Business managers have revered the philosophical teachings of the East for a long time. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is a masterclass in both military strategies and modern management. One can similarly find valuable advice from Chanakya’s Arthashastra. The literary work propelled the formation of one of the biggest South Asian empires during its time. A stoic outlook is recommended for sound decision-making, and one can benefit greatly from the teachings of Japanese swordsman and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi. Even the 20th century’s first martial arts superstar, Bruce Lee had a life outlook that, from a different perspective, translates to success in the corporate world. Fascinating, isn’t it? Wait, there’s more.
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Business Management and The Eastern Philosophy
Pragmatism is a common feature across eastern management styles. This aspect of practical applicability can also be found in martial arts. Fighting arts originated initially as a means of self-defense. The purpose has transformed over time- business leaders nowadays learn martial arts for self-improvement- to acquire wisdom from ancient philosophies.
Deep inside, there is much more going on. For a nominal surface scratch, try to find the answer to this question- what separates martial artists from street brawlers? Mere training to fight remains, in a way, myopic. Martial arts training instills holistic development.
Underneath all the fighting stances, physically-demanding postures, and rigorous discipline- there is an attempt at personal development- a means to achieve harmony with the mind, body, and spirit. The martial artist does not just accept the ‘ying-yang’ dichotomy i.e. order within chaos- he embraces it. Acceptance is a great tool across countless scenarios, keeping us grounded in reality. Truth be told, martial arts enables the practitioner to view the world in a different light and respect universal truths.
Now, coming back to management, leaders in the west tend to focus less on organizational hierarchy like the east and prioritizes short-term results. There are a lot of factors at play, including stakeholders and investors, business strategizing, organizational management, motivating employees, CSR, and more. A stoic outlook is crucial for making logical decisions based on the organization’s current situations and creating a long-term vision. It cannot be guaranteed that a well-designed plan will not face difficulties- one always has to consider unforeseen events. But, having a solid core foundation helps greatly in improvising and adapting to the circumstances. And, similar to martial arts, the process of learning is life-long. There is continuous room for improvement(Kaizen, anyone?).
Lessons to be Learnt
Eastern management principles borrow heavily from their culture and philosophies, and it is natural. After all, communication with employees is key, and respect for customs and traditions is necessary. Now, if we look forward to the positive aspects:
Customize and Adapt
If we compare Japan, China, and India, we notice a distinct difference in managerial attributes. The Japanese manager, while rising up the ladder, may restrain from displaying individual personality or forcefulness, but emphasize information flow from the bottom to the top. Despite having a penchant for control from the top, Chinese business leaders prefer decentralization, allocating managers the role of entire business lines- which facilitates rapid expansion. Indian leaders are more driven by responsibilities- believing in motivating and training employees while prioritizing business strategies. Analyze the circumstances- and choose the best possible option.
Optimize the Work Environment
A positive work environment will boost the morale of employees, which in turn will lead to better productivity. Research studies all over the world have alluded to this. In addition, an open-ended encourages members to open up, helping the manager remain abreast of the latest developments. This reciprocation facilitates management while improving teamwork.
Strategize: Create Mission Statements
Corporate social responsibility can play a big part in increasing the reputational value of an organization. Organizations in the east may opt to set up cutting-edge facilities near underdeveloped areas. This presents opportunities for development to low marginalized sectors, while the corporations feel obligated to step forward and serve through contribution to social goals and human capital development
In certain regions, having a public reputation for CSR can help in obtaining environmental clearance and industrial licenses. A notable percentage of eastern managers routinely monitor CSR activities. Mission statements that make employees feel significant link tiny objectives to the bigger picture, and promote brand loyalty, retention, and productivity.
Venture Capital into Training Resources
The Great Resignation, global inflation, and recession have not deterred eastern organizations from upgrading their existing infrastructure, and in several instances more than western industries. Resource development helps in making a positive impact on the employee’s attitudes, influencing organizational management and internalization. Other benefits include employee retention and recruitment.
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Blockchain: Bruce Lee’s “Water” in the Digital Era?
Blockchain, one of the latest marvels in technological innovation, is rapidly being integrated into countless business operations, including banking and financial services, supply chain management, healthcare, governance, eCommerce, space research, database maintenance, and many more. This widespread versatility begs a question to be answered- Why are all corporate sectors almost unanimously favoring blockchain? Global business research firm Gartner predicts revenues generated by blockchain could reach as high as $3.1 trillion by 2030.
With such a high scope in terms of future potential, it can be ascertained that blockchain’s key to success is something fundamental that is applicable both across business operations and areas involving organizations and administration. A universal solvent, like water, can not only dissolve the necessary information uniformly but also transmit the same throughout the container i.e. network, without needing intermediaries. Yes, blockchain is a possible solution wherever transaction data needs to be time-stamped, safeguarded from tampering, and distributed across a network in real-time. There may be questions of viability regarding the scalability of the solution. But, the rate of progress in blockchain development, with respect to time, is nothing short of extraordinary.
Blockchain’s Potential in Different Management Scenarios
Blockchain, as a technology has been adaptable to the needs and requirements of the modern Digital Era. It has propelled an evolution in managerial decision-making with secure real-time access to data all over the organizational network. Examples of the technology’s impact include:
Quality, resource, and time. These 3 parameters combine to achieve a pre-designed goal during a project. Blockchain is being used to safeguard the proposal contracts and project documentation, facilitating better organization and preventing unauthorized alteration. The technology brings forth discipline, transparency, and accountability.
The blockchain ledger, stored across distributed databases, can easily refer back to the pre-project agreements as well as agreed conditions during or after the project lifecycle. The process would eliminate the need for intermediaries with algorithm-powered servers driving transactions and interactions- all in real-time. The merits have not gone unnoticed among global business leaders, with HashCash’s research reports forecasting an annual $23 billion expenditure by global corporations within 2025.
Supply Chain Management
Blockchain is already prevalent across global supply chains, powering secure data pathways for transferring transactional data as well as confidential medical information. The technology facilitates a universal database for businesses to resolve communication barriers. Blockchain also provides effective solutions in real-time traceability, and provenance, saving unnecessary expenses and accelerating automotive supply chain blockchains, RFID-driven IT systems, IoT-embedded cold-chain monitoring processes, and more. Blockchain-powered supply chain predictions suggest over 50% CAGR up to the 2030s, amounting to over US$ 5 billion.
The inherent characteristics of blockchain technology make it an ideal tool for database management. In addition to corporations, governments around the world have also been utilizing the technology to create secure database systems and provide citizens easy access to official documents such as land records, vehicles registry, e-governance, patent claims, and more.
Blockchain empowers data managers with high integrity and security encryption. Its hashing mechanism also chain-links data through cryptographic means. Changes in data, if any are updated through all the blocks, and the shared ledger is updated for all network members. As previously mentioned, blockchain facilitates data traceability, immutability, consistency, and efficiency. The process also enables auto-verification and consensus agreement in the form of participation of all node members.
The lack of a distributed database among organizations poses problems in identification, authentication, and authorization. Paper-based identities may be subject to loss, theft, or fraud. This is why both public and private organizations are switching over to blockchain-powered identity management systems.
Blockchain features interoperability, increasing the processing speed of an organization and reducing underlying bureaucracy. Blockchain-powered Web 3 innovations bring forward verifiable credentials and decentralized identifiers. It is bringing a new form of digital identity management to the mainstream- the self-sovereign identity.
Finance and Insurance Management
The global finance sector had been one of the earliest adopters of blockchain technology. It continues to be the dominating segment in blockchain applications with a market share of 46%. Blockchain networks facilitate an open inclusive environment complete with operating models, processes, and time-saving, significantly decreasing counterparty risks and potential losses. In the trade finance sector, blockchain-powered innovations have been used worldwide to accelerate Letter of Credit and KYC/AML compliance with real-time verification. Global research indicates blockchain can help financial corporations save as much as $12 billion annually.
Blockchain is also revolutionizing the insurance sector, speeding up and automating claims settlement processes with smart contracts. Tokenization can boost policy reinsurance across open marketplaces, eliminating conventional brokers from the process. The disbursement of insurance payments can also be automated. Compounded annual growth rate projections for blockchain are among the highest in the insurance sector, estimated to reach $1.4 billion by the next year, at a CAGR of 84.9%. The technology also helps in the elimination of fraud in the insurance sector.
Blockchain’s intrinsic traits are being increasingly utilized in marketing. A decentralized P2P platform allows marketers to reduce expenses starting with the removal of 3rd parties. It also facilitates an advertising ecosystem that allows brands to connect directly with the right target audience through the right publishing channels. User data remains secure, and it cannot be stolen. In addition, there are also payment provisions.
Experts suggest the groundbreaking platform can deliver superb results in at least 8 aspects of marketing strategies, including:
- Prevention of Ad Fraud
- Blockchain-powered Social Media Platforms
- User Reward Programs
- eCommerce and Social Commerce
- Loyalty Programs
- Protection of User Data
- Influencer Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
A close observation of the management principles in practice reveals a lot in common with martial arts philosophies. After all, management is a multidisciplinary field that requires a proper understanding of human behavior, as well as the possible impact on the environment and surroundings. As a technology, blockchain provides a wide range of possibilities that modern managers can use to accelerate business processes through streamlining and increasing operational efficiency. The further amalgamation of human operations and technological innovations will contribute to a better tomorrow.