For many years now our Western understanding of ecology (nature’s patterns of relationships) has been founded on the core principles of competition and separation. But now thankfully there is a much broader discussion forum with worldviews emerging that could be of interest not only to ecologists but also to business. Let’s take a look at how our understanding of ecology has evolved over the last century or more.
In 1857 Charles Darwin’s seminal work set the scene for defining the unit of ecological evolution as the organism separate from and in a competitive struggle with its environment.
In 1902, the Russian evolutionary theorist Peter Kropotkin felt that aspects of Darwin’s work had been mis-represented by powerful elites wishing to embrace societal governance mechanisms rooted in competition. Through his extensive studies, Kropotkin found that in both animal and human societies cooperation and mutual aid yielded prosperous outcomes far more than competitive behaviour. In 1916, the biologist Frederic Clements further explored the role of cooperation, mutualism and community within biotic life at an ecosystem level. Yet it was the work of the American biologist Henry Gleason and his focus on competition at the organismic level that gained wider acceptance in the early 20th century. More recently, Neo-Darwinism has de-emphasised certain aspects of Darwin’s findings and emphasised others along with Gleason’s work, namely the innate competitive nature of all organisms along with the selfish tendencies of genes that command these organisms. The prevalent ecological mind-set of the West has become essentially competition-based. Nature is all about dog-eat-dog competition, everyone knows that, or have we been misleading ourselves?
The discrete definition of the organism separate from its environment is what Gregory Bateson viewed as the basic flaw which corrupts the thinking that flows from it, as for him the inter-play of the organism with its environment is paramount to its health, viability and evolution. He viewed comparing one species against another in a struggle for survival as insane. He likened our Western worldview of survival through competition as ‘an ecology of bad ideas’ which breeds parasitic humans, purely self-centred and destructive of their host.
All the time new findings bring fresh perspectives to how we view the evolution of life. Far from the genome being a rigid set of building blocks and innately selfish we realise it is a fluid system of dynamic localities that evolve by interplaying with its environment. We recognise that evolution is essentially co-creative, fluid and variably connective. Rather than organisms struggling for survival they thrive through dynamic relationship.
‘Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.’ Lynn Margulis
Biologist Lynn Margulis has extensively studied cell behaviour and contends that symbiosis is a major driving force behind evolution and that cooperation, interaction and mutual dependence among life forms are what allow for the global expression of life we see around us. Far from life being driven by an innate competitive struggle it cooperates to form richer environments for life to further evolve. ‘Facilitation ecology’ is an emerging area of focus where ecologists are studying how facilitation happens between species at an ecosystem level. Traditionally we assumed that species would become more competitive as environmental conditions became tougher, but from recent studies in this field, it seems the opposite is closer to the truth, with species becoming more cooperative in stressful times.
It is worth noting that only one out of every ten cells within our bodies is actually human. Our bodies are a good example of the extensiveness of interplay, inclusivity and partnering that goes on throughout the biotic world. Without the help of the ‘friendly’ bacteria within our bodies we would utterly fail at life. It is also worth noting that in times of strife, like the hurricane-induced flooding in New York for instance, we humans transcend perceived boundaries of separation and seek to cooperate and help each other where possible.
Forester Suzanne Simard has been exploring the soils beneath our feet and found extensive mutuality amongst bacteria, fungi and plants. Trees within forests share nutrients with other trees aided by mycelium networks of fungi underground. Young trees trying to grow in areas of the forest that are deficient in certain nutrients and lacking enough sunlight, can be provided the nutrients they need from other trees (of completely different species), ensuring the overall ecosystem benefits.
The evolution and sustainability of biodiversity depends both on processes of individuation and integration in continual dynamic interplay: there is no binary opposition of one against the other. Life did not originate through enmity like our prevalent Neo-Darwinian paradigm assumes, but through this co-creative interplay that enables life to diversify by forming partnerships in correspondence with differing capabilities and availability of resources. There are a great variety of relationships, patterns and dynamics that inter-play into life’s rich tapestry and continual evolution.
At this point a very clear distinction needs to be made between the abstract concepts of competition and co-operation, which are predicated on an assumption of independence of content from context, and the arguably more natural concept of co-creation, which includes both individuation/dissociation and integration/association processes, and recognises that these arise fundamentally from the needfulness, NOT the ‘selfishness’ or ‘altruism’ of life forms.
Quite simply, any form of life needs to be able to gather in, retain, explore for and redistribute supplies of energy from its neighbourhood. It cannot choose to be independent from its neighbourhood, no matter how much it might desire (in the case of ‘civilised, rational’ human beings) to be so. Nothing in nature is separate from its environment, everything has a variable boundary which serves to interface inner world with outer. This dynamic interfacing is fundamental to natural sustainability. Likewise nothing is in competition with its environment; everything is in a state of dynamic co-creativity with its environment.
‘The whole philosophy of Hell rests on a recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specifically, that one self is not another self….it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. ‘To be’ means ‘to be in competition’. C. S. Lewis
Our current economic paradigm is founded upon the principles of competition, separation and scarcity. Yet this is not how life truly is. Excessive competition destroys diversity and innovation – a lesson it seems that many politicians, company executives and economists have yet to learn. It’s about time we started to wake up to the inherent grammar running throughout life on Earth – the unity within our diversity is our ability to work with NOT against each other in all aspects of life: business and beyond.
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Woven into our scientific-philosophy and socio-economic thinking at deep and partly unconscious levels is a corruption of the most fundamental degree. It is a flawed logic that sets us apart from each other and Nature. It is what Einstein spoke of as an optical illusion of consciousness which now manifests a devastating delusion. Large swathes of modern humanity are inured and institutionalised by this illusion of separation; an illusion that creates the belief that life is innately competitive and evolution is a process of selfish ascendance. It breeds fear, polarisation and egotism creating carcinogenic behaviour hallmarked by a desperate desire to ‘have’, ‘want’, ‘own’, ‘consume’, ‘out compete’. It is a dreadfully inadequate logic that is costing us life on Earth.
Peter Drucker once famously said, ‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’. So often, we find ourselves applying the very logic that created the problems to our design and delivery of well-intended solutions. The new spirit of business, politics and socio-economics must be rooted in a new logic that transcends this illusion.
In activating this new logic, we liberate ourselves from the restrictions of the self-limiting mind-set that created the problems in the first place, and provide for a shift to occur: from egotism to empathy; from separation to synchronicity; from power over to power with; from fear to courage. This shift activates new ways of leading unshackled from illusion that, paradoxically, are less about leading and more about facilitating a learning environment where each of us learn how to open up the permeability of our egos to something greater, and develop our capacity to become authentic co-creators within a life-affirming future.
The good news is we can activate this new way for free.
It requires nothing more than our undivided attention and a deep love for life. Making space in our schedules to be in Nature or in a quiet place is a good start. Here we may allow ourselves to tune-in to the wisdom of Nature flowing through each evolving moment. Great minds such as Einstein, Da Vinci, Pythagoras and Confucius all knew of this inherent wisdom flowing throughout Nature. It’s time to activate this timeless wisdom.
This is humanity’s hour of reckoning. These times of breakdown can create the conditions for breakthrough in each of us, if we have courage.
While it may not always feel like it (as there is much to be down-beat about these days) we are in the midst of a seismic paradigm shift. The challenge of our time is less about intellectualising adaptations utilising yesterday’s logic and more about creating space within our manic schedules for a real embodiment of the innate wisdom life affords us. This will open up our awareness to the shift already afoot. Whether we are activists or accountants, engineers or entrepreneurs, midwives or musicians, these transformational times demand we activate this consciousness now and for all time.
You can access a podcast series on this shift in our midst here bit.ly/1Gj31TL
To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here and for more on the Future Fit Leadership Academy visit www.ffla.co and for Giles Hutchins’ personal website www.gileshutchins.com
It is now self-evident for many influential people across a number of disciplines – business, politics, education, science, philosophy – that our current prevailing logic (hallmarked by linear-thinking, silo’ed mentality, dog-eat-dog competition and control-based separateness) is exacerbating the very problems it is seeking to solve. It keeps us distracted from the very wisdom we need to tackle the crises in our midst.
Love is a much mis-understood and mis-used word. We live in a culture high on lust yet lacking love.
Rudolf Steiner is one of the great modern philosophers who set about trying to synthesize what it means to practice living with love. His concepts have been applied to great effect in education, agriculture and medicine. For Steiner, the discipline of living with love is attained through the direct perception of the heart, where our soul (the aperture to our authentic being within Spirit) opens up allowing a deeper, more authentic, passionate and compassionate attentiveness to become embodied by us through our ways of being and doing.
Bernard Nesfield-Cookson is the author of the book Rudolf Steiner’s Vision of Love which lucidly explores Steiner’s spiritual science. Here Nesfield-Cookson notes that Steiner warns against intellectual speculations which can divert us from the path of living with love. Steiner points to artistic introspective quiet contemplation as the best preliminary condition for this path. When in this state of contemplative presence, we may feel love emanating from the soul found within the heart. It is this Love that then permeates our entirety, enlightening our ego for right thought and deed. And so it is through a gentle stillness and introspection that we allow an opening of our heart which can then infuse each inter-relational embracement and we go about our daily activities. Only this way, is this Love made manifest into the world. The power of love empowers, enriches and enchants our way of attending to and relating with everything we do: our ‘being’ and ‘doing’ are infused with love.
‘When we tie in with the life force it rights us from our distractions and reconnects us to the rapture of life.’ – Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Step 1 – Slow down; embrace stillness and silence. Create a safe space for the subtle perturbations of the soul to be felt/heard. In allowing head-thinking intellectualisations and mental distractions to calm down, we develop the capacity for inner-sense: sensing the bodymind’s receptivity as we develop artistic introspection and heart-awareness. This is the preliminary condition for living with love.
This simple first step is not necessarily easy, in fact can so often feel like a great challenge in the midst of today’s busy humdrum of mass distraction, anxiety and egoistic posturing. It requires great courage not to succumb to the corrupting allures of our acculturated habituations. Yet, each of us is our own jail maker and jail breaker. It is up to you and me to take responsibility for our own awareness. In fact, taking responsibility in this way helps transform victim and blame mentalities (which keep us inured in fear-based control-based stories of separation and dualism) into self-understanding, self-loving, self-mastery, foundational to any wholesome relationship with others.
‘Disciplined empathy is not self-dissolving but self-opening’ Catherine Keller
The first step in righting ourselves towards a more balanced way of being and doing, is developing this ‘heart-awareness’ within our everyday living.
Step 2 on this path of awakening to the love of life is an embodied knowing of Nature and her wise ways: the ebbs and flows of seasonal sea changes nested at all levels of life; sensing the tensions and emergence of life; sensing and responding through a gnosis of life – the original Greek sense of the word meaning a heart-felt bodymind knowing beyond any head-based intellectualisation. This dynamic wisdom of the heart is ancient yet fresh, imminent yet transcendent. For instance, all ancient shamanic cultures are rooted in a deep heartfelt understanding that shows humility and respect for all relations. It is what these transformational times demand of us now.
‘The purpose of life is to live in agreement with Nature’ – Zeno
Steps 3 on this path takes us into the most sacred of inner sanctums at the heart of all ancient wisdom traditions – the Holy of Holies, the quest of the Holy Grail, the philosopher’s stone: an alchemic attunement of the masculine and feminine qualities innate within life; personal mastery embodied through our communal inter-relations. Here, our organisations and communities become the manifestations of this wisdom in practice. This is the beginning of truly sacred, sustainable business – soulful business where real value (beyond the abstraction of short-term shareholder value) is realised through purposeful, intentional undertakings in service of life. It is a sense of place and purpose built on trust, humility and service where fears, envies, vanities and self-absorptions fall away – personal mastery through communal service; a place of being and doing where barriers to love are consciously permeated.
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Every generation experiences significant change due to innovations, disruptions and shifting perspectives. Yet there has been more significant change in the last 50 years than in the previous millenium. These recent advances have created tetonic shifts challenging what we do and the way we do it, calling into question our sense of purpose, and demanding wholly new ways of operating and organizing.
For organizations to thrive and flourish in these times of fast-moving change, our leaders need to be equipped with how to enable their organizations to appropriately adapt and respond to these unprecedented times. If you aren’t thriving you’re not surviving.
In this paper you will learn the why, the what, and the how. You will learn a new way of thinking about your organizations that will make you and your organzations more impactful. You will discover guidelines for assessing your organzations and a path forward that enables flourishing amid times of unceasing volatility and change.
Where we came from
The start of today’s dominant business paradigm coincides with the creation of the modern corporation around the turn of the twentieth century. Its roots can be traced back to the industrial revolution which grew out of the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, which heralded rapid advances in scientific, political and philosophical thought. This shaped a certain mind set that influenced how we approached business management during the Industrial and post-Industrial period of the 19th and 20th century. A mind set that included the reductive logic of empirical analysis, process management, control, predictability, replicability, efficiency, win-lose competition and economies of scale. These formed the backbone of Frederick Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management published in 1909. The scientific approach of Taylorism became hugely influential in setting the context for viewing the organization as a machine.
Machines perform better when optimized for efficiency. The responsibility for optimizing the organizational machine became management’s domain and their primary concern. This mechanistic logic coupled with economies of scale, centralization, and control-based thinking, led to the hierarchical organization structure with its silos and bureaucracy we know only too well today. Employees were relegated to the role of efficiently performing the duties as defined by management. As management seeks to improve the efficiency of the machine, they unwittingly undermine the creativity, agility and empowerment of people in the process.
When you think of your organization and the challenges you face, where do your thoughts take you? You might start with thoughts of increasing revenues, reducing expenses or even improving services to customers. If you are like most business leaders, as you think further of how to implement such objectives, you will be thinking in terms of how you can get more with what you have (or less). How you can maximize the efficiency of your organization. If your thinking goes there, then it is enmeshed in the Machine Paradigm.
There is an old saying, ‘May you live in interesting times’.
When someone said this to you it was viewed as both a blessing and a curse, because to live in interesting times means to face both danger and opportunity, to simultaneously embrace both breakdown and breakthrough, which is exactly what these transformative times demand of us.
The UN Secretary General refers to these times as the Great Transition; Joanna Macy, Thomas Berry and others have referred to it as the Great Turning.
‘Throughout the ages, people have said that the world is in the midst of big change.
But the level and degree of global change that we face today is far more profound than at any other period in my adult life. I call this period the Great Transition… I believe we face a unique opportunity.
Because the changes we face are so profound – the decisions we make will have a deeper and more lasting impact than perhaps any other set of decisions in recent decades. We have no time to lose.’ – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
My own contribution to this Great Turning is to shed some light on our relationship with Nature, to help illuminate the way we live and work with Nature.
We are in the midst of a metamorphic period of change unlike anything the world has seen since the Late Middle Ages. With “meta” (meaning “form”) and “morph” (meaning “change”), the word suggests the transformative change in form of human institutions now emerging as we awaken to the realities of climate change and the destruction of ecosystems we have long relied upon for our survival. As the organisation specialist Peter Drucker insightfully said, ‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’.
Nowhere is this metamorphic change more evident than in the way business organisations are being managed and led. The ideal of ‘organisation-as-machine’, which was dominant throughout the 20th century, is now giving way to an ideal of ‘organisation-as-living-system.’
Increasingly, as our organisational context requires us to become ever more emergent, innovative and adaptive, so leadership must become more about empowering, empathising, encouraging interconnections, innovation, learning, local attunement, reciprocating partnerships and an active network of feedback. As such, the aim of leaders becomes more focused on nurturing conditions where the organisational living system can unlock its creative potential, learn and flourish in a purposeful and coherent way, so that it can create and deliver value while being mindful of the wellbeing of all the people it serves and the wider fabric of life it relates with. This is not some utopian dream, it’s happening now as you read this article.
Enter a myriad of organisations thriving amid uncertainty by applying living-systems logic: the healthcare provider Buurtzorg, the bank Triodos, the employment agency Vaga, the hi-tech manufacturer W.L Gore & Associates, the global network of social-enterprise community centres Impact Hub, the multimedia provider Sounds True, the Brazilian manufacturer Semco, to name a few.
To aid this transformation, here are five important areas for leaders and change agents to focus on in these transformational times:
- Communication: to commune with others, really listen and deeply share with our peers and stakeholders within and beyond the organisation by creating space for soulful sharing and collaborative networks that do more than just brainstorm by having the remit to prototype the future.
- Innovation: within the organisation ‘accelerator skunkworks’, ‘incubators’ or ‘innovation hubs’ operate like cocoons in stealth mode (Google X, for instance) where bright out-of-the-box innovators across the organisation can engage in entrepreneurial explorations, with the support of the organisation to invest in these prototypes, testing them out before the activities are either spun off or integrated into the main business.
- Diversity in the boardroom: yes we need more diversity and inclusiveness in terms of age, sex and race, yet also in our ways of thinking, by bringing in non-conformists that provoke and cajole with different perspectives and insights. This can be achieved through inviting a wider range of Non-executive Directors, diverse stakeholder representatives, a greater variety of external advisers, and utilizing innovative forward-thinking consultants and coaches beyond the traditional mainstream consultancies.
- Sense of purpose: as leaders we need to cultivate our inner-compass, develop our own coherence within ourselves, taking time and energy to embark on a process of ‘knowing thy self’ so as to understand our deeper sense of purpose beyond our ego-personas and acculturated masks. When we align our outer actions with our inner sense of purpose we allow a deeper creative impulse and authenticity to flow through our work. Ditto for our teams and stakeholders. And when our organisational sense of purpose resonates with our personal purpose, truly extraordinary things spark – we develop what living-systems scientists refer to as ‘super-coherence’, enabling us to thrive amid volatility.
- Time and space: taking personal responsibility for our work schedules and recognising that the continual busyness and stress actually undermines our ability to think out-of-the-box and sense our inner compass. Each of us can be more effective at managing our diaries, creating blocks in our schedule for ‘systemic thinking’ where we can reflect, pause and learn to tune-in to our more intuitive awareness and authentic, soulful selves.
Gone with the winds of change is the artificial certainty and mechanistic linearity of command-and-control cultures and ‘human resource’ management, revealing a fresher, purposeful, altogether more human approach to our ways of working.
Speaker, author, adviser Giles Hutchins’ latest book is Future Fit:
‘Essential and timely’ Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Author and Founder of the Oxford Research Group
‘A must-read’ Bob Willard, Author and Speaker, Sustainability Advantage
‘Brilliant’ Richard Barrett, Chairman and Founder of The Barrett Values Centre
‘A masterpiece’ Mark Drewell, Founder of The Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
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It is now clear to many leaders, managers and change agents that we need a new way of operating.
Yet, so often we seek solutions ‘out there’, a new way that has been invented elsewhere, packed-up, tried-and-tested and ready for us to buy off-the-shelf so we can solve our problems: a silver-bullet, a cook-book approach that, with enough budget, senior management buy-in and will-power, we can implement – job done, tick, move-on, next!
There is something within our psyche that definitely prefers the safe, tried-and-tested, well-documented, easy-to-follow, clearly illuminated straight road ahead. But life is not like that. And things are only set to get more volatile, more uncertain and more ambiguous for a great variety of reasons
There is increasing evidence that today’s managerial mind-set and organisational development approaches are not just inadequate for dealing with the challenges that lie ahead of us, they are actually undermining our creative potential and adaptability right where we most need it.
So what to do!
In my recent conversations with a CEO exploring just this, she succinctly said, ‘its time to start looking in’. Yes, we need to look out, but first we need to look deep within, and then take that in-spiration into our looking out, so that we see, relate and attend to what is required in our organisations with a new way of perceiving, of thinking, of attending. From this insight and self-awareness comes the foresight and systemic thinking we now need to deal with the challenges upon us.
Gosh – I hear a voice inside shriek ‘ In the thick of all this unceasing transformation, we don’t have time for the luxury of navel gazing!’
If we are honest with ourselves, we may begin to realise that the major problems we face within our ways of operating and organising result from our ‘doing’ having become de-coupled from our ‘being’. Let’s just pause on that for a moment.
How often in our daily activities do we do things in a harried and hurried way due to our need to ‘get the job done’ while undermining the quality of our ‘beingness’ in the process, in turn undermining the quality of interactions we have with others, eroding our innate sociality and empathetic connection with our environment. We professionalise our masks and personas as we learn to be masterful at persuasion and manipulation, yet in-so-doing we distance ourselves from our authentic nature, desensitising ourselves and our empathic inter-relationality in the process. Enter the mechanistic bureaucratic soul-sapping corporate culture we so desire to break free from.
As the now trendy insight from Einstein so aptly highlights, we can’t change our problems with the same logic that created them. And yet we so often do exactly this. Whether it be, for instance, force-fitting a cook-book approach to holacratic self-organisation into our governance or sending our top 1% of talent on largely academic leadership courses to efficiently download topflight leadership.
Most middle managers and senior executives think that in order to succeed, we need to climb the ladder, take on more responsibility, lead a bigger project, and accumulate more academic accreditations. We look outside ourselves in terms of what we can accumulate. This has its place and needs to be commended, but only if our doing is aligned with our being, otherwise we are doing stuff for some external ‘tick-box’ exercise while de-coupling ourselves from our being. We take on more external commitments, giving ourselves less time to reflect on how we are being – and so we get more stressed, seeking fleeting respite through holidays or external stimulations, which often involves yet more busyness. Enter the contagion of consumerism in our midst.
How often do we give ourselves a chance to question why on Earth are we are doing what we are doing? What actually is the deeper purpose of the organisation I work for and how does it resonate with my deeper purpose? How is my life actually enriching me and future generations?
The more we externalise and objectify the more we distract ourselves from sensing into how we are truly feeling. We don’t give ourselves the space-time to tune-in to who we truly are and how we are truly feeling, because we are for-ever grasping at things ‘out there’. We relentlessly get busier and busier in an increasingly complex fast-moving digitised world that demands more and more of us. Becoming more profitable, more sustainable, more creative, more resilient, more responsible, more purposeful, more conscious – all noble undertakings that are at risk of becoming ‘things’ for us to get our head round, climb over and achieve efficiently with the masks and personas of yesterday’s mindset. We fail to actually question or address the underlying mindset, and so unwittingly prevent ourselves from opening up to the deeper wisdom we now need to move beyond ‘the box’ we have got ourselves caught up in.
It’s time to step back from this myopia, and pause for a moment so that we can allow ourselves to see with fresh eyes, while bringing in deeper insights beyond ‘the box’.
‘The one who looks inside awakens’ – Carl Jung
The good news is, these very times of volatility and upheaval are providing the ideal alchemic conditions for our old ways to be seen for what they are – holding us back from who we truly are, and undermining our organisations’ and social systems’ ability to thrive.
Many are now increasingly realising that our organisations are actually living systems rather than mechanistic machines. This is one of the greatest challenges, perhaps THE challenge our leaders and managers face today: embracing a shift in our way of perceiving from an outdated mechanistic and control-based managerial mind-set to a recognition that our organisations are living systems immersed within the living systems of society and our more-than-human world. This comes with a worldview shift from a dog-eat-dog world steeped in self-agency, individualism and competition to a deeper recognition that our world is steeped in inter-connected reciprocating relationships.
For ourselves, our teams, our organisations and stakeholder ecosystems to become vibrant, adaptive, thriving, purposeful living systems amid these times of unceasing transformation, we first need to embrace the aliveness within us, and the connection and coherence that enables this aliveness to flourish through our relationships. In other words, our ‘being’ needs to underpin and infuse our ‘doing’. This is not some wishy-washy soft-and-fluffy new-age vibe, it is simply the only way to take ourselves outside-the-box and transform our thinking beyond that which created the problems in the first place.
Old Logic New Logic
Competitive self-agency Collaborative inter-relationality
Hierarchic management Locally-attuned emergence
Individualism Individuality within community
Homogenisation Diversity within unity
Profit first Profit follows purpose
There is now clear scientific evidence showing that complex living systems – our social and organisational systems, as well as our own selves – greatly improve their ability to thrive amid volatility by enhancing their connection and coherence at personal, team and systemic levels.
The well-respected scientist Ervin Laszlo speaks of the importance of super-coherence within living systems. All living systems need to be both intrinsically and extrinsically coherent in order to thrive. By coherence we mean the ability for all the aspects within us and within our organisations to be aligned and in-tune. Yet, today, much of our managerial approaches, decision-making protocols, day-to-day meeting conventions and approaches to work actually stifle our coherence both within ourselves at personal levels (creating anxiety, fear, control issues and frustration while undermining our creative potential and sapping our motivation) and extrinsically beyond ourselves in terms of how we relate with others across our organisational boundaries (creating silo-mentality, competitive them-versus-us thinking, risk-adverse herd mentality, and institutionalised status-quo rigidity). This undermines our personal and organisational coherence, in turn, undermining the resilience and well-being of ourselves and organisations.
So how do we develop this ‘super-coherence’ within ourselves and our organisations amid these times of increasingly uncertainty and challenge? This, I argue, is THE inquiry for any leader interested in creating vibrant flourishing enterprises that do not just survive the years ahead but actually thrive. In other words, this is THE inquiry for every leader awakening to this ‘new norm’, and we can go further by saying this is also THE inquiry for every human seeking a future that is life-affirming, a future for ourselves and our children that enhances life rather than degrades it, that leaves the garden richer than we found it rather than recklessly burning our future for today. As Ervin Laszlo notes,
‘In the last few hundred years, and especially in the last decades, human societies have become progressively incoherent both with respect to each other and with their environment. They have become internally divisive and ecologically disruptive… Species are dying out, diversity in the planet’s ecosystem is diminishing, the climate is changing, and the conditions for healthy living are reduced. This crucial epoch is to regain our internal and external coherence: our supercoherence. This is not a utopian aspiration, but it calls for major changes in our thinking and behaving. Striving effectively to regain supercoherence requires more that finding technological solutions to patch up the problems created by our incoherence. It requires reconnecting with a mindset…a mindset based on a sense of oneness with each other and with nature…rediscovering the power of love [as] a profound sense of belonging to each other and to the cosmos. This rediscovery is timely, and it is not mere fantasy: it has roots in our holographically whole, non-locally interconnected universe.’
Shifting this mindset within ourselves and our organisations is no mean feat, but it does come with the benefit of not just helping ourselves and our organisations adapt and thrive in these challenging times, but also allowing ourselves to become more of who we were truly born to be. In my latest book Future Fit, I provide a number of easy-to-apply tools and techniques, as well as supporting business examples to show how we can create the conditions conductive for our organisations to become living, vibrant, super-coherent systems.
Here is a three minute video about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzAtglvBNmM
‘Inspiring, uplifting, superb’ Euan Smith, former COO, Sky Deutschland
‘Unique and insightful’ Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition
‘A treasure-trove’ Professor Peter Hawkins, Henley Business School
‘I cannot recommend this powerful work highly enough’ Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, CEO of Centre for Excellence in Leadership