Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy

Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy

by Ravi Rao MD Phd Med

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475926170
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/26/2012
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)

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Emotional Business

Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy
By Ravi Rao

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Ravi Rao, MD, PhD, MEd
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-2617-0


Chapter One

The One-Handed Civilization

Several millennia ago, in a place now forgotten by the memory of time, an empire existed unlike any other.

On one fateful day, when the mighty ruler had ventured for a walk outside of his palace, a scorpion bit him and caused his right hand to become permanently paralyzed. Despite his distinguished record of bravery and phenomenal intellect, the limitation of his hand movements led him to doubt himself. He worried that his hand would attract more attention than his leadership.

In an effort to appease the insecure nature of their emperor, the clerics and his elite inner circle began to adapt the palace environment for him. Doors were adjusted to utilize left-handed movement. Small tools and eating utensils were reshaped to his convenience.

Still feeling awkward in the company of others, the emperor was pleased when the smaller improvements of the castle architecture were later accompanied by an unspoken rule that all servants, guards, and citizens should use only their left hand when in the company of the emperor. Every individual knew that to risk using both right and left meant offending the ruler and perhaps incur harsh repercussions. One-handed action was the only acceptable action.

It was not long after that the left-handed conventions propagated beyond the walls of the palace into the villages and vast regions of the empire. The mighty emperor served as a model for others in all respects of his life, so the thinking went, and as such his paralysis was interpreted to be either divine intervention or the basis of a new code of conduct for everyone to follow.

The emperor's long life sustained the expectation for one-handed activity over the ensuing decades. Profound changes were seen in both grand and granular aspects of daily living. Cooking, cleaning, tending to animals, caring for children, handshake greetings, and tasks of ordinary existence were done with only the left hand.

Slowly, generations began to internalize the one-handed expectation as accepted code of behavior, and not simply an obligation to follow. Parents scolded young children if they reached for objects with their right hand. Mentors trained their apprentices in left-handed skilled trades. Leaders and intellectuals promoted the inferior nature of the right side. Merchants only offered left-handed products.

Those involved in agriculture and carpentry silently questioned the wisdom of the unilateral restriction on their vocations. Activists pointed to the biological minority of individuals born left-handed as an argument for creating right-handed strategies. Some bold heretics implored, "Surely there must be a better way," but their suggestions were met with disapproval by those elites who preferred the stability of unnatural restrictions to following inherent human tendencies.

The emperor died many decades later, but by then the citizens had forgotten why they had originally switched to the left-only way of living. His demise did not trigger the demise of a cultural norm throughout the empire. The one-handed civilization continued even after his death for other emperors. People had, over time, simply accepted that one entire side of their body was somehow inferior to the other side and lived in accordance with that belief.

The one-handed civilization persisted for many years until the evolving needs of humanity and threats from other empires forced change. Warfare, and then rebuilding after war, required two-handed effort. Out of desperation to survive, people reexamined their historical inclinations. They questioned whether their aspirations would not be better served by using both right and left hands.

The one-handed civilization is a mythical fable invented to illustrate a weighty idea: an entire culture can be, for a variety of reasons, led to believe something that is neither in its best interests nor aligned with the instincts of the human species. It may, over time, begin to unquestioningly accept a false premise. The ramifications of such thinking can be profound, pervasively affecting many elements of people's lives. Such blind allegiance to legacy ideas is eventually reexamined only when it is clear that survival is at stake.

Our Own One-Handed Civilization

The premise of Emotional Business is that a similar tale can be written about the way humans have constructed companies since the advent of industrialization. In the past two centuries, we have not improperly separated right from left; rather, we have accepted the improper separation of business success from emotional success. While the separation may have served well the needs of business owners and shareholders for multiple generations, blind allegiance to separating emotions from business now threatens the viability of businesses everywhere. Importantly, emotional excellence must be recognized as an addition to the fundamentals of a successful business, not a substitute for what ensures business success today. Business success and emotional success are the separated right and left hands of the modern global economy; we need both to be successful.

The schism between business activities and emotional experience is pervasive in modern times. From the frontline clerk to the CEO, the modern worker (in both Eastern and Western cultures) has been indoctrinated to suppress the human brain's emotional instincts in favor of remaining dispassionate, disengaged, and even disingenuous in order to succeed professionally.

At the executive level, leaders have been conditioned to ignore crucial emotional information—the inadequacies within the customer experience, the flawed emotional dynamics of the management team, the inefficiencies arising from conflicted business units, the relationship wounds from a plant closure or new corporate acquisition, the lack of integrative values within the company—such that metrics solely drive decisions despite the intrinsic incompleteness of data. The unemotional upper echelon is driven by numerical outputs. Ignorance of underlying emotions can lead to catastrophic failure of a new initiative or merger or operational system, but this fact is not always recognized.

Individual leaders also face a false dichotomy to forge their identity as a rigorous, results-oriented tyrant or be a nurturing, naive softy who doesn't meet targets. In some settings, an individual leader is perceived as powerful and effectual only if she is unemotional. Contrary to the expectation that leaders can emulate machines, positions of power are actually centers of intense emotional experience; responsibility, loyalty, and trust are profound concerns in the mind of a leader. Nonetheless, the business climate has favored delegitimizing such emotional considerations. The instinct of a spectacular leader is to have emotional awareness of those around him in order to support the requirements for long-term company success. Today, this leadership instinct is suppressed.

Emotion and business functioning are separated not only within executive ranks, but throughout the employee hierarchy as well. Peers are frequently afraid to socialize (i.e., build collaborative networks) for fear of their manager doubting their productivity. New job candidates are scrutinized for their analytical skills but far less so for their communication skills, even though a lack of teamwork can have severe effects on results.

Many employees are supervised by intense attention to metrics in a way reminiscent of control panels of large machines. Frontline workers spend excessive hours completing time sheets and updates to performance indicator scorecards. When a human deviates from the constancy of a machine, then corrective action is applied.

While measurement provides a certain form of clarity that can support success, there is a point of diminishing returns where too much measurement interferes with results. For example, if a company has twenty-six monthly key performance indicators (KPIs), is the word "key" still necessary? With such hypermeasurement, valuable time is spent on the act of measuring rather than producing.

Minimizing emotions may at first seem like an appropriate business reflex: "Let's just do the work" sounds like a good way to avoid confrontation, disappointment, vulnerability, and frustration. Likely, no single person feels able to address the bigger culture challenges facing the company. Yet over time, this avoidant response fails the organization, as it ignores problematic emotional dynamics until they are too pervasive to fix.

The worlds of humor and entertainment have recognized the ludicrous nature of stoic interactions in business. Comics such as Dilbert and television programs such as NBC's The Office are beloved because they genuinely reflect the widespread familiarity with uninspiring workplaces.

The minimization of emotion extends beyond the walls of a company to the interface with customers. While companies may boast in glowing terms of their customer service aspirations, the reality is that stressful confrontations occur daily in numerous industries, ranging from airlines to health care. Staff indifference to customer concerns has become so widespread in retail settings that there is little difference between a human-run delivery system and an automated kiosk.

When did this separation of business from emotion begin? A scorpion bite to a mythical emperor's hand suggests that a single event can trigger such an era, but the path to emotionless business was more gradual.

In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution emphasized the capacity of machines as the primary predictor of business output. Individual smiths and tradesmen became less common, while workers in massive factories focused on large-scale production became the norm. The best businesses had the best machines; the idealized unemotional, asocial workers existed only to operate the machines. As machines don't possess emotions, the initial industrial organizational model presumed no emotions to exist within the overall business model.

The Industrial Revolution also altered the emotional interface between buyer and seller. Historical small-scale commerce among artisans, shopkeepers, and buyers was facilitated by long-standing relationships. It was important to know the name of the person who made your shoes or the strawberry jam on the family's dining table. In contrast, industrial commerce between large-scale producers, retailers, and consumers became conducted in an aura of anonymity. No one could possibly know the name of the person who managed the cutter or compressor in the enormous factory that made various household goods. Ultimately, the spread of industrialization became synonymous with depersonalization.

Industrial philosophy thus favored the creation of emotionally disengaged businesses and an economy comprised of emotionally ignored consumers. This philosophy has not been without criticism, however; is it really a coincidence that outcries of the evils of capitalism (including socialism and the contemporary Occupy movement) have come when business has deemphasized emotion? It is easy to mistake the evils of emotionless business as the evils of capitalism.

The emotionally minimized model of business may have worked successfully for an extended era to generate profits, but now, profound changes are occurring across the globe that will force organizations to revisit the emotionless expectation for leaders and the workforce.

The most significant of these changes is the evolution of the outputs of business itself. Companies have shifted from goods to services, from mass-designed to customized, from provincial to international. The asocial partitioning of people prompted by the industrial manufacturing approach of two hundred years ago is incongruent with business today. The modern knowledge-based, service-centered, design-enhanced global economy elevates healthy collaboration to a business imperative.

Even the role of people vis-à-vis machines has changed in recent years, prompting a heightened role for emotional sophistication in the manufacturing environment. Once upon a time, the machine was the center of the factory, and the human operated it. Today, with strict regulatory oversight across numerous sectors and a proliferation of product offerings, the primary role of many workers in sites of complex manufacturing and materials processing is to work with other humans.

In production facilities for industries as varied as pharmaceuticals, packaged goods, or petroleum refining, multifunctional teams now ensure quality and functionality of systems. Supervising a production line requires an end-to-end view of numerous subsystems, such as raw materials handling, processing, packaging, and shipping. If the team members do not understand how to listen and resolve conflicts with colleagues of varied backgrounds, production quality suffers as a result.

Collaborative capabilities are readily apparent to customers. Internal asynchronies of a company expose emotional flaws; mishaps in the transfer of information, seamless service, or deflective comments like "You'll have to call another department" trigger backlash and lost loyalty.

Further adding to the changing business landscape are emotionally volatile consumers. With social networking technologies, any celebrity with a complaint is now able to scream his frustration through his electronic megaphone to ten thousand potential customers, who are collectively pulled into the maelstrom of emotional dissatisfaction.

Companies thus find themselves in a messy transition, using an outdated organizational philosophy for a modern economy. Today's business environment requires knowledge sharing, creative innovation in teams, multifunction alignment, and responsive service.

So what will determine success? Emotion.

The historical attempt to exclude emotion from the business environment may ultimately have been a futile and counterproductive objective, no different from trying to avoid the right hand in daily living. Chapter Two explores the emotional nature of the human brain and the provocative concept of social neuroscience: The hundred billion neurons within each human brain are responsible for individual thought but also for emotional awareness and connection to others. Our individual brains are part of a broader network of neurons, spread within the species to promote survival through relying on each other for protection, support, and inspiration.

Said differently, even though emotions are an omnipresent attribute of human experience, we have attempted to create emotion-free business environments. This approach is bound to fail given the nature of the emotional brain and the biological predisposition of our species to feel. The Industrial Revolution aspiration for an emotion-free environment can ultimately be achieved only in a human-free environment.

Now is the time to grow individual company earnings and the collective economies of the world by applying insights about the neuro-emotional nature of the human species.

The Three Emotional Hurdles of Commerce

Modern economies have been built on the interdependence of humans to meet each other's needs. The seven billion people on the planet do not survive single-handedly. Each person does not grow his own food on a small swath of land, build his own shelter out of nearby wood, or reach into his own mind for entertainment.

The essence of modern life is that large collections of people are involved in providing increasingly specialized needs to each other. The provision of such (basic and esoteric) needs creates employment and socially rewarding roles for others, who in turn create market demand for additional products and services. Each person survives due to the efforts of thousands of others.

At the foundation of such interdependency is trust, the ability to exhibit personal vulnerability in the belief that another person/party will offer something back that is valuable. In the case of commerce, the buyer trusts that giving money to the seller will be reciprocated with a reliable product or service. Credit and other financial services are based on the assumption that people can be trusted to repay their obligations. Manufacturing is predicated on people trusting each other for layers upon layers of decisions within a supply chain.

Of course, many unscrupulous practices and practitioners exist, and thus every economic system must also implement legal safeguards and regulations to ensure that transactions can continue in an aura of transparency. When a company or an entire industry is found to have conducted business without regard to customers or investors, then the overall system loses the trust of the population.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Emotional Business by Ravi Rao Copyright © 2012 by Ravi Rao, MD, PhD, MEd. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface: The Author's Journey....................ix
Chapter One: The One-Handed Civilization....................1
Chapter Two: Descartes Was Wrong....................20
Chapter Three: RSTUVWX....................34
Chapter Four: Hurricane in a Closet....................53
Chapter Five: Get on the Same Page Now....................73
Chapter Six: Emotion as Business Strategy....................91
Chapter Seven: It's Really Bad around Here....................130
Chapter Eight: Change the Oil in Seven Languages....................143
Chapter Nine: The Ear Is Mightier than the Sword....................155
Chapter Ten: We Live in Four Boxes....................174
Chapter Eleven: The Good News....................190
Appendix: All the Lists in One Place....................195
About the Author....................213
Additional Reading....................215
Contacting Dr. Ravi Rao....................217

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