Guest blog by Christoph Hinske, ISC Senior Fellow
As I shared in my last post, I have identified and studied 17 European groups to understand if and how they are living the Ecosynomic paradigm. As I reflected on what they are learning with them, starting with the basis of the “Ecosynomics Survey of Harmonic Vibrancy,” I found striking similarities in their outcomes and experiences, processes and structures, and fundamental assumptions. In this post, I will focus on the similarities I see in their outcomes and experiences.
After each group took the survey, I shared Figure 1 with them, to give them a point of comparison for their outcomes and experiences. In most cases, the group starts to have a conversation that could be condensed as follows: “Ok, if this is our profile, and there are organizations with similar and different profiles, what practices allow them to live higher levels of harmonic vibrancy? What can we learn from groups with lower levels of harmonic vibrancy?”
Let’s have a closer look at the case of a globally operating NGO. It provides management and leadership solutions in the field of nature conservation. Since their founding 10 years ago, most consider them the unbeaten champion in the arena. Success means that they surpass their goals, and that they are on their way to redefining management and leadership principles for nature conservation on a global scale. They are very effective, with recognized success, while very efficient at how they do it. They have been successful in responding to high demand from the big players in their field, while working with a core team of around 10 persons, scattered around the globe.
About 90% of the team members took the survey. The team members describe their experience in this organization as very vibrant and harmonious, where harmonious means the balanced and constructive interplay of discordance and accordance. After analyzing the survey data, I led an in-depth reflection about the results with the whole team, starting with the graphic in Figure. It shows the average rating (A) of the different experiential dimensions, with a 5 as a high rating and a 1 as a low rating. For example, for Process of innovation, the summary values ranged from 1.74 to 5.00, averaging (A) 2.92, with a variance (V) of 1.18.
The group found two interesting aspects in Figure 2. First, the variance over five of the dimensions is very low, meaning that the organization as a whole agrees very closely on them. Second, even though the group wants to be highly effective, it is still relatively weak at integrating new perspectives and at seeing value in things they still cannot see and grasp, the other two dimensions. When reflected back to them, one of them shared, “After finishing the conversation on our ability to integrate new aspects into our organization, we are still not at a final point. But, a) we all started to agree that we are facing a challenge, and b) we identified some of the major roadblocks that we have to get out of the way. We never had such a focused conversation about the elephant in the room.” As they worked further with this insight, they realized that their own success makes it difficult for them to integrate new perspectives. Meaning, because they are so convinced that their practices, processes, business solutions and value propositions are cutting edge, they forget to lift up their heads and look for new possibilities. This insight was striking to them: they saw that their competitive advantage might vanish very fast if others were to develop similar products.
What strikes me in this case study is that they are aware of their success and that they are different from the status quo. Regardless of perceiving themselves as positive outliers, they are very humble in living into this. They keep a high level of openness to change and constructive input, which is a pattern I found in all of the groups until now. I will dive into those patterns in subsequent posts.
Another aspect that intrigues me, in this case, is that all of them agree and openly speak about the following sentence: “We agree that our ‘magic’ makes us special and successful.” It was interesting to witness that after our workshop they still believed in this phrase but had concrete words and a concept that explained their “magic” to them. They understood that their “magic” is sustained by the agreements they live that are based in abundance rather than scarcity. The dialog made it tangible, enabling them to sustain and multiply it in a conscious way.
In my next blog post (#3 of 4), I will share some of my findings on similar processes and structures found in the 17 European groups living into the Ecosynomic paradigm.