Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

The Guru in Me

Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

The Guru in Me

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is to deconstrct guru Tom Peters for his religion of management, and its mass worship. In the work presented, my intention was to confront myself with own assumptions, attitudes and perceived values. In my opinion every individual is following a vision of reaching a certain level of wisdom. There are numerous Gurus that our modern world is promoting and because of their status their ideas might have a huge influence on us.


The term guru derives from the Sanskrit and stands for a religious teacher. People not only hold the person, the physical appearance of the guru, as being sacred, but also the knowledge and the conduit of self-realisation. When broken apart the word guru becomes:

'gu' which represents darkness and Yu' meaning remover.

To make sense of the above one has to understand that the term "darkness" represents lack of knowledge, avidya.

In seeking moksha, the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth believers can seek a relationship to a living guru, since gurus are the embodiment of god. In modern use of language and writing a guru, especially in the west, has extended its metaphorical meaning to "expert".

The question that arises is "Why do we follow Gurus?"

One explanation can be the search for meaning in life. They offer fulfilment and promise a peaceful and happy life (, 2004).

Herein the emphasis lies on management Gurus. How can we transfer the above to a Management context?

If we accept religion as a framework of rituals and symbols we can apply the idea of religion to Management. In Management we follow rules, rituals and symbols. Every morning we are called to the holy mass, worshipping the corporate identity manual and confessing our companies inability to keep the promise of short delivery times to our customer (Thomas, 1993, pg. 63-66). Our Consultant will teach us by showing us how we can improve quality, reduce wastage and improve happiness in our jobs.


In order to answer the questions of the given task it was necessary to choose one particular Guru. Because of the methodology used (Appendix A) the choice was to focus on Thomas Peters (Tom), co-author of In Search of Excellence and many other books. His book In Search of Excellence is another source of inspiration for the findings presented herein. To understand the rationale behind the choice it is important to explore the reason as to why Tomas Peters can be seen as a Guru. It is worthwhile mentioning that Guru Rankings exist and are male dominated. In Accenture's Guru Ranking Peters came in second only outstripped by Porter (, 2004).


Given we accept the application of the religious term of Guru to the modern world of corporate culture a Management Guru can be seen as a teacher with expert knowledge. By demonstrating his superior knowledge he will guide the way into wisdom. His book was revolutionary because it identified the key concepts of success of what he called excellent companies. If we the believers would now follow these concepts everyone should have an understanding of what it takes to transfer a company from mediocrity to excellence. In this particular case the world of corporate business was awaiting the advent of a new bible (Peters et al, 1982). Peters was able to deliver because he identified what needed to be written. In his own way he gave his idea meaning by writing In Search of Excellence (Derrida, 1978, pg. 11). Peters became a Guru because he had the gift to present his work in a time where Managers strived for solutions. It was the right thing to do since there was a demand for his expert knowledge (Kennedy, 2004; Whitford, 2004). I will discuss, later in the piece, the importance of the timing to enforce this statement. …

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