Four Wisdoms: Reawakening Spirit in Work, the Workplace, and Workers — Part 2
Almost all business improvement efforts unknowingly work out of tune with the natural wisdoms laid out in part one. But those organizations that have discovered how to be in harmony with them have set the model for competitive effectiveness and meaningful work for three decades. Although the following guidelines are not the whole story, they give a strong indication of the nature of principles that must be adhered to in order to nourish the natural wisdom followed by the human spirit and to join with the natural tendencies of the human spirit. It is a matter of bringing the right relationship to the following elements as work is designed, carried out, and improved.
Universal Processes of Regeneration
First and foremost each and every person must have a “space” for their own unique essence to shine. This must be joined with each person working in a way, and toward an end, they feel is differentiated from the “run of the mill,” and ends that will make a difference for the future. The means and methods they employ must ensure benefits to all the systems that are effected by their efforts and ensure an increased realization of the aspirations of these systems. To provide these benefits and this realization they must be “pulled by” evolutionary paradigms that allow the higher order virtues in all people and living things to be respected. An open and singing spirit will be the result of working with these processes in the creation of work. Let us look more closely at these elements and how they lead to regenerative work and spirit.
1. The uniqueness of essence of each and every individual is discovered, engaged, and developed.
The ground for organizational design and organization of work must honor and value the uniqueness of each human essence. Essence is the core of each of us that makes us distinct from all others. In our society we tend to socialize this out of children as fast as we can, replacing it with personality characteristics that are so prototypical they are frequently categorized into models. Organizations then use them to engage people in “better understanding themselves”. But these models of personalities are not what is unique, but rather what is alike about us. The essence in each of us comes alive when we have space to “be ourselves” and to embed this essence into something meaningful. This expression of essence is more likely to happen away from work, in our woodshop, or craft room, in the local charitable organization or at church.
In designing work that allows the human spirit to flower, attention must be given to helping everyone in the organization increasingly discover their own uniqueness and to embedding that uniqueness into the organization, its product offerings, and processes. No energy is put into comparing people as individuals, groups, shifts, or other collectives. Systems or processes that assume people should pursue “modeling” themselves after someone else are disassembled and people do not seek to be “role models”. There are no “low” and “high” performers, no “difficult people”, and no behavioral-based categories at all. No tests are provided to help people discover what “type” of learner or manager they are. Emphasis is on the uniqueness of each individual and finding more ways for that uniqueness to be discovered and embedded into the life and outputs of the organization.
2. Set out to be, and to create, that which is distinctive and meaningful, thereby making the expenditure of resources a worthy endeavor.
The goal of designing work to draw on uniqueness is to enable the pursuit of distinctiveness in the organization and its products, ones that can be differentiated from all others in the field. The differences that are sought however, are the “differences that can make a difference” in what the products offer to people who use them, in how the creating of these products enables people to grow and develop, in how the earth is sustained and restored as a result of the interventions made with natural cycles, and differences in how the communities that support and fuel the existence of the business are nourished and developed. The real focus is on how the human and natural systems affected by these processes are different in regard to what they can become, and in how they will be able to perform differently i.e. at higher levels of effectiveness. This differs greatly from the approach of an extraction mindset which asks only what one can get from the venture. The amazing result is that those who seek to make a difference, gain the greatest reciprocity. Those who seek to acquire the most are always in a battle for survival. Even in a business sense, our mother’s were right.
This process of differentiation requires understanding entities in a way that is more deep and profound, and that seeks to uncover the essence of all the materials, systems, and entities that the business and its work practices encounter. In one DuPont of Canada system, this meant truly understanding what is the core potential of each raw material, not from an exploitative mindset, but from a value-adding perspective. They also spent time understanding the distinctiveness of the communities in which they settle and the technologies they employ. This process tends to move organizations away from reducing materials, communities, and technologies to mere tools, and instead creates an understanding of a systemic relationship among all living processes.
3. Every act we take has a ripple effect that must be understood and for which accountability must be taken.
The overall direction for work comes from an understanding of what the interrelated and interconnected systems encounter when they engage with the products or services we offer. Are they able to achieve the aspirations they had when they chose us and our products, approved our expansion, invested in our assets, and “shared” the raw materials the planet offers? This is an education process that helps people understand that our cumulative action creates an effect. There are many entities along the way that will experience this effect, whether or not we are aware of it. There is an effect borne to the user, the environment, the community and society, as well as to the investors in our effort. Consciousness of our effects, and the effectiveness that this enables for others, is what gives guidance to the direction we take in how we work, how we improve work, and how we evolve and redesign work.
4. Use evolutionary paradigms to inspire toward universal virtues.
To give up our admiration of these, would be to kill a part of ourselves. The most effective way to invoke this natural tendency is to work from a particular form of principle — a paradigm, which demands that we be in a process of continuous personal development in order to achieve it. The paradigms are created out of the virtues that must be pursued in the working of our business. Do not confuse these with platitudes regarding “being the best” or “valuing people”. These statements are most often phrases of the “ego”, and have no ability to awaken and nurture spirit. The nature of paradigms that must be chosen are never achievable with one’s current level of capability and consciousness. As a result, they implore, even require us, to evolve. This is the way of calling to the spirit. The spirit cannot be deceived but will resonate immediately with the right vibration.
In part three, we’ll explore how to design business improvements in “right relationship” to evoke the natural wisdom of spirit.