All organizations as we know them today are living organizations as they are run by living beings. Unfortunately, some organizations are much more alive than others. The ones that are more alive tend to be much more aware of their living nature.
Organizations like human beings follow an evolutionary process. Those who are less aware of their living nature, stand a much higher risk of stagnation and even extinction.
As leaders, change agents it is our prime responsibility to keep our organizations vibrant and alive. To create the right environment and remove the obstacles so that the full power of human potential can emerge.
In today’s volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world our very survival as a company depends on it. Ultimately, no amount of technology can help if people are not passionately alive and self-directed.
If it is to succeed in the leadership of the Living Organization cannot be abdicated solely to the HR department or Culture Manager. It must be taken on by all senior leaders of the organization including the CEO and the board of directors.
Once that is established, the big question is how to release this passion and aliveness in a systematic and strategic manner?
The Living Organization® framework builds upon the studies of living systems, organizational dynamics and decades of hands-on leadership experience. Its uniqueness is the discovery that besides the daily activities of the organization there are two other components that are critical to harnessing the full power of human potential.
One is the quality of relationships between people and the other is the Context within which they operate.
Putting it simply adversarial relationships throttle organizational aliveness and reduce productivity, trusting, open relationships multiplies it and speeds execution.
The second component is the Context within which the Relationships and Activities operate.
While addressing the quality of relationships has the power to multiply productivity, unleashing the power of Context can exponentially increase the energy level and thus productivity within organizations.
In simple terms, we define Context as the deep “why” behind what we do. It consists of the meaning, purpose, and stories that people in organizations identify with. Context informs the choices we make and the behaviors we display.
“Ultimately Context shapes the culture of an organization.
Each company is unique and has its own unique Context. Sometimes you can literally sense its energy as you walk into an organization. For example, you may feel the heaviness, fear and oppressive environment of some organizations and vibrancy, openness, positivity, and passion within others.
Energetically Context is very much alive, constantly changing and evolving. It is incredibly sensitive, which means a slight adjustment can produce an enormous amount of change.
Context applies to every level and function of the organization: strategy, R&D, operations, marketing, sales, and customers service. Often much of it is implicit, hidden and needs to be brought out into the open, made explicit.
“In fact, this transformation from implicit to explicit Context is where most of the work is for leaders of the living organization. It is also the highest return on the effort they can make.
Once exposed, leaders can work on aligning the context across departments so that they are all working towards a common vision and desired outcomes. This alignment releases a tremendous amount of energy within the organization.
To provide a brief example take a company like Amazon. While we can argue about its style of management and aggressive behavior, Jeff Bezos obsession with customer service has aligned Amazon employees across the organization towards one unified vision. The result is self-evident.
There is a limitless number of other less known companies leveraging the power of Context in their unique way.
Another aspect of The Living Organization ® approach is that it is inherently decentralized and self-organizing. That does not mean the organization becomes chaotic on the contrary they have clear boundaries and rules, which like all living systems are fluid and respond to the environment.
As leaders remove the obstacles that prevent their organizations to function as a Living Organization and engage with Context, they naturally support the emergence of self-directed teams. They have to trust that the people at the front line are much closer to the action, and thus can make more informed decisions.
Self-organization leads to a high level of agility and adaptability, supporting the evolution of the company towards vibrantly alive future.