Short reviews of two favourite books that help the mind to return to mindfulness in the fast-paced corporate environment.

Sur/petition by Edward de Bono

Every business has to be competitive In order to survive in the global marketplace. “The paradox is that you cannot truly be competitive if you seek to be competitive” says Edward de Bono in his book Sur/petition.

It is vital for a business to keep up with its competitors, but competition is only the first step for a business to grow and flourish. Competition focuses on environments, customers, products and processes. ‘Sur/petition‘ is changing the elements on which competition is based, so that products create a new niche for themselves, by unique value addition to the customer’s requirements.

Analysis of information and decision-making are primary activities for any business. But these are essentially maintenance aspects of management. When a business adds conceptual thinking to data analysis and generates alternatives for decision making, it can generate new concepts that would offer better and cheaper ways to get added value out of existing resources. This requires a creative approach to management. Towards this, Bono proposes Valufacture which is identifying what would specifically add value to the client, and implementing it in the product or service. He advises businesses to create a ‘value monopoly’, that would give the product or service a place that normal competitors cannot reach easily. Sur/petition is then all about integrated value addition and research & development for generating fresh concepts and creativity.

“Edward de Bono inadvertently wrote one of the more accurate futurist books anyone has written in 20 years. In describing what he judged to be the trends and problems of 1992-93, he is actually describing today’s crises and hot-button issues almost perfectly. He was way ahead of the futurists on declining margins, offshoring, focus on competition by price, the limitations of customer-service investment, and a dozen other things that started coming to pass just a few years after he wrote the book.” says Jeff Angus, a senior IT management consultant, in a review of the book in CIO Insight.

What Would Buddha Do at Work?

What Would Buddha Do at Work?101 Answers to Workplace Dilemmas by Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher Hateley is a beautiful book written in the form of questions and answers relating to finding the right kind of work, the right working style, handling issues at the workplace, dealing with colleagues, customer handling, etc.

The questions are grouped under three sections – Becoming an Enlightened Worker, Cultivating Enlightened Work Relationships and Creating an Enlightened Workplace, and range from topics like personal growth at work, the mindset to getting promoted, conflict management, positive business language, telecommuting, leadership and much more. The Buddha’s approach is explained against each of these situations, describing how any employee can find spiritual fulfillment in their work.

Each question is followed by a verse from the Buddhist scriptures or a quote from a Zen teacher, and an explanation in simple, direct words.

For example,

What would Buddha do to empower employees?
You must walk, Buddhas just show the path. Dhammapada 276
(Sourced from What Would Buddha Do at Work?101 Answers to Workplace Dilemmas by Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher Hateley, Page 51)

The book has an introduction by Ken Blanchard (Author of The One-Minute Manager) who is the CSO – Chief Spiritual Officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies.

Reading a page at random brings a lot of stillness to the mind, and helps to raise it towards a state of mindfulness.