Kabbalah and Business: The Dynamic Corporation – Chapter 2

Kabbalah and Business

The Dynamic Corporation

Involvement, Quality, and Flow

involvement, quality, and flow

Chapter 2

Let us now explore one aspect of contemporary economic life–the field of corporate enterprise–by suggesting a particular formula for success that has roots in Chassidic thought as well as support from intimations in the Bible.

The three major arenas of interaction that characterize the corporate environment are:

1. Interaction between the company and its employees.

2. Interaction between the company and its markets.

3. Interaction between the company and its investors.

Any broad strategy for corporate success needs to address the dynamic governing each of these spheres.

The fundamental strategy that we wish to put forth is founded upon the three principles of Involvement (in Hebrew, meuravut), Quality (in Hebrew, eichut), and Flow (in Hebrew, zeriemah). It will become clear from the following discussion how each of these principles can serve to guide a corporation in negotiating its diverse interactions and together help maximize profitability and success.

The three dimensions of corporate activity identified above center around personnel (employees), product (markets), and capital (investors). Thus, our formula can be easily summarized as consisting of personnel involvement, product quality, and capital flow. Before we proceed to elucidate each of these components in light of Chassidic thinking, let us consider two places in the Torah where the significance of these three principles is hinted at.

The first is a phrase that appears in the book of Proverbs (8:22) where the Torah refers to itself in the following words:

G-d created me as the beginning of His way,
the most primal (in Hebrew, kedem)
of His works (in Hebrew, mifal [av])
from the outset of time (in Hebrew, me'az)

The words kedem ("the most primal") and mifal ("work") possess connotations which render them particularly relevant to a discussion of corporate enterprise. The word kedem, which literally means the "fore," denotes as well the concepts of "progress" or "advance." The word mifal implies any creative enterprise, and in modern Hebrew is used specifically to mean a manufacturing plant. Together, these two words evoke the following association from the above verse: "To advance an enterprise, promote me'az (in Hebrew spelled: mem, alef, zayin)–which we can take as an acronym for the three principles identified above: Involvement (meuravut), Quality (eichut) and Flow (zeriemah).

An additional Scriptural hint to this formula can be found in the verse:

And Jacob said when he saw [the angels approaching],
"This (in Hebrew, zeh) is a camp (in Hebrew, machaneh) of G-d (in Hebrew, Elokim)."

As can be seen, the initials of the phrase "this is a camp of G-d" also form this acronym, me'az.

The image of the "camp of G-d" serves as a fitting symbol for what every Jewish company should strive to become. The "camp" was the basic organizational structure that defined Israel's first phase of development as a people. Encompassing both their movement and settlement during the forty years of sojourn in the desert, the "camp of G-d" became the first paradigm of constructive group activity within the Israelite community.

In analyzing these three words (machaneh Elokim zeh, "this is a camp of G-d"), it is possible to arrive at an even more exact correspondence to the corporate principles suggested above. The "camp," as an organizational archetype, hints at the Involvement-driven group-structure one strives to create within a company. Its being "of G-d" hints at the Divine ideal of Quality that every organization should aspire to in its active life. Finally, the word "this is" (zeh), suggesting in our verse the ability to identify quality when one sees it, hints at the Flow (zeriemah) of creative force that inspires success(in Hebrew zeh and zeriemah both begin with the letter zayin and end with the letter hei.

The word me'az, which we have adopted as the acronym for the purpose of our study, literally implies the idea of something harking "from the onset of time." As such, it imparts a sense of the primordial, as does the word kedem ("original") that appears together with it in the verse quoted above. The relevance of things primordial to the subject of corporate enterprise lies in the implicit correlation which one can draw between creative success that is lasting and the primal roots of experience from which it derives its inspiration.

One can only have confidence that his creative efforts will be met with blessing if the inspiration for those efforts comes from an ancient and eternal source of wisdom. All things primordial last for eternity; the word for "eternity" (netzach) also possesses the connotation of "victory" and "success." If one's enterprise is established exclusively upon a contemporary and temporal knowledge-base, success may be achieved but it will not be lasting in nature. Enduring creativity is only possible by reaching beyond one's available resources and tapping into a primordial source of energy that infuses one's venture with an eternal and Divine character.

The Torah is, of course, the primary source of creative wisdom that comes down to us me'az. Let us now employ it in further exploring the subject at hand.


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