I’ve always been driven by a sense of the waiting potential of the human race, our systems, communities, organizations, teams and individual members. I’ve provided lots of service in pursuit of that picture in my mind, mostly without an articulated overarching model. I’ve been deeply involved in helping men and women, people of different races/cultures/nationalities/mindsets/organizations learn to see deeply into each other and find new partnership. I’ve led large-scale organizational culture revitalization and small team self-reinvention, and lots of training, facilitating and coaching in between. And I’ve been deeply involved with the work of the Pachamama Alliance in recent years, volunteering in many capacities toward their vision of helping “bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just human presence on the planet”. I’m taken by their proposition that we cannot successfully achieve any one of those three goals without concomitantly working on the other two– that they are inextricably interwoven in how human consciousness and human systems operate.
As a result of all of these experiences, I am getting clearer about my chosen purpose in my work– facilitating conscious, proactive evolution of human systems and organizations. Beneath that is my belief that conscious human evolution is eminently possible—that we can choose to grow and develop as a species, in service to finding a powerfully harmonious relationship with each other and the world(s) in which we live.
The vision I have today has many foundations. It draws on a joyously eclectic array of influences, such as:
- Insights from the heady early days of organization development, and the latest learnings in neurophysiology and neuropsychology,
- Experience in the trenches, in tackling change in massive organizations, and in intimately personal dyadic interactions,
- Cosmology and social anthropology
- Appreciative inquiry and Lean manufacturing systems views,
- The enormous systemic, political, organizational and evolutionary challenges confronting the courageous indigenous Achuar tribe in the deep rainforests of the Amazon in Ecuador as they consciously choose how to confront the voracious appetites of the modern world for oil, timber and gold and the looming destruction of their lands, lives, and culture
- and the heartfelt activism of people learning to live an increasingly sustainable life in that modern world, without resorting to demonizing their neighbors who don’t see the same imperatives
- The brilliant examples of those leaders and organizations who are demonstrating that conscious organizational evolution toward successful, truly human-centric systems is happening right now.
Today, I’m thinking especially of one particular instance of beautiful organizational expression, the Barry-Wehmiller Companies. These interlocking manufacturing and engineering services firms live what they espouse: “We’re an organization fiercely committed to improving the lives of our team members across the globe. By providing meaningful work in an environment of care and compassion, we send them home fulfilled by their time with us, rather than drained by it. We understand what every human being on the planet desires: to know that who they are and what they do matter. As a business, we have a unique opportunity to let them know that they do.”
What I love about B-W is that they not only speak so clearly about the purpose of the organization, but they demonstrate it enormously consistently and make money hand-over-fist in the process. Their example is deeply moving to me, especially because it demonstrates that consciously choosing how an organization will evolve toward its highest expression of human-centric purpose is eminently possible, practical, and profitable. It speaks powerfully to the vision many of us hold for human systems, and B-W’s story is central to Simon Sinek’s recent book “Leaders Eat Last”, Raj Sisodia’s upcoming book with BW CEO and chief visionary, Bob Chapman, and a host of case studies rolling out from Harvard, Washington University, and others. I’ve met a lot of B-W employees, from the executive suites to housekeepers, and they all love being part of this family, and I’m inspired by their joy.
So, I’m personally and professionally revitalized by the idea of conscious organizational evolution, with this image in mind: Our highest evolution is toward systems that foster vibrant, interdependent connection and positive interpersonal support and that offer opportunity to achieve personal and collective greatness. The idea that organizations should only exist in service of the people, rather than the obverse.
That’s a big, beautiful picture for me, one that I can keep in front of me as I facilitate groups, lead trainings, and coach organizational leaders. Happily, I’ve come to understand that my role, often, has been to prepare the soil and plant the seeds, to nurture their emergence and turn toward the sun. Some days I’m working with a few emerging stalks, other days I’m inspiring the design of the entire farm. As long I remember why I’m doing it, I’m a happy guy.
I love working with any size group of people, in service to the larger vision. I also love generating bigger dreams for organizations, fostering the belief that it is possible to do well by doing what our hearts most desire- treating, and being treated by others, with utmost respect and faith in our individual and collective potential to be positively magnificent. All I really ask for is opportunities to put my heart and shoulder to the wheel to make that happen. That’s what conscious organizational evolution means to me, today.