Setting a New Place at the Board Meeting Table
by John E. Renesch
While I was serving as Editor-in-Chief for The New Leaders business
newsletter a few years back, Robert Rabbin wrote a column for us
called "The Corporate Mystic." Rabbin wrote Invisible Leadership in
1998 and has a new book coming out this month entitled Echoes of
Silence. One of his early columns for The New Leaders proposed that
companies that were serious about doing business in a more holistic,
more conscious way, establish positions within their management
structure so that one person would be responsible for the state of the
organization's consciousness. The person filling this position would
be responsible for scrutinizing the company's practices, policies and
plans from the perspective of human awareness and
higher-mindedness. They would also be given some power, some
clout, so that being part of the executive committee or board of
directors would not merely be "window dressing" or tokenism.
Establishing this position, retaining a "vice-president of
consciousness," and giving him or her the equivalent power of any
other officer or board member would be taking a highly-visible stand
for doing business more consciously.
Imagine an executive committee meeting in the boardroom with the
CEO, CFO, Vice Presidents of Marketing, Production and Technology,
the Directors of IT and Human Resources, the Corporate Treasurer and
Secretary joined by the Vice President of Consciousness! Any
company that creates this position would be giving as much
and importance to the consciousness with which they are doing
business as most other organizations are giving to matters of
administration, management, finance and other conventional specialty
In my opinion, Rabbin's idea might be more acceptable today than it
was five or so years ago when we published his column. As more and
more people continue to evolve personally and come to their own
enlightenment, ideas like this don't seem quite as radical or
out-of-the-question as they might have a short time back.
Adding to Rabbin's idea, I suggest that companies retain the services
of people who are experienced in the ways of traditional business but
who have also developed the ability to distinguish between form and
context, superficiality and substance, between unconscious
compliance and true innovation that comes from a new awareness. In
other words, they would have developed their own consciousness yet
could relate to most normal business situations that might confront
any executive committee in today's supercharged economic climate.
Blind conformance cannot be acceptable behavior for this new
member of the executive team and conscious discernment will be their
primary responsibility. Conscious discernment is what separates ordinary organizations
which have succumbed to the insidious forces that reside in
business practices - exploiting Nature and people toward improving
the financial bottom line - from the evolving "conscious organization."
If a corporation is to have any chance at being conscious, at least one
person in a leadership position in the company needs to have his or
her full attention on organizational consciousness.
Where would a board of directors or a CEO find such a talent?
would an executive search firm locate someone who could fill this role
which has no precedence or history?
I suggest that the candidates for this innovative executive position
could be found in the ranks of some very forward thinking
authors and business philosophers (a relatively new field). In addition, I
suggest that these persons not be employees, but third party
contractors - people who do not otherwise rely on the profitability of
the enterprise for their compensation. Hence, they are less likely to
be compromised by the system, much like the value an outside consultant
brings to a company - possessing an outsider's perspective and thus
able to see things that those within the system may not.
This Vice President of Consciousness would review reports, attend
meetings of the board or executive committee, and have an equal vote
on matters that matter. A comparative position in today's corporate
governance environment might be that of the outside (or external)
director. He or she would bring a similar perspective to the meeting -
from outside the corporate culture or system.
Filling this position would be very inexpensive, relative to the total
compensation costs of senior executives these days. A simple retainer
would suffice, individually negotiated. Matters of stock options,
bonuses and performance incentives would be counter-productive
since they would compromise the structural integrity of this position.
So payment would only involve a straight fee for services rendered.
I know any number of people who could fill this bill and would add
immensely to the credibility of any company that wishes to take this
bold step toward establishing itself as a conscious enterprise. So,
finding qualified candidates wouldn't be any problem.
So, how about it? Does anyone claiming to be running a conscious
enterprise want to put their money where their mouth is? Why not try
retaining a qualified individual who can serve the organization as the
corporate conscience, mystic, sage and philosopher - one who tracks
the company's consciousness in all its facets of activity, policy,
practices and strategies. For sure it would be bold. For sure it would
noteworthy. Probably even very media-worthy. And, for sure, it could
be asking for trouble if you are committed to maintaining the status
But, then again…..
2000 © John E. Renesch
AS A CO-SIGNER OF:
John E. Renesch
is a veteran businessman with over thirty years
experience as a business owner, principal or
entrepreneur. In his business career he served as CEO of
a real estate investment company, President of two NASD
broker-dealer firms, and managing principal for several
other enterprises, including a weekly newspaper, an
advertising agency and a promotion company. He is now a
full-time futurist, business philosopher, writer and
keynote speaker on topics that integrate the subjects of
business, human consciousness and possible future
scenarios for humanity.
has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The
Nikkei Financial Times, Business Week, CNBC-TV's
"Management Today Show," Chief Executive
magazine, National Public Radio, Forbes and Industry
Week magazines on the subject of consciousness and
been said that Renesch has caused more writings on the
subject of consciousness and business or organizational
life to be published than any other person in the world.
Over three hundred authors have contributed to twelve
anthologies which he has compiled since 1990, while
serving as Editor-in-Chief for a progressive book
to 1997 Renesch served as editor/publisher of The New
Leaders business newsletter. From 1990 to early 1992 he
was Managing Director of the World Business Academy, an
international association focused on new paradigms for
commerce. He is a radio commentator for Wisdom Radio and
serves on the advisory board of The Park, an Internet
community with a half million members in over 200
Bennis, best-selling author of leadership books for
nearly twenty years, calls Renesch "a wise elder
who shines with wisdom." Stanford School of
Business' Michael Ray calls him "a beacon lighting
the way to a new paradigm." The Futurist magazine
called him a "business visionary" in its
January 2000 cover story about the 21st
latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of
Conscious Choosing (New Business Books, 2000). More
information about him can be found on his Web site: www.Renesch.com
or email him at: