Could you explain the meaning behind the title of your book, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter?
The word holonomics was first used by Heinrich Rudolph Hertz in 1896 to describe a branch of mathematics. We coined a new meaning for this word, which can be thought of as the combination of wholeness (holo) and economics. Holonomics therefore represents a radical new way of seeing and understanding economics and business.
What is the key insight in Holonomics?
In Holonomics, what we are doing is leading readers into a higher level of cognition, one which takes us from a consciousness based on logical-rational-symbolic processing, to one which includes sensing, feeling and intuition.
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In Holonomics you introduce the concept of holonomic thinking. How would you describe holonomic thinking?
Systems thinking plays a key role in holonomic thinking, in that it leads us towards a deeper understanding of systems in terms of their qualities, and the relationships between the parts of a system.
There are many ways, and in our consultancy and teaching work we are introducing holonomic thinking into business strategy, organisational design, change management, innovation, sustainability, human resources, brand management and communication to name just a few areas.
To give just one example, imagine a large organisation wishes to communicate its strategy to the whole organisation. A traditional way could be to cascade the communication down through the organisation. In this instance, those executives who are sending out the information may simply expect all employees to share the same mental models and world views as themselves, and that their message, which is communicated in just one manner, will be understood by all people at all levels in the organisation.
When we move into holonomic thinking, we move away from the logic of command and control hierarchies, and towards a way of seeing in which the essence, the soul, the meaning of the company comes to presence in each and every employee.
Holonomics has been written in three sections - The Dynamics of Seeing, The Dynamics of Nature and The Dynamics of Business. These represent the three pillars of Holonomics, which are the foundation for the transition to a more humane, mindful and sustainable way of living and conducting business.
And finally, in The Dynamics of Business, we explore the importance of human values in business, since for us it is not possible to be sustainable without a deep-help belief in the importance and practice of these values such as peace, love, truth, right-action and non-violence. In Brazil, an important business magazine Exame CEO reported that seven out of ten Brazilians would refuse to buy products or services from companies whose activities were irregular (i.e. corrupt or unethical). Businesses are discovering that they can no longer exploit customers and clients in the name of short term maximisation of shareholder value. A new way of doing business is needed, and only those companies who are authentic and practice human values will be able to achieve long-term sustainable financial results.
Could you give some examples of companies that are already using these kinds of principles?
Absolutely. Holonomics contains many different case studies from a wide range of industries, such as the Amoeba Management System of Kyocera, the lattice organisational structure of W. L. Gore and Associates, the concept of competition and co-operation within chaordic organisations developed by Dee Hock, the founder of VISA Inc., and Puma’s environmental profit and loss accounts to name just a few.
From Brazil we have two in-depth interviews from two Presidents who both are implementing the foundations of holonomic thinking, but in their own unique ways.
A few years ago DPaschoal went through a radical transformation in their business model, moving to a new way of doing business where mechanics are trained to recognise situations where they do not need to sell the customer new tyres if none are needed.
This had a huge negative impact on their financial results in the short term, but in the longer term created a great deal more long term sustainable value due to more loyal customers.
Our second depth-interview is with Sergio Chaia, who at the time of writing was the president of Nextel Brasil, and who is now Vice President and Director General of Symantec for Brazil and Latin America.
Human values such as truth, love, peace, right-action and non-violence are at the heart of his beliefs, and these are the values which are also present in all of the case studies we write about.
Sergio is a practicing Buddhist, and he is introducing leadership practices based on Buddhism in order to develop people and create workplaces where people can both prosper and be happy.
Without these core values we cannot be truly sustainable, but with them we can transform economics into a new way of doing business, where both people and planet matter.
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