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You may, mistakenly, think of consciousness as a subject purely related to contemplation and Eastern spiritual practices and relevant only to far out business founders who are into meditation. Or maybe to psychology and the working of the brain, only of interest to brain surgeons or shrinks. It may surprise you to know that it is a capability used by effective executive teams to:

  • develop markets they can own forever (P&G used it to develop Tide and dozens of other products based on segmentation that fit them perfectly)
  • develop systems integrated products that others cannot displace (DuPont owns the safety business in every product field because it used consciousness practices to become a part of the customer’s system)
  • build workforces that have the same view of the business as the shareholder, the executives, and the community (Kingsford’s employees make strategic decisions in every major business arena)
  • create cross-functional integration without constant meetings and memos to keep people informed (C-P Europe has seamless handoffs across nations and languages that single companies, even departments, long for)
  • align the organization behind the thrust of the company without repeating and raising the volume every week. (Every Deer Park employee is on the same page)

All this is possible because of building a powerful capability across the entire workforce called consciousness that is foundational to gaining perspective and understanding how things work together.

Consciousness is what I attribute to those who are self-starting, overcome restraints, and demonstrate greater intelligences that are the foundation for creativity and productivity. Consciousness is a powerful force in business, although it isn’t always acknowledged directly. In fact, I believe that the amount of individual and group consciousness at a company is the best predictor of its growth and sustained success.

Here are a few of my premises regarding consciousness at work:

1. An individual, or group, cannot do what they don’t have the consciousness to do.

Sometimes it will seem like a person or team has “everything they need” and yet they fail. Often, they simply lack the required level of consciousness. Levels correspond to abilities to integrate thinking, as well as lead, decide, and act. This is true from top to bottom of the organization

2. When you pay for “Top Talent” you are paying for a higher level of consciousness.

Higher levels of consciousness allow us to mobilize more intelligence, responsibility and energy. When we meet a “superstar” that impresses us with the amount they can do, do well, and do while interacting well with all kinds of people around them — we are reacting to their high level of consciousness. As we know — we pay more for people like this and we can never find enough.

3. Higher levels of consciousness (and the increase in intelligence, responsibility, and energy that go with it) can be developed in every person (starting from where they are) throughout their whole life. This means you. This means your employees.

Humans are designed to grow in consciousness and commonly pick up “more conscious” behavior (thinking, deciding, and acting) through exposure. However, it is only though experience with reflection or with development that we actually become more conscious. By introducing this capability to even a small part of your workforce, you can grow the consciousness of the entire organization. This isn’t about providing role models or giving exposure, but leading differently and changing the way work is done.

4. Consciousness is a good infrastructure investment.

Investing in consciousness, based on my decades of experience with businesses of all sizes, is a very good bet. It can be viewed as a “build or buy” decision. You can locate, recruit, and pay for a team of rare superstars or you can develop yourself and the people around you into those superstars — with a level of consciousness that will be rewarding for you personally, for your company, and for your community.

Originally published at carolsanford.com on July 7, 2009.

Sr Fellow Social Innovation, Babson | Best Selling/Multi-Award Winning Author | Regenerative Paradigm Educator

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