Principles and Guidelines for Starting and Running an Organization by Kerstin Utas

Business and education are two huge forces propelling individuals and society into action. In trying to understand the right role of business, and righteous business creation, we have uncovered many gems, and found new paths.

In life, we meet so many heroines and heroes.  We had the great fortune to meet Kerstin Utas (1946 – 2013), whom we fondly called Justine, as justice seemed so much part of her nature and personality. Justine was part of the initial working group in Sweden that started Humana People to People.

She was a person devoted to action, to getting things done, rather than time wasting, shoulder-patting committee meetings.

I only knew her for the last 10 years of her life, and recognized always that I was in the company of someone with great depths, with much to offer, as yet, unexpressed.  We sought out her thinking in India, and later in Sweden, on business creation that would have as its goal the upliftment of society.  At my urging, she wrote down the guidelines and principles that she and her friends humbly followed to create Humana People to People, now a multinational organization.

Kerstin Utas

Kerstin Utas

Principles & Guidelines for Starting and Running an Organisation

by Kerstin Utas, 2012
Initial Working Group, Humana People to People

Say you are a group of people who want to start an organization or project;

  1. Agree to:
    • stick together for three years to start with;
    • have little care about whatever there is for living, live simple and put all the rest into the    project:
    • not marry, not have children, and not use drugs or alcohol during this time;
    • not count working hours;
    •  take any task that is of the use for the project;
    • make decisions by consensus even when the discussion gets long and difficult.
  2. Do it (whatever it is you plan to do) for your own sake and out of compassion.  For no other
    reason. Always do what you feel is righteous. The only reason for your work is to express  Dharma.  Nothing else – when we start to look at it more deeply – is a good enough reason to  do anything at all.
  3. Carry your heart outside your shirt and your hands outside your pockets
  4. Do not take money from others. Make your own money. With money comes dependence. Through this back-door sneaks something you might not want.
  5. Keep bureaucracy at a minimum. Do not specialize – be jacks of all trades. Always make the
    work a service, not a power platform.
  6. Stay true to the vision – make sure you have one – and at the same time be exacting on every
  7. Remember that failure does not exist: only experiences exist. Do not hang on to what proves not to be useful. Let it die. If someone accuses you of failing, respond: “Is that so?”
  8. Never count on (good) publicity. Publicists of all kind have their own motives. Here something
    can sneak in that back-door again. Use the jungle drum. Let people tell people about your work, knock doors, spread pamphlets, make road shows, whatever.
  9. When the organization or project grows (after a couple of years) divide into small self-sufficient units. Have the courage to let them make their own decisions. Just be of service to them with  your experiences if they want it. What can not survive will die – that is OK.  Use the  cooperative idea to keep the “movement” together, if you wish it to keep it together.
    Remember that organizations follow the same principal as everything else in nature. They are  born, they are full of life, they grow, they mature… and then they start to die. In my  experience, an organization’s lifespan is between 20 and 25 years. If it survives after that, it is probably no longer alive; it survives as a dead body, more or less. Cooperation is a way of fooling death, so to speak.
  10. Follow the laws of the country (even when they are stupid).
  11. Meet every year in a nice place in nature. Check if you are true to your ideals in every little
    detail of your work. How do you deal with money, people, publicity, etc.? Can you be proud of
    Now I am not talking about the countable results. That is another meeting. I am talking about how you go about getting your results. Is your work 100% following the ethics you started out with?
  12. Have fun.

An outcome of those initial efforts can be seen here:

PK Willey

PK Willey, Ph.D., is an American, a Gandhian scholar, author and entrepreneur, who has delved deeply into Gandhi's Earth Ethics. Willey seeks to enhance philosophical discourse around the world where globalization has altered ethical values, particularly in the USA. Willey finds Gandhi's ideas, thoughts, and example, to be invaluable in this effort. Currently, besides numerous articles and book projects,Willey is developing a new framework for qualitative research that employs Earth Ethics, guided by a Gandhian compass and Weibust's Transformative Paradigm.

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