Management by consciousness is an alternative approach by which managers and leaders can enhance efficiency and productivity by shifting the emphasis away from the purely external organisation of a business to the inner development of the powers, potentials, and faculties of the human consciousness. It highlights the concept that work is primarily the field for an integral progress, an inner growth, and not merely the means of the production and distribution of goods and services. This anthology includes relevant passages from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as well as articles by reputed authors. Originally published in 1994, this revised and enlarged edition has an expanded list of contributors, and incorporates new research and relevant studies on the consciousness approach to management.
A bit of intellectual sensation was caused by the publication of a book entitled The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham, way back in 1941. He prophesied the collapse of the traditional capitalist class, but warned of the vacancy being filled up by a new class—that of the managers.
Burnham's prophecy might have gone the way of all social and political prophecies but at no other time the concept and institution of management had claimed so much attention as they do in the second half of the current century. Every university worth its name has a faculty devoted to the subject and "Scientific Management", the concept that embraces planning, organisation, control, coordination and leadership, has assumed the awesome status of a demi-god. Among the sacrifices the demi-god demands is the human approach to management which views the position and problem of the human beings involved in a project, the working force in particular, as of primary importance. The conflict between the scientific and the humanistic approach is at least as old as the age of management as an academic subject.
But there is a third approach – a radically different one – which is termed management by consciousness. Its prime quality lies in the fact that the entrepreneur does not look upon either the business set-up or the human force as the centre of his activity, but his own inner growth. This principle applies also to the working force which learns to treat the work entrusted to it as an opportunity far greater in scope than the monetary benefit can define.
Needless to say, such an approach from both the sides cannot be a matter of easy achievement. It cannot be enforced by any external agency. It can emerge only from a change of values, a possibility which belongs to the domain of consciousness.
The book under review, ably edited with an appropriate introduction by Dr. G. P. Gupta, includes articles by scholars such as Dr. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Gary Jacobs, Weston H. Agor and Swami Ranganathananda. While it sheds rays of clear light on the issue of human relationship in the fields of industry, trade and commerce, it should help leaders in these fields with a new awareness about themselves, if they reflect on the several cardinal passages quoted from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Indeed, it will lead them — if they are lucky in their receptivity, along the path of Yoga without demanding of them an ascetic break off life.
As Sri Aurobindo wrote, "For man intellectually developed, mighty in scientific knowledge and mastery of gross and subtle nature, using the elements as his servants and the world as his footstool, but undeveloped in heart and spirit, becomes only an inferior kind of asura using the powers of a demi-god to satisfy the nature of an animal."
But Sri Aurobindo and the Mother also showed the way for man to rise above this possibility and this propensity. Surely, in the providential scheme of things, he is not to end up as a demon but as an enlightened being.
— Manoj Das