During a conference called ”Trust and Integrity in the Global society” arranged by Initiatives of Change Caux Castle in July 2016 we let an inquiry group go deep and wide to create new understandings of business and economy. Combining dialogue, sharing, meditation, art and existential reflection we allowed for a co-created transformation of economy, business, society and self.
The depth meant exploring all of what we are, the angel as well as the devil inside in order to open for new awareness about ourselves, each other and/or society. The width meant opening for many perspectives of ourselves and our world, broadening the scope of compassion and inclusion so as to expand our sense of reality. The process – passing through diverse phases symbolized by the diverse stages of a butterfly – Egg, Caterpillar, Chrysalis and Butterfly – led us to a place deeper and wider than we had expected. This is what happened.
STARTING WITH TRUST
Starting with trust meant, in this case, creating an atmosphere that already from the beginning allowed for openness and awareness of deeper values. Creating trust in is not something innovative, still it is often neglected, not least in contexts where new ideas are presented and elaborated. It is as if we forget, sometimes, that we also need to cherish our relations and humanity. Time spent on cultivating trust must be seen as an investment in harmony and the specific conditions that are necessary for going deep and wide.
In our time limited workshop we did this in a simple way, by sharing what helps us co-create a ”green zone” where we are open, happy and resilient, as opposed to the red zone where we would be limited, defensive and short-sighted. The question we started with was ”What do you need to bloom?” and from the following dialogue, meditation and reflection values emerged, such as cultivating an open mind and a common enthusiasim, allowing for and awareness of diversity, allowing for making mistakes or changing our minds and taking time for meditation and resting in space. By sharing the conditions we need to bloom, we had set the scene for our quest.
DOWNLOADING MODELS FROM THE EGG
We then continued by exploring what models and ideas about new business models, that we had brought with us into the inquiry. This part of the process was seen as downloading the contents in a symbolic ”Egg” i.e our potentials and resources.
The models that came up were not purely business models, but rather ideas and theories that had influenced us. The models mentioned below were mainly shared by us process leaders, except for GNH Gross National Happiness, the Four Worlds Model and Holocracy, that were shared in the larger conference context. The models/approaches were, among others:
AQAL AND THE INTEGRAL MODEL
An essential aspect of new business models is to see the big picture and to integrate every effort with other aspects, departments, organizations, networks, processes and events. A brilliant example of this kind of holistic approach was created by Ken Wilber in what he calls the integral perspective. The approach is based on a view of the world as constantly evolving, from the Big Bang to atoms, molecules, humans and other sentient beings as well as societies, cultures and ways of thinking. Everything strives towards a greater unity, while at each new step including and transcending the former capabilities.
Complexity is simultaneously increasing, so that we time and again need new maps that align with our new reality, thus making the world understandable. An integral approach balances inside with outside, individual with common perspectives. It includes four dimensions, as shown in the picture. All these dimensions are as necessary, none of them can be developed without the other. We need to understand the interconnectedness both in theory and in practice – the quality of our future is obviously a matter of systems and organization, efficiency, economy and profitability, but also of personal development, individual well-being, diversity management and common values. We simply cannot have the one without the other, this is the key to development.
Spiral Dynamics is another integrating approach, based on the work of Clare W. Graves and elaborated by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, that explains our development by a number of paradigms that describe aspects of the human mind as well as of human history. The theory says that from time to time we shift our view of ourselves and the world so radically that it must be called a fundamental paradigm shift. New paradigms have been emerging since the beginning of humanity and will continue to do so as long as we exist and develop. Each new paradigm provides a wider, more complex understanding of what it means to be human and therefore what is a reasonable and wise vision. Each shift includes, corrects and complements the previous, taking us one step further. When a new step is about to occur, it will be disseminated through various cultural, social and organizational ”codes” that affect everything from religion to economics and politics. We live in a flow of constant paradigm shifts. The different paradigms in this theory are connected with different colors, which makes it easier to talk about, integrate and overview. The process of development also often depicted in a spiral image where development passes the different colors again and again in new levels, constantly integrating new insights. Learning about the different paradigms can help us as leaders, since they are not only chronological events, but also exist more or less simultaneously in our current context. The wisdom in leadership is all about knowing what kind of potentials and challenges associated with each context based on the recognition of the paradigm that colors the context. At the same time we need to understand at what level humanity as a whole exist today, and have an overall awareness of how everything on an existential level is linked through space and time. Spiral Dynamics is a basic frame for understanding our contemporary context, especially when combined with other approaches such as the integral model. This combination, often called AQAL, All quadrants, all levels, gives us a multi-dimensional view of reality. We can think of the combination as a building, where the four squared quadrant image could be imagined as apartments in four directions, while the levels could be compared to the floors. In order to reach the next floor, we would need to have ”cleaned up” or ”covered” all four apartments on the former level. This means we will include and transcend all the other floors, being ready to move on to the next.
Sociocracy, or dynamic management, is a decision method for organizations or groups that wish to act as a whole. The main idea is that everyone’s voices should be heard and that everyone should be able to participate in the process on fairly equal terms. Any of the participants can make an objection to a pending proposal and the process continues until there no longer remains any objections.
The method is based on three elements:
- Double links
Consent means that decisions are made only when the total consent prevails in the current group, i.e when no objections remain. Everyday decisions need not always wait for such consent, as long as there is a basic agreement on a simpler approach.
The organization is also divided into circles, a more common and a number of smaller groups with a more specific goal or mission. There may also be a top circle that corresponds to the management of the organization. The top circle then has the same mandate and conditions as all other smaller circles, but with the specific mission of providing strategic overview. It is in the large, general, common circle that the main decisions are made. In the image these circles are drawn as triangles, which is normally done for practical reasons. The idea, though, is that these are groups that work, and often also sit together, as circles.
In each of the smaller circles two representatives are appointed, one to represent the group’s interests in the common circle and one to represent the common interests of the circle of the smaller circle. Each circle has, thus, double links and its own authoritative voice in the organization as a whole.
Sociocracy is easy and often experienced obvious for those who get used to it. It is a common method of decision in many eco villages and collectives and which often grows naturally in safe groups. Organizations using dynamic management have shown strong growth in productivity and innovation as well as a substantial reduction in the number of (unnecessary) meetings and sick leave.
The method seems self-regulating and works well even in large organizations with thousands of employees.
Holocracy is a similar model, that has been more specifically adapted to modern worklife and elaborated into a system of certifications, while sociociracy is in a way easier and more accessible even without certifications.
THE – THE HUMAN ELEMENT
To follow the flow of innovation and expansion in business, we are supported by an integrated approach to the development of both operations and employees. Both the outer and the inner side of the organization’s activities need attention in order to maintain the desired results. Traditional business models are focused on the ”outside”, even though the activity ”inside” seems to be the area that contains the greatest potential for radical improvements. ”Inside” is the organization’s heart and soul that is often forgotten or neglected. The Human Element, THE, addresses the need for healing this imbalance and thus offers a path for the inside out perspective. In this way THE connects to the AQAL model or at least to the integral model of Ken Wilber as described above, but it goes deeper into relations and personal development stating that ”in the good organization everyone feels significant, competent and loveable.”
The Human Element, developed by Will Schutz, is based on three principles:
- Self-determination/conscious choices
The foundation of the theory is that all human relations can be described in terms of three dimensions that, on the behavioral level, could be described as a need for inclusion, control and openness. The corresponding dimensions of the emotional level is feeling significant, competent and loveable. When organizations cultivate this kind of conditions and employees and management have this basic feeling about themselves and others, they contribute to increased productivity, better communication internally and externally, and thereby to increased creativity. In this way we reach good results much faster and are far more resilient. Some basic concepts of THE are that
- The employees’ self-esteem is crucial for motivation and results
- Leadership is primarily about creating conditions for increasing self-esteem
- Employees with low self-esteem become defensive and reluctant to change
- Employees with high self-esteem are naturally curious, creative and responsible
- The good organization means an open and honest business
GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
GNH, Gross National Happiness is most certainly not originally presented as a business model, but rather a general holistic vision for the world. As such it is, however, very interesting to develop its relevance also for business organizations.
What would happen if this vision was at the core of our business systems?
Being the core values of leadership and structure in the country of Bhutan GNH basically means thatsustainable development should take a holistic approach to notions of progress and to give equal weight to the non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
The term Gross National Happiness was coined by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s. While traveling around in Europe he was interviewed by a western journalist who was questioning the standard of Bhutan and whether Gross National Product was even worth measuring in this small reign. The King then heard himself saying: ”Well, maybe we do not have much of a GDP, but I think we care more about Gross National Happiness anyway.” In this way the King expressed his reluctance to even try to compete with Western measures of welfare, which in his view were far to limited and shallow.
The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars: good governance , sustainable socio- economic development, cultural preservation, and ecology.
Recently, these four pillars have been further divided into nine areas , domains , in order to create a broad understanding of GNH and to reflect the holistic values. The nine domains are :
- Living standard
- Good governance and leadership
- Ecological diversity & resilience
- Psychological wellness
- Community vitality and participation
- Cultural diversity and resilience
- Time use
GNH thrives to develop welfare in a way that includes and transcends living standard. It includes and transcends our habitual focus on economics and profitability, thus letting new opportunities and creative solutions emerge.
All this can be experienced as some kind of utopia. Bhutan has also been called ”Shangri-La”, meaning the fictional, completely happy city that has been considered to be in a valley in Tibet and which also corresponds to the Buddhist mythical city of Shambala. However, this image is simplistic and even though there is definitely something sacred about the atmosphere in Bhutan, it should not be described as some kind of heaven. There are significant gaps and shortcomings in the welfare system in Bhutan just as in other countries. The difference is the motivation and the measure that is genuinely holistic.
GNH brings about a totally new paradigm, a complete mind shift that in many ways turns the Western tradition of GDP inside out, just like a kaleidoscope messing up all the bits and pieces of our well known standards, thus creating a whole new pattern.
The most obvious aspect of this new inside out pattern is the contradiction itself, the brave mirroring of the limitations of the Western paradigm, turning the whole world view inside out and upside down.