Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management

Page 32

~ To learn Buddhist logic or philosophy as an academic subject would be a waste of time to any but the professional philosopher, particularly where that philosophy is made available by Western classical scholars steeped as they are in process thinking.  What is suggested is that we rediscover the complementary discipline as a Western discipline, and this is entirely possible for us through Zen.  To practice Zen we do not have to adopt or imitate Eastern life-styles at all.

The remarkable thing is that the modern business climate is the best climate within which this new way of thinking could take root and grow because it is both economically oriented and result oriented at the same time.  We shall throughout the rest of this book be providing evidence in favor of this statement, and it is partly to lay the groundwork for this evidence that we shall pursue a presentation of the structure/process polarity and its implications.  But this presentation is also offered because intrinsically it is a most important notion to anyone dealing with organization.  We shall endeavor to show some of the consequences if industry’s inability to come to terms with this polarity in a later chapter entitled “Staff and Line.”

The structural dimension of an organization has a space-like quality.  Roles exist simultaneously “alongside” each other.  In organization as process these same roles manifest themselves through task cycles and occur in sequence, in a time-like dimension.  An organization can be looked at as a space/time or structure/process continuum.  It is a holon with the structural dimension providing the survival mode and the process dimension providing the expressive mode.  The structural organization and process organization are therefore not two separate organizations: They both involve the whole company and are not two halves of the company.

A role and a company are isomorphic.  This can be readily seen if one compares a one-man business to a large company and realizes that all that is done in the company is also done in the one-man business.

April 5th, 2020 ~ Due to the Corona Virus, over ten million people have applied for unemployment.  For years, we have been hearing that small business is the heart and soul of the US economy.  It has felt like lip-service, given the power and prestige large business receives.  But now we see tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of businesses are hurting.  The economy is pretty much shut down, although there are some signs of life.  The economy is on life-support, they say.  We are seeing how true the statement of how important small business is.  It took this crises for me to see it.  It reminds me of when my brother Mike died suddenly nearly 12 years ago.  I didn’t see how I relied on him, especially when living in China.  I relied on him emotionally, and I didn’t see it.  I rely on different family members and it becomes clearer when you look that person.  Does it have to be that way?  I am hearing that this moment is giving us time to come back to ourselves–to take stock of our lives.  Hopefully, it will help me get clearer about what I want to do and go for it!

Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management

Page 31

With this approach, all the elements within the situation are allowed to maintain their full concreteness and yet at the same time be juxtaposed to other elements that may well be logically incompatible with them.  The implications that this manifold of elements has are then allowed to find their own expression through the natural wisdom of the mind.  This wisdom by its nature seeks simple and complete resolutions that are capable of being implemented.  It is precisely in the development of this approach that Buddhism has so much to offer, emanating as it does just from this wisdom.

Basic to the Buddhist outlook is polarity, and the fundamental polarity is form and emptiness.  In Zen temples monks chant daily a sutra, the Prajna Paramita, which is the distillation of Buddhist teaching.  Central to this sutra are the words: “Form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form.”  Form is what we are calling “structure,” emptiness is, in part, what we are calling “process.”  This statement, that form is no other than emptiness, does not mean that they can be reduced to one another, because structure is structure and emptiness is emptiness.  This is bewildering to anyone first encountering the concept, but at the same time it often strikes a note of satisfaction.

This doctrine of form and emptiness is associated with another that we have referred to as not-two, not-one.  Also associated with it are the concepts of the “middle-way” and “karma,” two concepts that are badly understood in the West.  The concept of karma has many levels of meaning; one level is associated with the doctrine of dependent origination, which as the underlying notion of “this being, that appears.”

These notions arise naturally out of our wisdom mind.  It is not suggested, therefore, that we abandon Western thinking and adopt oriental thinking.  Western thinking is, as we have said, process-dominated.  It is, using Marshall McLuhan”s phraseology, linear thinking.  It is the sort of thinking that is inevitable in the absence of a discipline designed to bring about its complement.  It sees things as being what they are because of the special or characteristics of what they have.

April 2nd, 2020 ~ Emptiness-nothing exists or starts by itself. It is empty of inherent existence. There are no self-made people.  Because of this emptiness, all things or phenomena are dependent upon causes and conditions.  Everything is connected.  When I see that process thinking is linear, it surprises me because process always sounds creative.  Yet, structural is procedural.  It is dynamic, right?  This leaves us confused.  It is paradoxical.  Wast it Suzuki Roshi or Dogen who said if it isn’t a paradox, then it isn’t true.  The point of paradox is not to come up with the answer, my intern therapist once told me, it was to get me to thinking about it.  

What we produce–the product–through process is empty of inherent existence.  It is dynamic, changing moment-to-moment.  Because of this emptiness, we have form–structure-phenomena dependent upon causes and conditions.  With structure, there is something there.  We see it, but it is not how we think it is.  In fact, both structure and process exist in a way that we don’t see how they actually exist.  We only think they do.  As Low mentions, they complement each other.   Finally, Low mentions Prajna Paramita–the Heart Sutra.  Given today’s world crisis, it can be calming to read and learn about it.

Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management

Page 30

We shall therefore explore this problem at length to show some of the elements that have to be taken into account.  The limitations of our habitual way of thinking about things will be exemplified by the difficulty of truly expressing this not-two, not-one aspect of the company, and we shall see that this has very far reaching effects.

The physical scientists are also having to come to terms with this polarity of structure and process, and one leading scientist who sees this need goes so far as to say, “Before the doctrine of reciprocal causal interaction between particle and field can possess meaningful, consistent theoretical formulation a new theory of the first principles of science must be developed.”  However, there is a more fundamental requirement even than this.  We have to change the very structure and process of our thinking.  We have to change the very principles on which our thinking is based and the way that we think.

When working with an organization what is required is that we deal at the same time with structure and process taking into account the simultaneity of structure and the sequence of process.  Not only this, we must at the same time be able to deal with the effect the changes in either of these have upon the other, themselves, and the situation as a whole.  It is evident that by using our normal, conceptual equipment alone we just cannot do this.  Even if we were able to produce a computer program that did not reticulate to infinity and were to give this problem to a computer, we should still have to assimilate the output.

But it is possible to deal with this situation at another level.  This is unquestionably the case because managers do organize situations that remain viable and achieve results.  But they do this by something other than concepts.  Often they achieve their organization by a hunch, by a “seat-of-the-pants” approach.  This approach has the failing of being uncertain and disruptive.  It is disruptive simply because it is so difficult to communicate.  Sometimes though another method is used, which is the constant application of intuition or “weighing,” and it is with which we are concerned here.

April 1st, 2020 ~ I just had a fun time typing.  I watch a video on where education is failing us–one of the things the author said was that in school, copying is cheating, but in work, it is collaboration.  Going by the “Seat-of-the-pants” approach.  We are currently seeing this in the executive branch of the US Federal Government.  

Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management


Page 29 ~ So far it has been said that a company is a system, i.e., a set of interacting forces, and that it is a field in dynamic equilibrium that finds its expression through an idea in a form with a demand.  This combination of a field and a set of interacting forces is the organization.

The word “organization” can be used in several ways.  It means the relationship between people and things when doing work.  It also means the right sequence of events.  A well-organized situation has a structure of rules, methods, and procedures that are known and mutually support each other.  The good organizer, on the other hand, is someone who gets a process moving on time with the minimum of delays and crises.  Thus, in organization there is both a structural and process dimension.  However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.

Most thinkers oppose structure to process.  For example, the question is often asked whether structure monitors process or process monitors structure.  Traditionally, modern science has emphasized process in contrast to the ancient Greeks, for example, who emphasized structure.  This structure-process opposition has dominated our thinking in the West and has fostered the religion-science dichotomy, with religion favoring structure and science favoring process.  In industry this same conflict exists and is brought out in the denigration of the bureaucrat and the exaltation of the aggressive, result-oriented executive.  

If we are to have an understanding of organization that will enable us to set up situations in which growth, as well as expansion and self-regulation, can occur, we must understand that we cannot oppose these two and therefore must come to terms with the polarity of structure and process.

March 31st, 2020 ~ Field is described as “behavior space.  Structure, as described here, includes procedures.  Is procedure related to process?  At the end of the 2nd paragraph, Low writes: “However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.”  We are currently seeing this dichotomy play out in the race to “lower the curve” with the Corona Virus.  Although sad and frustrating, it is interesting to see how the federal government is dealing with the 50 states in the US.  Structure-Process.  Religion-Science.  There is a battle between science-believers and skeptics.  Proponents of the bureaucracy of the federal government and letting the states solve their own problems.  Sometimes they are even competing with each other.  The science of dealing with the virus battling with the structure of the government.   Can the two entities come together fast enough in order to deal with the polarity of structure (government) and process(science)?