literally translate into revenue, profits and prosperity." It seems as though her book predicted the current state of the world economy. In the words of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan:
"An infectious greed seemed to grip much of our business community, which perversely created incentives to artificially inflate reported earnings in order to keep stock prices high and rising. Fraud and falsification, inspired by greed, are highly destructive to free market capitalism and, more broadly, to the underpinnings of society. Our market system depends critically on trust. Trust in the word of our colleagues and trust in the word of those with whom we do business."
Greed destroys wealth . Trust and integrity, by contrast, foster prosperity. At the heart of conscious capitalism and this new breed of business owner is the intention for the business to be of service to its community rather than being driven by the intention to simply generate profit.
The businesses that will be the most successful in this new economy will be businesses that lead the market by initiating change.
"Creativity and innovation are the name of the game. How do corporations achieve the challenging but lucrative goal of continuous innovation? The short answer, the only answer, is through the genius inherent in human consciousness. Consciousness is now as valuable to business as mundane assets like capital, energy or even technology. And the best way to cultivate consciousness is through techniques like meditation."
Yes, meditation! Corporations like Apple, Google, Yahoo!, Hughes Aircraft, pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca, IBM, Starbucks, Cisco, 3Com, Sun Microsystems and Texas Instruments are using meditation to create more creative employees.
After 3 months of meditation at a Fortune 100 company identified only as "a large Midwest manufacturing plant", employees registered:
  • Less anxiety, tension, insomnia and fatigue
  • reduced use of tobacco and hard liquor
  • greater effectiveness and job satisfaction
  • improved health and fewer health complaints

When Transcendental Meditation, the trademarked brand of meditation taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, arrived at H.A. Montogomery, a Detroit chemical manufacturer, results were dramatic. Owner Buck Montgomery introduced TM in 1983, reports a 1996 story in the The Washington Post. Three years later, 52 of the company's 70 workers meditated 20 minutes twice a day- at home before work, then again in the afternoon on company time. Results were astounding:

  • Absenteeism fell 85 percent
  • Injuries fell 70 percent
  • Sick days dropped 76 percent
  • Productivity soared 120 percent
  • Quality control rose 240 percent
  • Profits skyrocketed 520 percent

What happened next? Buck sold the business in 1987 and went to work for TM and the new owners of H.A. Montgomery discontinued the meditation program!