Economy of Communion XIV: Construction of Economic Democracy

Spirituality of Unity

The case of Loppiano Prima underlines how pillars of communion, instru­ments and aspects are strictly interrelated and how they contribute to develop respect with the construction of economic democracy using the spirituality of Unity inside and outside of an entity. In fact, living aspects of commun­ion without dialogue, trust and reciprocity, can create a simple organizational structure which could overwhelm people. The company proves to be consist­ently socially-oriented in regard to the centrality of human beings and the quality of relationships it develops both internally and externally, along with the environment, as well as the actual re-examination of its operating in light in this direction. To this end, instruments of communion are useful to renew options and make it continuously effective. In fact, it must be kept in mind that communion is not achieved once and for all, but it is necessary to rejuvenate it, improve it and, where necessary rebuild it once more. In this way, the cor­porate mission extends into society, so that entrepreneurs and managers can find a broader sense or logic to their work that is not the exclusive fulfilling of enterprise’s legitimate and dutiful economic purpose.

The firm has both a social mandate and a social vocation

Nowadays it appears that the crucial element on which to focus the atten­tion, that is if the firm wants to achieve a lasting success, is the person and the modality of relationship adopted inside the firm along with the outside. Therefore, it cannot be disregarded that, the adoption of an integrated social orientation can constitute a convenience for the firm, both from an internal and external point of view. From the external perception, it is important to consider not only the product/service the business can offer to the clients and the perspective that the social community has, but also the quality of relation­ships the business is able to build with the stakeholders. On the other hand, with regard to an internal point of view, it is enough to say that, in the present social – economic context, where the resource knowledge is the main aspect upon which to build the competitive advantage, firms need to use all the pos­sible strategies to employ and maintain the best human resources. This way, the firm answers not only to the ever new and pressing social and sustainable demands, but also to that insuppressible social vocation which springs directly from its own nature.

I have learnt the importance of Communion and expounded my understanding of the firm’s purpose

The training was successful and to me it has increased both knowledge and made me learn the importance of communion. And that the feeling of personal comfort is found in social relations, living in common, means that we are one united, the others joy, success, failure is mine and what they go through I go through too.

From this I strongly believe that not so long a lot of companies assumed something quite different about the purpose of business, they said, quite simply that the purpose is to make money but that proved a vacuous  as a saving, that the purpose of life without eating is a requisite not a purpose of life, without eating, life stops, without profit, business stops. Thus profit is a requisite not a purpose of business.

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

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Economy of Communion in EA XIII: Judging Experiences thro Spiritual Theory

By emphasizing the difficulties that also business with a clear ethical mission can face, our objective is to transmit the awareness of the problems to operate in the actual social-economic context, characterized by complexity. The use of ethical references can’t be considered as a reduction of complexity, but if it is clearly adopted, correctly integrated in the business management, and coher­ently practiced in the daily activities it can become an instrument of govern­ment of the business and of the complexity itself. In the following sentences we offer some examples.

Dilemma: should we invite the technicians into the cooperative board?

For a business that produces wine, the possibility to plant new vines is im­portant as the choice of producing red or white wine. The interaction among technicians and the administrative manager and the following confrontation between the administrative chief and the responsible person for the technical area is operated according to a principle of collaboration and communion. This preface helps the dialogue among everybody, because it creates a demo­cratic context, in which all the people are open to listen to what the other has to say. In other words, everyone is free to express their own ideas whether from a technical point of view or a professional one. The objective is impor­tant along with the way it is obtained.

PILLAR: Dialogue;

INSTRUMENT: Communion of experience through the proposals of technicians and confrontation;

ASPECT: Light blue; the management and the organizational structure is flexible and not based on a hierarchical structure, but allows for eve­ryone to contribute.

Dilemma: The business acquired a cooperative that had already existed. Take on the ex-farmers or not?

One decides to take on the farmers (ex. Sharecroppers) who had lived there with their families for over 100 years and where there was a sort of a special relationship between both religious and non-religious or atheist people. Which difficulties will be present? Which instruments will be used?

PILLAR: trust, the choice is made on the basis of trust in the ex-farmers, that otherwise could have changed their behaviors towards the coopera­tive and worked less.

INSTRUMENT: communion of experiences.

ASPECT: Indigo, people improve not only professionally, but also per­sonally.

Dilemma: Weed killer or natural disinfestations?

The choice of disinfestations would have saved a lot of money and this would have had an enormous advantage on finances that were already small. But an option of this type would have been against the general objective of respect of human beings and the environment.

PILLAR: Dialogue

INSTRUMENT: the pact on the mission of the business and the anthro­pological vision.

ASPECT: green, one decides for the wealth of the people, whether hu­man and environmental

Dilemma: in a working community we need to consider the needs of the family and all employees?

The Loppiano Prima decides to take into consideration the family of every employee and to distribute a salary that reflects their conditions.

PILLAR: Dialogue; trust; reciprocity – people are not equal, however they are distinctive persons and you can institute a special relationship with them.

INSTRUMENT: The private talk, with the objective to understand the personal situation.

ASPECT: red- also the economic aspect has its importance.

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

Economy of Communion in EA XII: Aspects of Communion

Communion can be carried out daily, both in personal and business life. To represent it through a metaphor, the light can be considered. When a light beam passes into a prism it is refracted in seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, indigo, violet). So, to consider the person at the centre of the business has infinity of concrete implications and nuances. Rainbow Score (Golin and Parolin, 2003; 2006) is a management tool based on a balanced scorecard approach. Rainbow Score also goes one step further. It assigns a value to each aspect which is not solely dependent on the effect of financial performance – financial performance being regarded as only a part of overall performance. It highlights and defines all forms of wealth produced, espe­cially those supported by ethical motives or ideals. Through the seven color frame we describe seven business and human aspects and present an explicit value creation structure – both stock and flow – which can inspire effective strategies, managerial methodologies, accounting and reporting methods.

  1. Economic dimension – Red. The economic and financial dimension is the first business aspect we consider: this indicates a company’s health and is the combined product of the commitment, professional competence and skills of the entrepreneur and employees. We can include a financial analysis but we must also look at other processes and information involved in value creation. Planning and account­ing for healthy company growth requires us to consider different aspects beyond just profits and profitability, e.g. new job opportuni­ties – considering quality and amount, salaries and benefits – and solidarity inside and outside the company.
  2. Relational Capital: Orange. The second aspect is relational capi­tal seen as the combination of all real and potential external rela­tionships of the company. Here we highlight a basic dimension for the company – the customer and supplier network. Total Quality Management and Stakeholder Theory (Rusconi, W. P. 2008) have already focused their attention, embedded in management practices, on various customer interests, indicating different ways of identify­ing and answering specific needs. Relational capital can be consid­ered in three ways: as direct relational capital, basically needed in trade exchanges, for instance when participating in fairs; as indirect relational capital, i.e. all the sets of relations which help develop the company reputation, e.g. public solidarity actions; and as relational goods, referring to the contents of human relationships, independent from any immediate financial benefit, i.e. as in friendship between colleagues.
  3. Corporate culture Yellow: Describing corporate culture is the first step towards rediscovering the original reasons behind the forma­tion of the company, and involving people working at the company in this process arouses enthusiasm and the search for practical ways to align stated values with company life. Managers know that val­ue alignment and trust increase both efficiency and effectiveness, whilst controls and sanctions can fail and be costly. This is why it is worth evaluating ethical effectiveness by analyzing whether mana­gerial behavior, strategic choices, internal and external relations are consistent with the business mission ethical commitments.
  4. Social and environmental quality Green: It examines what contrib­utes to well-being in the company and in some ways represents both welfare and a well-being health index. A challenge facing manage­ment lies in creating more responsible and less stressful workplaces. Empowerment and engagement can help generate organizational trust which results in real well-being in the company. Moreover so­cial quality is strictly connected to environmental quality: both need to be planned and accounted for to maintain deliberateness and con­tinuity. In this way company initiatives can be models for the civil society.
  5. Human capital and working community – Blue. The fifth dimension considers human capital and the working community in all organi­zational forms and expressions, the ultimate aim being to harmonize them. The organizational setting through which the company out­lines its manufacturing and working teams is not complete by itself but is already a clear expression of the value given to the people working within it. In this way the organization has a strong influence on the company’s development, not only regarding process efficien­cy but also process contents. Moreover, the organizational style can­not be separated from the relational style and the corporate cultural identity, but expresses them in daily management: the organizational role might assume the functional role by allocating everyone to the right place so that they are at ease and can give the best of their pro­fessional and human competences and skills.
  6. Intellectual capital: education, training and innovation – Indigo: Intellectual capital is linked to talent exploitation and in the organiza­tion evolves from the supply and demand of various stimulations oriented towards the development of the company which come from both external and internal sources. Frequently, the scenarios that managers deal with are those of innovation and know-how growth. It is a context exposed to risks of individualism and intellectual capital concentration on one or few people which can increase competitive­ness and be of detriment to the work climate.
  7. g. Communication – Violet: The last dimension is a cross key to many of the topics discussed above: corporate internal and external com­munication. The meaning of communication may sometimes appear to overlap with that of information so that one might be distinguished from the other.
Good Communication results in New Behavior

Nevertheless, etymologically, communica­tion is more than just an exchange of information; when applied in its broadest sense it assists the information to become operational, eventually resulting in new behavior. Moreover, effectiveness in communication is due to the obvious possibility of speaking the same language and being in harmony with the addressee’s aims and values. This demands a similar, shared experience to create the “we” feeling. This might require adapting the language to that of the stakeholders involved. A result is seen in active feedback and general participation.

Rainbow score considers the production and relational aspects of the firm

Real and effective strategy becomes operational whenever it can be both a guide and a process of analysis. From this perspective the seven colors report­ing system, which is a natural implementation of Rainbow Score, helps ex­plain the reasons for the company’s success and suggests actions to improve it. Meanwhile the inner connection among various aspects makes manufacturing processes and relational dynamics comprehensible (Golin and parolin, 2003 and 2006). Giving each aspect a value in itself permits us to consider every single aspect as a stepping stone to others. In the same way that the seven colors of the rainbow come from the same light, inside the company all choic­es, events and problems are integrated and inter-dependent with each other.

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

Economy of Communion in EA XII: Communion Instruments

Communion in Corporations, as well as social orientation generally consid­ered needs to be continuously fostered. It is unrealistic to think that it is pos­sible to achieve it once and for all. Adopting instruments or tools which can help people to improve is very relevant, and in some cases can reconstruct it. The Instruments of Communion are: The Pact on Corporate Mission; The Communion of Soul; The Communion of Experience; The Moment of Truth; The Private Talk.

(i) Pact on Corporate Mission. Signing a Pact, in which the Cor­porate Mission is clearly defined, means identifying the purpose of the business and how it is going operating into the market place and in relation to the Stakeholders (internal and external alike). Defining and signing a Pact on Anthropological Vision is also very important. This allows the consideration of relationships not only from a tech­nical point of view, but also from a human perspective. Therefore a «productiveness» (Blum, 1956) concept is underlined, which in­cludes productivity, and the climate from how such a production is carried out, along with the quality of the relationship.

(ii) Communion of soul sharing: with someone at the beginning of the day can be very rewarding. In fact ones joy can be shared with others, and problems can be shared and solved. Of course, it must be done with tact and discretion in order to avoid hearsay spreading or trust being betrayed. As Barnard emphasized, every individual asks for consideration as a person, which means his personal life can­not be left outside the door of the business (Barnard, 1938). This is simply unattainable, and a effective manager should be aware of this and take it into account.

(iii) Communion of Experiences: The Communion of Experiences is also a cornerstone of these instruments of Communion. It means that it is possible to share our knowledge and our experiences with others. This form of narrative could be considered an integral part in shaping personality, and in general terms, making sense (Weick, 1995). Sharing experiences can be considered, in a metaphorical way, like the action carried out by a forerunner. He can be a role model to others, and they can feel encouraged to surpass difficulties or they can simply find relief in the fact that others have had similar encounters, enabling them to find a way forward.

(iv) Moment of Truth: An important instrument to strengthen com­munion inside the firm could be the so called “Moment of Truth”. Thanks to The Moment of Truth it is possible to articulate both nega­tive and positive attitudes in people’s behavior, in order to help over­come negative viewpoints and to be strengthened and encouraged in acting on the positive ones.

(v) Private Talk: Through private Talk, it is possible to share, among people with more experience and/or responsibility in work or in spiritual life, our mind, concerns and conditions at a certain mo­ment in time. In the case of the person who receives or gives help, it is very important to do so practicing dialogue, trust and reciprocity, with open mind and soul, in order to allow the other to express one­self in his mind, and offering what can be useful and activated.

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

Economy of Communion in EA XI: Pillars of Communion

Referring to Pillars of Communion three elements can be considered: Dia­logue, Trust, and Reciprocity.

Dialogue

Thanks to dialogue, the relationship among peo­ple can be realized. Dialogue can be more than a simple exchange of ideas. Emotions, feelings, motivations, aims, even the most deep spiritual things, can be exchanged when a good dialogue between people works on. Therefore, such a dialogue can be carried on with two attitudes which can be seriously considered: to listen and to speak.

Listening can be shaped in different ways and on different levels. In fact listening calls for silence, and it is possible to highlight at least three levels of si­lence (in a deeply-growing order): 1) the silence of the voice; 2) the silence of the mind; 3) the silence of the soul. Speaking and listening can be considered two faces of the same coin, known as dialogue. So, if silence constitutes the core of listening, then speaking is very important. Even speaking can be put into practice in different ways and intensity. Speaking can express a thought as it comes out from the mind, unrelated to the other, and without affecting the other. Speaking can become a bridge between the other for sharing ideas, feelings, and what is deep in mind and/or soul.

Trust

It is considered important, in this sense, to underline the role played by trust (Pelligra, 2007). According to John Locke, trust is that “vinculum societies” (Locke, 1954) (that is, “social obligation, social relationship”) without which even the most elementary forms of social life would be critically limited. Just think about all those acts we perform every day, without reflection, but that involve an attitude of trust. It is possible to see this disposition even in busi­ness relationships. It has been observed, for example, that “businessmen often prefer to go by their own “word of honor”, their handshake, the “common honesty and respectability”, even when the transaction implies the exposition to serious risk” (Macauley, 1963; Parolin, 2002) in the exchanges between firms, as well as in the interactions within the firm itself.

Receprocity

George A. Akerlof (Nobel Prize winner for Economy in 2001), referring to research carried out by George Homans at the Eastern Utility Co., introduces the category of “partial gift exchange”: “From the side of the worker, the gift given is the work in excess with regard to the minimum standard. From the side of the firm, the gift given is the salary in excess with regard to the one the workers can get if they would leave their present job.” (Akerlof, 1982, p. 544). The main aspect of Akerlof’s contribution is that he introduces the category of “gift” to explain that workers’ behavior which, according to the neoclassical theory, should be considered as paradoxical. Then, the sentiment they feel for each other and towards the firm, becomes the essential element, the rule, the norm that determines their behavior. “To a great extent – Akerlof continues – the gift given is approximately in the range of what the recipient expects, and the latter, in turn reciprocates in the same way” (Akerlof, 1982, p.550). Close to the gift, the reciprocity (Bruni, 2006) develops, in fact, “free gift, by its own nature, always producing the activation of inter subjective relationship «par excellence» that is one of reciprocity.” (Sacco and Zamagni, 2002, p.35).

Bruno specifies that, if reciprocity is one, there are many forms in which reci­procity can be implemented. He considers, in particular, three forms: a) “reci­procity without benevolence”; b) “reciprocity of Filial”; and c) “reciprocity agape”. It is extremely important that the three forms of reciprocity should be present in the business. The first (reciprocity-without-benevolence) brings some “market dynamics” inside the firm and thus assures more freedom. In the contract, in fact, the normative frame is defined inside of which everyone can act and this, if at first sight can appear as a vinculum yet can be considered liberating in the sense that it defines that due from every part (e.g.: defining working hours, extra-work, vacations, just wages, etc.).

Reciprocity -filial reminds us that inside the business the sole logic of the contract is not sufficient. Contracts are by their own nature incomplete. And making them efficient is difficult if people take shelter in logics such as «this is not my duty with Reciprocity filial highlights the need for everybody to make a step towards the other and to remove opportunistic attitudes that wear away and sooner or later eliminate reciprocity. The reciprocity-Agape gives dignity and emphasis to gratuitousness and to the unconditionally of action in that being animated by intrinsic motivation is not conditioned, as above stated, by anything extrinsic in its own origin, even if the effects of this kind of action are conditioned. It is important to underline that specificity of gratuitousness. So, all this stresses that a full communion among people within the business calls to activate also this form of reciprocity, considering communion features (it is free, open, universal and oriented to human flourishing).

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

Economy of Communion in EA X: Man, the Relational Being

Anthropological foundations

Taking the evolution of managerial theories into account, it clearly emerges how much the anthropological view that human beings have of themselves impresses the theory and practice of management (Argiolas, 2004). Many of the causes bringing about or fueling conflicts and/or cooperation within the organizations and particularly in the firms, can be traced back to the exercise of power and then, in the final analysis, the perspective that human beings take considering the diversity or, better still, the alteration. This point of view deeply affects relational modalities carried out in life together with others.

Man is a Relational Being Capable of sympathy

The meaning of the word other may be understood in a double perspective: anthropological and metaphysical. The other not only in what appears, but also in what is beyond appearance, in his intimate substance, in his ontology, in his penny Wining-being. It is not so easy – and most probably it is impossible – to suggest an unequivocal definition of “person”. Some researchers prefer speaking of the “mystery of the person” (Mounier, 1947) in order to highlight all its amplitude and depth (Sheler, 1970). Aristotle states that “human, in fact, is a social being by his own nature inclined to live together with the others” (Mazzarelli, 1979), and more recently Heschel affirms that “for the man to be means to be together with the other human beings. His existence is co-existence. He can never feel fulfilled or explain his own meaning if this is not shared, if it is not in relation with other human beings.” (Heschel, 1965). Such a perspective seems to be gaining ongoing and increasing interest and space, even within the economic debate, in which the anthropological principles underlying the ontological individualism are questioned by a wider and wider authoritative doctrine (Sen, 1977). It can be noted that also the human being emerging from a complete reading of Smith’s contribution is a relational being, capable of sympathy (Smith, 1966). That is, he is capable “to be in the other’s shoes” or, as Smith himself says, he is endowed with the capacity of being one with the other (Bruni, 1997), in a perspective that goes beyond the altruist – egoist dualism (Bruni and Sugden, 2000).

A Communion  in Unity

“Being in communion, living in communion means to experiment (perceive) that even though we are many (at least two, distinct) we are one (united). So that the other’s joy is mine, his or her pain is mine, the other’s success is mine, his or her failure is mine, what the other does I do (and vice versa, what I do is made by the other) and it is really such that, as an effect of the relation­ship, his or her being is inside me, I take it within me (and vice versa) and that makes us different from what we were before. In this perspective, it is important to specify how conditions of communion can be achieved. Operat­ing for achieving Communion, it is possible to underline three different kinds of Drivers: Pillars of Communion, Instruments (or tools) of Communion, and Aspects (or dimensions) of Communion.”

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

Economy of Communion in EA IX: Lopiano and Tough Choices

Tough Choices for Humanity

In 1974, there was lack of efficient infrastructure, this did not hinder the company to adhere to sound business practices. Certain pieces of land which had been abandoned for many years were in a disastrous state; and farm vehicles were scarce, because of the fact that there was only one farm tractor. The firm rejected easiest ways to produce which were harmful to the environment such as the use of herbicides. This notwithstanding the difficulty and the condition of abandonment of certain pieces of land, instead they hired three workers. This choice implied a higher cost from 1 to 30!

In this context, the company partners played a deep role, because, besides sharing the choice of “respecting the human and the environment”, they economically supported the firm. Particularly, “company worker-partners, precisely due to their particular ethical sensitivity and respect for nature. Since 2001 they have worked on the land using organic agricultural practices, adopting only natural-based substances and mechanical production methods, even revisiting traditional agricultural forms, such as green manure (a system of fertilizing that includes the sowing and planting of leguminous seeds into vineyards and olive groves). In the production of wine, physical processes are, to a great extent used (such as the cold for certain wine treatments, the use savant grade equipment, etc.) consequently obtaining a “living wine” that mirrors those Values with which it has been made. This style of production philosophy obviously means greater costs, but allows us to obtain a product which is health and of excellent quality, of great benefit to me final customer. These are but a few of the considerations for obtaining a product which is created from the co-operation and the commitment of people who want to promote agriculture for humans.”

Work relations

The employees were hired on the basis of their competencies, but in a spirit of solidarity too which develops by way of the interviews with the same employees trying to understand how they feel within the firm, sharing also their personal and family concerns. In the 70s, there was a wide gap between the wages established in the contracts for farm workers and those established in contracts for other categories of workers. From the beginning in Loppiano Prima, every worker or employee got the same wage according to the National Collective Contract for farm workers, but later they realized that this contract did not guarantee the same life quality to all workers, especially to those who had the largest families. Subsequently an idea which was shared by the Board of Directors came to be. Such an idea meant that in some way, trying to develop a form of contribution, termed “family wage”, took the conditions, the number of children and the eventual dependent spouse into consideration.

With other workers, a lot of tolerance needed to be exercised in order to avoid making quick decisions. In fact, one morning Giorgio Balduzzi left his house early as he had an important meeting. When he was on the road, he thought that he had seen a fleeting shadow which was hanging around the fuel depot of the Loppiano Prima cooperative. Out of curiosity, he approached slowly by car without his headlights on and suddenly … he turned them on and spotted a worker who was furtively stealing some fuel. Giorgio immediately thought of reporting him, but at the same time within few seconds, another thought was crossing his mind: “This worker is first and primary a person, despite my own and the firm’s great trouble, I must nevertheless overcome the initial anger and I cannot report him without first hearing his explanation”. Giorgio decided to talk with him and suggested telling him the facts and explaining his reasons, just as he was doing so now with the thief, to his direct superior also. Giorgio decided to verify the version of the facts directly with his superior and later established a penalty agreeing to it with the person in charge of the other company damaged. Afterwards, it was suggested to the worker that he find a new” job and once found that he leave the company.

Organizational rearrangement and future challenges

In order to improve governance among different subjects – i.e. community growth for experience – the activity, which until now was unitary, has been divided between two cooperatives: Loppiano Prima to whose name buildings are registered and which carries on the active services such as gardening, building maintenance, education and training, hospitality, etc.; whilst Loppiano Farm acquires the original farm activity along with all the working personnel.

Now Loppiano Prima faces new challenges particularly that of the promotion of a consortium at the industrial development centre which came to light in Loppiano. Giorgio Balduzzi talked about it during its inauguration: “On 17th -18th February, we opened the commercial outlet of the “Terre di Loppiano” Consortium at the Lionello Bonfanti industrial development centre, even if all the finishing touches are not yet completed”. The promotion of the Consortium was not a simple operation, due to many ethical problems which had to be faced, and also the presence of potentially competing firms, hence bringing a risk of conflict. This particularly happened with jam production. The eventual problems, which could have arisen, had been made explicit, each time trying to find the solutions which involved everybody and would not damage any single participating firm. The community experience and particularly the communion were and are tested by competition. Time will tell us how this new challenge has been faced!

 

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

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