LSD for the Social Business


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JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at, quotes his friend Prof. N. Venkatraman in his latest blog (emphasis mine):

“… businesses used to be hierarchies of business units whose assets were called customers and products; that they are changing into networks of business units whose assets were called relationships and capabilities.”

Also, Verna Allee talks about Value Networks instead of Value Chains as the next gen of business visualization & analytics.

These are fundamental changes in the beliefs in Business, not just behaviors. One that I am happy about since I can relate to them instinctively, thanks to my heritage.

This instinctive understanding of Human & Social Capital as well as Value Networks (though I cannot measure them as the scientists do) stems from the concept of the three Goddesses for Kalvi, Selvam, Veeram (I use the Tamil words instead of Sanskrit for a reason that will be evident later in this post):

  • Kalvi means Knowledge,
  • Selvam means Wealth &
  • Veeram means Courage.

I did not realise it until I heard Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik talk about the three Indian Currencies – LSD or Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga.

Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth, Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge & Durga (a form of Shakti, another Goddess) is the Goddess of Power (may be Courage is a better equivalent, will be evident later below).

I guess you all are aware of the role of wealth for business & now increasingly about the role of knowledge in organizations, cue in Knowledge Management here. Very recently there are talks about Emotions and especially Empathy in the customer facing aspects of the business.

N.B.: By Customer I mean both internal & external, I always do.

This third aspect of Power in the LSD framework of Dr. Pattanaik is what he relates to as Emotional Power, rather than Physical Power. He says that by being kind I can empower anybody and my being mean I can dis-empower the same person. If I say to you in a party, “Oh my! You have gained a lot of weight since we last met!”, you would (most probably) feel drained of energy, become depressed. But if I were to tell you, “Nice shirt!” (as Esteban did once to me last year) you would feel a boost in energy. There is an emotional transaction taking place here. And thus Durga is a form of currency too. (So can we say Emotional power = Courage?).

To understand how the three currencies personified by LSD you need to consider how they are ordered in Tamil – Kalvi, Selvam, Veeram. But its not a one leads to the other kind of relationship. Let me take the help of Dr. Pattanaik again:

The wise say that if you want Lakshmi to come into your life, you must never chase her. She must chase you. Otherwise she will come into your life with her twin sister, Alakshmi, goddess of quarrels. A house filled with wealth as well as strife is a house inhabited by both Lakshmi and Alakshmi.

… Lakshmi without Saraswati, invites Alakshmi. And that is not a good thing. And Saraswati without Lakshmi invites Daridra, goddess of poverty, which is not a good thing either.

Neither financial security nor knowledge can guarantee emotional security … To get Durga into our lives, we have to give Durga. To feel secure and included, we have to make others feel secure and included. This will never happen if we are not sensitive and we differentiate between what is ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’. To break this divide, we once again need Saraswati.

So if you consider the Indian belief, Saraswati is kind of first among the equals that the Tridevi (Three Goddesses) are. And this is because knowledge makes us not only wealthy but also sensitive, or in other words, makes us empathetic.

Emotions & Empathy have suddenly become important. Humanizing the brand is a hot topic – a buzz word for most in PR, Marketing & Advertising. Relationships, Networks; Connections.

Connection is nothing but a meaningful, authentic relationship with other people. It is the essence of human experience. Empathy is what allows us to connect with others.

As per Psychology, at the other end of spectrum of Empathy is Shame. Empathy moves us toward deep, meaningful relationships. Shame on the other hand unravels our relationships & connections with other people. It breeds Fear, Blame & Disconnection. Have you seen these at your workplace? I bet you did.

The pointer that moves between Empathy & Shame in the spectrum is called Vulnerability. Interestingly, we are at our Empathetic best when we are most vulnerable – willing to share not only our strengths but also our struggles. To understand others’ vulnerability, we need to be vulnerable ourselves.

To get Durga, give Durga.

Courage, or what the Psychologists would call Ordinary Courage, is being able to speak about yourselves as is, tell our stories. But unfortunately, Culture has changed. Though people have not (their psychology). People are hard wired in their brains to share their stories but culture makes them afraid of not fitting in, comply to the Social Norm.

What could help here is Compassion – being able to hear & listen to others’ stories. But since Durga is reciprocal, listening to shame can be shameful for us. Which again means, we need to have the courage to listen to others’ stories in addition to compassion.

To understand more about Shame & Empathy, please do listen to Dr. Brené Brown:

So what is the ROI of social media again? Try using LSD as the currencies rather than mere monetary currencies. A Balanced Score card might be closest to it. Got any other framework/methodology/model? Please do let us know. 🙂

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Prem Kumar Aparanji
SCRM Evangelist @ Cognizant. Additional knowledge in BPM, QA, Innovations, Solutions, Offshoring from previous roles as developer, tester, consultant, manager. Interested in FLOSS, Social Media, Social Networks & Rice Writing. Love SF&F books. Blessed with a loving wife & a curious kid. :)


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