Is information enough to transform our lives and our organizations? Can transformation take place as a result of a rational process and data? Is transformation an incremental process or a total process? This is part 2 of a short series that is looking at these questions.
In part 1 I made the case that real transformation cannot be incremental and also cannot be rational. Here is part 1 again if you need to catch up with where I am going with this. Summary - transformation is a bifurcation and so has to be energetic. It is a natural process only.
In part 2 we are going to explore how people are influenced by other people to transform. How can we work with a natural process - like birth - and make it easier?
If we know how to do this, then we might know how to accelerate the process by which human culture may progress from a machine and separate wordview to a natural and integrated one.
So here again is the cultural and organizational journey.
We shift from an external POV rooted in separation and in a kinetic modality of force/cause and effect to an internal POV rooted in integration in an energetic modality where there are no simple direct linkages of cause and effect.
Or in another way of seeing this - we move from a world that is simple and complicated to a world that is complex or chaotic. We move from machine to life as the underpinning metaphor.
The traditional consulting who want to capitalize on how to make a business helping organizations make this shift operate from the world on the left. It's all about power/force - it's kinetic - it depends on cause and effect. It is all about separation - them and us.
They are more clever than you are. They use data and analysis. They use physical and kinetic tools. They seek to measure the ROI in $.
Do you feel the disonnance of this? How can a machine make you into a human again?
Only another human can help a human be more human.
There can be no use of power or force. It's like having a baby.
As the old us dies, the new has to be born and as with all new borns, the new us is weak, confused and very vulnerable. It helps to have a midwife. A midwife whose main qualification is that he/she has been through this process themselves. This person is not a parent. For the new you is a true adult. This person helps you in the birth process. They will need you less and less very quickly once they have found their feet.
Here is Frederic Laloux on this point: "No one can be made to evolve in consciousness, even with the best of intentions—a hard truth for coaches and consultants, who wish they could help organizational leaders adopt a more complex worldview by the power of conviction."
Only you can awken. No one can do this for you. But others can be there for you. It is so scary that it might be essential for others to be there for you. Who can forget this scene in the Mission. How fortunate to have his spiritual midwife by his side too.
The Midwife/Coach "Embodies" the energy of the new. That is where the power is. It is not in the word but in the word made flesh. It is your peers who will help you.
So we know what the smallest fractal of the whole is. A person is ready and then transforms. No readiness, no transformation. It's all up to that person. But when it happens, this is a very painful moment. It helps to have a spiritual midwife in attendance.
This is the process. There is no other.
If we know this at the node level, how do we scale this so that we can reach a critical mass more quickly?
There is a 500 year old story that ofers us guidance here. But, as caveat, as I tell the story, I declare that I am not a Christian or a member of any religion. My answer is not "religion" but about an organized response to what religion became 500 years ago and a renewed response to what it is today. A response from inside. Response to hubris and to fear. A response rooted in love but stiffened by courage and by learning.
In response to the sickness of the church and the power of the Reformation, a small group of men - who had all been soldiers and knew all about the sins of the world came together and founded the Society of Jesus. Their approach was unique and applies to the work ahead for us today. They chose not to preach the word. They chose not to retreat from the world. They chose to go out into the world - even to China and Japan- and live the word and if necessary to die for the word.
Their appeal was embodied in their flesh. Their discipline was to be aware. They were selected with great rigour as humans who had grown up. In 100 years of the founding by 7 men, this small band ran 700 schools and sat by the right hand of most of the rulers of the world. They had this place because they had the trust - for they did not preach. They adapted to the culture of the place they worked in. They listened and had compassion - even for the Emperor of China - who saw his mentor Francis Xavier as his grandfather.
They brought humanity back to the church. They were often in great conflict with the church that they served. They are still often in conflict with it. But it is remarkable that the new pope is himself a Jesuit and he is clearly out to reform his church once again.
And what did he do? His first steps were to live what he wanted to see in the church. He stepped away from the separation and the pomp. He embodies what he hopes for the church. He lives the new.
Pope Francis embodies the values of the world to come. Here we see what I think to be the key issue for large traditional organizations. They can only evolve as far as their leader.
Frederic Laloux makes this point: "Can a middle manager put Teal practices in place for the department he is responsible for? When I am asked this question, as much as I would like to believe the opposite, I tell people not to waste their energy trying. Experience shows that efforts to bring Teal practices into subsets of organizations bear fruit, at best, only for a short while. If the CEO and the top leadership see the world through Amber or Orange lenses (Green’s tolerance allows for more hope), they will consider the Teal experiment frivolous, if not outright dangerous.
They might allow it for a while until they understand what is going on. But ultimately, the pyramid will get its way and reassert control. In the process, the energy that was invested often turns into bitterness and cynicism.
I wish I could offer more hope. But I simply haven’t come across a single example of a unit, plant, or department that has operated to any degree with Teal practices for a substantial amount of time to show otherwise. And while the experiment lasted, the people in those units often had to fight, again and again, with the big bosses outside of their unit to defend their unorthodox ways of operating."
This is a tall order. Can we all wait for a leader like Pope Francis? I don't think so.
So how then might we still use the ideas of peers and embodiment and attraction? Laloux offers a hint: "What can be done is to create environments that are conducive to growing into later stages. When someone is surrounded by peers who already see the world from a more complex perspective, in a context safe enough to explore inner conflicts, chances are higher that the person will make the leap"
I then ask, how do we do this and who is best equipped to help?
I will do my best to offer up my answer in part 3. But in advance, I posit that those are best equipped to help, have made the transformation themselves. That they live the new and embody it. That they have the scale to offer the hand of friendship and love throughout the world.
In short I think we need a large network of the transformed whose mission is to be there for those that are ready and to help them help others get ready.
I am deliberately using language here that you do not read in consulting or in business. I use this language because part of being human is to speak like a person. But the ideas behind all of this are not Kumbaya. Underneath the langauge is the science of what is going on. Just as behind the Reformation was science based on observation.
There is much science here. And if you wish to know more - please read Frederic Laloux's book - I think that this is the most important resource that I have yet found on this transformation. It's not the whole thing but it is a great entry point into the hard stuff that underpins all of this.