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A business metamorphosis

September 11, 2012

Business is learning to cross the threshold of transformation.

Crossing a threshold requires letting go of old ways of perceiving, performing, thinking, relating and behaving, while letting come new ways of operating.  The metamorphosis is essentially about letting go to let come.

Leadership in these transformational times becomes about encouraging yourself and others to cross that threshold from old to new at a personal and organisational level.  We each become our own leaders while helping co-create the conditions for ourselves and others to transform. Midwifery and alchemy become important aspects of the leadership toolkit, as do emergence and love.

The social and emotional dimension of the organisation can nourish or inhibit the transformation; it is the soul and culture of the organisation (and individual) that allows the transformation to take place successfully.   The culture of the organisation is co-created by the whole and the parts – the organisation, its mission, its value-set, its collective behaviour and the relationships it forms with its business ecosystem.  Likewise, it is the individual’s personal objectives, contributions, behaviours and relationships as part of the organisation that co-create the culture.

In helping ourselves and those around us transform by sharing stories and lessons learnt through listening and sharing, we transform the organisation through co-creation.  The organisation may have a conscious understanding of the transformation ahead (for example, Unilever aiming to decouple environmental degradation from economic growth) yet it is the individuals (the leaders and team workers) that realise the transformation through emergence.  The top-down dictate of the organisation’s mission intertwines with the bottom-up emergence of locally attuned teams adapting to the transformational path amidst an ever-changing business environment.  This is the metamorphosis of the organisation: bottom-up emergence navigated by a cultural consciousness.

Complex, self-organising, emergent firms of the future recognise that change emerges in unpredictable ways, and that overarching bureaucratic mecha­nisms no longer assist emergent organisational evolution. The role of leader­ship is to actively participate in enabling and facilitating local change, by encouraging effective communications through clarity of understanding of how to behave, act and interact. Each and every one of us plays our part in leadership of the future by helping others to co-create towards positive out­comes. Each day challenges us to ‘walk the talk’; each day offers us opportuni­ties to learn, grow and evolve.

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