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The Revolution in Consciousness for Regenerative Leadership – it starts right here right now

July 8, 2018

The time has come.

To look beyond the superficial and sense the deep.

To have the courage to engage in heart-felt wisdom.

To bring forth a way of living our hearts know is truly possible.

To flow with the evolutionary dynamic of Life rather than against it.

This is the time to metamorphose from breakdown into breakthrough.

To metamorphose beyond caterpillar-consciousness of reductive mechanism, individualistic materialism and patriarchal egotism  à into a new way of living and leading, one that is regenerative, that seeks harmony with Life, and that nourishes our selves, our systems and our societies.

To wake-up to a new-norm, a fresh yet ancient wisdom of Life, that is all around and within us if we so choose to see.

To wake-up beyond the ego-bubble that entraps us in false security and artifice, manipulation and projection, greed and narcissism, social toxicity and corrupting competition.

‘Our world will either undergo revolutionary changes, so far-reaching in character that humanity will totally transform its social relations and its very conception of life, or it will suffer an apocalypse that may well end humanity’s tenure on this planet.’ Murray Bookchin, social ecologist

Over the last 24mths, I have been spending deep-time with various senior leaders; leaders from quite different backgrounds, political outlooks and worldview perspectives.

My deep-time with this motley crew has revealed a unity flowing through this multiplicity of perspectives.

There is a visceral sense that something is deeply wrong with our current paradigm, and that if things continue as they are for much longer, we shall collectively loose our minds, becoming unhinged from our true humanity, unplugged from any deeper sense of place and purpose in this world.

And yet this maddening situation might just be what the doctor ordered – the very situation that might provoke our wake-up.  Today’s situation alerts us to the urgent requirement to metamorphose, to evolve, to move beyond where we are at, or get sucked-under by our shadow-projections and collective neurosis.

 

Thomas Kuhn in the early 1960s coined the term ‘paradigm shift’ when exploring seismic shifts in understanding. He found these shifts occur in discontinuous, revolutionary breaks. Such shifts are a healthy phase in the development of our understanding of reality. Ways of viewing the world are upgraded by bursting beyond the inertia enveloping an outdated construct.

We know an era is ending and a new one being conceived when the fundamental assumptions and illusions of the old worldview are exhausted by their inability to deal with the challenges of the day.

Economist Joseph Gustav Speth argues, in his book The Bridge At The End of The World that today’s challenges require nothing less than a revolution in consciousness to a new worldview. He says, ‘Today’s dominant worldview is simply too biased towards anthropocentrism, materialism, egocentrism, contempocentrism, reductionism, rationalism, and nationalism to sustain the changes needed.’ 

Try saying that quickly : )

It’s not a snappy sentence, but it’s bang-on.

While Speth points to a transformation in our midst, he warns us, ‘Proposals for transformational change will be derided and, when they gain traction, resisted at every turn. It is true but easy to say that the resistance will come from entrenched interests. It will also come from ourselves. We are the consumers and the employees, and we are easily seduced.’

Deep and complex influences within our own psyche, our collective consciousness and in the structures pervading our culture are being challenged to radically reshape; at its heart this paradigm shift challenges the very way we view the world and ourselves as embodied within it.

We are waking up to the reality that we are not separate self-serving organisms in a world devoid of intrinsic meaning or purpose. The story we’ve been serving up to each generation about how the world works is no longer accurate-enough nor adequate-enough. Our worldview of separation and competition is breaking down to reveal a deeper, wiser understanding.

The Story of Separateness à The Story of Participation, Co-creation & Connectedness

Specialists from all domains have long been pointing to the glaring fault-lines in our current cultural narrative of separation, control hyper-competition and consumerism.  And yet, we so often find ourselves inured in our own wilful blindness.

It reminds me of the line from Morpheus in the film The Matrix, ‘You have to understand, most people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.’

It is easy to become inured and institutionalised by habituated ways of thinking, and cultural distractions, that keep us comfortable yet numb.

The first step is to notice this in ourselves, to notice the habituations, acculturations and ego-traps inherent in our personas – this informs how we see the world, and how we relate with it: regeneratively or degeneratively – or as leadership specialist Otto Schamer puts it: presencing or absencing – this is our conscious choice, each moment.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world of hyper-competition – or so the saying goes.

It’s a VUCA world of increasing chaos and uncertainty – or so the managerial acronym alludes.

It’s an increasingly stress-filled world of mass distractions undermining our humanity – or so contemporary social scientists suggest.

How much of this is all in our minds? Self-perpetuating, self-created – delusional.

How much is our very attentiveness, our very being-in-the-world, central to today’s trilemma of social, economic and environmental crises;

How we see the world, the stories, mythologies and social constructs we tell ourselves and teach our children;

How we attend to the menstruating moment and mood within;

How we listen to and relate with others;

How we consume our lives and the lives of those around us?

‘Greed, envy, sloth, pride and gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No, these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a nudge towards another sale. Even in our relationships we consume each other, each of us looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites are often satisfied at the expense of those around us. In a dog-eat-dog world we lose part of our humanity.’ Jon Foreman

Has the time come to pause and reflect on not only the ever-widening and deepening ramifications of our busyness, values-void business and soul-sapping consumerism…

but also on the root causes underpinning the diverse yet related issues of mental illness, digital addiction, status anxiety, rising social inequality, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, soil erosion, climate change and the rest?

‘There is a tendency in our age to rush to change the manifest effects of wrong actions without seriously considering the root causes’ – Joseph Milne, philosopher

In his well-articulated and passionate book How Soon Is Now? Daniel Pinchbeck sees our planetary and socio-economic crisis as a great opportunity for awakening and initiation. He perceives the crisis we face as a ‘cosmic trigger’ forcing not only rapid technological and social innovation, but also a psychic evolution – one might even dare to say, a ‘spiritual awakening’: A step-change from one level of consciousness to another. To a level of awakening where we sense into and harmonise with the wisdom of Life.

He notes:

‘The reductive scientific paradigm sees the universe as mechanistic, with genes as the master molecules determining our fate, but the new vision of biology is one of interdependence and symbiosis instead of cutthroat competition.

Much like single-celled organisms hundreds of millions of years ago, we find ourselves at a threshold where we must overcome our sense of separate identity to evolve new social organs. To survive, we must overcome limited self-interest and learn to cooperate for the benefit of the whole.  This requires a change in our social nature… If we are going to make a leap to a new state of consciousness and social system, we must overcome the subconscious beliefs that distort our perceptions of our world and ourselves… This is another reason that our self-transformation requires a spiritual evolution, an opening of consciousness, not just a political change.’

It is heartening to hear a social provocateur of Daniel’s credentials and media-influence speaking of the need for us to globally wake-up and embrace a deeper narrative about how the world works.

It was only five years ago that a well-respected global sustainability network politely but firmly asked me to veer away from writing articles about ‘consciousness awakening’ for fear of switching-off mainstream CSR folk.  Times they are a changing!

My recent TEDx directly addresses the now necessary revolution in consciousness required if we are to avoid irreversible catastrophe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2mUebq5PXU&feature=youtu.be

Read more…

The Journey Towards Wholeness – The Vitality of Regenerative Leadership

June 26, 2018

Recently I have been blessed with some great conversations about the cool-reality of making Teal/Evolutionary Business work in practice, and how Teal needs to integrate/sit alongside a deep personal and organisational practice of connecting to source, for instance, Theory U.

The world-leading practitioners I have been engaging with, along with business leaders in-the-field doing the hard-graft of transforming their cultures into regenerative businesses, all agree that one aspect of this transformational journey is vital: the journey towards wholeness. 

And yet it is all-too-often this very aspect that many of us attempt to gloss-over, side-track or ignore as we consume new tools, techniques, models, methodologies, structures and systems.

The ‘outer’ dynamic of the transformation usurps the ‘inner’ dynamic.

Soon the transformation becomes lifeless – yet another cook-book consultancy model or managerial method that does little to move us towards the vibrant, flourishing, regenerative futures our hearts know is possible.

In this short article I am going to sense into the messy human-ness of the journey towards wholeness – as uncomfortable as it may be to read.  By all means side-line this ‘stuff’ as ‘fluff’.

But it ain’t going away.

The sooner we embrace this journey, the sooner the next-generation of truly life-affirming business becomes reality.

Because the social design systems – whether they be Swarm or White Space technologies, Art of Hosting or Holding Space, Agile Leadership or Authentic Leadership, Holacracy or Sociocracy – only come alive when they are lived amid the journey towards wholeness.

As any wise human knows, the outer is always informed by the inner – separate the ‘yang’ from the ‘yin’ at your peril.

Here I share some insights, so that we may sense what this ‘journey towards wholeness’ is all about:

Forgiveness :

By Richard Rohr

‘’Check each day how you’re doing with forgiveness. That’s a good test… It’s often the petty things, the accumulating resentments. The little things you know about another person; how they sort of did you wrong yesterday. No big deal, but the ego loves to grab onto those; they build up on the psyche like a repetitive stress injury. I think that in many ways, it’s much harder to let go of these micro-offenses, precisely because they’re so tiny. And so we unconsciously hoard them, and they clog us up.”

Fear :

By Monique Hennequin recalling her experiences during an NDE (Near Death Experience)

‘To tell you the truth, it wasn’t really so much what I had done to others, but more what I had done to myself. [The people I hurt or was hurt by] these people mirrored my own pain, suspicion, anger and helplessness as well. In those moments I had missed out on opportunities to take full responsibility for my thoughts, words and deeds and in doing so had taken away the possibility to grow and become more conscious.

I also saw that I could spontaneously react to someone in the ‘wrong’ way, because the other person needed that at that moment. And I had felt guilty because I had ostensibly reacted in the ‘wrong’ way, not knowing that the thoughts and emotions of the other person had my unintentional reaction as a consequence.

In events where I had difficulty seeing my responsibility, I ‘lingered’ for as long as it took to take it in…to see how naïve my actions were driven out of ambition, egotism, fear and yes even out of joy or euphoria.

Why had I said so little during my life? Fear, but that fear had now completely gone.  I was never going to be afraid again of my thoughts and feelings. Not afraid to fail in the eyes of others or to be challenged. I was and will be, my own judge. From now on I would be the one I would answer to. Everything went hazy and suddenly, with an enormously painful force, I was back in my body.’

From fear to trust :

By Jean Vanier

‘As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other’s stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgement and prejudice to foregiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart.’

Trust :

By Shelly Francis

‘Developing courage as a leader boils down to trust: trusting yourself, trusting other people, and developing an ability to trust in the balance of life overall… Trust requires listening to one’s inner life, which can translate into great empathy and willingness to invite reflection among colleagues, which can in turn inform a sense of shared purpose and optimism.

Relational trust is a specific form of trust that arises from interpersonal relationships…Relational trust at first glance is simply about trust between people – we depend on each other to fulfil the obligations and expectations defined for our roles. That leaves us vulnerable to power asymmetries, to misunderstandings, to breakdowns in communication, to all sorts of tensions that can wreak havoc not only on relationships but also on our individual capacity to handle stress. In fact, relational trust comes from our inner perceptions and interpretations of others’ behaviors and motives.  This inner territory is full of potholes and shadows that demand we tend to our own self-awareness.’

Transforming tension :

By Parker J Palmer

‘Why do we hate to hold tension, in matters both large and small? On the surface, the answer seems clear; doing so makes us look uncertain and indecisive. Whether in a business meeting or on the global stage, we want to appear powerful, not wimpy. And we want to win…The arrogant insecure ego does not like it when we hold tension, fearful of losing its status if we lose the battle at hand.

That, at least, is what our fear of tension looks like on the surface. But fear always comes in layers, and can be understood only when we reach its substrate. Ultimately, what drives us to resolve tension as quickly as we possibly can is the fear that if we hold it too long, it will break our hearts.

This bedrock layer of fear is the one that interests me, for at least two reasons. It evokes more sympathy in me, for myself and others, that the ego’s fear of looking bad or losing out, which seem whiny and pathetic. And the heart’s fear of being broken is not fanciful: holding powerful tensions over time can be, and often is, a heartbreaking experience.

But there are at least two ways to understand what it means to have our hearts broken. One is to imagine the heart broken into shards and scattered about – a feeling most of us know, and a fate we would like to avoid. The other is to imagine the heart broken open into new capacity – a process that is not without pain but one that many of us would welcome. As I stand in the tragic gap between reality and possibility, this small tight fist of a thing called my heart can break open into greater joy, despair and hope.’

By Ann Belford Ulanov

‘What is it that makes for aliveness?

…we must let our wounds remain open, not close them up by premature interpretations, but sit in the ashes, suffer … go naked…to reach into the unknown beyond fixed delusions and rigid routines…into a creative aliveness, a regenerative process, that undoes deadness…through the rhythm of connection, breakdown, repair, reconnection.’

By John Welwood

‘Compassion – literally ‘suffering with’ – is born out of feeling the rawness of the heart, which also makes us more sensitive to others.’

It is this holding of tensions that breaks open the heart. The narcissistic ego in us fears this most of all, as it is through this breaking open that our little-self dies just a little, loosening its grip of control, so that real life can flood us.   This is the crucifixion mytho-drama laid bare for all to see.  The rebirth is nothing more than our true nature being revealed to us as we let-go of control, of fear, of collapsing the tension into right-versus-wrong, of the search for certainty in an ever-changing world.

The regenerative dynamics innate within the Book of Life show us this if we so choose to read it with soul-eyes.

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

We create our own purgatory, and our own illumination.

Everything we need to learn and grow into Teal is within us, is within each evolving moment.

The source of our soul is right before us, in this moment.

The unfolding wisdom of Nature, shows us how we need to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and all of life.

One of the reasons I love doing deep-dive learning journey’s with small groups of leaders is simply because we can create and hold space for ourselves to sense into this wisdom of Nature, and in-so-doing the journey towards wholeness comes alive in us, embodied in ways that maps, models and metrics can’t reach.

There is a tendency to look outward and flee the inner-work required for next-generation regenerative business.  This tendency is within us all.  By noticing it, we can start to recognise the need within ourselves to create adequate space-and-time to reflect, to pause, to check-in, to re-find right-relation with self-other-life, and integrate parts of ourselves waking-up and also honour parts of ourselves dying.

In these trying times, we can be gentle on ourselves, we can embrace the dance on the journey towards wholeness.  Sometimes a little more yang, sometimes a little more yin.  Sometimes more structure, sometimes more space-holding. Sometimes proactivity, sometimes patience.

As one leading Teal specialist recently shared with me, how we integrated the journey towards wholeness in the day-to-day thick-of-it, in the here-and-now is the real challenge.  The workplace is not a therapy room, and we need to get on with doing while also contributing to a nurturing wholesome environment.  This is an artful dance.

This is where we need to build organisational and cultural structure as well as nurture leadership; both ground-rules and the emergent sensitivity to what works best in each given context.

The feedback loops, the check-ins, the circle sharing from the heart, deep listening, space to reflect – all of this supports distributed authority whether it be holacratic or home-grown.

There is no short-cut.  Be open to having your heart broken-open, for forgiving, for trusting, for transforming tensions time and again, for learning to listen to the voice of fear while also seeing beyond it.  Then a deeper pain, a gaping wound appears, deep in the gut. The wound of our profound separation from nature.  Being in touch with this primal wound is just the beginning, but it is a sure sign we are on our journey homeward bound Teal, Turquoise and beyond.

Giles Hutchins is co-founder of Regenerators and Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy, and author of the books The Nature of Business  and The Illusion of Separation and Future Fit

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The time has come for Real Leadership – Crossing The Threshold

June 14, 2018

In today’s world of systemic wicked problems, leaders require a ‘new-norm’ in their leadership capacity.

 

This new-norm cannot be appropriately embodied without a necessary shift in worldview and consciousness; a shift that deals with root causes while simultaneously dealing with downstream effects.

A revolution in consciousness no less: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2mUebq5PXU&feature=youtu.be

The root problem is our inner-outer attentiveness and relationality; our ‘self-awareness’ and ‘systemic-awareness’. This deepening of attentiveness is a deepening in our ‘being-and-knowing’. It involves a shift in consciousness. How we lead and respond, while creating the conditions for others in our organizations to better lead and respond, directly influences the future-fitness of our organizations, improving their ability to thrive amid increasing volatility while making good on their strategic intent.

 

As leadership specialist Joan Marques notes, ‘we need leadership to move from the here-and-now to the future.’

Leaders of every generation and region are being simultaneously beckoned and cajoled into a new way, a new mind-set, a new operating model, one that is essentially life-affirming rather than singularly at odds with the social and ecological grammar of life.

 

This imperative to call forth a viable future for all of humanity and the wider fabric of life on Earth is, I believe, an inherent quality of Homo sapiens (wise beings).  While we may unwittingly do a great job of distracting ourselves from real wisdom, there is something within our kernel of selfhood that impels us to deepen into this wisdom as we explore life-affirming futures.  It reminds me of George Bernard Shaw’s insight, ‘We are made wise not by the recollections of our past but by the responsibility of our future.’

This shift in consciousness is what I call forth in my recent TEDx Talk at Wycliffe College: The Necessary Revolution from Connectedness to Separateness can be watched here.

‘Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness the catastrophe toward which the world is headed will be unavoidable.’ Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister, addressing US Congress

 

The time has come.   As the Hopi Elder’s remind us:

 

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered…

 

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

 

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

 

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said,

“This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

 And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

 The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

 We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”  – Hopi Elders

 

I believe we are living through an epochal moment in our human history where the very concept of what it means to be human is shape-shifting, and this is catalysed by, and in turn influences, how we lead with the future in mind.

The well-respected business futurist John Naisbitt notes,

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not be because of technology, they will be because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’

I, for one, wish to consciously co-create life-affirming future possibilities through how I show-up now, and through my leadership development work with leaders across a great variety of sectors.

These times ask – demand – that we create the conditions conducive for ourselves and our organizations to become more conscious, more attuned, more human, as we open ourselves up to and re-connect with the magnificence of this more-than-human world and universe.

Giles Hutchins  is a visionary thought leader, speaker and adviser on the future of leadership.  He advises organizations on their transformation to regenerative business, and is author of the books The Nature of Business , The Illusion of Separation  and Future Fit, watch a short 3 minute video about it here. Giles blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org  is Chairman of The Future Fit Leadership Academy www.ffla.co and co-founder of www.regenerators.co

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For Giles’ latest TEDx talk see here

 

Exploring and rectifying the root cause of our current crises

June 10, 2018

‘I regard the grooves of destiny into which our civilization has entered as a special case of evolutionary cul-de-sac. Courses which offered short-term advantage have been adopted, have become rigidly programmed, and have begun to prove disastrous over longer time. This is the paradigm for extinction by way of loss of flexibility.’ Gregory Bateson.

 

What has become widely referred to as ‘Western civilisation’ has brought great technological advancement and social change over the millennia. Its underpinning scientific-philosophy is now the dominant paradigm in most parts of our world, regarded by many as the only viable way ahead and a panacea for all our ills. The cultural belief has grown that, with enough time and money, all problems can be solved through this science and technology. One has only to be reminded of the great strides we have made in, for instance, computing, manufacturing, medicine and food production to recognise the attraction of this creed.

 

Yet something is amiss. We seem to be facing increasingly insurmountable social, psychological, economic and environmental problems of epic proportions. Many are now recognising that these problems run deep and wide. These are pivotal times for humanity. And yet the regular reaction to our plethora of problems is to find scientific, monetary or technological fixes way downstream from the inherent problems themselves. All too often these downstream fixes actually exacerbate the underlying problems.

Have we become addicted to a pathway that undermines our very evolution?

Are our sustainability initiatives optimising inherently unsustainable strategies?

Would it not be wiser to take sufficient pause to explore and reveal the root causes of our many crises and remedy them there rather than trying in vain to deal with their ever deepening, spreading and complicating down-stream ramifications?

By stepping back to ponder, we can start to identify the ensemble of intrinsic, culturally embedded problems within our social, economic, scientific and philosophical ‘Western paradigm’.

Far from our Western paradigm being the grand solution-provider to all our ills, many prominent thinkers in business, politics, education, society, the arts and sciences point to its role in actually fuelling the multiple crises. For instance, the much admired award-winning former Chairman and CEO of Interface, Ray Anderson explained,

‘We have been, and still are, in the grips of a flawed view of reality – a flawed paradigm, a flawed world view – and it pervades our culture putting us on biological collision course with collapse.’

Christine Lagarde, Head of the International Monetary Fund points out that,

‘we are currently subsidising the destruction of our planet on an enormous scale.’

While this Western paradigm has brought much material betterment (details of which are well versed) it has an insidious, cancerous quality causing it to undermine our very existence. Its historic tendency has been to colonise new lands and ’markets’ in a way that is fundamentally destructive of its host, like cancer does.

Put bluntly, our prevalent way of attending is systemically anti-life.

There are ample books, research papers and scientific studies exploring in detail the damage inflicted by modern humanity upon our biosphere and it is assumed the reader is either aware of, or can find out with ease, the current demise of life on Earth which goes far deeper than the hot topic of climate change.

For instance, bio-diversity loss on Earth is now assumed to be happening at a rate of somewhere between 100‒1000 times faster than background rates.

Another obvious warning sign is the gigantic ‘plastic islands’ now coalescing in our oceans. The one in the Pacific Ocean known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is thought to be larger than the size of France and growing by the day.

This systemically anti-life behaviour begs the questions,

Are we able to change our way of living to one that is supportive of, rather than destructive to, life?

If so, how and how fast?

These are pivotal questions for our time.

The Illusion of Separation takes us on a journey upstream to find root causes and then sets about exploring ways of attending to life that could overcome these corruptions.

The life-affirming path ahead for our humanity can be found right before us.  It is not complicated, far from it.

‘Giles Hutchins takes us on an amazing tour de force, the intellectual tour of our lives. With ease and incredible clarity, he reveals simultaneously the history and the philosophy and the implications of the dire plight Earth is now within. It is, in many ways, the history of greed, greed as the obsessive desire to have and control life. He does not let us hang there, however, for with equal engaged clarity, he shows us the alternative at hand, right before our noses, so close that it is like looking for our glasses, not seeing they are right on our face. Never before, that I know of, has the choice of life, true life, or the path of degradation been put before us with such clear equanimity.’

Robert Sardello, PhD, author of Love and the Soul: Creating a Future for Earth

 

‘Cutting through habitual denials and academic evasions, Giles Hutchins exposes the delusion at the root of our planetary crisis.  And with a holographic richness of resources and disciplines, he discloses—indeed activates—the attitude that might just provoke our needed evolution. This is a wise and urgent text: may it be heard, and soon!’

Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology, Drew University, author of On the Mystery

 

Watch this podcast about The Illusion of Separation  here,  or purchase the book on Amazon here

 

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Right-relation for Regenerative Leadership

May 11, 2018

 

I am fortunate to have a couple of live inquiries unfolding, during these early summer days, with some world-leading specialists on leadership and organisational development.

What I share here is – I sense – core to each of these different inquires, and core to the big-picture shift happening in leadership and organisational development, in order for business to keep abreast of what the world now needs.

In essence, the ‘way’ in which we engage with our own selves, with each other and with the wider systems we interweave with, is the heart of it all.  One might say, ‘right-relation’ with self-other-system is the soil, the ground, from which future-fit 21st century Regenerative Business will flourish.

In unpacking what I mean here by ‘right relation’ and the day-to-day practicalities of it for today’s organisational culture, I would like to draw up the profound work of Peter Senge, Joseph Jawarski, Otto Scharmer and others at the Presencing Institute.

A core theme running through the Presencing Institutes’ work is the importance of being aware of – and then cultivating – differing degrees of being-and-knowing.  This is made explicit in Scharmer’s Theory U leadership approach.

The way in which we ‘be’ and ‘know’ influences how we relate with deeper aspects of ourselves, with others, and the world around us.  Through our being-and-knowing, we either engage ‘regeneratively’ or ‘degeneratively’.

By ‘regenerative’ I mean a way of relating with self, others and wider systems that enhances life. A way of relating that creates conditions for a richer evolutionary unfolding of life.

By ‘degenerative’ I mean a way of relating with self, others and wider systems that undermines the potential of what could spawn, unfold and flourish.  The evolutionary dynamic of life is undermined, as is our innate creativity and empathy of self, others and system.

While we like black-and-white clarity, in reality it is not that cut and dry. There are different levels of ‘regenerativity’ in terms of how we show-up through our being-and-knowing.

We may sense and respond to life’s ever-changing terrain in different ways. Our attentiveness to our inner-self and our outer-world is ever-changing in its quality and nature.

Scharmer speaks of 4 different fields of attentiveness.  I quote from his Theory U where he explains these 4 field structures of attention:

‘Just as a musical tune can be performed in different keys, a social tune – that is, an individual or collective social act – can come into being through any of four different field structures of attention. Learning to recognize these various keys is like catching social reality creation in flight – just by noticing their differences, we can begin to alter the structure and direction of these sparks of social reality creation as they manifest in the here and now.’   (p337, Theory U, 2016)

This is in-flight leadership development par excellence.  It is what is often overlooked in mainstream business school leadership development programmes, and yet is very much part of our natural human capacity, to self-notice, to pick-up on somatic sensations that indicate subtle shifts in our attentiveness as we slip between these different fields of attentiveness, and as a result, transform our being-and-knowing.

This is simple, yet sophisticated. It’s real yet appears abstract. It’s fresh and 21st century, essential for today’s future-fitness, and yet draws from ancient wisdom.

Scharmer refers to these 4 fields of attention as Field 1: Bubble; Field 2: Adaptive; Field 3: Reflective; Field 4: Generative.

Let’s explore each of these fields in terms of how we attend to life.

Read more…

Making Music in Our Organisations through Regenerative Leadership

April 22, 2018

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 cut ourselves off from the very well-spring we so urgently need to be tapping into amid these tumultuous times.

Holding space enables a deeper, wiser consciousness to shine through from the depths within us, within our teams, within Nature all-about-us; it enhances, enriches and rejuvenates the quality of our ‘being’, this then percolates into our ‘doing’, through our relations, team dynamics, meeting conventions and decision-making protocols.

Opening up these spaces allows the chi, prana, life-force, sacred-breath or ‘elan vital’ to flow more readily through our flourishing future-fit organisations.  Without the spaces, the music of regenerative business loses its rhythm and flow.

Shift in Consciousness

‘Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness the catastrophe toward which the world is headed will be unavoidable.’ Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister, addressing US Congress

What is now clear to those of us at the leading-edge of leadership and organisational development is that a shift in consciousness in terms of how we lead, organise and operate is a must if we are to enable our organisations to flourish amid increasing complexity, shifting stakeholder demands and wicked systemic challenges.

This consciousness shift is not just a shift in perspective from seeing the organisation-as-a-machine (locked-up in separateness, control and linearity) to seeing the organisation-as-a-living-system (flourishing through the living-systems dynamics of emergence, interconnectedness and synchronicity).   It is also a shift in how we attend to life; a shift in our own inner-outer dynamic within ourselves and within our relations and wider social systems.

This is a change in the ‘centre-of-gravity’ within ourselves and in our relations with others; a readjustment of our ego-soul dynamic – finding our true nature by tuning-in and letting it flow.

It’s a shift from a prevalent focus on the outer, on the doing, on the presentation ‘out there’, and the goal orientated achievement to grasp at something out there driven by a mechanistic, linear cause-and-effect perspective.

Polished brands, quarterly numbers, cascaded KPIs, data upon data upon data, goal-orientated agenda-driven meeting protocols, explicit measurable learning objectives, performance-driven metrics, are all part-and-parcel of this mind-set.  And there is nothing wrong with it per se.  It has its useful place, and serves a purpose.  The problem comes when this mechanistic mind-set dominates our modus operandi; then we wind up overly emphasising the ‘outer’ at the expense of the ‘inner’, the implicit, the unconscious, the liminal and intangible thresholds beyond the known; then our systems of learning and development prioritise the very logic that created our problems in the first place.  Trying to fix our sea of challenges with the same consciousness that created our problems is not what future-fit regenerative leadership is about. In fact, regenerative leadership is a radical departure from this, and it’s not for the faint-hearted who would rather the security and superficiality of the status quo any day.

As leaders we face the dual challenge of:

  • A prevalent mechanistic mind-set in business and beyond,
  • A system-field of increasing volatility and wicked inter-related problems

Hence, we need to shift this inner-outer dynamic first within ourselves and then through our relationships, conversations, meeting conventions and such like, and also beyond our organisations into the interconnected eco-systems, so that ‘space’ is brought in and not left out, so that we bring in a more balanced, more holistic, more human attentiveness.  This is the intention and attention now called for.

It requires courage to depart from the prevalent thinking of the day and the restless pressure for the concrete cause-and-effect, neatly definable, packaged up metrics, models and methods.

It is through ‘space’ that we may allow for an embodied shift in consciousness to occur if only for brief moments to begin with.  It is through space that we open up to deeper ways of being-and-doing.

 ‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind its faithful servant.  We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.’  – Albert Einstein, genius

The simplicity of the complexity is this: if we are to thrive as regenerative leaders and organisations we need our inner intuitive awareness – our ‘sacred gift’ – to inform our outer doing.  As then our outer doing is in service of this deeper wisdom.

It is by creating empty spaces in our day-to-day that we allow ourselves to connect deeper within, and realign our inner-outer dynamic amid the busyness of our business.

‘He who is harmony with Nature hits the mark without effort and apprehends the truth without thinking.’ Confucius, Chinese sage

These spaces help us cultivate our self-awareness while also allowing natural creativity, discernment and authenticity to emanate from deep within us into our thoughts, words and deeds.

The art of regenerative leading is in learning to allow our daily ego-consciousness to permeate more readily with our sub-conscious and super-conscious minds, and with the Mind of Nature.

‘Artistic skill is the combining of many levels of mind – unconscious, conscious, and external – to make a statement of their combination.’  Gregory Bateson, systems theorist and anthropologist

We allow the formlessness within the Mind of Nature to inform our form.  We allow the ‘pattern that connects’ (to use Gregory Bateson’s term) to open our perceptual horizon into the interconnectedness of our own humanity and deeper more-than-human world we are always immersed within.

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

The trick here is to begin to realise that mind and matter are not separate.  The separation of mind and matter is the root-flaw at the heart of our corrupting and carcinogenic worldview that creates plastic islands in our oceans, fear-filled newspapers, stress-creating workplaces and run-away climate change.

 ‘The true ground of all being is the infinite, intangible, spirit that infuses all living beings’  David Bohm, physicist

‘This Mind is the matrix of all matter’  Max Planck, Nobel Laureate physicist

As leaders, we have to create space for ourselves to tune-in, AND also hold space for our teams within our organisations and wider inter-related network of stakeholders.

Then we allow our organisational living system to sense-and-respond more effectively in times of unceasing transformation – it’s simply good business sense. And yet its more than that, a lot more than that, it’s about helping us wake up to who we truly are as wise beings in a deeply wise world – to rekindle our true humanity.

It is this creating and holding space that provides the nutritious soil from which our flourishing future-fit organisations are rooted.  Without this vital spaciousness, a shift in consciousness remains elusive, and we miss out on the music of what could have been.

‘It’s not intellect that makes a great leader – although it helps. Rather it’s the quality of their consciousness – their personal and systemic awareness… This level of self-awareness, or presence, refers to an ability to be still… What is needed now is for us to develop social and organisational containers that are robust enough to hold us through periods of creative tension, as opposed to reacting to every presenting issue, and collapsing tension at every turn,’ Dr Nick Udall, Chair of World Economic Forum Council on New Models of Leadership

Nick Udall makes an important point here in that there is a third step required: after the first step of self-emptying or presencing, and the second step of holding space for others to tap into a deeper way of being-and-doing, the third step is to provide the right environment for creative tensions to turn into music, to reveal deeper insights, rather than being closed down with quick knee-jerk solutions that fill the uncomfortable gap of not-knowing.   This going into the not-knowing while tension-is-in-the-air requires vulnerability, humility and courage.

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.

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

Today, we need leaders who can open up these tensions so that deeper emergence, deeper learning, deeper insight can spawn.  Holding space during these tensions allows a deeper rhythm and wiser music to emerge through the space between the notes.

In a world full of noisy notes it requires courage to hold this kind of gentle yet provocative space.

It requires vulnerability to look beyond tried-and-tested neatly packaged tools into a wilder wisdom born from within.

It requires humility to move away from hubris and ego-knowing into not-knowing, into surrendering, into crucifixion, so that our personal will can become subservient to a deeper wiser will of Nature within ourselves, within our teams, within our business ecosystems and social systems, and within our more-than-human world.

‘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

We might begin to glimpse the deeper purpose of life that informs our specific individual purpose and organisational purpose, the quest for harmony and wellbeing through love and wisdom.

‘The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.’  Joseph Campbell, mythologist

This goes against much of what we have been taught at school, and also in our further education establishments, business schools and management training courses, and yet it is this humble and gentle opening up to a deeper consciousness within and all about us which ourselves, our systems and our civilisation now needs.

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

And there is a fourth step.

After (1) creating space within ourselves to sense into the deep matrix of Nature; after (2) creating space within our conversations and meeting conventions for others to open up more readily to this matrix of Nature; after (3) creating space for creative tensions to reveal the deeper wiser music of authentic creativity, innovation and flow; we expand into (4) creating space for diverse stakeholders to come together, connect, tune-in, share and spark off each other – people from different silos across the business and from different stakeholder communities beyond the organisation come together. In celebrating this diversity and the tensions and differences it brings, we harness yet more music, more creativity, more insight, and more possibility for synchronicity.

A crucible, a mixing vessel, a womb, a cauldron, a chalice, is held by us so that alchemy can be done.

Yin and yang mix and blend to allow us to find the ‘way of nature’, the ‘way of living-and-leading’  – this is fresh yet ancient wisdom that life teaches us each evolving moment, each breath, each step, if we sense-in enough to see beyond tensions while embodying emergent evolution.

What emerges from the co-creative tensions moves us beyond transactional cause-and-effect relations into synergies of inter-relationalities.  Here we sense synchronistic pathways; we call forth the emerging future within the presence of the Now.  Our openness and vulnerability to the emptiness, the void of not-knowing, opens us to the quantum plenum, the ground-of-all-being, the Way of the Tao, so that we can sense-and-respond with wisdom.

It is here that we allow our living regenerative organisations to flourish amid uncertain futures, to find the flow of improvisational co-creative music that gives the living system its niche amid a sea of interwoven dynamics, and the creative and destructive ebbs and flows of life.

For easy-to-use business practices, case studies and tools for holding space, and practical liberating structures that can be applied to our every day meeting conventions and decision-making protocols, please see Future Fit (2016) which has been written specifically for this purpose.

 ‘In this essential and timely message to the corporate world, Giles Hutchins makes the vital points that only a fundamental overhaul of the underlying operating logic will enable our firms of the future to flourish.  Only a ‘regenerative’ approach is capable of shifting our frame of thinking from a linear, reductive and silo’ed perspective to relational systems-thinking – one that seeks collaboration across boundaries, shared value and co-innovation. The more we learn to cultivate our natural soulful awareness amidst our everyday busyness, the more we can start to call upon more of who we truly are, benefiting our outlook, our relations, our creativity, and our ability to lead in these challenging times.’  Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Founder of Oxford Research Group, Founder of Peace Direct, Co-Founder of Rising Women Rising World, Councillor of the World Future Council and author of Pioneering the Possible

 ‘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

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For more on Regenerative Leadership visit Regenerators

Remembering from where to Lead…

April 19, 2018

 

This guest blog from Paul Pivcevic has emerged from an on-going inquiry between Giles Hutchins and the leadership and organisational specialist Paul Pivcevic at Still Moving. Here Paul explores how the insights from consciousness, wellbeing and adult developmental theory might be grounded in our practice as leaders of change.

 

If you’re battling to make sense of your sustainability strategy; if your team is pulling in a more radical direction than the business will take; if you’re simply overwhelmed with competing demands to be both radical and make a watertight business case with KPI’s; if you notice the seduction of new thinking, a new model that contains a new kernel of truth but also creates a new mountain to climb, and in all this activity you are yearning for meaning, to reconnect with why you’ve chosen this path….

 

We know that all models and frameworks are abstractions of something important, even vital. Yet somehow we may have found ourselves serving the model, losing touch with our core intention. How have we ended up doing that –all the time knowing that each answer is provisional, contingent, that meaning is continually emerging and deepening and that we need to make it together…In fact that the very process of making it together makes it meaningful. If we could only stay suspended in that space longer, how much more purposeful might be our choices. How much more meaning we could make for our customers, our suppliers…

 

But how does this fit with delivering functional responsibilities, pushing colleagues for the data I need to complete a presentation to the Board, and meeting the targets set a year ago in a different ‘time’, a different context?

 

What if I could allow myself space to reconnect once more to what I know in some way to be true: the wisdom – as we know was and is held by indigenous cultures – that mind and body and nature are fatefully interwoven and always on the move in their relationship with each other, that our efforts to impose a purely cognitive frame on the world has led to many wrong turnings? That inherently even as we journey and explore, we do not know.

 

Even though the pressure is exactly for the reverse. But in staying with ‘not-knowing’ at the edge of all the wisdom, all the thinking, the theories, the insights, that’s where something else lies. Something I’m reaching for. Like an estuary, a thriving liminal place or what permaculture also calls ‘edges’, the interface between ecosystems like between forest and grassland, often the most diverse and thriving places in a system.

 

Can I take a little time – perhaps outside – to allow myself to stay in wonder at the not-knowing, to see out of the not-knowing what might emerge? To awaken the parasympathetic nervous system with its wondrous capacity to support us to connect to ourselves and to each other, to open us to compassion…even love?

 

Could we perhaps start with compassion for ourselves? To accept my experience of myself and my life, my working context as inherently contradictory and paradoxical, dynamic and emerging? To sit with judgement, including self-judgement, with the thoughts that expand me, those that reduce me, with the pressure to ‘know’, and to notice the moment-by-moment shifts in the nature and quality of my experience. Indeed to reach towards very awareness itself, that vast and spacious allowing and accepting mirror, as I allow my life’s unfolding to be just….’this’

 

And as I embrace this whole as I look around me I see any ‘differences’ in you simply as a reflection of something also in me, just ‘being’ with you in this unfolding moment without clinging to any expectation of what it should or shouldn’t be, or where it should be going…

 

In this slightly different state of mind, could we open up space for us together to re-frame questions we hold about ourselves, about our work, and about the world we are together in this moment co-creating with the very nature of how we are. What is the next level of meaning that may reveal itself as we gently unfold the crumples, abrasions and tensions of our inner worlds to each other? What insights or epiphanies may gently wash into awareness or come bursting to the surface? And as we process this, what can I mindfully and sensitively take back to offer to my colleagues?

And if our vision is somehow to create the conditions for change, to help awaken the system to its own capacity for change, it’s worth saying something also about leadership. What are the helpful insights around which we can build a practice? What is useful research we can lean into to support us along the path, and deepen our inquiry?

 

Research across the world and across a large range of organisations led by Deborah Rowland at Still Moving published a year ago, demonstrates that successful change does indeed need leadership that is aware, conscious, and present. Being does come before doing.

 

In fact fundamental, transforming change can only start in new ways of being. Leaders need to think in ‘wholes’. And that’s wholes at the level of me, myself (connecting mind, heart and body, bringing my rational and intuitive capacities together, my past together with how it manifests in my present); at the level of the organisation (acknowledging the difficulties, past and present and also coming down the line, and holding them up to scrutiny) and at the level of the whole ‘system’ too.

Which might include continuing the inquiry into the system conditions that support our societies and our planet to self regulate and flourish together.

 

From this place of wholeness we know there is no separation between our being and the value our organisations create in the world, no separation between what we observe and what we are, in fact no separation at all. For our inner spiritual warrior it’s the fiercest path, and the most wondrous of all surrenderings.

 

Paul Pivcevic, Still Moving

Paul has joined many journeys of change over 18 years of consulting. He feels grateful to be able to serving the unfolding of our potential, challenged by the self-discipline this requires, and inspired by the reconnections and joy the work can bring.

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