Blog: Learning Curve

Collaboration: A World Beyond Transacting Business

Collaboration is the buzzword in our business culture.

Leaders, team members, managers, and coaches all want us to collaborate. Interestingly, the term seems to engender immediate agreement. But what does it mean to collaborate? Even more importantly, what does it mean to be collaborative?

If we dig into its synonyms a bit, we find words such as mutual, cooperative, cooperate, joint, collective, shared, united, and common.

Yet, in practice I find people claiming to be collaborative from a more sentimental or technological approach:

  • Sentimental: having conversations, getting together, connecting, and discussing.
  • Technological: setting up an app to capture data and information to “transact business.”

Both approaches seem casual and woefully incomplete, having less to do with cooperating than with transacting or discussing items.

To Collaborate (As A Skill)?

The word collaboration comes from the Latin collaborare, meaning “work together” (mid-19th century).

This origin satisfies the question of what it is to collaborate: to work together.

As a coach and researcher, I find that our 21st-century demands require an expanded definition when working with leaders and executives: to co-create a shared or mutual understanding that allows for coordinating action together.

Today, we must include shared or mutual understanding as the background for true collaboration. Why? Simply because we are cooperating within the context of an Information Age, where interpretation is key to co-creating.

Without a shared understanding, we will rely on our individual interpretations, and perhaps outdated assumptions  that create missteps and make it difficult, often impossible, to “work together.”

Additionally, working together today involves coordinating action. Think about this. What is it you do with others that you do not do alone? Anytime we involve others, we do so with the intention of coordinating action; at minimum this means scoping out time, making agreements, and organizing and sharing information.

We do not just talk about stuff—we work together. We schedule meetings to discuss thoughts, we share documents to clarify priorities, we connect to develop plans or strategies, and we deliberate together to cultivate ideas that we could not have alone.

And, these activities happen within timeframes and deadlines, with information, and by involving others.

To make collaborating even more challenging and ripe for misinterpretation, we often perform these activities across communication platforms and cultures.

So, “to collaborate” today requires, at minimum, the ability to cultivate a shared meaning or understanding and to coordinate action, and that requires the ability to scope your time and manage yourself.

Collaboration is, therefore, a responsibility to yourself and to another.

To Be Collaborative (As A Mindset)?

Being collaborative takes this notion of collaboration to the next level, from a skill to a mindset. Mindsets involve who we are being, such as levels of awareness from a distinct capacity, worldview, assumptions, and beliefs. Different mindsets view skills and situations differently.

There’s been a leap in understanding mindsets, with fresh thinking and insights from theorists such as Ken Wilber, Nick Petrie, Susan Cook-Grueter, and Robert Kegan. Each has added research that distinguishes a collaborative mindset from the skill of collaboration.

The graphic below by Nick Petrie of the Center for Creative Leadership distinguishes being collaborative as a mindset from two previous mindsets: conformer and achiever. It also connects being collaborative to an interdependent worldview, as different from the two previous worldviews of dependent and independent.

Here, Petrie implies a larger claim: that a collaborative thinker or mindset involves more than merely working together. This mindset embraces an openness from an interdependent worldview that involves engaging multiple perspectives and holding contradictions, with an appreciation of systems, patterns and connections, and long-term thinking.

Developing the Collaborative Mindset

When examining the mindsets, an often-overlooked aspect involves how each of the previous mindsets contributes to the evolution of the next mindset. This points to a critical implication: we develop necessary assets in each mindset that pave the way for us to grow into the emerging mindset, even catalyzing the expansion.

Achieving collaboration requires successfully navigating the previous two mindsets: dependent–conformer and independent–achiever. Whether collaborating as a skill or becoming collaborative as a mindset, we require specific competency from each of these previous two mindsets—that is, to expand (our perception) and include (previous assets).

Dependent–Conformer: We gain many skills from this mindset. The three that help us as a collaborator include 1) becoming disciplined to focus and follow through, 2) developing your word as dependable to become a reliable team player, and 3) aligning with others. When properly developed, these competencies seed the possibility of collaboration. The outcome at this level is becoming reliable.

Independent–Achiever: Leveraging the skills from the previous mindset is critical for expanding the capacity to collaborate. From this mindset we gain two competencies: 1) evolving a reliable word to become accountable to our word and be able to hold others accountable and 2) shifting from aligning with others (previous mindset) to coordinating action. This allows us to “work together.” We develop these assets from this mindset to become intentional.

What It Means To Be Collaborative

So, from these previous mindsets, we can develop skills to collaborate and evolve into a collaborative mindset.

Before exploring that collaborative mindset, however, let’s consider what has been gained from the previous two mindsets. We’ve developed the ability to:

  • become disciplined, with focus on follow-through,
  • become a reliable team-player with our word,
  • hold self and others accountable with a new level of intention, and
  • coordinate action effectively with others, which involves scoping time.

These aspects contribute to the skill of collaboration.

What we develop in the interdependent–collaborator mindset are additional skills of cultivating shared meaning. This makes sense from an interdependent worldview where we hold contradictions and multiple perspectives, discern patterns and appreciate differences.

In the collaborative mindset, leaders and managers not only work together but co-create conditions and context for working together. Problems are no longer obstacles; instead, they have become opportunities to discover and create together.

With a longer-term view, we create a shared vision, with mutual understanding to cultivate connection and partnership. We also view change, uncertainty, and ambiguity as normal and seek out opportunities to learn. We gather additional perspective to collaborate, to gain a fuller view of reality, and to leverage the wisdom of others.

In a sense, we become more together.

Begin Today

Becoming collaborative is critical in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world. Indeed, when presented with material like this, we often look at the highest level and start there.

Developmentally, however, the path forward often requires looping back and strengthening any lost assets from previous mindsets. This backward turn is, in fact, necessary progress.

Developing the skills to collaborate deepens a skill-set that increases effectiveness and over time will lead us to become collaborative and operate from that mindset.

To begin, take inventory of your gaps—asking others for feedback—and start wherever you are.

Consider that whatever may be needed for additional practice might require looping back to an earlier mindset: the disciplined reliability from the dependent mindset or the intentional accountability developed in the independent mindset.

With this foundation, it is now possible to become collaborative—to embrace the very uncertainty and ambiguity we fear most to cultivate the necessary openness that emerges in the collaborative mindset. From a collaborative mindset, we move beyond transacting business and become more together.


tony-zampella-headshot Tony Zampella is the learning specialist at Zampella Group, which serves Learning & Development Professionals. As an instructor, researcher, and designer of learning programs and contemplative practices, his work develops mindsets for growing a culture of servant leaders.

His studies include the work of Martin Heidegger and ontological inquiry, Ken Wilber, and Integral theory, and Zen Buddhism and contemplative practices.

 


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Integral Theory: Learning and Leadership, Part 2

In our last blog, I introduced Integral Theory, a meta-theory by Ken Wilber. His AQAL model and acronym include five elements: (four) quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types. As detailed in that last blog, each quadrant focuses our attention to observe and influence modes of inquiry.

This blog further distinguishes the Quadrants of Integral Theory and applies it to Learning and Leadership: two areas of development that impact organizational life today that might benefit from an integral perceptive.

Integral Theory

Briefly, Wilber’s AQAL model integrates five elements into an Integral Theory:

  • Quadrants: The four quadrants are four perspectives that all phenomenon possess.
  • Levels involve stage development, offering mindsets or vertical development, embracing previous levels to expand and include more variables and complexity.
  • Lines of development are akin to Gardner’s multiple intelligences, expanding each line across each level.
  • States (of consciousness) unfold within deep awareness that is both more fluid that evolve through stages of “awakening,” from gross, subtle and causal to non-dual awareness.
  • Types involve from basic such as gender to more complex personalities typologies such as Meyers-Briggs, Keirsey, and Enneagrams, etc.

For Wilber, reality — all phenomenon — is not composed of things or processes, but of holons, which are wholes that are simultaneously parts of other wholes (whole/parts). This is true in the way a word is both, whole, onto itself, and part of a sentence; and that, a sentence is also whole, and part of a paragraph, and so on. The four quadrants reveal four dimensions of a holon (whole/part) when observing phenomenon and solutions. 

  • Upper Left: CONSCIOUSNESS: intention, phenomenology, ontology, psychotherapy, meditation, emotional intelligence, personal transformation
  • Upper Right: BEHAVIOR: epistemology, empiricism, scientific analysis, quality control, behavioral modification
  • Lower Left: CULTURE: multiculturalism, postmodernism, worldviews, corporate culture, collective values
  • Lower Right: SOCIETY: systems theory, social systems analysis, techno-economic modes, communication networks, systems analysis

Left-Right Tensions

Specifically, in our last blog, we explored how, businesses and leaders today, confuse the parts with the whole. For instance, how many conflate cultural awareness or lower left issues with lower right societal concerns or solutions. As a public policy example, police departments across the nation opted to deal with left-side concerns about police brutality by:

… putting cameras on police officers (lower right solution)

… to record and change behavior (upper right)

… rather than dealing with the racial fears (upper left)

… that form the culture (lower left) and drive actions (upper right).

Indeed, businesses are also being called to respond to issues emerging from the lower left cultural quadrant:

  1. Disney canceled the popular show Rosanne within hours of a racist tweet by its star, Roseanne Barr—not for low performance, ratings, or revenues (right side), but for racist remarks (left side) made in another venue.
  2. In recent weeks, five airlines sacrificed profit to stand against the U.S. government’s family separation policy. Each refused to transport separated, undocumented minors across our nation.
  3. Last year, the former CEO and co-founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, was summarily dismissed and replaced by his board for fostering a culture that revealed sexist policies.

Each of these situations resulted not from poor revenue, bad ratings, low profit or lack of productivity. These right-side issues were trumped by left-side values and concerns, catching boardrooms and executives off-guard.

Integral Learning

This blog further distinguishes the Quadrants of Integral Theory and applies it to Learning and Leadership.

Learning can be most pernicious, as most educational institutions have designed learning from the right-side perspective of studying, teaching, and investigating. That perspective limits us to facts and evidence from empirical observations, which in business translates to researching, acquiring and managing knowledge.

But knowledge is more fungible and accessible now than ever before. We require a framework that expands beyond knowing to increase capacity in learning.

Researcher Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, a leading scholar in integral education, shares thoughts in his paper Integral Teacher, Integral Students, Integral Classroom: Applying Integral Theory to Education, which explores the strength each quadrant contributes to an integral learning experience.

With regard to learning, I offer this AQAL view that integrates our research in these areas:

Upper Left: CAPACITY/CONTEXT:

This quadrant increases capacity. I embody learning and self-discovery through inquiry. Through increased awareness, I engage in contemplative inquiry, critical reflection, and somatic discovery.

The focus is on whether I am grounded: open to possibility, now, and present to my intention? Or, am I reacting to the past or anticipating the future?

Upper Right: CONTENT/CONCEPTS:

This quadrant studies content. I study concepts and research knowledge to produce results. Through study, I engage in skillful action, practical application, and active observation.

The focus is on whether I am focused on distractions or study.

Lower Left: PRACTICE:

This quadrant discovers practices. We experience learning via deepening and uplifting engagements. Through discovery, we understand through connected encounters, perspectival embrace, and ethical participation.

We experience learning by cultivating shared experiences to clarify values and deepen shared commitment.

Lower Right: PROCESS:

This quadrant processes knowledge. Technology and systems can improve how we learn together via efforts such as STEM, gamification, systems, and scenarios.

We share knowledge through connections enabled by processes, systems, and technology.

AQAL Model to distinguish Integral Learning.

Learning Tensions

Learning challenges that emerge often do so from confusion between left- and right-side observations and solutions. We tend to notice the emergence of right-side issues and assume they require right-side solutions.

For instance, if students drop out of school or if employees lack competency, we tend to seek out content, tools, or systems to solve these issues. This is automatic because we are inclined toward progress; we constantly feel the need for new tools, better content, or bigger systems.

When developing learning programs or working with learning specialists, we automatically lean toward these right-side solutions. Many of them involve STEM, empirical, and practical solutions that manage conditions at the expense of left-side phenomena and discoveries that involve values and practices that deepen culture.

As a guiding principle, the right side explores tools to improve behavior and systems that increase productivity, and the left side explores values that cultivate belonging and practices that deepen culture.

The key here is to include right-side learning grounded in empirical investigations (what we research, study, and know) and left-side learning that encompasses both experiential observations (what we generate and discover) and existential inquiry (who I am, why this matters).

Integral Leadership

The inquiry into learning also impacts how we view leading, leaders, and leadership. Expanding or developing these capabilities involves challenging observations, discoveries, and solutions precisely because most experts, executives, and learning specialists focus on the right-side perspective, limiting us to facts and evidence from empirical observations.

Researcher Russ Volckmann, the publisher and editor of Integral Leadership Review, explores the strength each quadrant contributes to an integral learning experience.

With regard to leading and leadership, I offer this AQAL view:

Upper Left: CONSCIOUSNESS:

This quadrant discloses consciousness or levels of awareness. Interventions address who I am (as a leader) by questioning values and beliefs and inquiring into attitudes, possibilities, intention, and thinking. With practice, I expand awareness to develop perspective.

Upper Right: COMPETENCY:

This quadrant improves competency. Interventions address how I perform (as a leader) by expanding skills and improving actions, performance, and accountability. With training, I improve behavior and expand knowledge.

Lower Left: CULTURAL CONTEXT:

This quadrant discovers context. Interventions address developing cultural awareness that involves exploring implicit agreements, shared values, worldviews, and collective morale. By encouraging aggregate values and shared practices, we cultivate belonging and deepen commitment.

Lower Right: CONDITIONS:

This quadrant manages conditions. Here, interventions involve technology and systems to manage, share, and enhance knowledge that improves best practices and strategic focus. By managing systems and resources, we increase productivity and scale services.

AQAL Model to distinguish Integral Leadership.

Leadership Tensions

When examining the needs of organizational life, we view the lower half of the quadrants as most business executives do: relying solely on lower-right solutions. They understand success through measures such as behavior modification via skills and technology to increase performance (ROI, KPIs, and productivity measures).

This reveals a leadership blind spot in the lower left, which encompasses attitudes, mindsets, and values that inform and form culture beyond data and metrics. For instance,

  • Leaders often diagnose a lack of team cohesion by focusing on skills to become productive (right side) rather than on a culture that promotes belonging or collaboration (left side).
  • Leadership development often focuses on achieving tasks, projects, and goals (right side) while ignoring demands to promote a culture of meaning and purpose (left side) that courses through an organization.

The dilemma for developing leaders and cultivating leadership development resides in all four quadrants.

Leadership involves the role (leader), the behaviors and worldviews—including beliefs, intentions, and the like—(leading), and the context (systems and culture). In a world of fungible knowledge, volatile change, and increasing complexity and ambiguity, leadership ventures beyond Hersey’s and Blanchard’s (1969) notions of situations and situational contexts.

An integral context includes awareness and culture as well as systems, processes, technologies, and so on. Thus, the term leadership refers to the gestalt of bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual phenomena in which many variables are played out in the service of generating or altering contexts for some accomplishment, even if that involves creating a calm presence in the face of challenges.

Leadership development today expands our view beyond the right side, to involve the upper left “awareness” view, to cultivate the lower left “context” view, to expand culture by deepening belonging and commitment

Change Demands Fuller Views

Much of our work to expand human potential and to develop leaders and leadership require new views of humans, organizational life, and change. Integral theory and the AQAL model comprise more than the four quadrants—to include levels, lines, states, and types—but there’s no place better to begin.

Expanding our view beyond the right side is a worthy effort to open to wholeness in everyday life.

Typically, with my blog posts, I share thoughts and ideas about learning and leadership without tying them back to our firm. I will just make this rare point. Our firm employs an Ontological Inquiry with Integral Theory and Contemplative Practice for the sole purpose of working with coaches, L&D professionals, and executives to expand mindsets to include the left side of the AQAL model.

We’ve engaged in this level of development because of the times we find ourselves. Today, adult learning must achieve more than mere training for competencies. We must create a meta-learning framework that allows for expanding awareness, integrating new insights and complexities, and engaging practices that sustain continuous learning.


tony-zampella-headshot Tony Zampella is the learning specialist at Zampella Group, which serves Learning & Development Professionals. As an instructor, researcher, and designer of learning programs and contemplative practices, his work develops mindsets for growing a culture of servant leaders.

His studies include the work of Martin Heidegger and ontological inquiry, Ken Wilber, and Integral theory, and Zen Buddhism and contemplative practices.

 


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Integral Theory: From Behaving to Belonging, Part 1

What do these issues — family-separation immigration policies, sexual harassment in business, and police brutality in our streets — have in common?

Consider that our evolving perceptions of these longstanding issues have created much uncertainty today.

We are experiencing a shift that expands societal systems to include cultural attitudes — a new lens through which to view everyday life. Ironically, the technology that connected us to real-time stories to expand our awareness also reveals a social-cultural awareness gap. We will dissect this gap in awareness later, specifically regarding police brutality.

To appreciate this shift, I recall a time when the term culture referred to more affluent interests such as a city’s symphony, museums, or literary scene. These structures promoted social cohesion without revealing the underlying community attitudes alive in the makeup of society.

Today, culture holds a rich significance in our complex social, political and work life.

Much of our shift in awareness involves old systems rubbing up against evolving attitudes. New perceptions confront our knowledge and historical contexts. Faster change with more variables requires larger contexts, or meta-theories, to make sense of our perceptions.

The next decade may become known as a time of meta-theories. Embracing integral (meta) theories will support us as we learn to learn again. As educators and learning specialists, we must become adept at thinking both in detail and as generalists. Any integral theory bridges societal systems and cultural attitudes.  This dynamic of connecting process and paradigms rubs against our silo methods of doling out fragmented knowledge.

We’ll discuss this notion of meta-context in turn below.

Meta-Theories

One of the most powerful, potent and predictive meta-theories is Integral Theory by Ken Wilber. Not the only meta-theory, Wilber’s Integral Theory has, over four decades, assembled a consortium of academics, intellectuals, activists and community hubs.

As of 2014, the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, the major peer-reviewed journal in this field, included more than 50 disciplines using the integral model to reinterpret disciplines. Each employs this robust meta-framework to integrate all phenomena and find some truth in all views.

As Ken declares, “I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody…has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished and included in a more gracious, spacious and compassionate embrace.”

There are many aspects to Wilber’s Integral Theory, most fundamental is its AQAL model, which stands for All Quadrants, All Levels (lines, states and types). As a philosopher, Wilber is expansive; as a theorist, he is exacting. He entered the field of evolutionary theory in the ‘70s via the emerging field of transpersonal psychology, which integrates the transcendental (existential) aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology.

I discovered his work in 2004 when I was seeking more integral approaches to viewing paradigm shifts in evolution. An academic at the time, I found his work refreshing and sufficiently complex as a worthwhile critique for deep inquiry.

Of his dozens of books, Wilber’s thinking comes alive in Spectrum of Consciousness, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, and a recent addition, The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions.

Integral Theory, Briefly

It is impossible to delve into this entire framework in a blog. My intention here is to quickly review the theory and focus on an emerging and critical awareness gap between culture and society. In my next blog (part 2), I will explore how Integral Theory can affect business and leadership.

Briefly, Wilber’s Integral Theory integrates these elements:

  • Quadrants: The four quadrants are four perspectives that all phenomenon possess.
  • Levels involve stage development, offering mindsets or vertical development. Each level embraces the previous level to expand and include more variables and complexity.
  • Lines of development are a corollary to levels, offering horizontal development at each level with a line of development such as emotions (EQ), spirituality (SQ), intuition, interpersonal, self-identity, creativity, cognitive, kinesthetics, moral, etc.
  • States (of consciousness) unfold within deep awareness that is both more fluid—as in a dream, wake or altered states of consciousness —and moves through stages of development, from gross, subtle and causal to non-dual awareness.
  • Types involve typologies such as Meyer-Briggs, Keirsey, Enneagrams, the Big Five Personality test etc.

Keys to Integral Theory

The brilliance of Wilber’s model is not its content but its context. He combines historical and contemporary Western theories and models from psychology, economics, and science with Eastern thought, from Buddhist precepts to Hinduism, Taoism and other mystic lineages. His work provides a new context for viewing and leveraging all the known material, focusing on where each is most potent.

  1. Nothing is 100% right or wrong; Each theory or thinking model merely vary in their degree of incompleteness or potency. No one or nothing is 100% good or evil; they just vary in their degree of ignorance and disconnection. All knowledge is a work in progress.
  2. Leaps in evolution usually occur in a manner of “transcending and including,” not by wiping out what came before. For instance, the evolution of a single-cell organism did not wipe out molecules but included them in a greater order of complexity. Wilber asserts that this pattern of evolution occurs with all phenomena.
  3. Perception contains interior and exterior modalities, or Wilber’s solution to the mind-body problem in philosophy. You can cut open someone’s brain and track the neurons firing when they think about a cat, but which is real, the neurons firing or the thought about the cat? It depends whom you ask.
  4. The problem arises when one conflates thoughts and behavior as controlled by exterior measures, such as neurons firing, implying that our minds are not autonomous. Wilber claims that both the interior and exterior modes of consciousness are not only equally real, but also reflections of one another. Indeed, research into neuroplasticity (the ability to change the brain’s physical configuration through changing thought patterns and behavior) supports this conclusion.

AQAL: Partial Perspectives

I’d like to focus on point four by illustrating Wilber’s four-quadrant mode, the basic element of his Integral Theory.

Notice some of the influential modes of inquiry, based in each of the quadrants:

  • Upper Left: CONSCIOUSNESS: intention, phenomenology, ontology, psychotherapy, meditation, emotional intelligence, personal transformation
  • Upper Right: BEHAVIOR: epistemology, empiricism, scientific analysis, quality control, behavioral modification
  • Lower Left: CULTURE: multiculturalism, postmodernism, worldviews, corporate culture, collective values
  • Lower Right: SOCIETY: systems theory, social systems analysis, techno-economic modes, communication networks, systems analysis.

Which of these approaches is right? All of them, according to Integral Theory. The key here is to place models, theorists and methods in the quadrant where they have the most potential.

New Problems or Old Paradigms?

Businesses today are dealing not with new problems but with outmoded views of problems. And there’s the rub. The Information Age confuses perceptions, confounds meaning-making, questions our sensibilities, and drives isolation. Such anxiety, confusion and complexity confront right (exterior) side views of the quadrant longing for left (interior) side solutions.

With a faster pace of change, more complexity and greater uncertainty, issues of belonging (lower left) compete with issues of behavior (upper right), systems and even economics (lower right).

Consider this view from the annual Happiness Report, which asks: What makes nations rank happier on its index? University of British Columbia economist John Helliwell posits, “It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, what is it worth?” Helliwell also shares a now-familiar refrain: “The material (right side) can stand in the way of the human (left side).”

The U.S. is currently experiencing low unemployment rate with greater anxiety. We have more technology and connectivity and less connection and belonging.

Happiness, belonging and Integral Theory 

Yet with our faster rate of change, increases in complexity and greater uncertainty, we also experience increases in isolation, anxiety and meaninglessness. These existential conditions do not respond to right-side solutions such as increased pay and benefits packages or new technology.

What is required is a fuller view — a focus on belonging.

Back to the Happiness Report: The Nordic countries pay some of the highest taxes (right side) in the world, but there is wide public support for them because people perceive them as investments in quality of life for all (left side), such as high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity, (left side) with good governance (right side).

Much of our social tensions, according to researcher Jeffrey Sachs, result from America’s focus on Economic Renewal (right side) over Human Potential (left side). The United States, Sach’s concluded, is looking for happiness “in all the wrong places.”

Conflicts between right side priorities and left side concerns produce existential angst that requires fuller perceptions. Our challenges at becoming more (upper left) involve a deeper need for belonging (lower left).

L&D Focus on Quadrants …

The dilemma for learning and development (L&D) resides in shifting our focuses and attitudes: from the upper right “content” view that alters individual behavior to a lower left “context” view that shifts culture. That is, from fixing behavior to focusing on belonging. And here is where the gap magnifies.

When examining needs in the lower half of the quadrants, most business executives rely solely on lower-right solutions. They only understand measures such as behavior modification via skills and technology to increase performance: KPIs, ROI and productivity measures.

There is a leadership blind spot in the lower left: Attitudes, mindsets and values that inform and form culture beyond data and metrics. Much that lower left includes how we listen, learn and collaborate to cultivate a shared understanding. For instance …

  • Leaders often diagnose a lack of team cohesion by focusing on skills to become productive (right side) rather than on a culture that promotes belonging or collaboration (left side).
  • Leadership often focuses on achieving tasks, projects and goals (right side) while ignoring demands to promote a culture of meaning and purpose (left side) that courses through an organization.

As a public policy example, police departments across the nation opted to deal with left-side concerns about police brutality by…

… putting cameras on police officers (lower right solution)…

… to record and change behavior (upper right)…

… rather than dealing with the racial fears (upper left)…

… that form the culture (lower left) and drive actions (upper right).

… From Behaving to Belonging

Businesses are also being called to respond to issues emerging from the lower left quadrant:

  1. Within hours of a racist tweet by its star, Roseanne Barr, Disney canceled the popular show Rosanne —not for low performance, ratings or revenues (right side), but for racist remarks (left side) made in another venue.
  2. In recent weeks, five airlines sacrificed profit to stand against the U.S. government’s family separation policy. Each refused to transport separated, undocumented minors across our nation.
  3. Last year, the former CEO and co-founder of Uber Travis Kalanick was summarily dismissed and replaced by his board for sexist policies and culture.
  4. Last fall, the public revelation of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s conduct, an industry secret for decades, caused an internal revolt. That revelation dismantled the Weinstein Company, a once-powerful gatekeeper for many of Hollywood’s biggest projects.
  5. Weinstein’s conduct – revealed through personal stories – has toppled dozens of other powerful icons once considered untouchable, cash cows.

Each of these situations resulted not from poor revenue, bad ratings, low profit or lack of productivity. These right-side issues were trumped by left-side values and concerns, catching boardrooms and executives off-guard.

Employees and other stakeholders didn’t want to belong to such brands. In a fast-paced, disruptive world, belonging is critical. Employees, customers, vendors and executives do not want to be associated with brands that place profit and technology (lower right) above human values and belonging (lower left).

For leaders and business, the key is to marry these two quadrants (lower left and right). Both are critical to 21st-century brands. Both are critical for us, being human. I will approach this question and possible views for bridging these two quadrants in our next blog.


tony-zampella-headshot Tony Zampella is the learning specialist at Zampella Group, which serves Learning & Development Professionals. As an instructor, researcher, and designer of learning programs and contemplative practices, his work develops mindsets for growing a culture of servant leaders.

His studies include the work of Martin Heidegger and ontological inquiry, Ken Wilber, and Integral theory, and Zen Buddhism and contemplative practices.

 


June 26th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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 “In times of change, those who are prepared to learn will inherit the land, while those who think they already know will find themselves wonderfully equipped to face a world that no longer exists.”

—ERIC HOFFER

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