Archives: 2017

Reinventing organizations, reinventing ourselves…

October 31st, 2017

My last missive, “Congratulations… and condolences”, left me wondering if I’d ever have the energy to do anything of any major importance again. Like picking up the paper or doing the dishes. Seriously, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was heading for early retirement out of sheer exhaustion.

I LOVE my work, so retirement was always something that other people do, but not me. Yet nine months into this year I found myself so consumed with the business of prepping, selling, moving and unpacking that I have had little time for much else other than my favorite NFP, Common Roots, where I’ve kept my fingers very much on the pulse of organizational change, growth and opportunity. This post isn’t about that worthy cause but please do check them out at www.commonroots.org when you have a chance.

This piece is prompted by what I read in last week’s NYT’s; an Op Ed by David Brooks entitled “When Life Asks for Everything”. Brooks writes about two models of human development – The Four Kinds of Happiness (FKoH) and Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. He concludes that the FKoH trump Maslow in one fundamental way – “meaning and purpose and mission” (the highest point of the FKoH) far surpass Maslow’s highest point, self-actualization (experiencing autonomy and living in a way that expresses our authentic self). Brooks refers to Maslow’s self-actualization as “self-absorption”.

Sorry David. I think that how we’re evolving (hopefully) is more a combination of the two models, not one over the other. My new favorite OD (organizational development) text, Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness, offers a very similar hypothesis. What I particularly like about this text, by Frederic Laloux, is that he researches and documents a dozen organizations that have put this theory into practice, and quite successfully I might add.

One good example of how both models come together to move us forward evolutionarily can be found when we look at the difference between what Laloux calls Green organizations (think Ben & Jerry’s and Southwest Airlines) and Teal organizations (such as the more fully evolved Patagonia and Sounds True). Green organizations have raised the issue of treating employees more respectfully, even looking at ways to help employees and their teams have more autonomy over their work. At least in theory… according to their websites’ mission statement. Teal organizations go one step further in supporting the core value of ‘empowerment’ by changing how job roles are both defined and managed. Not only are these Teal organizations doing away with job descriptions and titles, they are providing the mechanisms and systems that allow individuals and their teams to fully manage themselves – truly self-managing teams. No mid-level managers. No hierarchical bosses. Green sets the stage, Teal takes it a giant leap forward. Here’s how Laloux lays it out.

“Wisdom traditions from around the world speak to this from a deeper level: at heart, we are all profoundly interconnected and part of a whole, but it’s a truth we have forgotten. We are born into separation and raised to feel divided from our deeper nature, as well as from the people and life around us. Our deepest calling in life, these traditions tell us, is to reclaim wholeness, within ourselves and in our connection with the outside world.

This spiritual insight inspires Teal Organizations’ second breakthrough: to create a space that supports us in our journey to wholeness. Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work. Every time we leave a part of us behind, we cut ourselves off from part of our potential, of our creativity and energy. No wonder many workplaces feel somehow lifeless. In wholeness we are life-full. We discover in awe how much more life there is in us than we ever imagined. In our relationships with colleagues, much of what made the workplace unpleasant and inefficient vanishes; work becomes a vehicle where we help each other reveal our inner greatness and manifest our calling.

Self-management goes a long way toward helping us show up more fully. With no scarce promotions to fight for, no bosses to please, and no adversaries to elbow aside, much of the political poison is drained out of organizations. There is a phrase I heard many times in the self-managing organizations I researched: here I feel I can fully be myself. Without a boss looking over our shoulder, without employees to keep in line and peers that could turn into competitors, we can finally let our guard down and simply focus on the work we want to do.

I’m left embracing the notion that it is up to each of us to determine how committed we are to living our right livelihood (or at least my interpretation of this Buddhist step along the eight-fold path) that ultimately makes the difference. Traditional Western models of office hierarchy and politics often dictate the closing of our minds and hearts to what is most important to us. Bringing collective consciousness to our lives requires us to open our minds and hearts and reinvent ourselves on an almost daily basis.

I am dedicated to reinventing myself so that I may more fully support individuals, teams and organizations that are committed to this practice of wholeness in the workplace. Not as white-wash, to pretty-up the mission/vision statements, but in the veritable commitment to and implementation of putting Teal systems in place so we can trust one another to get the job done. Collaboratively. Respectfully. With openness. With joy.

Hope to hear from you and your thoughts around reinvention.

Take good care,

Peter

Congratulations… and condolences

August 13th, 2017

Congratulations, and condolences…

Two seemingly disparate sentiments that so successfully describe my most recent experience of selling our house/home/sanctuary of many, many years (15 years for me and 31 for Lisa) and moving to our part-time cottage in VT.  Lock, stock and barrel.

Offering congratulations is what most people do and it makes a lot of sense, especially in the currently still stagnant housing market.  We sold our house/home/sanctuary within a few months on the market, and that’s a pretty good thing.  Mazel tov!

The condolences came from a few folks who understood the intense multilevel machinations that go into a move of this magnitude on ALL of the interrelated levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (the biggest impact of them all).  Dealing with just one level would be intense enough.  Having all four in play at the same time was exhausting beyond anything I have experienced.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz wrote a wonderful book “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Your Energy, not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal” which describes how to best manage our energy in each of these four areas.  There is a free self-assessment to see how you stack up in each area and overall.  I sure as shit didn’t take it during this time. I knew it wouldn’t be good…

Condolences are traditionally offered after a close one has died.  And there certainly was that feeling of loss, grief, un-mooring and disorientation that I have had when one of my close friends or family members has passed away.  The major difference here is that there is no funeral.  No sitting Shiva.  No formal (or even informal) grieving period, no cultural rituals to help us integrate the experience.  No chance to just slow down, pay respects.

The exact opposite was true, in fact.  Everything sped up.  So many conflicting demands – realtors, repair men, lawyers, junk haulers, movers, etc., etc. – spread over a relatively short period of time.  All of it focused on these impending events: the showings, the contract, the closing, the move.

The good news is that we are living in the same cottage we’ve known and loved for five years now.

The good news is that it is also a magical, sacred space.

The good news is that I still have my office in NYC – a great co-working space, Croissant, so I can continue to work with my NY clients, and get there in a NY minute (thank you JetBlue!).

I am very grateful for all that I have and for all of you.  Please let me know if you have any paradoxes that have you eating more ice cream than usual and/or keeping you up at 3 am.

Thanks, as always, for listening…

3 Simple Steps to Saner Virtual Meetings

March 1st, 2017

In this day and age, when the whole world seems to be operating in some type of Bizarro alternate universe, where up is down and truth is fiction and fiction is passed off as truth, and stress rules, wouldn’t it be nice if all that time we spend in meetings was less stressful instead of adding to the stress?

Where your voice is heard?

Not feeling silenced!

Especially if you’ve taken on the noble task of organizing your community to bring some sanity back to our political reality, and you’re trying to run a meeting, or be part of a meeting, where some people need to ‘dial-in’ because they’re busy juggling getting babies to bed while working to save the planet.

Or, you just want your work life to be more balanced and spending time in pointless meetings has got you down.

Either way, let’s address what started as a difficult form of communication to begin with. Assembling a bunch of people together in a room to get stuff done.  And then became even more difficult as we removed some of the people and added cell phones, speaker phones, WebEx, Facetime, Skype, you-name-it to the mix.

Let’s make it saner, shall we…

Let’s start by addressing the reality that Virtual meetings are in fact a different breed of animal than regular meetings.  As such, they require (I’d even say DEMAND) the introduction and adherence to a few basic, but different, civil rights.  Here are 3 steps to get you started…

  1. Assign the role of Virtual Meeting Facilitator (VMF) to a different person than the meeting organizer/chair/leader/whatever-you-want-to-call the head honcho. This person is responsible for setting up and making sure that EVERYONE (even if they think they’ll be there in person, just in case they find themselves sitting in the airport waiting area to board their last-minute flight to Zimbabwe) has the links, call-in #’s, passwords, access codes, etc. needed to join the meeting virtually.  Also, if, no excuse me, WHEN there is a problem with accessing the technology, the VMF is the one who gets the call.  NOT the person trying to run the meeting.  Why should everyone in the room (and those that have joined the meeting successfully) have to suffer when one person hasn’t figured out their technology?

 

  1. Add a few Virtual Meeting Operating Agreements (VMOA) to your regular Operating Agreement’s (OA). If one of your OA’s is Be Respectful (my personal favorite and my only non-negotiable if I’m facilitating) add under that agreement list that those calling in will use the Mute Button when they’re not speaking (so we don’t all have to listen to the clicking of their keyboard while they catch up on their email).  Another one under that same banner would be to make a point of asking the call-ins their opinion from time-to-time since it’s hard to know if they’re raising their hands or needing to say something through their body language.  Another good VMOA that you might add would be for those on the phone – please remember to say your name before speaking so everyone knows who you are; or, if you want to engage with someone who is on the phone, thread them into the conversation by starting with their name before asking them your question.  Last, but not least, as a facilitator, use round-robin instead of popcorn style when someone asks a question of the team.  That way there isn’t as much dead air while folks politely wait for someone else to offer their opinion.

 

  1. Agree as a team to keep looking for new ways to improve on the VM experience. For example, going from conference calls (audio only) to a full A/V platform (Skype, Facetime, WebEx, etc.) allows all of you to ‘see’ each other rather than just the folks in the room.   Have your VMF be on the lookout for the platform that’s right for you (new ones are popping up by the minute).  Have your VMF be responsible for managing the crossover to any new platform, ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible.   Make sure that before you start the new platform all those ‘dialing in’ have experimented with the new tech and know how to work it.  Written instructions, w/ access codes, url’s and passwords all on one neat sheet.  You get my drift here…

These three steps are meant to be in addition to regular, good meeting practices that deserve to be an integral part of how your meetings are run.  For pointers on how to do just that, click here.  And/or, take this quick quiz on how efficient (or maddening) your meetings are currently operating.  A great metric to start with!