As a young boy growing up on a farm in England, I enjoyed a very organic life; bottle-feeding lambs, eating fresh, naturally grown fruit and vegetables, drinking warm, unpasteurised goat’s milk and running free through the fields and woods with my Whippet dog besides me, or to be more precise, usually way ahead! It was an idyllic, if somewhat insular existence, living out in the countryside.
As a teenager growing up in our newly adopted country, Australia, it was more of the same, albeit in a much more conducive climate and in the early days, living within suburban communities.
One aspect, which always stuck with me, was the “Mom and Pop style” corner store, with elderly, warmly embracing owners, who knew your names and always took an interest in everyone. Floor boards were well polished from years of use, sacks of produce turned neatly over at the top to reveal their content, a well worn counter adorned with bell-ringing till and a genuine sense of community.
Most small businesses have this feeling of family or community about them, with the owner on first name basis with everyone and engaging their lives beyond the business walls.
As companies grow, this sense of family or community is replaced by a false sense of separateness, as there are just too many people to personally engage on a day-to-day and not enough hours in those days to get everything done, socialise or to take an interest in each employee.
And so an insidious fragmentation creeps upon the organisation, where the “us and them” syndrome begins to take hold and creates various cliques, which brings about more separateness and animosity.
The Accounting Department can’t stand the Operations Department because they never get their invoices in on time.
The Marketing Department is ostracised because they promise the earth to potential clients that are difficult to fulfil.
Management is irritated with employees for their tardiness or lack of quality control and employees are irritated with Management for their perks and salary packages.
And so it goes on, the original, strong relationships built on trust; mutual respect and cooperation, begins to erode into weak relationships based on distrust, a lack of respect and in some cases, covert sabotage!
This is what I call Organisational Insanity and I have seen a lot of it over my 23 years working in multi-national, multi-cultural corporations.
Organisations are comprised of people, people form relationships, organisations have Visions to fulfil and when fragmentation occurs, the result is lowered productivity, moral, quality, health, safety and environmental standards and ultimately, profitability.
Relationships are the foundation of achievement, so the better our relationship with each other, the more we can achieve personally and as a group. Conversely, the poorer our relationships are within an organisation or group, the less can be achieved.
In her wonderful book “Creating a Life Together”, Diana Leafe Christian outlines four key elements for nourishing sustainable relationships, which can be used in families, groups, companies and corporations:
- Speaking More Consciously – This involves speaking to one another in ways that tend to increase, rather than decrease, the level of harmony and well being between people.
- Creating Communication Agreements – Agree on and write down explicit communication and behavioural agreements to satisfy the widely differing community styles and behaviour norms that people bring to community from different regions, sub-cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.
- Check-ins – everyone has an opportunity to tell what is going on in their lives at that time, their feelings about it and perhaps their hopes and dreams about it. No one interrupts or responds – there’s no sympathising, criticizing or offering advice
- Sharing Circles – these are sessions in which people share what’s true for them and listen to each other deeply.
How does Cause No Harm fit into the scheme of things you may well ask?
One of the most common causes of discontent in families, groups, companies and corporations is judgement and the “rumour mill”, both cause untold harm to individuals, not to mention the overall harmony and energy of the people involved. It smacks against Cause No Harm to Others and ultimately – Cause No Harm to Oneself, if you are the perpetrator.
By inculcating a culture of Cause No Harm in oneself, towards others, directed at machinery and assets, to the environment, the planet as a whole and to future generations, we can eradicate Organisational Insanity and create more peace and harmony.
I believe at our deepest level, this is what we all desire.
Come join the peaceful revolution.