Posted by: kentropic | June 9, 2009

What’s “kina’ole” anyway?

In a nutshell, kina’ole is an ancient Hawai’ian principle of living that roughly translates as “flawlessness” of conduct. I was first introduced to this concept by good friend Ms. Kris, who’s now a primary school teacher in Na’alehu, near the southern tip of the big Island. Lots of friends and colleagues helped me to understand the philosophy and practice of kina’ole along the way, and I’ll always be grateful for their example and their patience.

Here’s another way to describe kina’ole:

“Doing the right thing in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, for the right reason, with the right feeling, the first time.”

That’s an amazingly high standard to aim for, if you take it seriously and try to live it. But in management generally — and HR specifically — we’re dealing with huge chunks of people’s lives, so it’s definitely worth the effort.

Part of the beauty of kina’ole is its universal application across cultures — although the word and concept are Hawai’ian, you can find versions of this basic principle in cultures around the globe, and throughout history. That’s a strong indicator, I think, that there’s something about this approach that resonates deeply and fundamentally with the way we’re all put together.

This deep resonance makes kina’ole a good cornerstone on which to build a practical system for interacting in the world. Pie in the sky? Hardly: I’ve seen this approach implemented with amazing success in a wide variety of settings and contexts, and I hope we’ll gather and share additional examples together at this blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome!


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