Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Virtual Team Management

Virtual Team Management As managers seek ways to cut costs, increase revenue and spark innovation, and employees strive for a better work-life balance, a mutually beneficial solution—telecommuting—is on the rise. In the U.S. alone, there are 28 million telecommuters, expected to double to 50 million by 2005.

To benefit, remote workers need the right tools to connect with colleagues, applications, and information. When telecommuters feel isolated, they become disconnected from current priorities and miss opportunities to contribute to their highest potential.

Afore undergoing its last earthly transformation, the external covering of the virtual team management, from the moment of its conception as an virtual team, passes in turn, once more, through the phases of the several companies.

The solution that addresses the challenge is a virtual e-workplace that provides employees with access to information and a broad set of Internet-based collaborative technologies, such as e-meetings, e-learning, and instant messaging designed to make them more nimble.

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams An e-workplace provides users with a single point of access for the right technology tools to immediately access information, collaborate with colleagues, and participate in online training courses to improve skills. Virtual employees can streamline work by accessing information customized for their roles. For example, a salesperson might need access to information on products, customers, and competitors and connect with people who can address customer issues, provide expertise, or share best practices.

Another example is eHR. Integrating eHR capabilities into your e-workplace enables remote workers to attend to personal needs, such as understanding their health care benefit options, without having to speak with an HR professional. An e-workplace bolsters efficiencies and provides more flexibility. When they have left the countries to which their doctrines were unacceptable, and established themselves in a remote corner of the earth, this is neither possible nor desirable.

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work

Building and Managing Virtual Teams that Work Many organizations have an intranet in place. Large businesses can have as many as 300 to 10,000 intranet pages, each with their own look and feel and navigational construct. In this case, employees lose productivity searching for information. By consolidating these pages into one e-workplace and integrating team-based technology solutions, productivity and the quality of communication can skyrocket.

With team-based technologies, users, and remote workers can instantly form virtual teams and collaborate on the fly right from the intranet to respond to market changes. For example, if your intranet includes a corporate directory with connections into team-based technologies, users can rapidly find colleagues with a certain expertise and see where they fit. Aware of this context, the user can initiate contact through appropriate channels. These are not questions of liberty, and are connected with that subject only by remote tendencies; but they are questions of development.

For example, the user can see if the expert is online, click on the expert’s name, and instantly contact him or her via an instant message or in an e-meeting. The user could also create a virtual team room and invite the expert to comment on documents created and posted within the team room. Without an integrated e-workplace program, employees must navigate on their own to find expertise.

By giving people access to the information and experts they need at their fingertips, an e-workplace enables remote workers to be more productive, maintain their competitive edge, and respond quickly and accurately to demands from customers and partners.

IBM, for example, has achieved big benefits from its e-workplace program. The intranet has helped us to cut costs, saving an average of $10,000 per employee who goes “mobile,” meaning they give up their dedicated office space. In addition, employees conduct more than 8,000 e-meetings per month, saving us about $50 million per year in reclaimed travel and productivity costs.

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams

Must-Know Strategies for Managing Virtual Teams e-Workplaces increase collaboration among virtual teams. IBM’s e-workplace allows me to bring in the right expertise, regardless of their location.

As a manager of a remote team, you need to measure people based on their accomplishments and deliverables. Support their activities by ensuring that they have what they need to succeed.

Here are four guidelines:

  • Establish a purpose. Ensure that each virtual team member has a defined purpose and objectives against which they will be measured. When remote workers have goals and incentives for reaching those goals, they are more motivated and productive. Create a training schedule for your e-learning program, so that people are learning new skills.
  • Measure the output, not the process. Virtual teams are more structured than teams located in the same office. Since face-to-face meetings are not practical, you must adopt other ways to communicate and seek approvals. Managers of virtual teams should create a culture of trust, be available through instant messaging for quick questions, hold conference calls to identify when a project is off track, and make use of instant messaging, e-meetings, and team workspaces. Focus on output, not hours.
  • Balance between virtual and face-to-face meetings. While e-meetings are great for keeping up with progress, they are not so great for team building. Face-to-face meetings, for example, are important for brainstorming sessions, building trust, and getting to know each other. Schedule face-to-face gatherings quarterly to foster team building, rapport, and communication among team members.
  • Use presence awareness to show your virtual office door is open. Presence awareness technology embedded in an e-workplace will let your reports know when you are available to discuss progress, answer a quick question, or to chat about their concerns. It can also alert your staff if you are online via a mobile phone, so they know to keep messages short or call on the phone.

Managing the Virtual Team

Managing the Virtual Team Virtual teaming and telecommuting are necessary responses to our global economy. People are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. With an e-workplace, people can interact with more colleagues, break down barriers, respond more rapidly to customers, make decisions faster, and be more productive.

By placing the desired behavior along the path of least resistance, we turn it into the behavior we’re most likely to repeat. And the more we repeat it, the more likely it is to become a habit, and the less and less we need it to lie along the path of least resistance.

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Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions

Decision making is the navigation system of choice for determined people and organizations. The word ‘ambitious’ is chosen intentionally.

Leaders often must wait to see the results of their decisions. Should they judge all decisions by outcomes? No.

Leaders need not wait for the results to measure their decision-making effectiveness. Instead, they ought to examine the process that they employ to make critical choices. By appraising the decision process in real time, as they make choices, they raise the odds of making sound choices.

Achieve Positive Outcomes Through Engaging Decisions Think about a decision that you and your team are trying to make. Do you considered multiple alternatives? Do you surface and test your assumptions carefully? Do rebellious views appear during your deliberations, and do you give those ideas proper consideration? Are you fostering high commitment and shared understanding among those who will implement the decision? A quality decision-making process tends to enhance the probability of achieving positive outcomes.

Good process does not simply mean sound analytics (the best use of the latest strategy framework or quantitative financial evaluation technique). Good process entails the astute management of the social, political, and emotional aspects of decision-making as well. An effective leader does not just produce positive results by pondering in on the content of critical choices in a wise and thoughtful manner; he also shapes and influences how those decisions are made.

A decision made before a problem has been solved (an ‘early decision’) is likely to fail. Leaders can augment the quality of their decisions in two ways:

  • Constructive Conflict. Leaders must cultivate constructive conflict to enhance critical and divergent thinking, while building consensus so as to facilitate the opportune implementation of their choices. Managing the tension between conflict and consensus is a challenge. Consensus is not unanimity, like-mindedness, or pervasive agreement. Instead, it’s a high commitment and shared understanding among the people involved in the decision. Leaders can build buy-in and collective comprehension without appeasing everyone on their teams or making decisions by majority vote.
  • Decide How to Decide. Assess who should be involved in the deliberations, what interpersonal climate you want to foster, how individuals should communicate with one another, and the extent and type of control that the leader will exert. Leaders have several levers that they can employ to design more effective decision-making processes and to shape how they unfold over time. Leaders should be directive when it comes to influencing the way in which decisions are made in their groups without trying to dominate or micromanage the discussion and evaluation. Deciding how to decide enhances the probability of managing conflict and consensus effectively.

Leaders must strive for a balance of assertiveness and restraint. The question is not whether they should be vigorous and directive as they make strategic choices, but how they ought to wield their influence.

To make the most of the expertise and ideas that other members possess, leaders need to refrain from pronouncing their solution to a problem, before giving others a chance to offer their perspectives. They must acknowledge that they do not have all the answers, and that their initial insight may be incorrect. Their behavior, principally at the outset of a decision process, can encourage others to act deferentially. Even the best choices mean little if interdependent units won’t cooperate to execute the decision.

By exercising restraint, leaders recognize that their knowledge in a particular domain is often imprecise and incomplete. Undemonstrative leaders constantly search and explore for new knowledge, rather than seek the data and opinions that confirm their opinions.

Reflect on past choices and scrutinize how you make decisions. Experiment to enhance your odds of making sound choices, and solicit others who will devotedly execute your plans.

Decision planning can be significantly enhanced by using a team, and in companies and organizations there is no choice.

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Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood – Buddhist Teaching on Reality

Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood - Buddhist Teaching on Reality The realization of a Zen koan includes a somatic (non-verbal) constituent with variable levels of cognition, and occasionally the understanding includes some emotional aspects. Although the realization includes one or more of these three constituents, no single one of the three is essential to the experience of insight. That’s the kind of role model who embodies the warrior commitment.

Making time for friendship to develop—persevering with the challenges that relationship inevitably brings—respects the value that community plays on our path. These two lines are speaking of the limitlessness of space. But if we fail to optically discern that a merely conventional, superficial purification is very much homogeneous to groping in the dark without the erudition of the import of ease, our spiritual horizon will draw itself within narrow limits like a snail retiring within the shell, and we may lose our pristine, intrinsic, spontaneous liberation and tranquility, which belong to the mind by its own constitution. As opposed to the pure fruition, approach where it is said that primordially here is nothing to purify. We may put ourselves under a nonessential yoke, moving only within a prescribed circle.

There is a paradox here: a universal orientation and an appropriation of the essence of our particular Zen traditions. As perception is free from conception, it is unconfused.

Zen Koan: “Not Far from Buddhahood” Parable

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: “Have you ever read the Christian Bible?”

“No, read it to me,” said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: “And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these… Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Gasan said: “Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man.”

The student continued reading: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

Gasan remarked: “That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.”

Buddhist Insight on Reality, Practice, and Path

In Zen Buddhism, if one is to do well, it must be done in the minute particulars. It’s true about jobs too; there is not the perfect job. That is how one should think about reality. The flower engagement has no form in practice and path. This set of strategies, if it’s too strong, you can rather cool it out a little by raising energy when you feel yourself being too sleepy or dull, or by working with mercy when the anger is too strong to just witness. The American Buddhist author Claude Whitmyer writes in Mindfulness and Meaningful Work,

All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher that the religious institutions originally worked with: reality. Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick – don’t let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our ‘practice’ which will put us on a ‘path’ – it is our path.

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The Intrapreneur’s Ten Commandments

'The Entrepreneurial Mindset' by Rita Gunther McGrath (ISBN 0875848346) Gifford Pinchot III, the creator of the word intrapreneur created 10 commandments:

  1. Come to work each day willing to be fired.
  2. Circumvent any orders aimed at stopping your dream.
  3. Do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description.
  4. Find people to help you.
  5. Follow you intuition about the people you choose, and work only with the best.
  6. Work underground as long as you can – publicity triggers the corporate immune system.
  7. Never bet on a race unless you are running in it.
  8. Remember, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  9. Be true to your goals, but be realistic about the ways to achieve them.
  10. Honor your sponsors.

Later Gifford Pinchot III added six more commandments,

  1. Ask for advice before asking for resources.
  2. Express gratitude.
  3. Build your team; intrapreneuring is not a solo activity.
  4. Share credit widely.
  5. Keep the best interests of the company and its customers in mind, especially when you have to bend the rules or circumvent the bureaucracy.
  6. Don’t ask to be fired; even as you bend the rules and act without permission, use all the political skill you and your sponsors can muster to move the project forward without making waves.

Gifford Pinchot - Intrapreneur's Ten Commandments Gifford Pinchot III is also the grandson of the first Chief of the United States Forest Service and the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania, Gifford Pinchot. The younger Pinchot has been distinguished for carrying on his grandfather’s work in environmentalism. In fact, Gifford Pinchot was an innovator of U.S. forestry and conservation and public official. With Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot helped to found the Bull Moose Party in 1912. From 1923 to 1927 and from 1931 to 1935 he was governor of Pennsylvania. In his first term, he forced a restructuring of the state government and the establishment of a budget system. He settled a coal strike by mediation in 1923. Pinchot’s autobiography, Breaking New Ground, was published after his death in 1947.

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Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership Uncategorized

Leadership Development Program Metrics: Use Measures That Work for You

We are inundated with many different approaches for measuring learning and development. Many smart people are measuring numerous aspects associated with learning, and it works for their companies. But is it right for you?

Leadership Development Program Metrics Suppose you attend a conference and get excited about one method, then another. They all sound great. You can’t contain your passion so fly back to the office to share all of the cool measures. But the organization does not show the same enthusiasm for the new measures and you’re fired.

Let’s replay this scenario to get a better ending. Imagine that you have some key questions to help you determine which measures would most impact your company? What might those questions be? Try these:

  • What measures are used to make decisions in your operation and culture?
  • Why does your Corporate University measure? Is it to improve the learner’s experience? Or workforce capability? Is it to improve the University’s products? Is it to improve the logistics of electronic or classroom delivery? Is it to determine the strategic direction of the University? Is it to evaluate the performance of your partners, suppliers, vendors? Is it to develop the talent in your University? Is it to guide the financial aspect of your University? Measure ROI? Is to monitor resource loading, etc., for planning purposes? Is it to justify the University’s value? Is it to provide audit evidence for ISO, TL, QS, SEI, or Baldrige? Is it to comply with what someone told you to?
  • What is needed in the areas you wish to measure? What problems are you trying to solve? Most likely you can’t measure everything. Use whatever quantitative or qualitative data you have to pick a focus.
  • What unit of measure and what source of the data will be meaningful or convincing to your audience? Don’t guess. Find out.
  • How might the audience interpret the data that results from the measure? What results might be seen as “good” vs “bad”?
  • How might the audience use the data? How do you want it to be used? How might you influence its use?
  • What data already exists in the company that might be leveraged? Who is using that data today? For what purpose are people using that data today?
  • Measuring Leadership Development Program Effectiveness How might the audience wish to see the data presented? When? Where?
  • What company initiatives with strong management support might you join in on to provide a relevant learning measure?
  • If the measure will require funding (new system, IT upgrade) is there a senior sponsor who can provide such funding?
  • What is the appetite of your audience for measures? You may need to throttle back or forward depending on this.

Every time someone speaks about a measure that works for their University that is consistent with what is important in their culture and with their day-to-day decision-making operations, we tend to focus our questions on the mechanics of the measure. You might ask those speaking about measurements, “Why did you select that measure?” You might follow-up with some of the above questions or new ones. Using a question-bank will stimulate you to think of more and better questions!

Understanding the thought process behind the measures selection and implementation will help you to understand whether the measure is right measure for your University and company. With so many measures and so little time, you need to know: what are the key few measures that will provide the most impact?

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When Leadership Styles Clash: Marissa Mayer at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Differences in leadership style can cause friction in a relationship. Two noteworthy anecdotes from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

One peer Mayer’s style irked in particular was Salar Kamangar. Kamangar joined Google as its ninth employee. He drafted its original business plan and handled financing and legal early on. Younger than Mayer, he rose along with her at Google, though not as conspicuously. Mayer and Kamangar clashed often. The specific habit of Mayer’s that drove Kamangar nuts was her ability to speak incredibly fast, not allowing him to reenter the debate. The rivalry between Mayer and Kamangar was so intense that when Kamangar was made a vice president before her, she threatened to quit the company. She got her promotion months later. That kind of naked ambition was also hard for some people to take. Many early Google employees believed Mayer was too quick to take credit for successful products that were either first imagined by or built on the back end by others.

And:

Starting in 2001, Mayer and a deeply respected Google search scientist named Krishna Bharat teamed up to build Google News. Bharat was one of the engineers who had followed Jeff Dean from DEC to Google. Bharat was renowned for his work in information processing and information retrieval-the real, gritty technical stuff that makes a search engine work. Bharat had an interest in news-and in doing semantic analysis of documents. Those interests led him to develop the underpinnings of the technology that would eventually become central to Google News. With Mayer, he worked to turn that technology into a product for normal users. To the equation, she brought a sense of how users would actually interact with Google News. It was a healthy relationship for a long time. Then Google News began to get very popular. It was one of Google’s first noncore search products to achieve escape velocity. Rightly, both Bharat and Mayer felt pride of parenthood. The difference was that Bharat, like many engineers, was the quiet, cerebral type. Mayer was more of a self-promoter with outward-facing responsibilities. In the press, at conferences, even in lectures at Stanford, she would casually discuss Google News as a product she had led to launch. Over time, it began to sound to Bharat that Mayer was claiming the idea as her own and taking all the public credit for the success of Google News. Their relationship soured.

It’s difficult to change the leadership style and yet it’s easier to change the style than the system.

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How to Increase Profits with Ethics

The Ethics of Profit, the Profit of Ethics

Amid an ethics crisis, we can’t fake credibility. Trust is now a function of ethical behavior, not stated intention. To be believable is now a matter of substance, not image. Once you’ve baked this attitude into your organization’s DNA, you’ll find that responding to customer needs, outpacing competitors, and introducing groundbreaking innovation becomes an organic part of how you do business.

The Ethics of Profit, the Profit of Ethics Executives are required to be whole persons and create whole companies. Excesses in one area—such as ruthless acknowledgement of facts and numbers exclusively—and neglect in another—such as minimizing the emotional catastrophes that accompany downsizing, mergers, and acquisitions—predict ruin. Being razor sharp strategically—as was Enron—but lacking the common courage to put wild risks into cool perspective, cascaded a company from the crowning jewel of opulence to the dark abyss of bankruptcy. Refusing to be whole is the recipe for meltdown.

Incomplete human beings become defective managers. To survive today’s ethics breakdown requires executives to mobilize their full potential.

Answers lie in courageous decisions—to be authentically open-minded, to make self-transcending commitments, and to be responsible to help co-create a communal culture. That is ethics!

You increase real profits with true ethics through attitudes and actions.

If a tree is dying, don’t just prune it but examine the soil. And if a business is failing, examine the leadership attitudes for lack of excellence and greatness. Authentic leaders send messages to their people that transform the culture. Leaders help awaken these attitudes in their people. All attitudes are needed. All are ethical values. One alone will not do. Attitudes precede the techniques. How-tos without right attitudes are empty gestures.

Principle #1 for Ethical Profits: Freedom is the Foundation

How to Increase Profits with Ethics The foundation of leadership is knowing that we are born with free will, we have free will, and we can never relinquish our free will. Until our dying day will we have free will. Free will is a clear experience. Free will makes ethics possible. Free will is the source of our power and the origin of our anxiety.

Usual leadership theory tells us to influence people’s thoughts and feelings. And coaching is to help leaders convince people to think and to feel in ways helpful to a business’ bottom line: think of the mission of the company and feel loyal and joyful towards the company. What is missing is the will. We believe that workers think and feel, have ideas and emotions, but we ignore the reality of a free will.

Leadership is to know, learn, and teach freedom, free will, consequences, responsibility, ownership, accountability, and ultimately choosing accountability for the sake of both financial necessity and existential honor. Here, in the inner zone of freedom and free will, lies the bedrock of the health of your body, your loves, and your pocketbook. As leader, you are a secular apostle preaching the power of freedom.

Principle #2 for Ethical Profits: Leaders Choose Principle

Leaders freely choose to live by principle. Immanuel Kant wrote; “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” The moral law within me! Don’t we all sense it, if we hold still and listen in silence?

We all have a conscience. It draws us like a magnet to principle. It is never selfish. Conscience and the moral law have a mysterious draw or claim on us. Because of it, we can distinguish good from bad, right from wrong. It is related to respect, pride, dignity, and self-esteem. We know that we have a duty, a destiny, a task in life.

Authentic Leadership It is aroused by words, such as fairness, justice, equality, and liberty. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution resonate movingly to something inside that can only be called our conscience. Unless we respond to our inner soul, we skirt the perilous edge. Authentic leaders turn back from greed and selfishness, from narcissism and naive values, to return instead to things that matter most—to things that are eternal, genuinely worthy, honest, generous, and clean. True value is not what one person or one sect dictates to the rest of us. True value results from honest and collective examination of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. The poet Rilke said, “Do not seek answers; live the questions.” Leaders heed this call.

Principle #3 for Ethical Profits: Realism is a Way of Life

Realism is more than the numbers: it means you never lie to yourself, you do not deny the truth about yourself. You know that when something hurts, when you get inordinately angry, upset, enraged, or irrational, it is because you are threatened fundamentally, for you secretly agree. You can’t let it go and, in fact, as a last resort, expel this insight about yourself forcibly from your consciousness. Each person has a point of inferiority. There, when touched, you are sensitive, and there, when reminded, you become virulently defensive. There you say, not that you think you are inferior, but there in your depraved image of yourself you say that in fact you are inferior! But you keep the secret and get furious at anyone who dares to point it out to you.

Coming to terms with that reality, accepting that perception of yourself, is the very heart of your strength and your power as a rightful leader of men and women. You can take criticism, fair or unfair; you can take put downs, deserved or not; you can tolerate defeat, expected or not; and you can survive disgrace and humiliation.

To get there is realism beyond the statistics and strikes at the core of your emotional intelligence. People with power are both adulated and hated beyond what is reasonable. They can take it, even thrive on it and learn from it, and teach others how under such circumstances—not only to preserve their dignity but to magnify it. To restore your inner self-respect when logic is against it is to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” That is why life confronts us with its tests and furnishes us with their messages. This is that bit of the soul which gets its baptism of fire. Have you passed the test?

Principle #4 for Ethical Profits: Grand Strategy is a Rare Virtue

The mark of an authentic leader is commitment to grand strategy. To enlarge the scope of your strategy, take any big news story—the War on Terror, once envied and lionized CEOs now facing censure, suicide bombers, and terrorist attacks—and ask: what deep lessons are there for me in how I conduct my business and my life?

What messages, what learning, about the things that you control can you derive from an enlarged perspective of any monumental event? Impeachment teaches us that dubious actions have unexpected and dramatic consequences, and sports victories teach us the power of persistence, commitment, focus, and dedication. You then ask: How does that apply to me and to my business? Do this with inspiration and creative innovation.

Principle #5 for Ethical Profits: Lead Through Language

Intelligent Leadership Conversations Language is all the action you have. But it has power. At every opportunity, you engage workers in intelligent leadership conversations. You talk knowledgeably and authoritatively about free will and responsibility, of principle and conscience, of hard facts and self-knowledge, of grand strategy and innovation, and of greatness and chaos, as the ineradicable structures of the human mind. You talk through stories and metaphors—sports, politics, religion, entertainment, adventure, family, career moves—and relate that to work and company. You let everyone know: “This is how we do business here.”

Relationship between Business Ethics and Profits

The notions of business ethics and profits must once have had originality; they did not start out of the ground populous, lettered, and versed in many of the arts of life; they made themselves all this, and were then the greatest and most powerful nations of the world. More seriously, the more comfortable managers grow with the ingrained abuses of ethics in their businesses, the harder it is to make any changes, and the more vulnerable their companies become to uncertainties around the corner.

Relationship Between Business Ethics and Profits The combination of all these causes forms so great a mass of influences hostile to Individuality, that it is not easy to see how it can stand its ground.

Many unconventional marketing practices are not yet governed by clear rules regarding ethics. This is a big turning point in the transformation, both practically and emotionally.

The three phases of change can be managed in such a way that people understand the strategic rationale for the decisions handed down, even when they are tough, and clearly understand their role in shaping the new organization.

Ethics, in the end, is not something we do. It is something we become.

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Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Krishnadevaraya, the most celebrated king of the Vijayanagar dynasty, invaded Udayagiri kingdom in modern-day Orissa in 1513 A.D., and conquered the Gajapati ruler there and brought an image of Lord Krishna as war trophy. He built a temple to house this image at Hampi and it is famous as Krishna Temple.

Krishnadevaraya even minted gold coins with a portrait of Balakrishna to celebrate this remarkable event. The entire temple is built in the centre of an enclosure, which measures 88 and 60 meters in length and breadth respectively. The entire structure is surrounded by a tall prakara wall, which opens to the east, north, and south.

Krishna Temple is built of granite and consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, an ardhamandapa, a sabhamandapa and a mahamandapa. All these are enclosed within a high prakara wall with a mahadvara, which has a gopura built of brick and mortar. The gopura is in ruins but it contains some good stucco figures associated with Krishna.

Central pillars with relief sculptures at Krishna Temple, Hampi The square garbhagriha is bare now, as the original image of Krishna has been removed. It is made out of greenish black granite showing Krishna as a child seated on a pedestal. The front entrance is well decorated with Vaishnava dvarapalas on either side and Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The sabhamandapa has four central pillars with relief sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, Krishna as Kalingamardana, etc.

The mukhamandapa is an graceful structure with 32 pillars with entrances at north, south, and east. These tall and lean pillars have fine sculptures of Vaishnava deities. There is a garuda mandapa of Dravidian type and a dipastambha (lamp pillar) in its front. At the four corners of this temple once stood small shrines intended for subsidiary Gods. However, they are derelict now. The composite pillars and pillars with horses and yalis add exquisiteness to the temple.

Mahadvara and Huge Gateways of the Krishna Temple, Hampi This temple is famous for the huge gateways at north, south, and east. The eastern gateway or the mahadvara is enormous and graceful and perhaps one of the best specimens of that type in Hampi. Thus, Krishna temple was one of the most popular temples at Hampi built by the most famous king Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire.

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The Divine Source of All Life

The Divine Source of All Life

Everything is Ordained by God’s Providence

The Divine Source of All Life The water that runs through the faucet does not originate in it. The faucet is only the last link in a channel through which it flows into my home. My life is like that too.

I conceive thoughts. I am inspired by visions. I commit my energies to tasks of one kind or another. However, none of these originates in me. There is a spring out of which wells forth in unending abundance the physical and spiritual power that motivates the universe. We do not initiate the will, the purpose, the direction of the underlying scheme of life on earth, but we are its instruments, who are given some opportunity to cooperate with the world’s purpose, and to implement it. My muscle and my brain are the final links in a channel that draws its precious elements from the divine source of all life.

The literal test of friendly relationship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you relish together those moments of life that are absolutely simple? They are the moment’s people looks back on at the end of life and number as their most sanctified experiences.

Shall the faucet complain that it can contain only a tiny quantity of water? Shall I complain that only a tiny portion of life’s assets resides in me? The abundance does not have to be in the faucet, nor does it have to be in me. There is an unending fountain from which more will flow, and it will reach me when I am ready for it.

And this was known to the ancients, for lactations assures us, that a globe filled with water, would arouse a fire even in the thick of winter, which he thought still the more surprising.

God’s Providence Moves to Achieve the Designs it Has for Man

Our reliance upon providence As long as we are caught up in incessantly looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we are always running away from uncomfortableness, we are going to be caught in a wheel of unhappiness and disappointment, and we will feel weaker and weaker.

These concerns were found upon institutionally held spiritual convictions. It is no surprise, then, as the great masters have pointed out, that to uphold mindfulness for as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea accumulates more merit than years of practicing generousness, discipline, and austerity. The most valuable things in life are not measured in pecuniary terms. The genuinely important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith. Discussing the stoics, the Swiss-born British author and philosopher Alain de Botton once wrote,

“Stoicism” was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society. It had one overwhelming and highly practical ambition: to teach people how to be calm and brave in the face of overwhelming anxiety and pain.

We still honour this school whenever we call someone “stoic” or plain “philosophical” when fate turns against them: when they lose their keys, are humiliated at work, rejected in love or disgraced in society. Of all philosophies, Stoicism remains perhaps the most immediately relevant and useful for our uncertain and panicky times.

Many hundreds of philosophers practiced Stoicism but two figures stand out as our best guides to it: the Roman politician, writer and tutor to Nero, Seneca [4–65 CE]; and the kind and magnanimous Roman Emperor (who philosophised in his spare time while fighting the Germanic hordes on the edges of the Empire), Marcus Aurelius [121–180 CE]. Their works remain highly readable and deeply consoling, ideal for sleepless nights, those breeding grounds for runaway terrors and paranoia.

The same holds true in the unnatural classes; the greater the reason, the more unmanageable it is to discover the lie. Out of these two tendencies flow good and evil, which thus reside, in variable measure, to be sure, in every individual as part of his indigenous equipment for life? Hot air is reckoned exceedingly prejudicial to health. We can domesticate the energy of mindfulness while we walk, while we respire, while we work, while we wash the dishes or wash our clothes. In addition, you have to interpret the history to really understand the ethnic implication. For this reason, comedy is not easily transferred from one age or country to another. They came to a street without corner and turned right. Many, like the mine countermeasures undertaking, still had a long way to gothic was high-tech stuff that required lots of research and development.

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Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother – Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment

Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother - Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment Zen’s influence over the culture has spread in part for the reason that Japan’s rulers commenced to patronize Zen hundreds of years ago. Zen was thus adopted by the highest classes, and through them, its principles commenced to shape a range of Japanese arts, divesting away the ostensibly frivolous and engendering meaning with impressively austere metaphors or flicks of the brush.

You have left behind the sense of small self and have entered the state of great self. The reality is that anyone truly involved in one of the practices will at least realize there isn’t any special state of mind. Sapience is a very consequential quality to possess. Sapience is very limpidly spelt out in the edifications of the Buddha, in the Noble Eightfold Path. Right understanding refers to our construal of fundamental truths about life and the world around us. We should endeavor to understand two laws; the Four Noble Truths and the law of cause and effect—karma. This is very rudimental and fundamental to Zen Buddhism.

The temporality of momentariness is thereby understood to reside in its very passing away, in its actual and ineradicable finitude. However, it can be experienced for the reason that if your practice reaches a certain depth.

Zen Koan: “Shoun & His Mother” Parable

Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.

Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would built a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses, and in this manner receive a few coins for food.

When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, fo a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His mother, however, was hurt to see others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: “I think I will become a nun. I can be vegetarian too.” She did, and they studied together.

Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together. One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.

One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was in progress.

Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. “Mother, your son has returned,” he said.

“I am glad to see you have returned, son,” he answered for his mother.

“Yes, I am glad too,” Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: “The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body.”

When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning, telling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:

For fifty-six years I lived as best I could,
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.

His disciples gathered around him, reciting sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.

Buddhist Insight on The Value of Present Moment

The true elimination of suffering is only concerned with yourself in this present moment. Compassion produces happiness for those who suffer. This is because their nature is uncompounded by the present moment. To work with these forces, along with naming them and being aware of them, you really have to let yourself touch them with your heart. In Zen Buddhism, Remedy violations of every aspect of these and try to confess them. One further point must be addressed. This is the time for parents to practice compassionate joy and value the present moment. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman and American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield write in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart,

The present moment is the most profound and challenging teacher we will ever meet in our lives. It is a compassionate teacher, it extends to us no judgment, no censure, no measurement of success and failure. The present moment is a mirror, in its reflection we learn how to see. Learning how to look into this mirror without deluding ourselves is the source of all wisdom. In this mirror we see what contributes to the confusion and discord in our lives and what contributes to harmony and understanding. We see the relationship between pain and its cause on a moment-to-moment level, we see the bond between love and its source. We see what it is that connects us and what it is that alienates us.

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