First posted on LinkedIn June 16, 2016
A whole person is made up of heart, mind, body and soul. Okay it’s a metaphor, I know a whole person comprises blood, organs, flesh and bones, but go with me for a moment. I believe an organisation (which is a human system after all) has a heart, a mind, a body and a soul too. People need to attend to their hearts, minds, bodies and souls to stay healthy and to thrive, especially in times of change. So, why don’t organisations do the same? Making changes stick requires you pay attention to your organisation’s heart, mind, body and soul.
The power to organise defines the organisational mind
Let’s start with the mind, the appeal to logic (or logos as the Greek philosophers would have it) so prevalent in how organisations are designed. Why is paying attention to the organisational mind important? People are rational and need security and recognition for their work. Paying attention to the organisational mind connects your business processes to your strategy and it demonstrates a thought through design for efficiency and effectiveness. The power to organise defines the organisational mind. It is attended to through org structures, planning processes and performance management.
Organisations demonstrate heart through engagement
Then there’s the heart of the organisation, the appeal to emotions (or pathos). Pathos is important in decision making (as now evidenced through neuroscience). It connects people to your strategy and demonstrates a developmental approach to help people fulfil their potential. Organisations demonstrate heart by how well they engage their people. This requires clarity of communication, offering support and nurturing people to develop their careers in pursuit of their aspirations.
Actions speak louder than words
The body of an organisation is its people. It is how they undertake your business processes to deliver the strategy. It is, as Herb Kelleher, Chairman of Southwest Airlines puts it, “what people do when no one is looking”. More than anything else, this defines your organisation’s culture. It’s what connects people to your business processes. Attending to culture demonstrates you value the real life internal workings of your organisation. Developing this enables you to keep it simple, get it right first time and truly create a customer-focused culture.
You need soul to turns ideas into actions
The organisational soul is what holds all the other parts together. It balances the needs of the organisational heart, mind and body. It connects strategy, process and people, and it demonstrates the ability to turn ideas into actions to deliver the strategy. The organisational soul is leadership; leadership that gives clarity of direction, support to develop skills and behaviours and reinforce those behaviours day-to-day, and ensures there are consequences for success or failure to deliver.
I work with clients who know they need to develop their organisations, but who are frustrated by the change they want to make not sticking. I believe to make change stick you need to attend to the heart, mind body and soul of your organisation. How does your organisation fair? Does it pay attention to its heart, mind, body and soul?
Jeremy J Lewis