A conscious business is a business that is awake and alert, able to sense internally and externally, and aware of its motives, in real-time.
A conscious business is awake and alert
How can a business be awake? I don’t mean the building – the office block, the offices. This might be where the business operates but it isn’t this that is more or less awake. I don’t mean its legal form either. Somewhere are documents that represent the legal form this business has taken. So, a business can have a premises, and it can have a legal form. But neither of these things are more or less awake. What is more or less awake in a business is its people – both as individuals, and in the way they uniquely behave together – in pairs, in groups, and as a whole organisational “entity”.
So, of course, there are the people who work in the business, and the people who work with the business. Now, people can be more or less awake. If the people – as individuals – are more or less awake – then that can help determine how awake the business is. If, for example, our security guard falls asleep, and burglars get in and steal most of the cash, we can say the business’s security process was “asleep” – at least that part of the process (a huge part) represented by the security guard. Or if the marketing team were asleep to changes in the technological potential underlying a product they are selling, then the business can fall behind their competitors. “We didn’t see THAT coming over the horizon”. In this case, not looking in the right direction, or failing to see something, represents being “asleep” to it.
So, a business can be “asleep” is certain people in it are asleep. A business is only as conscious as the people in it. And you really can observe that from outside. An orchestra really playing “together” compared to one that isn’t. A hockey team really in touch with each other, really working coherently as a team, between each team member, but also as a whole group, reacting to other teams, and even to the cheering spectators. Birds flying in formation. A team of four comedy improvisers on stage, each offering their individual skill and creativity and yet also performing as a troupe.
We can also look at a business as a whole thing, as a kind of living entity, and we can see how awake or asleep that entity is. Eleven members of a football team can all be physically awake, running around on the pitch. Yet one team, taken as a whole, as a “team” entity, can appear to be more awake than another. One team can appear to be slower to react, less responsive to each other, less flowing, passing the ball less, less able to react to what the other team doing and, ultimately, less able to defend and score goals. Another team can seem to be much more together”, acting “as a team”. Here, “acting as a team” hints at the entity an organisation can be where the whole seems greater than the some of the parts. Some teams can create “synergy”; here the team has developed a consciousness that doesn’t exist only in terms of the individuals. Sports teams can have it. Choirs can have it. Medical teams in an operating theatre or emergency room can have it. And businesses can have it. And sometimes they can have quite the opposite. A team of five PHD-level designers can behave like a single dumb entity, unable to dialogue, out of touch with each other and the world, unable to respond, slow to make decisions. We can look at each person and experience someone highly conscious. We can look at the “business” and experience it as asleep, unaware and lacking alertness. Synergy emerges when the consciousness of a business is high.
This synergy happens when the individuals are more awake TO each other and their purpose. Their ability to be awake and alert is greater. They are usually more alert to what’s happening within the team, more alert to each other, communicating more, looking at each other more, listening to each other. And, as a team, they are aware of changes going on inside the team and also awake and alert to how the team needs to act and react in relation to other teams.
A conscious business has this synergistic quality where, as a whole “entity” its combined effort produces a higher degree of alertness than can be achieved as individuals. Two sets of eyes can look in two different directions. Two sets of eyes can also look in two different directions at the same time. This second ability is an ability born of the special nature of the two sets of eyes becoming a group.
A conscious business is able to sense internally and externally
When we pass the ball in a football game, we can do that well or badly, to the right person at the right time, or to the wrong person or at the wrong time. We need to look up. We need to sense the “moment” to pass, to have an awareness of the game as a whole. We might be part of an agreed strategy, or we might be part of an emerging strategy. Often a ball can move from one end of the pitch to the other and into the goal, within seconds, and the passing, the movement and the team play can look like a beautiful act of genius. In the UK, football (soccer) is an act of genius.
In the operating theatre, a life is saved, because of the skilled and fast interplay between surgeon, nurses, assistants, tools, drugs, procedures, right there in the moment. Lightning quick, what needs to be done is done.
A mountaineering team senses each other – the energy in one team member, the place in the rock to gain a stronghold, the moment to pause and let the gust of wind pass, the sense of who is where in the line. The team is “in tune with each other”. Teams can harmonise, as in music. A team can be the separate notes, or it can be the song. And it can be both.
We can sense the ability of a group in our organisation to cope with a change. We can tap into their mood, and we can identify how long they need to adapt to a change, or what kind of training they need. We can also sense changes out their in our business environment – new technological opportunities, changes in law or politics, customer tastes or supplier pressures. As a business, we can look up and see who is on the pitch, who is moving where. We can sense changes in the “business climate” and move, more or less skilfully, in response.
A conscious business, as a whole, or in parts, can sense more or less effectively, what is changing inside it, and outside, and respond, more or less effectively. Sometimes individuals can sense these things and the organisation, not aware or able to hear these individuals, still doesn’t respond. Only when is willing and able to respond “as a business”, is it truly conscious,
A conscious business is aware of its motives, in real-time
Real time s right now. The present. Someone walks towards me and raises their arm to me. I flinch to avoid the blow. They look bemused. “You dropped your wallet!”
We can make assumptions about why other people are acting a certain way, and those assumptions are more or less right. Time reveals it. We can also be more or less aware of our motives for acting in a certain way.
A motive is an underlying driver for how and why we act in a certain way. A doctor can act out of panic, and end up killing a patient. We can throw water on an electrical device that is on fire and end up electrocuting ourselves. A business can drop prices in order to raise sales and discover that it has made no difference to sales at all.
What is the REAL cause of the problem? When a business seeks out and finds real root causes of problems and addresses those, it is coming closer to being a more conscious business. Often our deeper motives need to be ones that address root causes.
“I only realised later that I had felt insecure and was trying to avoid being disliked; that’s why I came across as so aggressive”
We often realise our real motives too late. It requires a will to understand and observe ourselves in the present moment, if we would like to behave more consciously. Often we need to be open to the feedback of others who can observe us in real-time as we can find it hard to self-observe and act at the same time. it can feel like juggling!
What’s the real motive? To serve customers, or to cut costs? To respond to a complaint authentically, or to minimise PR damage? To reduce delivery time, or to sell more product? Often one apparent motive hides a deeper real one.
How can we be truly conscious if we aren’t aware of what is really motivating us?
So, a conscious business, as a business, is aware of its motives, in the NOW.
And that is what a conscious business is – it is a business that is awake and alert, able to sense internally and externally, and aware of its motives, in real-time.
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