Archive for July, 2008

Individual thought in the context of unity

What kinds of thinking will be involved in establishing unity in an organization?

Emotional Acceptance

The first kind of thinking will, in a sense, be non-thinking. In other words, emotional acceptance of the concept. This involves a gut level emotional response. Here’s the question you need to answer.

Do you believe that there are benefits to establishing unity?

For now, just imagine that you have achieved it. How would your organization look different? What might change in your meetings, your attention to customers, your team work, your ability to implement change, the overall maturity of the organization? What might change in the employees when they begin to understand concepts that change the way that they view themselves, their relationships and the way they view others and the services they provide?

Rational Acceptance

The second kind of thinking will be rational acceptance. If we emotionally accept that Organizational Unity has benefits, we can also rationally accept that it is, at very least, worth thinking about. Even if we’re not sure of how it can be achieved, it is still worth making the initial effort of investigating ideas and coming up with a vision for the future. If we can prove to ourselves by example that Unity is possible on a small scale then it’s just a matter of scale. Most of us can remember at least one relationship in our life that demonstrates elements of unity. So we have some understanding of how it works, and we understand some of the benefits to our well-being and our ability to function. The question is “how do you convert the scale to encompass an organization?”. 

Scale

The third kind of thinking will be that of scale. If we can emotionally and rationally accept the benefits of Organizational Unity and accept that it’s possible on a small scall, we still need to think about how to structure an initiative to establish Unity on a larger scale. This is something that is strongly related to the Context of Unity and the Environment of Unity. Both are essential. If you haven’t already read these sections, you may wish to do so. Essentially, scaling is about creating a structure and method that causes a new set of ideas and concepts to spread. It needs to provide direct and concrete benefits to each participant in the process. This causes buy-in, participation and a desire to put effort into it.

Possibilities

The fourth kind of thinking is around the very interesting possibilities when we begin to accept the possibility or even inevitability of it’s outcome. What if? What happens now? What’s possible for our future?

In this entry, we won’t go too deep into these ideas. We will just present them for your thought. In future articles we can explore these ideas in depth.

Garth Schmalenberg

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Environment of Unity

The second change in creating Organizational Unity is in developing the ”environment” of unity. The “environment” is like the earth in which the seed of the concept is planted. If we look at the concept of organizational unity as a tree, it begins as a seed, grows to a seedling and then begins to sprout leaves, flowers and fruit as the tree matures. Throughout this process, it requires nurturing, it requires “air” which is the context of unity, and it requires the “environment” which is like the earth.

We talked earlier about the development of context. The “Context” creates the environment. The air  of context nourishes the earth and over a period of time helps to purify it. The earth slowly attains new qualities. In the case of organizational unity, the environment which is created is one where individuals begin to understand their power to make changes, their power to contribute and their power to take responsibility. It is an environment where growth is encouraged at all levels and where competition exists only to promote the growth of the whole entity. The qualities that the individual develops include those which are conducive to the development of unity. These include tolerance, unity in diversity, love, and respect.

I’ve also listed intolerance as one of the qualities. The notion of intolerance is really one which prevents us from allowing ourselves to become embroiled in negative thoughts about others. The intolerance therefore is an intolerance for any long-term thoughts which prevents us from reaching our goal. Given that we also encourage compassion for our shortcomings, it is acceptable that we would occasionally find ourselves dwelling in negative thoughts or a loss of hope. The intolerance only means that we will bring ourselves back to a higher level as quickly as possible.

So let’s look at this environment a little more closely.

Environmental Item 1) Tolerance
The notion of tolerance is a necessary component for an environment of unity. Without tolerance, we find it difficult to accept other points of view. Tolerance does not mean that you necessarily agree with other points of view. It simply means that you respect another person’s right to express and believe in their own point of view. Remember that you’re creating an environment of unity, however, it may not yet exist. So even though you are tolerating other people’s perspectives, they may not be tolerating yours. when you first began the process of creating the environment of unity, this is to be expected. There is no way to know how long it’ll take for others to accept this perspective. This will create an environment that seems unbalanced.

For now, I simply ask that you trust the process and accept that any discrepancies in the environment which limit you from exercising your rights or expressing your perspectives will eventually evaporate. These descrepencies are, for now, opportunities for your own growth and to give you practice in tolerance. You have the opportunity to learn how to understand others and to accept them for who they are.

Environmental item 2) Unity in Diversity
In the environment of unity the only hope of maintaining unity is if we accept diversity as a benefit and not a detriment. The concept of “Unity in Diversity” means that we accept a certain kind of beauty in the differences between people . One example is the fact that people exist everywhere in the world and in each part of the world we have independently developed language, culture , and everything needed. Is it reasonable to conclude that one culture is right and another is wrong? The only thing that we can safely conclude is that the cultures are different. Unity in diversity goes beyond tolerance. It suggests that we actually learn to enjoy and value the differences. The simple as the example I can think of, is the example of flowers and a garden if all the flowers are the same color and type, the garden is beautiful but it’s also boring. If the flowers are of different types and colors,, the garden is much more interesting and much more beautiful. When we learned to look at differences of opinion in the same way that we would look at colors and a flower garden, we will begin to understand what unity in diversity means. We’ll see the difference in opinion not only as different, but as a necessary part of our world. We will see it as something that’s beautiful with a different fragrance, color, and shape. The next time you hear a different idea or opinion from someone else see what you can learn by searching for the beauty in the idea. If we learn to accept that all ideas contain value, we learn to mine each idea.

Environmental Item 3) Love
Talking about love within an organization is a little unusual and generally makes us feel a little squeemish. But, when we go home, we expect that we will have love for our family. Most of us are also OK with the concept that we should love humanity. For now, just think of love in the workplace as love for humanity.

Love in its simplest terms is the power of attraction. We are attracted to each other in some form. Whether we are attracted to each others differences or our commonalities, we are always able to learn from each other and we gain from the experience of being together. As we learn to love the world we are able to utilize its infinite diversities.

Although we understand and accept love conceptually, when it comes time to manifest that love, we sometimes don’t do as well as we could and that is true both at home and at work.

For the purposes of examining love in the concept of ”Organizational Unity” we can look at love as the binding force that keeps us together in some way and the respect we show towards others for their contribution to the whole. If we think of the world as a large organization, we need to know that we all belong. When there is no love between people, there is also very little desire to work together. In other words, either we learn to love the people we work with and for, or we begin watching our organizations break down. You might argue that we only have casual friendships with people at work. That’s true. It’s just a lesser degree of the same bonding force and since love isn’t always expressed in the same way, it manifests itself in the form of friendships and working relationships. What is common, however, is that the expression of love  remains a bonding force and which, in its ideal form, encourages and supports growth.

You might ask how love can be expressed when someone doesn’t “fit” the organization. This is a deeper topic and we will explore it later. For now suffice it to say that this does happen and there are solutions which will still cause the Organizational Unity to grow.

Love may be expressed in many facits of an organization. In the concept of Organizational Unity, it is not so much the organization that we love, but the unity that can be found within the organization. It is the harmony between individuals and the different ways that they are able to work together, each using their own talents, cultures, ways of thinking, backgrounds, and experiences. We learn how to use these diverse resources in our interactions together to create new products and services. 

An attitude of customer service is another manifestation of love. It causes us to want to help our customers enjoy a better and more successful life. Isn’t that what we want for those we love? On the other hand, if you don’t feel love for your customers, how likely is it that you will treat them with care and respect. Here’s an example. I had a call the other day from a local TV provider who was attempting to up-sell me to their next higher service. My answer was that I was happy with my current provider and the price I was getting and that if he could get me a better service (e.g. HD) at the same price I was already paying that I would consider switching. The individual on the other end of the line upon hearing my request rather indignantly said, “I’m here to make sales, stop wasting my time.” I pointed out to him that he had called me, not the other way around. Did he demonstrate love for me as a customer? Not very much. Would he do well within the company from a sales perspective? Possibly. Would he enjoy the fruits of his labour? Here is my guess. When an individual values money more that people, they drive a wedge between themselves and that which has the potential to make them happiest, namely their relationships. Even to an unknown customer, there is always the opportunity to create a positive sentiment. Would he leave a good taste with regard to the company he was representing? Absolutely not. Would his vision of the world contribute to the whole? Not likely. Am I suggesting that this individual won’t learn? No, this is just his current state and hopefully, he will someday, perhaps after some challenging relationships, he will learn to love people more than his commissions.

No one is suggesting that we forget about profit, only that in the long run, it is the love of being with and serving others that will cause us to unite together in our efforts and to be successful in creating useful and functional enterprises that serve the needs of our world.  

Environmental Item 4) Respect
This factor is the one which provides the understanding for the others. If we find it difficult to love someone else, we will learn tolerence through having a fundamental respect for them. This respect is really just an acknowledgement that, as human beings, we all have an equal right to belong, to contribute, to receive, to think, to have an opinion. When this understanding is planted in the form of respect, it provides a foundation upon which love an tolerance can be built.

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