Transforming Business Cultures From Complacency to Contemporary

The shock of terrorism in Paris, preceded by the surge of migrants into Europe and North America, hits home for all but the most distant or numb to world events. Sitting on the plane flying from Barcelona to Stockholm I spoke with a musician scheduled to play in Paris two days after November 13th. He was asking himself questions about what role Sweden would choose in dealing with radicalism. And he reflected on the Bataclan concert hall, a favorite for its ambience. Unexpected acts like the violent deaths of spouses, friends, and neighbors, disrupt our sense of place in the world. Questions linger about what governments will do, how to calm fear and not feed extremist goals. No one is left untouched. In the same conversations, buried in reflection, lies the question on whether business will ever rise above 'business as usual.'

What role can business play in today's world where uncertainty and volatility threaten human, financial and ecological security?

Traveling in Europe meeting with experienced, yet discouraged, executives and entrepreneurs the recurring question is: How can we help our company change before crisis? The question reveals foresight. But can foresight be plugged into decision-making so that the companies they work for can grow into being a caring global citizen? As humans, it's tempting to think crisis is the only instigator for brave decisions. As catalysts, wisdom says acting before crisis is the best option.

Change has Changed...

... and so it must. Complacent companies accept incremental change as being good enough. It is a short term indulgence. One startup's APP can disrupt the business model of your local financial institution or your business. Navigating Beyond Profit to Achieve Wider Prosperity describes the value of widening our perspective to see unrealized opportunities for combining ecological and social health with increased financial gain. Achieving radical change requires leveraging the social system on which performance runs and it requires deepening self and organizational leadership.

"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic." - Peter Drucker

Selecting the best ways to navigate the 'messy middle -- between being satisfied with the past to stepping into a contemporary and caring attitude calls for growth.

  • Moving from complacency to a fully engaged and caring mind, where social, ecological and financial measures have equal weight, expands thinking from linear and analytical to seeing the wider system. Shifting perspective is a core competency in order to access different thinking to fit the circumstances.

  • Centralizing power in management limits success. To achieve creative resilience, power must be redistributed to employees so that all are responsible. Accepting greater personal responsibility goes with greater autonomy and power. At the management level, leadership must be independent from use of authority to have any credibility or instill trust.
  • Trust is the currency of a high performance, highly adaptive culture so to attain it, executives and all tiers of management are invited to enter a high growth, more fulfilling role. Trust starts with conversations and clearing out negative beliefs, such as 'if I don't control employees, they'll screw up.' Raising the trust embedded in conversations amounts to a consistent challenge to grow to the next level of personal mastery as daily routine.
  • Ignite the Human Spirit - Reach the Cultural Roots

    A people-friendly approach to change ignites the human spirit, accessing intellectual, emotional and social intelligences to greater effect. To instigate workplace transformation:

    1.) Gather and share stories of achieving a goal despite adversity. Stories evoke emotion and are not to be confused with narrative, a term now being used as a rationale to explain 'why is this change necessary and why now'. Stories well told, reveal the best of human character in the face of the odds. Sharing how a large goal was accomplished despite the barriers illuminates the built-in blocks that are disposable.

    Find a moment in your company where an employee stood up to defy conformity - even blew the whistle. Reveal moments where habitual thinking is disrupted by a choice to do something different! The road to achieving a big goal is not paved. It's bumpy, requires perseverance and compassion. The world is uncertain and full of fear. Celebrating the courage you have within your company is the best way to transform it into being better while improving the climate for better decision making.

    2.) Raise the quality of trust so that the difficult conversations add value, not fear. Judith E. Glaser calls it Conversational Intelligence® because quality, high trust conversations employ knowledge of neuroscience. Trust lives in the prefrontal cortex, as does integrative thinking. Judith tells the story of an executive who was blocking quality relationships by being detached and disconnected, projecting distrust to others. By altering how he engaged in conversations, his connection shifted from distrust to trust, simultaneously activating the growth centers in the brain. Knowing this connects you to an inner source of leadership that transforms an ego-driven executive into an effective, and inspiring leader. Integrative thinking is the natural outcome.

    3.) Focus on the positive, learn from the mistakes. Pay attention to what you focus on. Appreciative Inquiry is one method for transforming workplaces because it methodically focuses on appreciation. Appreciative inquiry has transformed more companies from complacent routine to attaining higher performance than the intellect alone can produce.

    Life is precious and nothing is certain. What is clear is that there is a depth of human creativity and talent left untapped by complacency and 'business as usual' thinking. Using adversity to advantage calls for making an intentional decision to dig deeper into self-discovery, releasing the creative talent innately biologically wired in each of us.

    Now the question is, "Do corporate executives and managers have the courage to engage in their own growth to release the entire company's potential?"

    Dawna Jones sees through habitual patterns to give decision-makers access to higher-level solutions and gain creative edge while reducing risk. Speaker, group coach for complex change and instigator of enlightened innovation, she's also the author of Decision Making for Dummies and known to be a tad nomadic. Contact Dawna on Twitter @EPDawna_Jones or LinkedIn.

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