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Transforming Self and Transforming Systems – Leading Across The Threshold

February 7, 2020

It is an exciting yet challenging time to be a leader, when so much of what we thought we knew about how to lead and operate is in need of transformation.

Global leadership studies show a widening ‘complexity gap’ amongst today’s leaders.   As our organisations need to be more agile, innovative, responsive and purposeful to become future-fit, so too does our leadership logic.

The good news is: reaching beyond the complexity gap does not require us to add yet more complexity, burdensome methodologies, measures, models and metrics to an already busy and often stressful leadership dynamic.   Quite the opposite, in fact.

While more ‘head-learning’ may have worked in the past; the future now calls for something new, something altogether more embodied and experiential in its pedagogy.

Over the last decade, my action research on applied living-systems approaches for leadership and organisational development, have revealed to me a secret, a simple yet powerful secret inherent within life.

The other side of complexity is beautiful simplicity.

We transcend the complexity gap in our leadership mind-set by doing nothing more – nor nothing less – than opening ourselves up to the Logic of Life.

I have come across leaders of different backgrounds in different sectors applying this living-systems mind-set to enable their organisations to not just survive in these times of volatility but to truly come alive and thrive.

For instance, the CEO of a UK bank dealing with the toxic cocktail of increasing regulation, BREXIT noise, rising risk-aversion hand-in-hand with spiralling bureaucracy and disruptive market innovations left right and centre.  Instead of applying yesterday’s machine logic of tightening power and control across the organisation-as-machine, a threshold is crossed, a complexity gap is transcended.  Rather than grasping tight, there is an opening up. A more human approach to leadership unlocks brilliance. Creativity starts bubbling through the hierarchy, people self-organise and think-outside-the-box more, the culture becomes purpose-led from the inside out, talent is attracted and retained. Soon the company is outperforming while providing higher quality products and services to its clients.  This takes courageous leadership to move away from tried-and-tested methods of power-and-control into a space that unlocks human brilliance within self and system.

Another example: A housing association in the North East of England, dealing with the toxic cocktail of austerity, fickle government policy and spiralling social challenges. Instead of locking-down the organisation through ever-tighter power-and-control  leadership, a threshold is crossed, a coaching culture at all levels of the organisation is nurtured, reinvigorating teams to come up with innovations that provide award-winning client services that cut through complexity.  Moral increases, talent is attracted and retained, and a virtuous cycle spirals upward  as the organisation comes alive and people thrive.

There is a key leadership dynamic to embodying this next-stage future-fit leadership.  It’s an unlocking, a peeling back of our innate human capacities. It is an opening up to the emergence inherent within life, rather than a grasping tight to power-and-control habits of yesterday.

No need for yet more head-stuff, more methodologies, leadership-models, company-wide questionnaires or strategy management courses.  What is really needed is to directly experience and embody the beautiful simplicity the other side of complexity. Through powerful practices – which we activate in this  Learning Journey on Regenerative Leadership in Action  – we unlock the brilliance inside ourselves as leaders, and in-so-doing unlocking the brilliance inside our teams and wider stakeholder ecosystem.  It’s this fundamental step that will activate life-affirming futures for leaders and organisations.

At the heart of this unlocking and revealing process, is a ‘crossing of the threshold’, a personal transformation where we let-go of the machine-logic of old and open-up into the Logic of Life.

This threshold crossing is what enables us to become more human, more alive, more conscious. We bring in a fundamentally different way of being-and-doing than the level of consciousness that created our problems in the first place.

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology, they will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’  -John Naisbett, futurist

‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil itself, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic.’ – Peter Drucker, management consultant

If you are a leader, coach, change agent or adviser wishing to develop the capacity-building you need for future-fitness, while learning to embody the living-systems Logic of Life, then take a look at this programme which activates the latent capacities you need to be a regenerative leader today.

Regenerative Leadership in Action programme

 

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner, business futurist and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019). Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy and Founder of Leadership Immersions, he runs a 60 acre leadership centre at Springwood Farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty near London, UK

 

You can connect with Giles Hutchins on LinkedIN here

You can also join this Facebook community on the new business paradigm here

If interested in next-stage Leadership Immersions, you can join this LinkedIN Community here

A Guide to Regenerative Leadership in Practice

January 28, 2020

Since the military acronym VUCA was first coined in the late 1980’s, leaders and organisations have been waking up to a growing appreciation of the unpredictability and complexity of highly interconnected problems as the ‘new norm’. Yet whilst this is creating a growing appreciation of the nature of ‘wicked’ problems, and contexts of change that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, our observation is that the levels of thinking and behaviours required to address them has remained fairly unchanged. The dominant narratives shaping change management, human resources, business transformation, leadership development, process improvement, cultural change and organisational development are still largely rooted in a 18th/19th/20th century mechanistic logic. This logic is no longer suitable for dealing with the turbulent and complex challenges 21st century leaders and organisations now face.

The requirement to embrace complexity is shaped by numerous inter-dependent factors. Prof. Peter Hawkins’ of Henley Business School’s 2017 global research study identified key drivers requiring a shift in leadership and organisational development as:

  1. the increasing rate of change
  2. the technological and digital revolution
  3. the hollowing out of organisations and the growing complexity of the stakeholder world
  4. globalisation
  5. climate change
  6. the need to learn and adapt faster

When Deloitte recently surveyed over 14,000 CEOs across 23 industries, they found a clear complexity gap in leadership consciousness, with leaders lacking the necessary cognitions and skills to deal with rising complexity. To engage effectively with the multiple change-factors our organisations now face, and to bridge the complexity gap in our leadership consciousness, there is a clear need to face the future with a new logic fundamentally different from the mechanistic logic that created our systemic problems in the first place. In Peter Drucker’s words, ‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil itself, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’.

There is emerging evidence that a new set of logics is already starting to emerge from a range of thought leaders. In 2018 the world’s largest strategy consultancy McKinsey & Co launched a report, The 5 Trademarks of Agile Organizations, which stressed the importance of moving away from the mindset of ‘organisations as machines’ and towards organisations as living systems. In Reinventing Organizations, former McKinsey consultant Frederick Laloux identified specific examples of next-stage living organisations as operating to the principles of self-organisation, authenticity, and actively engaged in living out evolutionary purpose. MIT professor Otto Scharmer and the Presencing Institute’s awareness-based systemic change framework Theory U emphasises a shift from ego-driven change to ecosystem sensing into emergent possibilities of the living field. Business philosopher Nassim Talib’s Anti-Fragile is another important contribution that explores the need to embrace the interdependent and emergent logic of living systems. And the recent work of Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm on Regenerative Leadership articulates and applies this living-systems logic to leadership and organisational development. These are just some way-markers on the unfolding journey from machine-mentality towards living-systems approaches enlivening the organisation as a complex adaptive and emergent system in ongoing relationship with its environment. This living organisation is not only agile enough to cope with the systemic challenges but is life-affirming in its culture and purpose.

To summarise this shift in logic is a shift from ‘mechanistic’ to ‘living systems’, and can be contrasted as follows:

Mechanistic Logic                                                            Living Systems Logic

LINEAR & PREDICTABLE                                    CIRCULAR, INTERDEPENDENT & EMERGENT

EXCLUSIVE & EXTRACTIVE                                INCLUSIVE & REGENERATIVE

CONTROLLING                                                   DEVELOPMENTAL & SELF-ORGANISING

POWER OVER                                                     POWER WITH

TRADE-OFFS                                                       SYNERGIES

SHORT-TERMISM                                               INTER-GENERATIONAL

SEPARATE                                                           INTERCONNECTED

RATIONAL-ANALYTIC THINKING                        EMBODIED BEING-AND-KNOWING

It is worth emphasizing here that the organisation has always been ‘living’ rather than ‘machine-like’ in the sense that it has always been made up of unpredictable, interdependent, emergent human relationships. The organisation has always been a complex, dynamic and evolutionary ‘living’ system, in this regard.  By shifting our leadership consciousness, we are merely starting to sense into the organisation as it really is.

The above is an extract from the paper A Guide to Regenerative Leadership in Practice co-authored by regenerative leadership practitioners Giles Hutchins & Katherine Long – to read the full paper go to The Future Fit Leadership Academy’s blog, or download the PDF here

 

If you wish to engage in this work at a practical level, to become trained and equipped in the action-logics and tools required for next-stage future-fit regenerative leadership there is a 2020 programme Giles Hutchins & Katherine Long are co-facilitating, with limited spaces available – for more details on this programme you and read this article, and contact Katherine Long on mail@katherinelong.co.uk

To join the LinkedIn group dedicated to Leadership Immersions, visit: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13767578/

To join the Facebook group on next-stage leadership, visit: https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature/

For more on the unique 7 mth programme Regenerative Leadership In Action, visit: http://ffla.co/regenerative-leadership-in-action/

 

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

January 12, 2020

The global traction gained by sustainability initiatives in the current climate is certainly promising, but why aren’t we seeing the impact desired on the scale required?

This is a guest blog by Megan Hall from global leadership provider Impact who recently attended one of Giles Hutchins’s Leadership Immersions :

I spent two days in an ancient woodland as one of a diverse group of eight participants, learning about regenerative leadership under the guidance of Giles Hutchins (a pioneer in leadership consciousness)[1]. We slept beneath trees and cooked over an open fire, all the while looking both inwards and outwards for insights into the flows and cycles of life. When putting into words what I learned from this magical experience, I decided to set aside my academic background in Psychology and tune into all four of my ways of knowing- intuitive, emotional, somatic and rational.[2]

 

‘And here is my secret, it’s a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one sees right, what is essential is invisible to the eye.’   The Fox, in The Little Prince

 

There is a running theme of deep disconnect in modern society. Interventions working to promote sustainability are too often implemented with a mechanistic mindset, focussing on measurement and control while neglecting the internal development necessary for true progress. As a result, the change facilitated by such initiatives remains incremental rather than transformative.

 

Most of us fail to recognise the broader systems in which we exist, moving through life without any thought as to the materials, systems and people involved in the manufacture/growth/development of the products that we use every day. This disconnect of internal and external worlds is key. Reuniting the head with the heart and the gut enables one to nurture more sustainable, regenerative cultures.

 

What is needed is a shift in leadership consciousness from a mechanistic logic to one of living systems, founded in open minds, open hearts and open will. This requires personal growth and reflection, as well as systemic change – change within stimulates change without. As humans, employees and leaders we must begin to look at the world as a series of interrelating parts, systems within other systems, whose dynamics and energy are constantly fluctuating. These relationships are not limited to human constructs, but also exist between humans and nature.

 

With this perspective, it is possible to support organisations to adapt and succeed under ever-changing conditions. Value is found in every aspect of a business, in every member of the community and in every existing tension. This forces us to move from a mindset of individual gain towards one of collaboration, collective-intelligence and co-creativity. With a collective purpose, individuals are empowered and motivated to drive innovation and change regardless of their position in a system or knowledge of a subject.

 

Life is a cycle, a rhythm which may be experienced multiple times over a day, in the span of a week or across many years. Where the trajectories of self-awareness and systemic awareness cross, there is opportunity for regenerative leadership consciousness. In order to fully engage with life, to have confidence in our actions we must know ourselves deeply. What assumptions and emotions are we beholden to and what would happen if we could release ourselves from these and be fully present?

Systemic awareness instead allows us to appreciate the broader qualitative inputs of a system and the relational flows between facets. Combining the two leaves a person with an awareness of their unique way of interacting with the living systems of their world and how best to harness this.

 

This is a guest blog by Megan Hall from Impact who recently attended one of Giles Hutchins’ Leadership Immersions feel free to join the LinkedIn Group on Leadership Immersions

[1] Hutchins, G. & Storm, L. (2019) Regenerative Leadership: The DNA of life Affirming 21st Century Organizations UK: Wordzworth. pp.3-24

[2] Jung, C. G. (1932). Psychological types London: Pantheon Books. pp. 425

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner, business futurist and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019). Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy and Founder of Leadership Immersions, he runs a 60 acre leadership centre at Springwood Farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty near London, UK

 You can connect with Giles Hutchins on LinkedIN here

You can also join this Facebook community on the new business paradigm here

Welcome to the Decade Ahead:  Prescient Practicality for 2020 and beyond

January 2, 2020

There is an old Chinese saying,

‘May you live in interesting times’

When someone said that to you, it was viewed as both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing, because interesting times meant change, volatility and uncertainty which invoke adaptation, transformation and a reaching beyond the existing status quo into new found heights.

A curse, because change and uncertainty disrupts the status quo, upsets ego-comforts, and challenges norms and routines.

Facing into the decade of 2020-2030, humanity finds itself amid interesting times of breakdown/breakthrough.

Back in 2010, as we entered the 2010-2020 decade I wrote articles and spoke at conferences about the decade ahead becoming one of volatility and uncertainty – a time when the old logic, the old way of doing things, would start to be seen by the mainstream as no longer adequate to deal with the challenges of the day.

As we leave the 2010-2020 decade behind us, our hindsight may see that it was the beginning of the VUCA Age – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times of disruptive innovations and wicked systemic challenges becoming the ‘new norm’.

During the decade just passed, leadership research has shown a widening ‘complexity gap’. The old mechanistic logic we used to lead and operate by is no longer fit-for-purpose. Our status quo leadership consciousness is left wanting, unable to deal with the systemic challenges organisations now face.

Whether it be the intent of business shifting from the unflinching focus on shareholder value to a wider perspective of stakeholder value, or corporate responsibility shifting from a narrow focus on risk, control and compliance to wider systemic value. The widespread take-up of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, integrated reporting initiatives such as Future-Fit Business Benchmark, and the shift towards the Circular Economy exemplify a sea-change in business.   Come 2020, and we find positive signs that business can become a force for good in the world. The rapid rise of B-Corps, for instance, with over 3,000 organisations across 150 sectors in its ranks, and rising by the day.  I predict 2020-2030 will see significantly more of these systemic adaptations, as business evolves to a new-norm.  It’s the Law of Nature – adapt or die.

This is just the beginning; there is much work to be done for leadership and operational practices to be truly future-fit.  The challenges as we enter 2020 are seismically bigger than when we entered 2010.  Yet, there is increasing acceptance amongst leaders of a ‘new norm’ demanding a new way of leading and operating.  My contributions to Professor Peter Hawkins’ ground-breaking research at Henley Business School on Tomorrow’s Leaders Today’s Leadership Development helped flesh out the need for this next-stage leadership development.

What enables organisations to thrive in the transformative times ahead is their ability to cultivate life-affirming regenerative leadership across all levels of the organisation.

It’s this that transforms our organisations from 19th & 20th century bureaucratic, soul-sapping, toxic, monolithic machines into 21st century agile future-fit organisations.  This calls upon a step-change in leadership consciousness.

Adult developmental psychologists and leadership development specialists have spent decades researching different levels of leadership consciousness.  For instance, a robust and detailed study of adult developmental research from Clare Graves has been further enhanced by practitioners like Don Beck, Christopher Cooke, Frederic Laloux and Ken Wilber.

In the book Regenerative Leadership, which has been referred to as an evolutionary blueprint for next-stage leadership, Hutchins & Storm explore this next-stage leadership consciousness now unfolding. It correlates to the Orange, Green and Yellow/Teal levels of Clare Graves research. Hutchins & Storm draw on contemporary leadership and organisational development approaches such as Teal/Evolutionary (Laloux’s work on Reinventing Organisations) and Theory U (Otto Scharmer’s work at the Presencing Institute and MIT) as well as living systems theory, Complexity Theory, and latest research on developmental organisations.

This image below shows the step-change. It’s a model taken from the book Regenerative Leadership where Hutchins & Storm articulate the shift from 19th/20th century organisation-as-machine into 21st century organisation-as-living-system:

This is a momentous step-change in how we lead and operate. The 2020-2030 Decade of Transformation will witness life-affirming business practices becoming mainstream.  This is the leading-edge of organisational innovation beyond techno-led digital strategy, AI and robotics.

Here are some key words for future-fit leaders to contemplate as we enter 2020:   Purpose, Diversity, Emergence, Regenerative, Synchronicity… let’s briefly unpack each of these key words:

Purpose:  The word ‘purpose’ is bandied about a lot in business circles these days.  Suffice to say, Purpose is much more than the crafting of a catch-all mission statement. It’s about cultivating a ‘living purpose’ – a lived intent that pervades the organisational culture, where a threshold of people in the organisation deeply resonate with this purpose, and live it in the day-to-day. The living purpose is not just espoused but embodied through the behaviours and cultural glue that binds the organisation.  It provides the coherence and inclusivity that counterbalance the living-organisation’s thirst for agility and diversity.

Diversity: Life itself banks on diversity. And human evolutionary conditions in the 21st Century demand we embrace diversity. The ability to tolerate and thrive amid a wide variety of conditions, perspectives and contexts is critical to becoming future-fit.  Such diversity of experience, perspectives and outlooks builds resilience and increases the capacity to cope with stress – individually and organisationally. Co-authors John Rety and Richard Manning of Go Wild call this ability to embrace diversity ‘re-wilding’ ourselves, breaking free from the restrictions and regimentations of modern life that estrange us from who we truly are.  We literally unlock the power of life-affirming evolutionary forces within us when we learn to embrace diversity.

Rather than the monocultural, corporate mentality we see practiced in many areas of society, we need to think outside the box and invite in unconventional mindsets, work across departments, and bring in different perspectives. As explored in the book Regenerative Leadership, Hutchins & Storm show that the best ideas are not born in silos or by avoiding feedback and input from a broad spectre of stakeholders; the best ideas are created by going beyond borders and getting curious about other approaches, cultures and procedures. 21st century Regenerative Leadership welcomes diversity in terms of age, creed, culture, gender and differing perspectives across the working environment. Leaders can stimulate diversity by working across boundaries both within the organisation (holding space for people from different silos across the business to share perspectives) and beyond the organisation (holding space for external stakeholder groups to share perspectives).

This diversity thrives amid a coherent sense of purpose and a rich developmental culture.  The diversity sparks creative tensions, vibrancy and new thinking (divergence), while the coherence of the living-purpose provides the alignment and sense of direction (convergence).  Out of this alchemy of divergence and convergence comes emergence. Emergence is the dynamic through which the living organisation adapts and evolves.

Emergence:  All living-systems including the living-organisation exhibit the property of emergence.  A key for leaders navigating the transformative times ahead will be their ability to sense into the emergent patterns unfolding within the living-organisation they are working in. Next-stage leadership development needs to enhance our capacity to sense and stimulate emergent patterns within the social systems we lead.  The first step is for leaders to let-go of perceiving the organisation-as-a-machine that can be control through push-pull levers, and out-dated management tools. Instead, start to perceive the organisation as a complex adaptive system made up of non-linear emergent human relations.  These emergent human relations can be nurtured so the organisation becomes more responsive and future-fit.

Christopher Alexander’s work on pattern language, Warren Weaver’s research on organizational complexity, Ralph Stacey’s research on organisations as complex responsive processes of human relating, Steve Johnson’s work on emergence, Jane Jacobs’s work on energy-flow networks enriched by Sally Goerner, Dan Fiscus and Brian Faith’s research on Energy Network Science, etc., contribute to a rich body of research exploring emergence within organisations and other social systems.  In Regenerative Leadership, Hutchins & Storm draw upon these sources and others while exploring emergence for next-stage Regenerative Leaders.

As philosopher Alfred North Whitehead noted, emergence is nature’s creative advance. It is the way of nature – the way life adapts and unfolds to the ever-changing terrain. Understanding the emergent patterns within the relational dynamics we lead will be a critical success factor for the Decade of Transformation ahead.

Regenerative:  The word ‘regenerative’ means creating the conditions conducive for life to continuously renew itself; to flourish amid ever-changing life-conditions. This primary principle underpins life-affirming leadership and organisational development.  Organisations that thrive in the volatile times ahead will be ones that learn to become regenerative, to serve life rather than plunder and pollute life.  See here the DNA model of Regenerative Leadership which is unpacked in Hutchins & Storm’s book of the same title:

This Regenerative Leadership DNA model embraces both the inner and outer technologies, tools, and consciousness that are required for the new regenerative business paradigm to unfold. It’s a unifying framework that integrates vast bodies of research, different domains, and specialist methodologies.

‘Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm bring their vast experience and deep wisdom to create an evolutionary blueprint for a sustainable future for business, people and the planet’

Richard Barrett, President of the Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values

Regenerative leadership is about creating life-affirming cultures where people learn through developmental and respectful cultures, and where value-propositions and products create real value that enhance society, our wider humanity and the fabric of life on Earth upon which we all depend.  This is not some utopian dream, it’s quietly going mainstream, and the business examples packed into the 350 pages of Regenerative Leadership evidence this.  Business can – and must – become a force for good in the world. There is no other viable option for 21st century leadership.

This book invites leaders to lead the world into the 21st century

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC 2010-2016

 

That leaves us with the final word to contemplate as we begin this Decade of Transformation:

Synchronicity:  The ground-breaking psychologist Carl Jung explored synchronicities as ‘meaningful coincidences’ – seemingly unrelated events have a meaningful relation that defies our orthodox understanding of space-time.  Quantum discoveries help give scientific explanation to such synchronistic moments that we have often felt occur in our lives yet struggle to explain through rational logic.  The more we sense into how life works, the more science shows us a sea of interconnections that pervade all living systems – whether in our organisations, communities or everyday life.

In terms of leadership consciousness, recall the image earlier in this article with the levels of Orange, Green and Teal.  At the Orange level of leadership consciousness we perceive the organisation-as-machine and we view life through a mechanistic lens. At the Green level, our lens of perception has widened to include wider society and a systemic perspective of stakeholder interactions. At the Teal level, we embrace a living-systems perspective where we intuit the innate interconnectedness of how life really works. We learn to sense not only the emergent patterns of organisational behaviour but also sense the synchronicities that abound amid everyday interactions.   We cultivate a leadership consciousness that can see past the surface noise and sense the underlying wisdom pervading every person, interaction and learning experience life affords us.  This ability to see beyond the surface and sense the synchronistic interconnected nature of life provides a foundation for peace, empathy and gratitude. This wisdom underpins our leadership capacity amid the hectic busyness of the transformational times ahead.

 

This book is full of wisdom and determination! It will inspire leaders to succeed in the 21st Century.

Tim Flannery, scientist

Welcome to the future manifesting today. As leaders in organisations, institutions, teams and communities the world-over, we have a duty to step into a way of leading that is life-affirming and regenerative.  Why wish for anything less!

 

As the well-respected business futurist John Naisbett predicts:

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st Century will not occur because of technology. They will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’

 

What an exciting yet challenging time to be alive, when the old rule-book is being ripped up before our eyes, leaving a wide-open horizon for our leadership consciousness to expand into.

 Living in interesting times may be seen as a blessing or a curse. It’s up to each of us whether we wish to transform ourselves and our systems amid this time of challenge, or get sucked under by the fearful ripe-tides of change.

 

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner, business futurist and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019). Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy and Founder of Leadership Immersions, he runs a 60 acre leadership centre at Springwood Farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty near London, UK

 

You can connect with Giles Hutchins on LinkedIN here

If interested in next-stage Leadership Immersions, you can join this LinkedIN Community here

You can also join this Facebook community on the new business paradigm here

Regenerative Leadership:  A New Approach That Values Life

December 11, 2019

There is no doubt. We are living in a time marked by great upheaval and volatility.  Leaders – both political and business – are  being forced to cope with rising challenges: resource scarcity; high levels of stress in the work place; disruptive innovations; social inequality; constant competition for top talent; rapid digitization and globalization; mass migrations; fragile supply chains; mounting social tensions; political extremism; and much more.

On top of all this, the climate of our planet is breaking down and we are facing what scientists have called the sixth mass extinction.

Our production systems are based on a linear, take-make-waste approach. Our financial systems based on short-term profit maximization that ignore life and debase human integrity. Our organizational systems are dominated by hyper-competition, power-and-control hierarchies, and rising stress.

We need a new approach that values life. A new leadership logic where organisations flourish, ecosystems thrive and people feel alive. This is what Regenerative Leadership is all about.  This book is written by leadership and sustainability specialists Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm, and has been referred to as the ‘must-read book of the year’.

“This book invites leaders to catalyze the necessary regeneration to not just catch up, but to lead the world into the 21st century.” 

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY UNFCCC 2010-2016

Find out more about the book here: www.regenerativeleadership.co

This book weaves a new leadership framework with inspiration from pioneering thinking within biomimicry, circular economy, adult developmental psychology, anthropology, biophilia, sociology, complexity theory and next-stage leadership development. It connects the dots between these fields through a powerful DNA model that enables leadership to become regenerative, building thriving, prosperous, flourishing organizations amid these transformational times.

Regenerative organizations will be tomorrow’s success stories. Those that hold-on to yesterday’s logic will become yesterday’s news. It’s simple: adapt or die.

 

 “This book is full of wisdom and determination! It will inspire leaders to succeed in the 21st Century.”

TIM FLANNERY, SCIENTIST

Regenerative Leaders bring vitality and wellbeing to all our living systems….In-so-doing, we wake up to what it really means to be fully human – Giles Hutchins & Laura Storm

 

Feel free to connect with both Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm on www.regenerativeleadership.co

be a part of the new business paradigm discussions with the Facebook community  and if interested in Regenerative Leadership Immersions see the LinkedIN Group 

A Supreme Moment in Our Humanity – Now is the Time!

November 26, 2019

We are in the midst of a metamorphosis, profound shifts are affecting the way we work, how and why we do things, and the purpose and meaning we bring to our organisations, social systems and wider civilisation.

It’s what the ancient Greeks referred to as Kairos: a supreme moment in our human history, which if not adequately acted upon by us, may pass us by.

So how do we – the leaders and change agents in our organisations and social systems – adequately act upon this metamorphic moment in our midst?

It’s this question that’s fueled my inquiry into business transformation and leadership development over the last 25 years; formerly as Head of Practice with KPMG helping all sorts of organisations around the globe through various transformations, then as Global Head of Sustainability Solutions for the multinational technology provider Atos Origin, and more recently as executive coach and senior adviser to leaders and organisations, and in my co-creation with the sustainability specialist from Denmark, Laura Storm, in our co-creating the 350 page book on Regenerative Leadership.

Now, if I was to get right to the heart of what Regenerative Leadership is about and try to summarize these 350 pages into this blog article, I would start with the words of the well-respected business futurist John Naisbett, who said:

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st Century will not occur because of technology, they will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’ – John Naisbett, futurist

I love that. To be involved in this expanding concept of what it means to be human; to help us Homo sapiens – wise beings – in a deeply wise, sentient and interconnected world: It’s this that is at the heart of Regenerative Leadership – a way of leading that doesn’t just help our organisations become more profitable, more vibrant and agile in these times of fast-moving change and increasing volatility. A way of leading that cultivates the conditions for developmental cultures; culture that enables us to become more of who we truly are in the workplace; cultures that we would be proud of our children working in when they come of age; cultures that create strategies and solutions, products and propositions that enhance the very fabric of society and the more-than-human world upon which we all depend.  Why would we wish for anything less?  It’s what I refer to as life-affirming business.

Is this some kind of fanciful utopian dream, heavy on rhetoric but light on substance?  Well actually no, it’s quietly going mainstream and has been for some years now. The myriad business examples packed into the book Regenerative Leadership are testament to this, and the research of myself and Laura Storm draws from many pioneers before us exploring this necessary revolution in leadership consciousness. For instance, Peter Senge’s work on systems thinking in business, Otto Scharmer’s work at MIT on Presencing and Theory U, Frederic Laloux’s work on Teal-Evolutionary business, are just some examples of well-received research and practical approaches helping this metamorphosis.

Let’s take Peter Senge. The Harvard Business Review refers to him as one of the most seminal business thinkers of the last 75 years. Myself and Laura Storm had the pleasure of spending time with him in upstate New York last summer, sitting round the camp fire. He says that the Number 1 most important thing facing our leaders, managers and change agents today is a fundamental shift in logic, a shift in way of thinking, from an essential mechanistic control-based narrowing-down reductive tendency that so much of our managerial logic is inured in today, to a recognition that our organisations are living-systems. And these organisational living systems are intimately interrelated with the living-systems of society which are intimately interrelated with the living-systems of our more-than-human-world.

This is a profound shift. A shift I refer to as a shift from a Firm of the Past, to a Firm of the Future.

Top-down, hierarchic, command-and-controlled, KPI-obsessed organisations transforming to firms of the future which are living, emergent, distributed with decentralised teams of people locally-attuning to their ever-changing environment without having to rely on hierarchies of bureaucracy and control.

It’s what the business philosopher Nassim Talib refers to as Anti-Fragile, and what the complexity theorist Ralph Stacey refers to as complex adaptive systems.

Complex Adaptive Systems Theory is a branch of non-linear dynamics that comes out of Complexity Theory, it’s a scientific study of the logic of life. And when we apply this Logic of Life to our organisations, we start to see that our organisations are not predictable machines, they are actually made up of messy, unpredictable, bottom-up, emergent human relationships: The chat next to the coffee machine, down the corridor, in the corporate boardroom, the meeting conventions and decision-making protocols, the informal power-plays, informal leader networks, etc. all contribute to either enlivening or stifling the organisation’s future-fitness.

The more we – as leaders and change agents in our organisations – can become conscious of these living-system dynamics in our organisations, the more we can enliven them. Hence, this shift in leadership consciousness is at the heart of Regenerative Leadership.

So what are we shifting from-to?

It’s a shift from  Yesterday’s Logic, a mechanistic logic that finds its roots way back in human history, born out of a militarised mind, rising patriarchy, an ego-explosion, etc. which I write about elsewhere (see The Illusion of Separation).  This mechanistic way of attending really came to the fore with the Age of Reason, Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution it spawned, whereupon it became dominant in our Western worldview.

This mechanistic way of attending is a narrowing-down reductive tendency that focuses in on the bits and bytes. It is an important part of our human repertoire, and this ability to drill-down is a powerful tool we most certainly need. It has brought great advancements in modern medicine, technology and transportation that we all enjoy today. There is nothing wrong with it per se. The problem comes when this way of attending starts to dominant, crowding out our other natural ways of knowing, then it creates imbalances in us and in our collective worldview.  Let’s briefly look at a couple of these imbalances:

To draw on the insightful research of the neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist, we can see an imbalance in how the left and right brain hemispheres inter-relate. The left-brain hemisphere enables us to focus on the parts, to drill-down on the detail, and isolate things abstracted from their lived-in fluid and relational context. This is a powerful tool, and yet can start to dominate the right brain hemisphere’s natural capacity to sense the inter-relational nature of reality ad wider systemic context. We get more and more caught up in the bits and bytes and de-emphasise the contextual relations. Hence, we need to re-align or re-balance this.

Another imbalance that needs addressing is the advancement of ‘masculine’ or ‘yang’ qualities of attention prioritised over ‘feminine’ or ‘yin qualities. (NB – to be clear here, we are not referring to gender qualities, rather these are ways of attending that each person has regardless of gender).  Masculine qualities of focusing-in, driving forward, responding, asserting, doing, competing and such like are prioritised by social systems and organisational cultures than the feminine qualities of listening, reflecting, empathising, being, collaborating and such like.  While both qualities make up healthy human growth, we have tended towards the prioritisation of one over the other, this needs re-aligning.

Another imbalance is that of a prioritisation of the ‘outer’ over the ‘inner’. One of the hallmarks of the Scientific Revolution and the materialism that has followed is the outer objectification of reality, where we emphasis the forms, materials, what-gets-measured-gets-done tangibility of reality while impoverishing the inner, the intangible, the psychological and metaphysical dimension of life. Again, this needs re-aligning as we move into a more regenerative and life-affirming way of leading and operating.

There is also another major imbalance – humanity’s sense of separation with and domination of nature. We shall touch on this shortly, as this also needs re-aligning.

So what are we shifting into?

We are shifting into the Logic of Life, where a re-alignment within our leadership consciousness happens at 3 levels.

The first level is at the cognitive head-level, re-aligning our left and right brain hemispheres. It relates to what leadership specialist Otto Scharmer refers to as Open Mind. We allow our capacity to focus-in on the parts to align with our capacity to comprehend the inter-related context of life.  We allow the left and right brain hemispheres to work together like two hands on the piano each doing different things yet making music together in a coherent fashion. This is the land of Systems Thinking, where we draw upon systems-tools to help us understand both the parts and the inter-relations of the systems we are attending to.

A practical example here is the work of systems designers, for instance my collaboration with a leading design agency Halogen that applies the systems-tool of Giga-Mapping, where the technical, material, social and ecological parts and inter-relations between the parts of the system are mapped out.  This helps us understand the feedback loops and systemic effects of systems change, and is a very important part of implementing circular economics approaches across an ecosystem of stakeholders.  Such systems-tools are becoming more widely used in organisations these days thanks to the work of pioneers like Peter Senge who have been championing systems-thinking in business for many years now.

Then there is the second level, which is a move beyond systems-thinking into systemic-awareness. This is no longer a head-based re-cognition of systems-behaviours, a mapping of the system on paper but also an embodied shift in our ways of knowing. It relates to what Otto Scharmer calls Open Heart, where we re-align the inner-outer and masculine-feminine dynamics that came out of kilter through yesterday’s mechanistic logic.  We sense in to the living system dynamics at play within the organisation and throughout the ecosystem of stakeholders.  This calls upon an embodied tuning-in and sensing-and-responding to living-system dynamics.  Tools such as Systemic Constellations, Social Presencing Theatre, Art of Hosting, Deep Listening and Systemic Coaching come in handy here.

A practical example of embedding this systemic-awareness into the organisational leadership, is the systemic coaching and intervention work did with a fast-moving consumer good company going through significant change. We identified leaders with innate systemic capacities across the business and throughout the organisational hierarchy, provided some systemic training, and then held-space for deep dialogic sharing to uncover the systemic dynamics, nodes, stuckness and flows unfolding in the organisational living-system during a time of transition for the company. The insights gleaned from this systemic work would not have been uncovered through traditional methods, and future-fitness was embedded into the system at myriad levels.

Then there is the third level of the shift. This is from systems-thinking and systemic-awareness into ecosystemic-awareness.  This is where we re-align the human-nature relation, and with it unlock transformational regenerative energy for redesigning life-affirming futures.  Yesterday’s logic is rooted in separateness, which projects a Neo-Darwinistic perspective on to life, and warp Darwin’s original observations through a mechanistic lens.  This perspective views life as separate species struggling for survival in a dog-eat-dog world, and the whole process of evolution seen as nothing but selfish ascendancy. It’s a deeply divisive logic and woefully inadequate and yet it still underpins much of our ideology in business, politics and beyond. Science shows us that life is actually very far from this simplistic portrayal.  In opening ourselves up to nature and reigniting our sense of place and purpose in this interconnected world, we allow a re-aligned of this human-nature separation.  This shift in awareness is an existential shift, and related to what Otto Scharmer calls Open Will, where our small ego-will opens up and permeates with the deeper interconnectedness of reality. This relates to shift identified through detailed research undertaken by several adult developmental psychologists. For instance, Clare Graves work shows a shift from what he calls Tier 1 adult consciousness (rooted in separateness and individual development) into Tier 2 consciousness (rooted in interconnectedness and service for all life).

One of the most powerful tools I have found through my own research in this ecosystemic space is to take leaders into nature on leadership immersions where we embrace living-systems thinking and being away from the office, round the camp fire while taking direct experience from how life embraces complexity, agility and emergence.  It is why I recently purchased 60 acres of ancient woodland in close proximity to London and international airports, so leaders from around the globe can gain access to all three levels of re-alignment so essential for the shift in to Regenerative Leadership Consciousness.

‘Look deep, deep, deep into nature and you will understand everything better.’ – Albert Einstein, genius

As the genius says here, when we look deep, deep, deep into nature, at these three levels of head, heard and will,  we see with new eyes. We bring a fundamentally different quality of consciousness to our solutions than which created our problems in the first place.  It’s this shift in leadership consciousness that this metamorphic moment we are living in fundamentally needs.

‘The greatest voyage of our lifetimes is not in the seeking of new landscapes but in the seeing with new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust, philosopher.

The time has come for the leadership capacities we have within ourselves to step-up to the systemic challenges our social systems and organisations now face.

The times we are living and operating in are simultaneously deeply troubling yet deeply rewarding for those who are courageous enough to let-go of the status quo logic so ingrained in how and why we do things, and open-up to the Logic of Life, in-so-doing step-in to what it really means to be human.

 

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019).

For more on Giles’ latest book co-authored with Laura Storm see Regenerative Leadership

You can also connect with Giles on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giles-hutchins-015a7b/

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The time has come for Purpose-Led Politics not Point-scoring Politics

November 11, 2019

By Peter Hawkins and Giles Hutchins

In the UK, as we enter the intense period of electioneering, we are witnessing politicians from all sides trying to score points, rather than lay out a vision for the country and our interconnected world for the next five years.  We have many promises of spending more money whether it is on Doctors or Child Care, Police or infrastructure.  Much of it feels like repetition of unfulfilled promises from previous elections.

Trust in politicians has reached an all-time low and yet there is a yearning for political leadership that provides a clear way forward – one built on values and which is purpose led.  A way forward that addresses the root-and-branch challenges our country is facing.

We need national and international leadership to urgently address the most critical global and local  threat we all face, that of the climate crisis. This is no longer a threat to future generations, for 2050 and beyond; its effects are already with us.  The climate crisis has the potential to cause more human death than either of the world wars, let-alone the carnage it wreaks on other-than-human life – yet it hardly features in main-party election debates and speeches.  UK politicians speak with pride about how they are doing more on carbon reduction than other countries, but that is meaningless if everyone is doing far too little and too late, to avert global catastrophe.  The UK goal to be carbon neutral by 2035, with no measurable firm commitments before that date, is hardly a wise response to the climate crisis, regardless of how it compares to other nation-states. It is reminiscent of shuffling deck-chairs on the Titanic.

It is impossible to create the world wide and national alliance necessary to create the radical action needed to limit the impact of the climate crisis, without also radically addressing global and social inequality. We hear talk about immigration, the fear of which was cynically used to win votes in the Brexit referendum, yet there is little or no exploration of how migration will be exponentially effected by widening global inequality and the unfolding climate crisis.  Adequately dealing with social inequality means tackling an out-dated economic paradigm, which many leading and well-respected economists the world over are working on in detail. We have the thinking, the models, the solutions, but no political will. These new economic approaches are absent from today’s political ramblings, mired as they are in yesterday’s economic logic. The political will, it seems, for root-and-branch transformation is sorely lacking.  This gets us nowhere fast, at a time when we need to be transforming at pace.

All we currently have on offer are empty promises – from both left and right party politics – empty promises that are essentially materialistic: how you can have more for less, not how we learn to consume less while deepening our humanity and becoming more purposeful, equitable and wise.

True leadership, does not lie in individual leaders, it is created by three elements, a clear purpose, articulated into a call to action by collective leadership, in a way that aligns and orchestrates individuals to take a collective and collaborative course of action.  Without a shared purpose we are left with a popularity contest, and politics reduced to Twittersphere and reality TV:   “Who will be the last to be voted out of the Jungle?”

So much needs to change.  The old ways of doing things are no longer fit for the future.  Whether its leadership in business, economics, institutions or politics, the systemic challenges humanity now faces demand a new way of leading, not just in the UK but across the world. This new way of leading draws upon next-stage leadership consciousness – Regenerative Leadership Consciousness – which is significantly different from the old ways of leading.    The epic challenges we now face as a nation, as a human race – from climate change to social inequality and from mental health to biodiversity loss – demand leadership of a different order.

There is hope.  Where there is breakdown, there is the potential for breakthrough, if we have the courage.  This mess that has been created in UK politics might just create the very conditions that stimulate a breakthrough innovation in UK democracy; a step-change in the kind of leadership consciousness humanity now needs. This new kind of leadership consciousness is actually already emerging in all sorts of places within business, community development and social change.   This new kind of leadership conscious is what Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm write about in their new book Regenerative Leadership – a way of leading that is not just nourishing, developmental and life-affirming for the leader, but for everyone the leader serves and the wider society and ecology of life on Earth.

This way of leading puts purpose at the heart of what the organisation or political initiative is all about.

It is the quality of purpose that creates the quality of the leader, and the quality of the leadership team or political party, not the other way round.

What we now need is purpose-led politics, not opportunistic point-scoring politics.  Many hard-working politicians go in to politics to serve their communities and nation-people, yet end up spending a lot of energy on point-scoring, power-playing, vote-winning sound-bites; purpose gets lost along the way, along with the soul of politics and the soul of leadership.

It begs the question – so what is the real purpose of politics?  What is the real purpose of society, of civilisation?  To satisfy ego-urges and material-needs or to serve our diverse communities and rich interwoven ecologies of life in ways that actually enhance evolution, that actually leave a better future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and the rest of life on Earth?    We can no longer leave politics to politicians. Its times for us all to participate in how we can refocus politics on  purpose – by the questions we ask, the conversations we engage in, and the way we campaign, collaborate and dialogue.  Yesterday’s politics is not longer fit for purpose.  Something new can (and must) emerge out of this current breakdown.

 

This blog-article is co-written by world-renowned leadership Professor Peter Hawkins of Henley Business School and Chairman of Renewal associates www.renewalassociates.co.uk and  Regenerative Leadership specialist Giles Hutchins www.gileshutchins.com  We share our perspectives on the timely and important topic of leadership in politics.

 

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