A new soldier enters his unit, and no matter what sort of solider he is, he will spend at least three months on formation exercises. However, what does formation exercises have to do with going to war? Who ever saw soldiers marching in the heat of battle before? If they march well, are they courageous in battle? Of course this is true, and we all know why: these formation drills train the best soldiers, developing their skills, the seriousness of their formation, how to withstand the whims of battle, and also develop the organization and discipline needed to cooperate effectively and unanimously. Promoting a uniform structure is a good tool for the battle field because while they’re learning this, those at the bottom learn to abide by the commands from those at the top. Those new recruits will develop a good habit of listening, so that when on the battle field they won’t ignore the superior’s orders, possibly saving their life!
Truthfully, formation exercises are just simply an instrument. Their goal is to nurture a soldier’s sense of organization and obedience, and the exercises are a way of outwardly showing these newly acquired skills. In other words, organization and obedience goes beyond the formation exercises. Whether singing, dancing, gymnastics, chess, fishing, eating, showering—these activities all require a person to adopt an appropriate formation.
At the same time, this reflects a wide-reaching problem: how can one judge whether or not the outside is consistent with the inside? For example, we can’t feel deep in our bones which soldier is the most obedient from looking at the formation. Perhaps even the soldier who marches the best will be the first one to go AWOL. Therefore, only through judging the outside can we suspect what is happening within. This problem also affects management. Do employees and the business join forces or does each person have his/her own objective? Is the reasoning of the company deep within the employee’s heart, or is it just hitting the surface? One method is to evaluate each employee, offering criticism where need be. But outside of this, we go a step further and have our own “military training.” Whenever our employees enter the office, our requirement is that they are, and all times, tidy and orderly.
At our company, one cannot bring in food, and all office supplies must be in order, with chairs pushed in under one’s desk. This is similar to a military’s march, isn’t it? Furthermore, don’t take it from us, but every client who has come to our office has complimented our company’s enthusiastic and rigorous system of organization.
Clients want to know what sort of company is TOMTOP. Is it honest? Reliable? Is it worth cooperating with us? This sort of judgment requires a deep investigation, which costs a lot of time. Be assured that our concern about our appearance, our organization, and our management system gives customers reason to trust and rely on us here at TOMTOP.
Naturally, some people don’t agree. They believe that this regimented style is not as good as a sort of laissez-faire approach to management. For example, employees at Google can take pets to work and take breaks whenever they want. However, even the great Chinese philosopher Lao-zi was against demanding acts of ceremony, saying famously, “Falling from the Taoist principles damages morality, losing morality hurts our humanity, forgetting humanity neglects our righteousness, and faulting in righteousness damages our ability to do what is right when we need to.” What he means is that if we as humans intrinsically had the virtues Lao-zi discussed, we wouldn’t need to have outward appearances of ceremony.
Generally speaking, a company has three levels: rules of man, rules of law, and rules of society. The cause of some company’s problems is that sometimes the rules of man intersect and confront the rules of law within a company. Being in too much of a rush to fix these problems will lead to the opposite results.
When will we humans become a humane society? This would require all of us to work together unitedly, and that is what “military formation” is all about, and why we do our best to practice it.