Rich in religious and philosophical anecdotes, Izzo and Klein's attempts to apply the "common thread" behind the world's great religions to the revitalization of the corporate culture sadly misses the mark. Building upon the Zen Buddhist tradition of focused and deliberate physical labor (pp. 12-13,) the book lays out a systematic plan for the revival of both the corporate and the individual soul via the building of real work-communities.
Recognizing that the corporation can no longer provide to its employees the type of financial reward nor security that it once did, the book seeks to answer the question of how managers can elicit loyalty and commitment from their workers when the corporation offers neither loyalty nor commitment in return. Not surprisingly, Izzo and Klein's attempts to answer this question mimic historically dominant responses to the dilemma-sell them a philosophy.
As Napoleon once astutely noted, "You can't buy a man's life, but he'll give it to you for a medal." _Awakening Corporate Soul_ is a medal for the modern corporate employee. It offers the chance to participate in a perverted version of ancient wisdom as the payoff for selling one's soul to the corporation.
The "Path" that Izzo and Klein present appears enlightened and appealing: Attend to your work; Shed the victim mindset; Speak the truth; Attention to detail; Avoid distractedness-all valuable insights. However, in their re-telling of the Buddhist work-myth (the focus of the master on his simple tasks) in the context of corporate culture, Izzo and Klein overlook one of its most important tenets-the work must be only for itself. The Zen master does not achieve enlightenment by counting the number of pieces of wood that he has gathered at the end of the day (or by counting the harvest of his pupils) but by finally admitting to himself that the count is meaningless. Corporate culture simply cannot do this, because it is antithetical to its ethos; and Izzo and Klein certainly do not suggest it as a management strategy.
The modern corporation will never give its employees the time that they need to achieve enlightenment through labor because, as the man says, "Time is money." As such, Izzo and Klein's attempt to suggest that the key to the path of enlightenment through labor lies in the pocket of the individual and not in the safe of the corporation is disingenuous at best. It is true that "the soul wants to shine through us and illuminate our work and work-places;" (5) but it is unfair to place on individual workers or managers the burden of responsibility for allowing the soul to shine through. It can never be true, as Izzo and Klein suggest, that "the awakening of the Corporate Soul begins with the individual," (8) so long as the goal of the corporation is profit through the extraction of surplus labor value.
"I loafe and Invite my soul,/ I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass" (Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass). These are the conditions of enlightenment, not the competitive and over-productive world of the trans-national corporation. The relationship between labor and the corporation will always be alienated because in the depths of their souls all workers know that the corporation's primary concern is not with their well-being, but with the profit that the corporation can extract from them. The soul is not repressed in the modern corporation because our management strategies are poor; it is repressed because it tells the secrets of our exploitation.