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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating a Cooperative Culture of Improving Performance,
Conscious Business is the first book I've read on an important subject I'd like to tackle as an author: How to move those in an organization from focusing on their selfish interests to concentrating on what creates the most good for the most people . . . with the least potential harm to any individual. I thought that Dr. Kofman did a good job in defining one path to creating mutual benefit in Conscious Business. If people in your organization seem to be emphasizing their own careers rather than the tasks that need doing, this book is a must-read for you!
Let me agree with Dr. Kofman about his warning for readers: It's much easier to understand his principles than apply them. But with practice, you can do great things.
Here are the goals he sets:
"In the impersonal It dimension, the goal is to accomplish the organization's mission, enhancing its ability to continue doing so in the future, and delivering outstanding long-term returns to shareholders. In the interpersonal We dimension, the goal is to establish cooperative, trusting, and mutually respectful relationships, a community of shared purpose and values in which people feel they belong. In the personal I dimension, the goal is to live in a state of flow, feeling a transcendent happiness that comes from living in full integrity, with one's principles and ideals."
As you can see from this quote, Dr. Kofman draws heavily from his interest in Buddhist tradition and other streams of spiritual beliefs that are outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The text is enlivened by quotes from many sides of the spiritual spectrum and psychologists. As a result, the material will speak directly and deeply in places to virtually any reader, regardless of background and beliefs.
The risk he points to is a real one: If we don't make our intentions explicit and specific, people will take the knee-jerk route of looking after themselves. That self-focus is the basis of much bureaucratic behavior, procrastination, avoidance, poor customer service, misconceptions, disbelief about what needs to be done, poor communications and over-reliance on tradition.
A key exhibit in the book can be found on page 17 where Dr. Kofman draws a contrast between relying on unconscious versus conscious attitudes in business. Here are the unconscious attitudes and their conscious counterparts:
Unconscious Attitudes Conscious Attitudes
Unconditional blame Unconditional responsibility
Essential selfishness Essential integrity
Ontological arrogance Ontological humility
Unconscious behaviors Conscious behaviors
Manipulative communication Authentic communication
Narcissistic negotiation Constructive negotiation
Negligent coordination Impeccable coordination
Unconscious reactions Conscious reactions
Emotional incompetence Emotional mastery
The book goes on to devote a chapter to each of the seven conscious attitudes (excluding conscious behaviors and reactions from the list above). Since those attitude titles are not exactly self-explanatory, let me see if I can explain each a little more.
Unconditional responsibility is the Victor Frankl concept of determining your response to a situation, even if it is a situation you cannot change. You take charge of choosing your response.
Essential integrity is acting in accordance with your values, even if the results are less than perfect.
Ontological humility is being open to seeing what's going on from the perspectives of others and valuing those perspectives.
Authentic communication means sharing your emotions, opinions and knowledge openly with those who appear to be headed in the wrong direction . . . and encouraging them to do the same. From that baseline, you can then proceed to develop options that may better fit what's needed.
Constructive negotiation is focused on finding a great solution for everyone, rather than simply winning your point.
Impeccable coordination involves making informed commitments, staying on top of what's needed to meet those commitments and letting others know when things go wrong to devise solutions that may improve matters.
Emotional mastery means being able to function objectively, even if something outrages or frightens you.
As you can see from these terms and concepts, Conscious Business is a book of applied psychology by someone who is well versed in the field. The strength of that approach is that Dr. Kofman can reference psychological works that you may know well to give you a touchstone. The drawback is that the book can seem to be too academic if you aren't familiar with the terms and references.
Two things humanize the book from those weaknesses:
(1) Each chapter opens with an extended example of a business problem involving unconscious behavior and reactions. The key concepts are then explained an applied to turning the extended example into a way of employing conscious behavior and reactions.
(2) Dr. Kofman has had many interesting experiences that he deftly weaves into his story. I was especially impressed by his learning from having lived in a totalitarian regime in Argentina as a youth and his mountain climbing experience in South America.
All that said, the opening of this book was awfully abstract and academic. It wasn't until page 42 that I began to resonate with the material. So be patient. The book is quite accessible and interesting from that point on.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chicken Soup for the Left Brain, Right Brain and Soul,
There are two kinds of people in the world of business (including the business of life!) - those who have read this book, and those who will read it. Conscious Business is about `entering the market with helping hands'.
"This Way has no return and it never ends. There is nowhere to arrive, no final summit to conquer. Only higher and higher reaches of the human spirit. Whenever I feel like I've gotten it, that I am finally in control, I am humbled by a challenge that exceeds by ability to respond. However, I have found peace and satisfaction in success beyond success."
To understand `Conscious Business' and `success beyond success' you have to read this book. It establishes the conscious business organizational map on a 3X3 matrix, with three dimensions of the organization as a noun (the impersonal `It', the interpersonal `We' and the personal `I') and three dimensions of the organization as a verb (the `having' product, the `doing' process, and the `being' platform).
And it establishes that the highest leverage is in beginning with the platform or `culture' and its systemic artefacts, because that drives or causes everything else. There are seven attributes of a conscious business culture, namely unconditional responsibility, essential integrity, ontological humility, authentic communication, constructive negotiation, impeccable coordination and finally emotional mastery. Each of these are explained in a manner which will touch your left brain, your right brain, and your heart.
The book begins with an extraordinary prologue, and an extraordinary epilogue, both reflecting the deeply personal experiences of the author. Reading them will make you agree with Ken Wilber, who calls Fred Kofman a `genius with a heart as big as his brain, if that's possible'. If you savour the experience of upliftment at work, and would like a ready reckoner of that on your table, gift yourself this book today.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interpersonal relationships at the workplace,
This interesting and well-written book is more about psychology and interpersonal relationships at the workplace than about business at such.
Apart from the I-We-It model borrowed from ken Wilber AQAL in 'The Theory of Everything', Dr Kofman does not add much in terms of business theory or business models. His contribution to issues such as negotiations, difficult conversations and business ethics is otherwise praiseworthy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Insperational,
This review is from: Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values (Kindle Edition)
Insightful, thought provoking, intersting - I loved ths book and have recommended to friends and colleagues who have also loved it in fact one colleague even went so far as to say the book inspired him to give up his job and change his life!
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading for managers and leaders - and anyone who aims to develop them.,
This is an excellent book written in plain language and I heartily recommend it as necessary reading for anyone involved in management/leadership or self-development in a working context. If you can follow the author's teaching you will get on in any domain and become a more wholesome and more successful human being.
Kofman comes across as someone who practises what he preaches. He spells out in detail valauble techniques for becoming more authentic and for relating constructively to people in a working context. This book is not just a me-too book in the mainstream of managemernt literature but is a significant contribution to the evolution of that literature with new material and new insights drawn from other sources and from personal experience. Enjoyable and enlightening!
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT CD SET,
This review is from: Conscious Business (Audio CD)
This is lovely to listen to. One benefits even more by listening to it several times. Very powerful.
5.0 out of 5 stars A look beyond and inside,
This review is from: Conscious Business (Audio Cassette)
Conscious Business offers a different way to look at business behaviour. The author presents a set of basic principles, later these are illustrated with specific case studies and at the end introduces the philisophical background upon which these principles and examples are based upon. The book was first published in Spanish as "Meta-Management"; "Meta" in greek means "beyond", pointing Kofman's intentions to go beyond the usual realm of superficial and self evident truths frequently found in business literature. One of the premises of the book is that we act in ways in which are consistent with our basic being, in the ontlogical sense of being. Emphasis is placed on re-visiting our own definitions of who we are and the basic motivations that drive us. Examples show very clear procedures of how Kofman, in his long career as a consultant to business organizations, can induce people to look at their own behaviour and produce changes. This self observation is the essence of being more aware, being conscious of the way we behave when conducting business. However, and going back to the book's original title in the Spanish version, the awakening of consciousness is a matter not only restricted to the business world. If we want to be consistent, being conscious is a full time commitment, on and off business hours.
The theorical frame of ideas for Kofman's book can be traced back to his collaboration and participation in the Society for Organizational Learning, led by Peter Senge at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and in Ken Wilber's work. Senge, author of "The Fifth Discipline" and "The Fifth Discipline Handbook" -where Kofman signs one of the chapters- introduced Kofman into the world of business training and consulting. An Economist by training, with a Ph.D in Mathematical Economy, he met Senge while a professor at MIT, which resulted in articles as "Learning Organizations" reproduced widely and worldwide, on how organizations need to incorporate knowledge and face transformation in order to keep growing and evolving.
Ken Wilber, described as one of today's most influential thinkers, has had a direct influence on Kofman's work. Wilber's books, "A Brief Theory of Everything", "No Boundary" and "Sex, Ecology and Spirituality" to mention but a few, are a definite must if the reader wants to continue the path only insinuated by Kofman in the last part of his book.
I consider the book's most important influence is its ability to speak straightforwardly and to invite the reader to scrap the surface, to look beyond the obvious and often unconscious answers to our daily actions and behaviours. It provides concrete cases, instruments and tools that the reader can use in everyday situations. Highly recommended.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great summary and introduction,
Great summary of some of the ideas of conscious business.
Some practices including dialogue and accountability are very close to my heart.
What I like about this book most is Fred Kofman's clarity and writing style - he presents complex ideas with great apparent authority.
Personally I think conscious business is about more than the ideas contained here - there's a lot more going under the surface of most businesses as I am sure Fred Kofman knows - but this is a excellent starting point for any reader.
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Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values by Fred KOFMAN