Conscious Whole, Piece by Piece


Are you in?  Yes, these are trained professionals, and yet DO try this at home!

What is a conscious organization?  I hear that question all the time.

Merriam-Webster defines “conscious” as “the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.”

Therefore, one might extrapolate that same definition to a “conscious organization”, with “oneself” being the whole of the parts.

For ages philosophers have struggled to understand what consciousness really is.  Individual consciousness is a hefty enough subject, and when we start to look at organizational consciousness, eyes begin to glaze.

How do you wrap all of that individual consciousness into a bigger whole of consciousness? Well, that question circles back to the idea of consciousness itself being a non-localized phenomena, something expressed through yet bigger than the sum of its outlets.

As described by John Renesch “the Conscious Organization is one that is continually examining itself, committed to becoming as self-aware and responsible as it can at any given time in its life.”

For sure, organizational consciousness means different things to different people.  Yet, as we engage in the inquiry as to what it is, ideas and direction begin to form.

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Bryan Ungard from The Decurion Corp. Harvard Business Review published an article in 2014 (see it here) naming The Decurion Corporation a deliberately developmental organization.”  

Bryan brought up what he believes is the pre-requisite of building a conscious organization.  In his view, it is making a deliberate choice to come from the mindset that there is no tradeoff in being a high performing organization producing high returns while also being an excellent place to work, committed to providing people a place to flourish.  

According to Bryan, flourishing includes several aspects.  

  1. Wholeness – only one part of a human being or only one part of an organization cannot flourish, so Bryan looks at what it means to be whole as both a person and as an organization.  
  2. Connection – nobody flourishes by themselves in isolation, so Bryan suggests looking at how we are related to other people, our authentic connections to others and the community.  
  3. Growth and Development – flourishing doesn’t happen without both.

The Decurion Corporation is a rare organization where doing intense and deep personal work – that means work on the whole of the person, not just their job – is not only encouraged but required.  

We all have opinions on how the world works – based on our individual wisdom and life experiences.  And yet, those views and opinions are based on our perceptions, not “the truth.”  Letting go of the way we think the world works, old ways of being in how we interact with people, and old ways of taking action to produce results can be very challenging…and there’s no way of knowing that you will succeed.  And yet, that is the only path to real growth.

At the Decurion Corporation, daily activities of getting work done are used as a “training ground” to create consciousness.  The idea is to have the entire organization operate on the foundation of mindfulness, consciousness and being present, and thus to enable the individuals in the workplace to do the same.

What if we take that one piece of advice and make it inherent in how we lead?  My bet is that this alone is sure to set us on the course to produce some truly amazing results, and thereby building truly amazing – and conscious – organizations.

Who’s in?


Alexandra Levin

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