Guest post — Similar Outcomes and Experiences Found in 17 European Groups Living the Ecosynomic Paradigm (#2 in a 4-part series)

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?”

 

Figure 1: Overview of diagnostic results from 17 European groups

Figure 1: Overview of diagnostic results from 17 European groups

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.

Figure 2: Harmonic Vibrancy profile with average rating (A) and variance (V).

Figure 2: Harmonic Vibrancy profile with average rating (A) and variance (V)

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.

Guest post — Invitation to Organizational Vibrancy with Maureen Metcalf

Guest post by Maureen Metcalf

[Note from Jim R-D.  ISC’s network of colleagues from around the world is finding many ways to engage you in the experience of vibrancy and outcomes of abundance.  This invitation comes from our colleague Maureen in Ohio.]

In this post, we invite you to experience greater organizational vibrancy and business results. We define organizational vibrancy and invite you to get involved by taking a vibrancy assessment. An understanding of vibrancy along with your assessment scores will support you in choosing agreements that allow you to flourish.

Mike runs a highly successful organization that has made significant progress against its strategic goals over the past 18 months. Now, the leadership team is looking forward to determine what they need to put in place organizationally (and what barriers they need to remove) to accomplish some very aggressive goals. To support this process, Mike asked the leadership team to take the organizational vibrancy assessment. Each leader provided an individual response and the data were synthesized to create an organizational picture from which he determined recommended organizational changes. These results are part of the next leadership off-site to plan for the upcoming year. The information gathered was very helpful in identifying very specific actions and will also help leaders revise how they look at organizational change. One of the most valuable elements of the vibrancy assessment is helping leaders change their paradigm about leading change to be more comprehensive.

Organizational Vibrancy – We know the positive feeling we experience in places we love to go, homes we enjoy visiting, conversations we relish. We call this experience of vitality “exuberance and flourishing community vibrancy.” People feel it and seek greater vibrancy, whether consciously or subconsciously, to guide their interactions with others. To enable organizations to attract and retain the best talent, and engage in the most effective business practices,  Jim Ritchie-Dunham, President and researcher at the Institute for Strategic Clarity and an adjunct researcher at Harvard, created a study to identify key factors that could help us improve our overall organizational vibrancy and outcomes. You can use the survey findings to guide your actions in improving your organizational vibrancy. This study is part of Dr. Ritchie-Dunham’s ongoing research, and is being offered at no cost to you, your organization, or participants in your organization.

Why Care? By understanding where your organization excels and where it falls short, you will be able to address challenges and build on your strengths to create more vibrancy and greater success. Our goal is to support vibrant, sustainable organizations that will attract and retain the best talent, and continue to build a sustainable community that will renew itself for the next 100 years and beyond.

Questions. If people care about the vibrancy they experience in an organization, and it is an attractor for business and talent, what are its characteristics? Can people discern higher and lower levels of it? What is the role of leadership in the experience of vibrancy in a group? Do all groups within an organization have access to this higher vibrancy or does it depend on the resources the group has?  Does this higher vibrancy lead to stronger, more sustainable outcomes?

What We See. Jim Ritchie-Dunham and the research team from the Institute for Strategic Clarity, including leaders from diverse disciplines, have surveyed over 1,400 individuals about the groups in which they participate. The survey participants and the data told an interesting story. In some of the groups, the survey participants experienced total scarcity, in others some scarcity and some vibrancy, and in still others they experienced deep vibrancy. They told us that in the groups where they experienced greater vibrancy, they also experienced a higher quality in the group’s leadership. They also shared that where they experienced greater overall vibrancy, they experienced a greater connection to five key elements:

  1. self
  2. others
  3. the group
  4. process of innovation
  5. source of creativity

The interesting and counter-intuitive finding is that these relationships are experienced at similar levels of health: when any relationship is strong, the others are also relatively strong, and when any relationship is weak, the other relationships are also relatively weak.

Implications. These findings fly directly in the face of prevailing theories of economics, where one relationship (e.g., the self, the other, the group, nature, spirit) prevails over all relationships. If there are, indeed, groups where people experience a deeper vibrancy, and these groups seem to have similar characteristics, what does this mean for how we engage in groups together? Can we, as an organization, identify these characteristics and the organizations that have them? How do we share best practices with other groups within the community to raise the overall community vibrancy measure? How do we create tools to help organizations within our community increase their vibrancy, as the drive to improved vibrancy will happen with one organization at a time?

How Will We Do This in the Long Term? We are just undertaking the data-gathering phase of this plan. After we have a comprehensive picture of the organizational vibrancy experienced across seven key dimensions, we will create a more concrete action plan with our clients. Our initial plan includes the following:

  • Gather data using the vibrancy assessment
  • Identify top performing organizations across multiple sectors (city and state government, business and nonprofit)
  • Create approaches for top performing organizations to share their best practices and tools
  • Create tools for medium and lower performing organizations that will allow them to become high performing organizations (the nature of the tools and method of sharing will depend on the survey results and interest among participants). We will ask for your input to determine what will best support your success.

Next Steps.  Invest 10 to 15 minutes to take the free survey.  If you are unable to click the link from this document, please cut and paste http://instituteforstrategicclarity.org/take-the-survey/ into your browser.

What You Get Back Personally.  For everyone who takes the online assessment, you will receive an online response that contains a spider chart of five key dimensions (relationship to self, other, group, process of innovation, source of creativity).

Follow-up Actions upon Study Completion. Jim Ritchie-Dunham has agreed to do the initial data collection and feedback at no charge to the participants. He will use this data to build his research database. Should you choose to take action after the data collection, we will formulate a proposal for next steps based on the survey findings and report feedback. There is no obligation to engage in follow-up work.

Maureen Metcalf, the CEO of Metcalf & Associates, is author of Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, an award-winner in the 2012 International Book Awards for Business: Reference Book.  Partnering with the Institute for Strategic Clarity, she brings the work of organizational vibrancy to groups in Ohio.

Guest post — 17 European Groups Living Into the Ecosynomic Paradigm – Initial Insights (#1 in a 4-part series)

Guest blog by Christoph Hinske, ISC Senior Fellow

In this series of 4 posts, I will share initial insights from research with 17 groups in Europe.  Covering seemingly different sectors (5 in business, 7 in civil society, 4 in global networks, 1 in academia), I find similar underlying patterns, innovations and dynamics in all of them.  My main diagnostic tool was the “Ecosynomics Survey of Harmonic Vibrancy” from the Institute for Strategic Clarity.  I was able to follow up on the survey with some of the groups, interviewing individuals, observing group processes, and offering workshops with selected members.  To protect their confidentiality, I changed the names of the groups.  While they are not all high-vibrancy groups, they all present interesting insights from an Ecosynomic perspective.

Figure 1 shows the general level of perceived Harmonic Vibrancy in each of the 17 different groups, using a scale of 1 to 5 for seven dimensions – the five primary relationships, the quality of leadership, and the group’s overall outcomes (group well-being).  These ratings are outputs from the 57-item Ecosynomics Survey of Harmonic Vibrancy, which you can take for free online.

Figure 1: Overview of diagnostic results from 17 European groups

Figure 1: Overview of diagnostic results from 17 European groups

As captured in Figure 1, some of the groups describe their reality as very vibrant and collaborative (depicted by the outer lines). Others describe their reality as more scarce and competitive (depicted by the inner lines).  While the results might seem very similar, since the lines are all very close and no group has very low levels of harmonic vibrancy, the practices, agreements, and outcomes are very different between low and high vibrancy groups.

In the early stage of this research, the similarities I have found have led to three initial insights: 

1) Similar outcomes and experiences

While the groups come from different sectors and cultures, they describe similar experiences and outcomes in their work.  When describing experiences of low harmonic vibrancy, the group members showed how the outcomes of their value-creation processes mostly met the industry standards. And, when describing experiences of high levels of harmonic vibrancy, they showed how their value-creation processes led to outcomes that exceeded industry standards.

2) Similar processes and structures

I started to find and identify reoccurring practices in groups describing similar levels of harmonic vibrancy. They range from having a radically different understanding of recruiting to innovative ways of organizing to letting go of standard leadership models, as well as structures that engage customers and employees at a very high rate.

3) Similar fundamental assumptions

Finally, I found that groups with higher levels of harmonic vibrancy start their interactions from a different set of fundamental assumptions. A friend and colleague of mine just teased me and said, “So do you propose that they are better or more advanced human beings? You know you should be careful with such an assumption, especially in the German context.” No, I am not proposing that. What I observe is that they are ordinary people, like you and me, doing very ordinary things – like writing project proposals to get funding. And, I observed that they start from assumptions of possibility and abundance rather than from scarcity and limitation.

I will frame each of these three insights and illustrate them with one of these cases in my subsequent blog posts.

Ecosynomics Findings Hold in 40 Countries, Norwegian, and Hindi

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 12.03.12 PM

The Harmonic Vibrancy survey seems to have two impacts on the people that have taken it.  It helps them reflect on their experience of the harmonic vibrancy and abundance in a set of relationships, and through the reflection they see the agreements they have entered, consciously or not, that influence that experience.  From this experience, they begin to see both the possibility of new agreements and possible pathways for entering them.

The results from the survey provide initial insights into two questions currently guiding our exploration of the world of Ecosynomics and harmonic vibrancy.

1) Is there a continuum of harmonic vibrancy experienced in groups?

We found that people describe very clear levels of abundance, harmony, and vibrancy they experience, from very low to very high.  This runs counter to the general experience people report of low vibrancy and scarcity in most groups.

2) Are the relationships one has to the self, other, group, nature, and spirit related to the group’s experience of harmonic vibrancy?

The data shows that where people experience strong relationships (i.e., with themselves, others, the group, nature, and spirit), they experience them in ALL of the relationships.  Additionally, where ANY of the relationships are weak (low harmonic vibrancy), all of the relationships are weak.

The data also shows that there are over 300 groups that report very high levels of relationship and harmonic vibrancy.  The Institute is exploring what makes them sustainably different.  This finding runs counter to the belief that higher levels of health come from focusing on one of these relationships first, the core assumption of economics.

Harmonic Vibrancy Umfrage

Wir freuen uns mitteilen zu können, dass Sie Ihre Erfahrungen zu Harmonic Vibrancy in Ihrer Gruppe nun auch in deutscher Sprache machen können.

We are happy to announce that you can now describe your experience of the harmonic vibrancy of your community through the survey in German.  Please send this to your German-speaking friends.

Citizen Science Is Working!

You have described some AMAZING groups! With 317 groups described in 20 countries, you have told us about groups that are fantastic to live and work in, and groups that are not.

We are getting clearer and clearer on why some are able to sustainably deliver much better results in a very humane way, while most others are not (for an initial explanation).

To participate in this multi-national citizen-based research, take the survey at (http://instituteforstrategicclarity.org/take-the-survey/). Send it to your friends!

Follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/harmonicvibrancy).

Cuestionario de Vibración Armónica en Español (Harmonic Vibrancy Survey in Spanish)

Nos alegra mucho pedirles la descripción de la vibración armónica  de su comunidad con un cuestionario en español.

We are happy to announce that you can now describe your experience of the harmonic vibrancy of your community through the survey in Spanish!

Harmonic Vibrancy Zone — Survey Update on March 14, 2011

We have now collected survey data from over 230 groups, coming from 19 countries, with 47% from the USA and 38% from Mexico.  While a quarter of the groups surveyed are smaller than 10 members, a quarter are larger than 100.

We also have four groups where many members of a group have described their experience of the harmonic vibrancy of the same group, including teams within a global bank, a global beverage company, and a global textile business, and a global IT services firm.  For more on what we are learning from this data, see Early Findings.

Harmonic Vibrancy – How Does It Show Up in the World? Results from a Survey

Harmonic Vibrancy. People are quite adept at explaining their experience of the many textures of harmonic vibrancy they encounter in any set of agreements among humans.  They feel its existence, they sense its vitality, its balance.  They can taste it, smell it, see it, and perceive its warmth.  They can hear it.  There are places they love to go, homes they enjoy visiting, conversations they relish.

As Homo lumens – beings of light – people are highly sensitized receptors of the infinite textures of harmonic vibrancy, the human experience of the flow of spirit.[1] Harmonic is the fitting together, the experience of something extra, something special emerging.  Vibrancy is the experience of vitality, exuberance, flourishing.  People know when they are in the presence of higher or lower harmonic vibrancy.  They use this knowing, whether conscious or unconscious, to guide their interactions with other people, always seeking greater harmonic vibrancy, greater social health.  Quality of life, often described in terms of happiness, is the experience of the flow of light, not the temporary attainment of a specific amount of light.

Why Care. Thousands of years of human experience show clearly that scarcity and abundance are perceptions – perceptions of one’s relationship to the flow of life.[2] Everyone is clear that they suffer most when in the presence of the perception of scarcity and that they live most fully when in the presence of the perception of abundance.  Everyone is seeking greater abundance.[3] The challenge comes in how to achieve it, with an infinite number of philosophies and frameworks for achieving it.  Most pathways do not lead to greater abundance: some do.  More and more people are discovering pathways that do.

Questions This Raises. If people care about the harmonic vibrancy they experience, what are the characteristics of this harmonic vibrancy?  Can people discern higher and lower levels of it?  What is the role of leadership in the experience of harmonic vibrancy in a group?  Do all groups have access to this higher harmonic vibrancy or does it depend on the resources the group has?

What We See. We surveyed 126 individuals about groups of people they had experienced.[4] They told us the following story.  In some of the groups, they experienced total scarcity, in others some scarcity and some abundance, and in still others they experienced deep abundance (see Figure 1a).  They told us that the groups where they experienced greater harmonic vibrancy, they also experience a higher quality in the group’s leadership (see Figure 1b).  They also shared that where they experienced greater overall harmonic vibrancy, they experienced a greater harmonic vibrancy in their relationship to their own self, to others, to the group, to nature, and to spirit.  These relationships are experienced at similar levels of health – when any relationship is strong, the others are also relatively strong, and when any relationship is weak, the other relationships are also relatively weak (see Figure 1c).

Implications. These findings go directly in the face of prevailing theories of economics, where one relationship (e.g., the self, the other, the group, nature, spirit) prevails over all relationships.  This changes how we deal with the resources that sustain human life, how we organize our work together, and how we exchange value in our agreements.  If there are indeed groups where people experience the deeper abundance all humans desire, and these groups seem to have similar characteristics, what does this mean for how we engage in groups together?

Recent Observations. Our recent read puts the number of collectives experimenting with new agreements based implicitly on ecosynomic axioms at over ten thousand.  Some are well known as radical departures from simple economic principles, while others are just being discovered because of their much greater performance outcomes, described in exceptional terms under traditional indicators and with additional expressions of much higher vibrancy and harmony.  These collectives are redefining health, how it is assessed, and how it is achieved.  They are sustainably doing what others thought to be impossible, in the most normal of ways.  A school in El Salvador has tripled the local percentage of young girls entering and staying in primary school.  A community health center in Texas maintains top-hospital level services for an increasingly uninsured population, when all other centers are cutting even basic services.  A textile mill in North Carolina pays living wages to its high-craftsmanship shop workers in an industry that has outsourced its low-margin, commodity products to low-skilled workers in Asia.  A small town in New York created the equivalent of hundreds of jobs by circulating millions of dollars of trade with its own local, complementary currency.  A private currency system in Japan has replaced a large percentage of expensive, hospital-based elderly care not covered by the national insurance plan, with people exchanging “caring relationship” credits.  These collectives are redefining ordinary, by acknowledging and stepping further into the multiple manifestations of light.

Next Steps. To identify, connect, and support these experimental collectives, the first step is to begin to define a model of health.  We have developed a model of ecosynomics, a first step in this direction.  With this model of health, we are working on two pathways to identifying the 100,000 collectives: through observers and through surveys.  We are connecting with and engaging observers on the fringe of many different disciplines.  As thought leaders in their own fields, they are aware of many of the emerging models, which we hope to connect across disciplines. We are also expanding the survey.  We invite you to join our exploration of ecosynomics and the agreements humanity is discovering to save itself, by taking the survey yourself, or visiting our website (www.instituteforstrategicclarity.org).


[1] Understanding the human experience as Homo lumens – a being of light – leads to very different observations than Homo sapiens – being of wisdom or understanding.   As a knowing being, once we know something, we think we are done – I studied, now it is time to do.  I already know what to do.  As a light being, we are always on the path to more light, an infinite source.  While knowledge could also be seen this way, it is usually not experienced this way.

[2] From the Oxford English Dictionary, we can distinguish among scarce, sufficient, and abundant.  Scarce means restricted in amount.  Sufficient means an amount adequate to the purpose, enough.  Abundant means overflowing, more than sufficient, plenty.

[3] Interestingly, this seeking of abundance is directly in contrast with the economic observation that something is only of value, from a supply-demand perspective, if it is scarce.  Others will want it because I have it.

[4] The 126 people surveyed come from 17 countries, range from 21 to 77 years old, and tend to have a graduate education.  They described groups ranging from less than 10 people to over a 1,000 people.