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What Should an Organisation Be?

An organisation has no existence of its own; it does not create itself. A human being (or a few of them) has an idea or a purpose, and to bring this idea or purpose to fruition, a vehicle called an organisation is created. We usually call these human beings founders.

Now this human being not only creates the organisation but also pledges to spend a considerable time working on this idea. Not just that, but other human beings get involved in this project and begin to spend considerable time and energy on this organisation — these may be employees, vendors, customers or shareholders. So an organisation is essentially a collection of human beings who spend a considerable time and energy to carry out a certain enterprise, a certain project.

Since an organisation is about human beings spending their time and energy, we need to ask how a human being would want to spend his or her time and energy. In the context of one’s work life, it can be safe to assume that you would wish to spend your time and energy in a manner that maximises your potential, maximises your peace of mind and fulfils your financial needs. And since you have decided to spend a considerable amount of your time on this organisation, it would be a terrible transaction indeed if it does not help you achieve those objectives. So what should an organisation be?

An organisation should be an enterprise that, to begin with, enables all the human beings who are a part of it, to maximise their potential and their peace of mind to enable them to achieve the purpose of the organisation. So when you think about starting or joining or investing in an organisation, the question you need to ask yourself is: will the time and energy that I plan to spend on this organisation maximise my potential and peace of mind? That is where you start. If you don’t maximise your potential in that organisation, even if you achieve your purpose, it will most likely be sub-optimal. And when you do something that maximises your potential and your peace of mind, financial success is usually a by-product, unless that isn’t the organisation's primary objective or you pick something that is not financially rewarding at all.

An organisation should not be looked at as a vehicle to maximize shareholder value. It should be seen as a vehicle to maximize your potential and your peace of mind. But that does not mean you will not be financially successful, because this is not a binary choice — either maximise your potential and peace of mind or get financially successful. If you do it right, you can achieve all those objectives. Why would you want an organisation with only a large financial value, when you could maximize your potential and peace of mind as well along the way? But for that to happen, you need to do things in a manner that helps you achieve all those objectives. If your goals and thoughts and behaviour are focused largely on maximising financial value but not on maximising your potential and peace of mind as well, it is quite likely that the latter objectives would be ignored and hence not achieved. If you want them, aim for them to begin with.

So what is an organisation? An organisation is a vehicle to maximize your potential and peace of mind. Now let us understand what potential is.

What is Potential?

If an organisation is a vehicle to maximize your potential, let us first understand what potential is. Potential is a force, a force that can do some work, create something, move something. Potential has two components — it has magnitude, and it has a direction. Potential is a vector quantity. So it is not just about how much potential or force you possess, but also in what direction is that potential, that force, applied. The direction is also important. Let us examine these two in detail — magnitude and direction.

So what is potential with a high magnitude? If your potential has a high magnitude, you have great depth to your thought process. So whatever you do, you develop deep insights about that work or the problem you are trying to solve. A high magnitude of potential also means you have perspectives that are unique to you, to your thought process. It is because you combine all your existing knowledge in a certain manner to create a new compound that only you could have created — it is like creating your own special theory of relativity about your work or the problem that you are trying to solve. And this could be done in absolutely anything that you do, no matter how routine or mundane it might be. If you apply depth to your thought process, new insights are bound to surface. So potential with a high magnitude has the depth of thought and can create new insights. You must have potential with a high magnitude.

But in addition to its magnitude, the potential also has a direction, and the direction could be right or wrong. It is this direction that determines your peace of mind. If the direction of your potential is wrong, it is unlikely that you would be peaceful. Financially successful, perhaps. Famous, perhaps. Peaceful, unlikely. So potential with a high magnitude but applied in a wrong direction will be catastrophic. An organisation is a vehicle to maximize your potential. Maximizing your potential means maximizing its magnitude and applying that magnitude in the right direction.

Alright. So we have seen so far that one, an organisation is a vehicle to maximize your potential and your peace of mind. And two, potential has a magnitude, which is the depth of thought, and a direction, which is right or wrong. But how do you maximize your potential and your peace of mind? To do that, you need a systematic framework that you can refer to from time to time to check if you are on the right track — am I increasing my depth of thought, am I generating new insights, am I doing all of this for the right purpose, am I moving in the right direction. Because if your thinking is muddled, you may make decisions that are not necessarily right for you, but because you see others make similar decisions. You may do things not because they resonate well with you, but because that is the current trend, or because you wish to gain quick success or fame.

You need a framework, a set of personal guidelines that determine your thoughts and actions. And you need a tool — Contemplation. Long periods of Contemplation on such personal guidelines help you think clearly. If you can think clearly, you make the right decisions. If you make the right decisions, you feel more peaceful.