"The spirit of an organisation resides in its people" (W.A. Guillory)
At the end of my previous post I mentioned that I would have written further marginalia about the book by W.A.Guillory, “The Living Organization”. While the previous marginalia were relating to the concepts of re-creation and adaptation, these marginalia are instead relating to the notions of empowered and high performing organisations (in fact, as I wrote in last post, Guillory defines Living Organisations as those that endure over time by integrating the building blocks of adaptation, empowerment and high performance).
Living Organisations are Empowered
According to W.A. Guillory, the three criteria that define an empowered organisation are: being profitable, productive and employee-friendly over time.
Each of these three criteria is specific, definable and measurable:
· A profitable organisation is one that produces more value added products and services than the capital necessary to operate that organisation. Living Organisations, writes the author, experience an interesting dilemma with respect to profitability: on one hand, profitability is a requirement for survival and on the other hand, the organisation’s major driving force is the welfare of the business system. He also writes: “I am not suggesting that an organisation should sacrifice profitability to the detriment of their employees and shareholders. However, the overriding driving force is operating in a manner that contributes to the benefit of the business system. This mindset is only possible where scarcity and greed do not exist. Most of all, it is based upon the absence of fear.
· A productive organisation, says Guillory, is one that generates its products and services in the most cost-effective manner possible. “In other words, the organisation is continually improving its processes, products and services such that profitability is created before the products and services are sold to customers”.
· An employee-friendly organisation is one where all employees experience unlimited opportunity for professional development, advancement and quality of work life. It is also sensitive to the needs of employees when family/work life situations require unusual working arrangements in order to retain a valued employee. In fact, empowered organisations realise that, in a rapidly changing business world, their future depends on their ability to be flexible, adaptable and creative in responding to the changing work force needs.
“Profitability, productivity and employee-friendliness are the result of practicing and institutionalising the phrase, people are our most important resource”.
The force that drives an organisation to proactively become more empowered is what Guillory calls the spiritual leadership.
“Spiritual leadership is a context of operation where spiritually-sourced values are integrated with sound business practices to govern the way an organisation achieves its business objectives.
Spiritual leadership inspire employees to move beyond whatever challenges they may experience in the workplace, by living the values and modelling the high-involvement principles espoused by the organisation.
As this process become more proficient, an organisation reaches the point where a highly empowered operation becomes high performing”.
Living Organisations are High Performing
“High performance”, writes the author, is “the process of maximising the synergy of a system’s components”. The objective of an organisation is to become high performing and maintain that level of performance over time.
Therefore, “a high-performing organisation is one that continually leverages the total capacity of its people in achieving its business (organisational) objectives”.
High-performance integrates seven initiatives:
· Teamwork: acknowledge the relatedness of people
· Quality: acknowledge the drive to achieve perfection
· Work Process Redesign: acknowledge the drive to continually improve systems, processes and ourselves
· Environmentalism: acknowledge the connectedness of humans and environment
· Customer Focus: acknowledge the desire to serve others
· Diversity: acknowledge the value of all people
· Empowerment: acknowledge the unlimited potential of the human spirit.
The author explains that this model for creating a high-performance organisation is a spiritual pursuit when each of the initiatives is defined and practiced from a spiritual perspective. In fact, each of them is assumed to be inherent in the nature of the human spirit.
“Not only are success and spiritual values compatible, but the latter are often the source of an organisation’s adaptation to change”.
Where spiritual principles are combined with sound business practices, an organisation operates in the most effective manner. Although, it is not commonly recognized or acknowledge, “when an organisation faces the greatest threat to its existence, it is the degree to which the spiritual life-force is present in that organisation that determines whether it survives or not”.
To make the point, Guillory explains that the solution to adjusting to the changing work force is creative adaptation. “Creative adaptation begins with the realization that change, no matter how traumatic, is an opportunity to redefine who we are and correspondingly, what we are able to accomplish. This realization allows us to explore for answers beyond our well-defined limits and is sometimes referred to as ‘getting out of the box’. Beyond the box is one’s spiritual consciousness”.
“The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems that we cannot solve at the level we have created them”.