Courses

Following are description of several courses I'm teaching in the area of spirituality, Buddhism and management.

  • Invitation to Unknowing
  • Buddhist Reflection of Organizational Development
  • Nine to five: Buddhism in the workplace
  • Discovering the Inner leader: mindfulness in management

Invitation to Unknowing

One of the major clichés in the business world – and rightfully so – is that more than ever, we live in a period of uncertainty. How, in such a turbulent period, can businesses and people act wisely, considerately and profitably? Is it desirable to reduce or control the uncertainty, or can we actually embrace it as an asset into our lives? Is uncertainty a problem that needs to be solved or eliminated, or maybe it is a state of being that can be lived wisely? Is it possible to make the right decisions while proactively searching after the unknown, giving up on what is known? Is it possible to conduct business out of humility, generosity and compassion?

The proposed workshop is an unusual program designed for a small group (up to 20 people) of business students, who have maybe undergone daily direct uncertainty in the past, but will certainly experience a lot more of it in the future. We will try to find out how giving up our assumed understanding and definitions of the various aspects of our lives (whether with peers, employees, customers, competitors, or the general competitive market in which we operate) can be an asset and not an enemy to be fought with. Learning will evolve out of sharing dilemmas from the working life of the participants, and through meeting with some conventional and some unconventional learning methods such as koans, Zen stories, meditation, sharing our experience, role playing and case studies.

This is not a course in Buddhism, This is not a course in management, business strategy, or their applications. This is a program where we invite students to engage in a free, positive meeting with the uncertainty in which we live, with modes of thought and action aimed at opening space for realizing our automatic responses to certain situations and  learning to avoid them. Buddhism and innovative management theories are the substrate for this.

Learning will be established around the life events (professional and personal) of the participants. Theoretical learning will take place through short lectures, as appropriate. We will also learn from the dynamics of the group, and reading the materials recommended by the facilitator of the program. Each session will start with meditating.

Here are some topics and terms that may rise during the meetings:

  • Relevant principles of Buddhist philosophy and practice
  • Principles of complex systems
  • Seeing our seeing: clear diagnosis of reality – identifying fixed models of reality, observing the way we perceive the world, ways to dismantle fixations and fears for accurate and clear management.
  • Knowing without knowing: Dealing with uncertainty – can we react to uncertainty from a “moment to moment” mindful state of mind. Is there a deeper knowledge source that we can connect to where knowledge emerges from the chaos?
  • Emptiness and Listening: emptiness as a way to give up control. This practice allows to listen not only from the mind but from the heart and soul, and engage in a “humble inquiry” state of mind.
  • Intent without intent: How do you make decisions in constant motion within a changing and complex environment?

Buddhist Reflection of Organizational Development

Every significant change, be it personal or organizational, involves a change in consciousness, a change of the mindset. Buddhism, more than any other approach, perspective or path, has developed the investigation of the human mind and the practical ways of achieving this investigation. The Buddhist spiritual doctrine is essentially different from the conventional Western perspectives – in diagnosing problems, working with difficulties, interventions, and the helpers' mind. What can the organizational consultant learn from it? Can we help others and ourselves through these ancient worldviews? Does this wisdom have a new message for us as organizational consultants? What is the connection between all this and the new sciences and the complex systems on the one hand, and the basic perspectives of consultation as a helping relationship on the other, for a new understating of our role as consultants in organizations?

During the course we will get to know a few basic principles of the Buddhist spiritual doctrine and their practical implications, through focusing on ourselves as consultants and our consultation approach.

These sessions will include frontal learning, reading segments, discussions, koans, role-playing and work on life events. Every session will begin with meditation.

The topics include

  • Introduction to the way of the Buddha: Buddhism's main principles
  • Application of the learnt principles in the consultation world
  • The consultant-consultee relationship – how does 'interdependency' and 'no self' influence the perception of the roles of consultant and consultee, and the relationship that is derived from it?
  • What is change according to the classical consultation approach and the Buddhist approach, and how does it happen?
  • Stages of consultation: Entrance, diagnosis, feedback, interventions, application – in Buddhist perception
  • Fresh view of consultation dilemmas
  • Panel of Buddhist consultants

Nine to Five: Work, Life and the Buddhist Spirit

Is it possible to examine our endeavors in our work life with a fresh eye, specifically through the ancient wisdom of the East? The program will address questions relating to work and its place in our lives, as well as the way in which the Buddhist perspective offers a reevaluation and clarification of the following questions that we ask ourselves:

  • What really motivates us? Why do we work? What is really important to us?
  • The compensation we receive: money, respect, satisfaction, contribution, giving. Is there a contradiction between the desire to earn and what is good for the "soul"?
  • Are we in the right place, doing the right thing, for us? For our colleagues? For our employees? For the community? For the environment?
  • Do we live at work according to our values?
  • The environment we work in: reciprocity between us and our environment. Relationships with others and team work. The difficult parts: organizational politics, frustration, burnout and anger
  • Creativity and innovation – where from?
  • Changes we are required to do: Do we have the power? The courage? The creativity? The inner freedom to do them?
  • Personal progress and development: Is the place I'm at for most of my life a place of growth? Of self-expression and an ability to influence? Of contribution? Of health? And what is success? What are paths to success?

During the program we will integrate materials from the content world of management, organizational behavior and Buddhist perspectives, through discussion of workplace dilemmas that participants will bring up.

Discovering the Inner leader: Mindfulness in management and business

The practice of attentive presence (Sati – mindfulness) in recent years has been transferred from far away isolated monasteries to the clinics, classes, and offices of therapists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and executives. Studies conducted in recent years show the effect of consistent practice of mindfulness on a large variety of phenomena: emotional regulation, physical and mental health, perceiving reality in a clear, complex and healthy way, on effective and creative functioning, on dealing with  stress, depression , burnout, procrastination and ADHD, on improving relationships, enhancing compassionate and responsible behaviors, and, surprisingly, changing the brain itself.

The complexity of life in the corporate and business world of today encourages many executives to be fully preoccupied in a nonstop “fire extinguishing” activities, amid a rush of events, stimuli and interferences. If in the past the average duration of manager activity was 8 minutes, today it certainly is much shorter, with a constant flow of emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, administrative tasks, and decisions to be made.

The challenges of leadership require not only results and achievements, but also a focused mind that is clear, responsive, and grounded in reality. They also require behaviors that are authentic, deep, precise, wise, brave, and modest. The practice of mindfulness and concentration may contribute to this.

In this 7 week program, 4.5 hours meeting per week, we will learn about and train ourselves in mindfulness and concentration techniques, and hear from medical doctors and neuroscientists about their various effects.  With the background stories of some executives, we will examine the feasibility of the practice, and its consequences in management and the business world. With the help of some of the leading  teachers of meditation in the country, we will try to  understand the global view of how this practice developed..

We will learn through the practice of mindfulness, focus and loving kindness meditations, case studies, role playing, and group discussions. A "buddy" system will help participants to meditate regularly between classes.

Objectives

Understand what is mindfulness, and its effects on physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, negotiations, and decision-making, and practice mindfulness in everyday life and  at work.

Examine the effect of mindfulness on various aspects of life in management and business.

Program main topics:

  • What is mindfulness: Historical view, east and west traditions, and its emergence in health, education, and business. Mindfulness and leadership in a complex business world.
  • Mindfulness as one of the eight paths to happier life: The Buddhist framework, and why mindfulness alone is not enough. Wisdom, morality, and meditation as interdependent.
  • Health, mental health, and mindfulness: Pioneering work of John Kabatz Zin, latest research on effects of mindfulness, long-term and short-term practice, and the different techniques based on mindfulness: MBSR, MBCT.
  • Mindfulness in and out of meditation: Learning about and practicing bare attention, concentration and loving kindness meditations. Mindfulness as awareness in life and in business – Allen Langer and Karl Weick research on mindfulness within work life.
  • Does reality exist? Or is it just our story? Perceptions of reality, and social construction of reality.
  • Our mind, our brain: Francisco Varela and brain research. Neuroscientist research into the active and default systems of the brain, effects of short and long-term meditations on our brain.
  • Sensing and feelings: Learning to mind our body sensations and emotions, emotion regulation, perspective taking, and dealing with negative emotions.
  • Management as ADHD practice: research and practice on multitasking and shifting attention, effects of mindfulness practice on the ability to focus.
  • Mindful Decision making: Integrating eastern and western models of decision making, emergence of answers from emptiness by mindful enquiry.
  • Interpersonal relations and conflict resolutions: Listening attentively, de-stereotyping and creating space in conflictual relations.
  • Leadership: losing yourself, finding yourself. Leadership inside out, and outside in. the Buddhist view.
  • Mindful leadership: Practicing unknowing, reaching right attitudes in complex problems.
  • Leadership, awareness and flow: Two managers who adopted mindfulness as a way of being, share their experiences, personal and organizational.
  • Organizational mindfulness: Can a collective be mindful?
  • Leadership and the bottom line: A mindful view of success, wellbeing, and profits.
  • A different worldview: Caring economics, collaborative consumption and economy, conscious capitalism, and other macro ideas for the future.

Teachers:

  • Dr. Oded Arbel (psychiatrist and meditation teacher, manages the mindfulness unit in psychiatric hospital, Teer Sheba);
  • Zeev Ben Asher (former VP Bank Hapoalim, Director and meditation teacher);
  •  Dr. Aviva Berkobich (Ohana, neuro scientist, Haifa University);
  • Moshe Horev (former president of Oracle , Israel);
  • Dr, Ricardo Tarrash (psychologist and neuroscientist, Tel Aviv University);
  • Dr. Stephen Fulder (Buddhist teacher, formed Tovana meditation center);
  • Nicholas Janni;
  • Prof. Jacob Raz (Zen master and lecturer in East Asian studies, Tel Aviv university); and
  • Dr. Ora Setter (Recanati Business School, Tel Aviv University).

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