If an organization had a "heart beat" is this what it would look like?
I work in two very different, but connected, spheres; the spheres of individuals and organizations. There is a lot of overlap, organizations are made up of people after all…but the way you address an organizational concern is not the same as the way you would address a concern coming from an individual. Yet, I often find myself wondering if the development and evolution of organizations would be better served by including an additional lens - looking at them as a “being”, rather than just an “entity”. Organizations have a past, present and future that informs them. They have both heart and spirit (which is usually what draws people to work for them or buy from them). Organizations are as vulnerable as people, and I don’t mean in the traditional business sense, I mean that actions taken externally or internally cause responses and reactions – not all of them positive or serving the expressed needs of the organization and it’s wellbeing. There are many similarities between an organization and a person when you look at it through this “organization as a being” lens.
I am not proposing we put organizations on the metaphorical “couch”, but I have seen many examples where an organization would have benefitted greatly (and financially) from engaging in some form of self reflection to better understand itself, it’s impact (external and internal) and the opportunities that otherwise were out of it’s view because this non-traditional lens was unavailable (or dismissed as irrelevant). Spreadsheets, profit and loss, market relevance, etc. – these are the things that consume organizations, and they are a reflection of their greatest concerns, but not of their spiritual development…or responsibility. As a working definition spiritual awareness is knowing, at the deepest level possible, one’s true purpose in the world, and then acting consistent with that purpose. There is deliberate attention paid to what transcends the next quarter and far beyond the next five years. Conscious organizations are those that are more in touch with their spiritual aspects, they have depth and commitment to purpose, and act consistent within it (even in a storm of internal and external pressures). Many organizations, unfortunately, are not this self-aware. They seal their fate with well-written (if often forgotten) mission, vision and value statements, demonstrating that they can “check a box” but treat it as a marketing exercise, rather than a way of being.
So what would spiritual development look like for an organization? They would undergo something akin to “spiritual planning”. This would include culture and organizational health (strategic planning, employee development, change management, etc.), but look even further to encompass felt and expressed needs (moral compass, employee health/morale, client/consumer welfare, etc.) and sustainability (fiscal responsibility, succession planning, and environmental considerations to name but a few). Truth is, we see organizations bump (or crash) into these items every day in the news. Workforce strife, environmental disasters and poor fiscal management are often in our headlines, pointing to the need to forge a new way forward. Employing a lens that encourages attending to a consistent view of the spiritual aspects of an organization would also serve its traditional purposes, enabling them to reach further. It is as simple as applying this wider view to the things that are already in place within organizations today, but doing so with a new intent.
Some examples that come forward from conscious organizations include an intentional and consistent approach to employee development; Managers are partners in growing their employees, in building new capacity in their workforce, in ensuring every dollar marked for development is well spent on expressed needs. Change management practices would include a specific process to collaborate on “hearts and minds” aspects of changes (as well as procedural and process items), providing greater transparency, inclusion and dialogue at all levels of an organization. Mistakes become opportunities for learning, not sources of shame or drivers for cover-ups. Succession planning is perennial, well executed and in place to ensure the legacy of the organization’s commitment to itself and the people it serves. This is a select set of examples, and by no means exhaustive. One thing all conscious organizations have is a dedication to an ever-green process allowing them to take a good, hard look at the whole organization; not just the parts that are under-performing, but the whole organization, to ensure it is remaining consistent with it’s commitments (including it’s purpose). Conscious organizations are awake to all they encompass, the good, the bad and the ugly. They are willing and able to explore their edges and invest in their own development as both an “entity” and a “being”, ensuring they are always learning and growing. And they know they will never be perfect, but they are willing to see imperfections and to make necessary changes that keep them aligned with their true purpose.
This attention to details that matter (not just the ones that are profitable or serve the most recent forecast) makes these organizations “someone” people want to do business with. How does your organization view itself?
For another way to look at this topic check out this article: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00344?gko=10921
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Face Book or Linked In.