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Deepening Our Leading by Being-in-Nature: Accessing the Mind of Nature

October 12, 2017

It is now becoming more apparent to many at the leading-edges of leadership and organisational development that there is much we can learn from nature for future-fit business.

We now know that simply being in the great out-doors improves our ability to learn, be more creative, open up to different perspectives, be more empathic, listen deeper, share better, and be more insightful.  Scientific research shows that being in nature improves us physiologically as well as psychologically in myriad ways, some of which we are only just starting to understand. Here are some of these findings:

  • Being in nature reduces pulse rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels (Chiba University)

 

  • Being in nature and disconnected from multi-media increases creativity by 50% (Atchley et al, 2012)

 

  • Being in nature leads to improved cognitive functioning and mental well-being (Kaplan, 1993, 2001)

 

  • Spending time in nature boosts the immune system and increases resistance to cancer cells (Qing Li, 2009)

 

  • Walking in nature improves memory by up to 20% (Berman, et al, 2008)

 

  • Connection with nature has a significant positive effect on autonomy, personal growth, and sense of purpose (Nisbet, Zelenski, Murphy, 2011)

 

  • Affiliation with nature gives a greater sense of meaningful existence which in turn boosts well-being (Howell, Passmore, Buro, 2012)

 

This is all good stuff.

And yet there is something else, something deeper; something more phenomenological and – dare I say it – psycho-spiritual to this ‘being-in-nature’.  And to describe this, I am now going to use Nature with a capital ‘N’ and also use the term ‘Mind-of-Nature’.  Here, Nature is not just ‘out there’, its within and all around us, the implicate and explicate realms of life, the Mind permeating all matter, the Tao and its ever-flowing élan vital or life-force that enables us to become more human in this more-than-human world of ours. It is this deeper Nature that we must learn to cultivate within ourselves and through our relations to be more conscious, more agile and more harmonious as future-fit leaders in these times of increasing volatility and uncertainty.

Let me explain.

There is more to life than what we generally perceive of with our daily conscious awareness. Psychologists might call this daily awareness ‘ego-consciousness’ or the rational mind.  I would like to draw on the profoundly influential and insightful work of the 19th century American philosopher, William James, who lived from 1842 to 1910 and whose work has influenced many great minds after him such as Bergson, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Putnam, Whitehead and Bertrand Russell.

James explored how everyday experience has a depth to it, an interiority that goes beyond what the ego-consciousness or rational mind can easily grasp at and yet is influenced by.

James noted, ‘Reality, life, experience, concreteness, immediacy, use what word you will, exceeds our logic, overflows and surrounds it.’  For James our mind-world relation is a stream of consciousness. He famously said:

‘Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.’

As we allow our ego-consciousness to permeate more readily, we allow more of these deeper realms of consciousness to pervade our awareness.  This is where Nature comes in.

Read more…

Regenerative Logic – cultivating the business of the future

October 4, 2017

This is a review of the book Future Fit by David Lorimer, editor of the Science and Medical Network (SMN).

 FUTURE FIT

Giles Hutchins

Self-published, 2016, 308 pp., £17.99, p/b – ISBN 978-1-530-153435

I met Giles at a conference of the Laszlo Institute in Italy in July, and realised that I had reviewed his earlier book The Illusion of Separation a couple of years ago for SMN. This followed on from his 2012 book The Nature of Business, and here he brings these two concerns together in a highly practical manner, providing a brilliant handbook for personal and organisational transformation. Giles has synthesised and organised a great deal of essential thinking, some which he summarises in excellent charts and diagrams so that the reader can gain a clear understanding of the transition from old linear ways of thinking to new systems-based ones. In the course of the book, it becomes very clear that 21st-century companies can no longer afford to use 20th-century logic. Theoretical understanding is no longer enough – it needs to be embodied, which is why Giles’s practical exercises, tips, reflective questions and case examples are so useful. In addition, he provides a bullet point executive summary at the beginning of each chapter.

Current turbulence and uncertainty means that a transformation of mind-set is required both personally and organisationally. The danger is represented by what he calls a complexity gap in our leaders’ ability to deal with our volatile times. He comments that ‘too many of today’s organisations find themselves caught up in a top-down, hierarchical, KPI-obsessed, siloed, control-based, defensive and reactive firefighting mind-set.’ Nor do we flourish as human beings in such an environment, which surely puts a damper on creativity and keeps under pressure to focus on the immediate task at hand. His new logic is both regenerative and resilient, aligned to service and a sense of real value and deeper purpose. This leads on to his characterisation of the firm of the future, with a particularly helpful chart and diagram on pp. 34-35. A regenerative firm will also be resilient, optimising, adaptive, systems based, values led and life supporting. Each of these characteristics is explained in greater detail, a particular strength of Giles’s book and which he applies in a number of chapters.

 

He sees the overall process in terms of personal and organisational gnosis or inner knowing – this is not a word that one expects to find in a business book, but it is clear that the inner state of leaders is critical to the way they function. Crucially, leaders need to schedule reflective time into their week if they are going to be able to stand back and regenerate themselves. Too frequently, this is exactly what goes by the board, so things continue on as before. Giles gives exercises for the feelings, breath and body and suggests some significant qualities that we can embody in challenging work environments: gratitude, surrender, trust, courage, humility and reverence.

 

Organisational gnosis affects both processes within the firm and its outside relationships. Here again, some of the key attributes and qualities might seem surprising: stillness, self-organisation, small steps, social, synchronicity and soulful, but Giles shows these can be implemented in a practical way using processes such as council, deep listening, open space, appreciative inquiry and circles of trust. At the end of this chapter, he uses the seven levels model of Richard Barrett by mapping seven stages of organisational development towards becoming a firm of the future. This means knowing what organisational actions and needs are at each level, with corresponding developmental tasks. Needless to say, very few companies will be operating consistently at the seventh level, but the firm of the future will be advancing in the direction of collaboration and service.

 

Leadership, as already mentioned, is essential to making this transition of logic, and Giles highlights five important areas for leaders to focus on as well as five qualities of conscious leadership. Such leaders are good listeners, coaches, facilitators and catalysts, operating as convenors and hosts within their organisations and using constructive criticism as a spur to further transformation. The book ends with a reflection on alchemy, showing how the qualities of Yin and Yang need to be finely balanced and embodied in wise action. There is then a series of health check questions for a future-fit organisation as well as details of a corresponding benchmark. Personally and professionally, we are all involved in a transformative process, and this refreshingly straightforward and clearly written book provides an invaluable route map based on the latest thinking in science, psychology, spirituality and business studies.

‘Many books call for new ways of thinking for modern leaders but until Future Fit none have provided such wise, well researched and practical approaches to guide leaders facing deeply complex challenges. In this compelling workbook Giles Hutchins is at the forefront of synthesizing new logics for business with the natural rhythms of life and the human mind that will revolutionize business. Future Fit is a must-read for every leader who wants to continue being successful or to move beyond what currently feels like impossible challenges. As an experienced Chief Executive I cannot recommend this powerful work highly enough.’ Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, Former Chief Executive of 157 Group, Centre for Excellence in Leadership UK, and ranked one of the UK’s most influential people in Debretts 2015 List.

‘Future Fit is a masterpiece of synthesis weaving together the emergent strands of wisdom from others with the author’s own extraordinary insights. This is a must-read for any business seeking answers to a deep inner sense that something different is needed for them and their organization to stay relevant in the 21st century.’  Mark Drewell, Senior Partner, The ForeSight Group, co-founder and former CEO of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative

‘Future Fit is prescient and practical. It describes the future as it can and should be, by drawing on a breadth of knowledge rarely seen in business books. It also makes big, abstract ideas more concrete, by offering examples and advice. This book will help managers navigate a complex world for a more sustainable world. Giles Hutchins is one of the most broad-reaching, forward thinking writers in business.’ Tima Bansal, Canada Research Chair in Business Sustainability, Ivey Business School

‘We see an emerging trend of moving from a mechanistic view of business to an organic, living organization framework, and Future Fit goes right to the heart of it. Packed full with practical insights to help activate and catalyze this transformation, this is a brilliant book that will help you wrap your head around the shifting paradigm at the vanguard of future business. Read it!’ Norman Wolfe, CEO of Quantum Leaders and author of The Living Organization

to see more on Future Fit, you can visit the book’s website www.futurefitbook.com  here

And to join the Facebook community for Future Fit and the new paradigm see here

Meditations on Respect and Love in a Fragmented World

September 22, 2017

‘Man knows himself only to the extent that he knows the world; he becomes aware of himself only within the world, and aware of the world only within himself.’ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer

What is within us is within everything. Once we understand this truth, we step outside of the parameters of our individual self and come to realise the power that is within us. This shift in awareness is a very simple step that has profound consequences’ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, mystic

‘And now here is my secret, it’s a very simple secret, it’s only with the heart that one sees rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.’  Antoine de Saint Exupéry, writer

‘Unlike the egoic operating system, the heart does not perceive through differentiation. It doesn’t divide the field into inside and outside, subject and object. Rather, it perceives by means of harmony…When heart-awareness becomes fully formed within a person, he or she will be operating out of nondual consciousness…where they will discover the resources they need to live in fearlessness, coherence, and compassion – or in other words, as true human beings.’ Cynthia Bourgeault, contemplative

The ability to deeply listen and speak from the heart while creating a space for generative courageous conversations is a primary aspect of the leadership we need in these times.

At its heart, generative dialogue is nothing more nor nothing less than speaking and listening with our whole-selves while being receptive and responsive to our social field. This is what allows ourselves and others to open up for an altogether more human sharing.

‘Dialogue is a conversation…taking the energy of our differences and channelling it towards something that has never been created before [an emerging co-creation] thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and correlated power of groups of people…You relax your grip on certainty and listen to the possibilities that result from simply being in a relationship with others.’  Bill Isaacs, dialogue specialist

Dialogue is like a dance, where the emergent space between the people and between the words shared is all important. The flow of the dance and the depth of openness between the dancing partners is what allows the dance to come alive and for deeper co-creativity to emerge.

Difficulties, tensions and disagreements are held in a generative non-judgemental way that provides a deepening of sharing rather than a rupturing of relationships.

As we deepen the receptivity and responsiveness of ourselves, the generative field widens; energy and creative potential is unlocked and the life-force of our people and wider system flows.

It is up to each of us as leaders to seed a culture of dialogue through the quality of conversational inter-relating performed by us in the day-to-day thick-of-it-all, whether informal corridor chats, email conversations, telephone calls or meetings.

The more we practice (often stumbling and failing, but learning as we go) the more we become aware of how we are influencing the generative field of our conversations and the generative field of our stakeholder ecosystem. In-so-doing, we consciously cultivate the conditions conducive for life to flourish – we become a conscious company through our respectful relations hand-in-hand with our sustainability reports, purpose statements and cultural charters.

Here, we are co-creating an empathic environment of love through our sense of connectedness with life: self-other-world.  We can consciously sense when we are enclosing/fragmenting ourselves with inner turmoil, alienation, anxiety and over-sensitivity that then warps into blame, judgement, anger and polarisation in a botched bid to protect the wounded-self.  We can also consciously sense beyond this ‘noise’ into the deeper vistas of life’s unfolding /enfolding implicate order of Nature.

Rather than being tossed this-way-and-that by the surface waves, we find our root-connection deepening into the Earth-and-universe to gain true perspective in a non-possessive non-fragmented transpersonal perspective. The universal kinship of the implicate order of Nature is seen not through the ego-eyed squint of separation and polarisation but as an evolutionary unfurling of growth and renewal. We participate in the evolution of life as a dance towards harmony (diversity-and-unity) rather than a competitive struggle towards domination and monoculture.

‘To love well calls for all that is demanded by the practice of any art, indeed of any human activity, namely, an adequate measure of discipline, patience, and persistence.’ – Roberto Assagioli, psychotherapist

 

It is worth reflecting on this famous poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling :

 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Easier said than done! But is this not the real challenge that lies before us? We might wish to hide from it, and engross ourselves in slumber, but it is real enough if we so choose to see…

Perhaps learning to respect ourselves, each other and our world is what being a ‘human being’ is all about.  As we deepen this learning, as we become more respectful, we see the world more richly, we sense the inter-relationality, the ebbs–and-flows, the wider constellations and hidden connections. Each day becomes our sensing-and-responding learning school, each moment our opportunity to grow and deepen as a Homo sapiens ‘wise being’.

Every authentic relation in life requires us to open up beyond judgement and projection into a real sharing with-and-through love. This involves us being vulnerable. It requires courage. It requires constant practice, dedication and devotion.

When we think or comment with a judgemental tone, we project something of our own lack of self-love on to the other. With judgement, we see the world through a fragmented, separating lens which fractures and filters.  This defending, rising animosity, polarises us-versus-them. It all originates in a lack of self-love, our own shadows. We get caught up in a vicious cycle of being wounded, wounding others; being judged, judging others. Sub-personalities cloud our deeper truth, we supress even more into the shadow and the polarisations heighten. Enter Trump.

When we centre ourselves in the heart, in our centre, then we begin to see rightly once again, and we can truly listen and truly share.  This is our humbling, courageous response-ability. This is the core to sustainable living – yet so often over looked, in part because it’s ‘messy’, whereas in comparison supply-chain metrics are ‘neat’.

A human being flourishes through empathic, respectful relations with others, not through metrics although, for sure, metrics are useful.

This respectful relating is primary to any organisation seeking to enhance conscious living in today’s world.  Seeking to enhance conscious living in today’s world is, arguably, the essential purpose of our time.

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here

For Giles Hutchins’ personal website www.gileshutchins.com

Leading Across The Threshold

September 15, 2017

Increasingly, today’s world requires our businesses to become ever more emergent, innovative and adaptive. In turn, our leadership becomes more about empowering, empathising and encouraging interconnections, synergies, openness, innovation, sense of purpose and an active network of feedback and learning.

This shift in leadership comes with a shift in our worldview: the way we perceive our sense of place and purpose in this world individually as a leader and organisationally as a living system immersed within the living systems of society and wider ecology of life.  It is no mean feat to embrace such a shift in the midst of turbulent and challenging times, while seeking to keep the wheels on the road.

The good news is that this shift is nothing more, nor nothing less, than learning to open up to our deeper humanity while opening up to how life really is, beyond the constraints, constrictions, habituations and acculturations we have picked up along the way.  The challenge for us in becoming ‘future-fit leaders’ is in embracing this shift within ourselves, while courageously nurturing space for the shift to occur within our teams and stakeholder communities.

We all know business-as-usual leadership and organisational development is inadequate for dealing with the challenges of the day.

“We have a crisis of leadership, in every institution. Not just in government….and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. What we don’t have [are] people who can formulate a new direction….. a new way of doing things …. and  a new way of looking at things.”  William Deresiewicz, Solitude and Leadership, Yale University

Take these well-versed statistics for instance:

  • Only 13% of employees are actively engaged in their work (and twice that number would actively sabotage their organization)
  • Mental illness amongst the workforce is rising exponentially with a cost of £26bn in the UK alone
  • Only 15% of leaders exhibit a consistent capacity to innovate and successfully transform their businesses
  • 72% of leaders know their organisations are overly reliant on fading revenues yet feel unable to do much about it
  • Cognitive overload and dissonance is now widespread and blends with increasing anxiety, stress and fatigue at all levels of management
  • To boot, we are using 150% of our planets carrying capacity to sustain this dysfunctional modus operandi

 (For more on these stats on leadership, see the report by Elaine Patterson and Giles Hutchins.)

In a recent leadership study I contributed to with Prof. Peter Hawkins of Henley Business School, a major disruptor of this current modus operandi is the pace and nature of change now upon us. Several leaders interviewed in this global study distinguished between different paradigms of change:

  1. “Change as an event” – an acquisition, a restructuring, a strategic or cultural change programme.
  2. “Change as a Constant” – If change is a constant outside, it needs to be a constant inside the organisation. Leaders need to constantly renew/re-enliven themselves and their organisations.
  3. “Change is accelerating” – Change is not only a constant, it is getting faster and faster, and becoming more inter-relational and multidimensional.

One CEO interviewed provided an impactful metaphor:  flying a plane, while rebuilding it mid-air, engaging all the passengers on-board, as well as the ground crew and air-traffic control. A number of participants also pointed to the real challenge lying not in any specific challenge, but in the way these myriad challenges systemically impact on each other.

“Leadership will increasingly become the skill of enabling a collaborative co-creative process amongst peers.”  Mark Drewell, Senior Partner Foresight group.

Read more…

Awakening the new paradigm with our awareness

August 22, 2017

The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity’ – Albert Einstein, genius

‘Positing consciousness as the ground of being calls forth a paradigm shift from a materialist science to a science based on the primacy of consciousness…Such a science leads to a true reconciliation with spiritual traditions, because it does not ask spirituality to be based on science but asks science to be based on the notion of eternal spirit.’ – Amit Goswami, nuclear physicist

‘The electromagnetic quantum vacuum is a form of light. It is an underlying sea of energy, that permeates every tiny volume of space, from the emptiest intergalactic void to the depths of the Earth, the Sun, and our own bodies. Our world of matter is like the visible foam atop a very deep ocean of light.’ – Bernard Haisch, astro-physicist

Everything is connected, a meaningful unity of diversity.

Once we begin to realise that everything is connected and everything is infused with the same spirit of aliveness, then we begin to realise that our inner worlds and outer worlds are inter-related, and how we relate with the world affects others and in-turn affects us.

What we do to the world we do to ourselves.

The pollution we create out there relates to the pollution we create in our inner worlds.

We begin to see the signs of sickness both within and all around us and recognise the importance of shifting from separateness to connectedness.

This is a simple step, a mere shift in our awareness, within the moment. Yet it has profound consequences for ourselves, our systems and our civilization.   Without this step we are but lost in our own devastating delusion.

It is through stillness, through presence, through love, through opening up to this reality of real life unencumbered by our fears, dis-eases and ego-urges that we emancipate ourselves and our world from the prison of our own minds.

We are all in this together.  The great awakening.

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here

Holding Space for Deeper Emergence:  The nutritious soil which feeds Future Fit Business

August 15, 2017

 

A couple of days ago Andy Raingold – co-founder of Change in Nature – and myself co-facilitated a two-day Nature Immersion for a diverse cohort of leaders to explore and embody future-fit leading, shifting consciousness from separateness to connectedness, and opening up to the Mind of Nature, held within a beautiful and secluded valley in the heart of the Cotswolds.

Amazingly, the wet and windy weather of August here in the UK paused to provide us with a window of sun shine and warmth for the entire two days, so the participants could embrace a 12 hour overnight solo in the woods while seeing the stars pierce the beech leaf canopy, with the moon light and early morning rays flooding the woodland, and so we could have meals, conversations and experiential exercises in the warmth of the summer sun.   What gratitude Andy and I have for Nature providing the ideal conditions for this gentle yet provocative Immersion.

A number of things were seeded and explored over the two days such as: the attunement of inner-outer, sense of purpose, interconnectedness, panarchy and the dynamics of transformation, the soul-dance of co-creativity and emergence, and how our ‘being-and-knowing’ informs and enriches our ‘doing’.

One theme that emerged early on and then deepened throughout the two-day immersion was that of music, and how we are all co-creative musicians participating in this inter-relational Dance of Life.  We may learn to tune-in to this deeper music within and all around us, if we so choose to hear/see/sense deeply enough.

‘Hear and your soul shall sing.’  The Book of Isaiah

The space between the notes is what gives the music its rhythm and depth.

Likewise, creating and holding space is vital for today’s leadership and organisational development.  All-too-often holding space is overlooked in today’s busyness. Stillness and space are seen as either a luxury or something to be filled-in as we get swept along with our hurry-up-and-get-on-with-it culture.  This encourages the superficial and undermines the deep.

This trilemma of social, economic and environmental crises now upon us demands the deep. The challenges our leaders face in transforming their organisations while keeping the wheels on the road amid unceasing change demands the deep.

Our leadership ability to adequately hold space is what allows for creative tensions to be worked through, to be fully sung if you like, rather than force-fitted into hurried solutions while frustration remains.  It is space that allows for the depth within ourselves to be more readily seen from the surface.

When we reduce down our spaces, we commodify the music, we de-soul our work and cut ourselves off from the very well-spring we so urgently need to be tapping into amid these tumultuous times.

Read more…

Future Fit Leading:  Manifesting A Revolution In Consciousness

August 8, 2017

Often people ask me to explain ‘Future Fit Leadership’ to them.  So here goes, a short article about just that.

First, I would like to share some of the context to future-fit leadership.

There is a revolution underway, a revolution with profound consequences for ourselves, our organisations and our wider social systems.

This revolution is not about digitisation, globalisation, disruptive innovation or any of the other macro-trends futurists tend to point to.

No.

In fact, this revolution isn’t out there at all.  It’s in here; in our own hearts-and-minds, and it’s ripping up the rule book about how we view life and our sense of place and purpose within it.

And you and I are right in the thick of it, in the midst of this metamorphosis.

I would like to share with you how this revolution in consciousness is manifesting in business, perhaps one of the most if not THE most powerful human force on the planet at the moment.

The way we viewed our organisations in the 20th century was as a ‘machine’, a machine that sweats its assets (including ‘human resources’) and the wider supply chain in order to provide maximised short-term returns. Society and the environment are externalities separate from the core business to be managed at best through nice-to-have yet superficial branding personas or other non-core activities.

This mechanistic logic – which is rooted in separateness, control, hyper-competition and domination – has some useful contributions to make to our learning and evolution as human-beings . But it’s had its day as a dominant socio-economic logic. This machine-logic is cracking, giving-way under the systemic challenges, volatility and inter-connected wicked problems our organisations and social systems now face.

This perception of the organisation-as-machine is giving way to the realisation of the organisation-as-living system, a living system which is intimately inter-related with the living systems of society and our more-than-human world.

‘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 old way of seeing the world is giving way to a new consciousness that recognises the timeless wisdom of Nature, if we so choose to see: life is intimately interconnected, nothing is separate, everything inter-relates with everything else.

‘Learn how to see and realise everything connects with everything else.’  Leonardo Da Vinci, genius

And the good news is, we can take learning from the living systems all about and within us as we learn to see with deeper fuller eyes.

We can apply living systems logic to leadership and organisational development in order to enable our organisations to become future-fit.

Living systems show us that we need to balance the dynamics of ‘convergence’ and ‘divergence’ to allow for healthy ‘emergence’. This emergence allows the organisation to adapt, learn and thrive amid unceasing transformation.

In business, this ‘divergence’ comes from distributed decision making, empowering teams to make change happen at the local level without having to rely on hierarchies of bureaucracy and control.

This ‘divergence’ also means we celebrate diversity, not just in terms of age, creed, culture and gender as important as that is, but also in terms of perceptual horizon, bringing different views from different silos within the business and from different stakeholder groups across the business ecosystem through generative dialogue.   This ‘divergence’ allows boundaries of separation to permeate and a richer more resilient decision-making process to unfold.

Yet, this divergence needs to be balanced with ‘convergence’ otherwise the organisation can become too chaotic.  We need to balance the order-and-the-chaos, Dee Hock (founder of VISA) refers to this as ‘chaordic’ where we find the right blend of divergence and convergence in order to ensure heightened emergence.

Traditional, ‘convergence’ has come through power-based hierarchies of control and domination.  This logic has a history, born out of a militarised mind exacerbated by the rise of patriarchy, the separation of wild-nature and ‘civilised’ urbanisation, and an ego-explosion that desires control over nature and over each other.  I explore this in detail in The Illusion of Separation, suffice to say that this kind of convergence through power-based hierarchies of control actually undermines the vibrancy and resilience of the living systems we are trying to engender.

Hence, we need to replace this convergence with a different kind; a kind that actually helps deepen our humanity rather than undermine it: hence the rise of ‘purposeful business’.

Read more…