Deep Dive into Business Self-Consciousness

METRIC 2 – Business Self-Consciousness

Here we attempt to assess the extent to which the business is self-aware of key issues relating to Conscious Business. To what extent does the business “know itself” in real time. Here we define self-knowledge and awareness as a consciousness of the organisation self – the who, what, why, how, where and when of its present actions. It roots here not only into the timelines but also in its sense of identity, its awareness of what drives it, motivates it and also how consistent that awareness is across the business. The extent to which its self-knowledge arises from “within” is a sign of high self-consciousness, though consciousness can be raised through the use of third parties, but this creates a lag, a disconnect between generated and received self-awareness.

High Consciousness – the business is a “double loop” learning organisation with real time sensing of emerging issues of which it needs to be consciousness (it regularly scans, forecasts for itself). There is real time information sharing with all key stakeholders – at all levels of the value chain. The business may employ external agencies to help it remain self-aware. Without these agencies, it might drop in self-awareness. The business doesn’t necessarily have home grown, embedded scanning and sensing to a high degree.

Critical Check list for High Business Self-Consciousness

1. Awareness of the “core self” of the business

The business has a culture that welcomes and embraces self-analysis. What is the business “self”? It can be defined in a number of ways. If the self is coherent across the organisation it will be identifiable through “common ground” – i.e. different people in the organisation  may have differing subjective interpretations of what the business is “at core”, but there will be certain strong elements of common ground. For example, “A caring employer”, “very committed to product quality”, “very service-led”, “open to criticism”, “participatory style of management”, “proud of its heritage”. The business self will be apparent and consistent to: leaders, managers, employers, internal and external stakeholders and partners. The self is the “identity” of the organisation – those common ground aspects that 1. can be identified across different groups and 2. can be identified with by those groups. In one, we are aware of self. In 2. We feel connected to self. This self represents a consistent set of behaviours, a culture that can be recognised and described, triangulated by different parts of the organisation. Collectively we know what we are “about”, and we know what unique “flavour” we have.  When the self-changes, as an organisation, and especially as a leadership group, we can feel the change as close to real time as possible. The “espoused values” are also the “theory in use.”

2. Strength and weakness awareness

The business is aware of its strengths and weaknesses – in snapshot and on an ongoing basisThe business is aware of its own developing and emerging weak points and is able to direct energy and attention onto them. There is no collusion of niceness, hiding the pain points. Weakness is welcomed as an opportunity for improvement and innovation. Sometimes there can be “self drift” as new people and players come and go, or as the environment shifts. The organisation is aware of how such changes reduce capability or capacity. The organisation has processes in place to self-observe: sense checks, inner audits, third party assessment where there is high subjectivity. Equally strengths are known and built upon. The business also seeks out its own unrealised or latent potential. it has a “self yet to be realised” in what can be harnessed and released. The self-identity is open to regular scrutiny and challenge in ways that clarify or enhance it. Devil’s advocacy is welcomed as a way to enhance perspective.

3. Core motivation consciousness

The business is clear about its fundamental motivation. There are no hidden motives as these lower consciousness. If people are not aware of a motive, it is because a deeper motive is at play and playing out. If the business claims a motive of social responsibility in business, then this motive is experienced as common ground in daily behaviour and practice. There isn’t a mismatch of motives across the business. When different motives clash, these are surfaced and resolved through conscious dialogue. The organisation is a listening organisation, open to the surfacing of different perspectives and value judgements. Ultimately it is the role of leadership to ultimately reinforce or change the core self-definition, in terms of any change in business motives. People are invited openly to re-commit or exit if core motives change. There is no grudge-nursing or festering. Known and shared motivation is the bedrock of business self-consciousness.


Medium Consciousness – the business employs external agencies to help it remain self-aware. Without these agencies, it would drop in self-awareness but feedback isn’t in real time. The business doesn’t have home grown, embedded scanning and sensing to a high degree and external agencies provide input in away that isn’t fully real time. Often they are delivers of good or bad news after the event. Ability to pro-act is lower. The organisation has a lagging self-image, often blurred though fairly accurate.

Lower Consciousness – the business doesn’t regularly sense its internal nor external environment. It relies on informal grapevines, sporadic information sources, and tends to fire fight.The organisation has a distorted self-image.

Zero Consciousness – without any real sensing or feedback, the organisation is like a headless chicken, only surviving through stable market conditions and low technology rates of change. The organisation has no real image of itself.


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