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Holistic Flexibility for Critical Systems Thinking Inspired by the Nataraja

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The Nataraja is perhaps the most well-recognized anthropomorphic form of the Hindu god, Shiva. This paper articulates a set of principles for a recently developed conceptual lens in systems thinking called Holistic Flexibility for flexible and responsible management practice. The five most important function of the Nataraja, or the panchakritya, have been drawn on to articulate these principles; these principles are – "system as becoming", drawing from srishti or creation, "transformative flexibility", drawing from samhara or transformation, "responsible practice" drawing from tirobhava or (freedom from) ignorance, "spiral of learning" drawing from samhara or liberation, and "pragmatic artistry" drawing from sthithi or assurance. An argument is presented to establish the importance of management consciousness drawing from the Shiva philosophy. Behaviors associated with the principles are enlisted along with the challenges for managers to display these behaviors. The discussions presented argue that Holistic Flexibility and its principles can lend a new character to systems thinking as a state of mind to supersede a rational-analytical approach.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, Kingston-Upon-Hull, United Kingdom

Publication date: March 1, 2022

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