As the engines of great progress and invention, business organizations have been some of the most powerful creations of human kind in the past century. Yet it has become all too clear that these same institutions have also been the force behind much of the worst ecological disasters and economic inequality that currently threaten our world. These long-standing models of business operations are no longer sustainable and evolution is in order.
Scholars have been studying how to improve the way these organizations function, for quite some time, but the primary focus had been to increase profits. However in recent years, institutions such as the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT founded by Peter Senge and the Global Leadership Initiative founded by Joseph Jaworski, have been helping to develop a new generation of leaders and organizations whose goals and objectives are focused on human development in addition to profitability.
Following this new approach, business leaders and employees are led through a transformational process of continuous knowledge creation, community development, and deliberate consciousness raising. They incorporate a double and third bottom line, where personal growth of its members and the benefits they bring to society become the foundation of their business practices.
In order to better understand this evolution in organizations and how they are shaping the future of businesses, SuperConsciousness Magazine spoke with Kazimierz Gozdz, partner at Generon International and co-developer of the U Process of Heuristic Discovery. This is a more advanced version of the U-Process originally co-discovered by Joseph Jaworski and Otto Charmer. Earlier versions appear in the books Presence and U-Theory. It is also the topic of Jaworski’s forthcoming book called Source. Heuristic discovery is a problem solving and decision making methodology geared toward innovation and discovery.
SC: Tell us about Generon and the philosophy and intent behind its consulting practice?
KG: Our business approach in Generon is rather unconventional. Joseph and I had been working separately and together for many years, to build a small group of organizations into what we call Stage Four Organizations. These organizations develop individual and collective consciousness in the workplace.
I believe that organizations have far more potential than we usually recognize. This latent potential is ready to be unleashed. There are many developmental models that verify our higher levels of functioning, whether it’s cognitive, moral, psychological, or emotional. We believe that business organizations perform more effectively when they learn to manage the full release of their employees’ developmental potential.
We are interested in treating business as a source of development. Daily business activities can become a means for cultivating individual and collective consciousness. It’s a matter of perspective, and with the right perspective, business environments can be converted to systems that support [consciousness] development. In this way we have been learning to use business as a spiritual practice.
SC: How do you begin your work with an organization?
KG: Businesses approach us because they want to solve difficult problems.
Our signature approach entails addressing intractable problems from a higher level of development than the system they were created within, by attending to human development and developmental growth in general. We also believe in shifting the organization’s prevailing belief systems as a necessary means to deal with very serious and big problems. We fully invite organizational executives into a process of knowledge creation, heuristic discovery, and community building. We are interested in using their biggest, most complex, difficult issues, as catalysts for opening them and their organizations to transformation.
When a person directly gets to experience producing a result that they intend because they’ve changed their mind and opened their heart or considered something different, it reinforces that that’s a good way to live. That developmental expansion becomes self-generating when it’s connected to a way that you become.
Early on in the process we talk about four stages of leadership and organization development. Stage One Leaders are fundamentally self-serving, and entirely profit oriented. Stage Two Leaders master managerial and leadership norms and ethics of the day. They follow business practices more or less blindly regardless of their impact on society or the planet. We think about Stage Three Leaders as having evolved so that they’re not so caught up in the orthodoxies of the conventional system. They have learned to serve, and are leaders but they’re still changing the existing system, righting its wrongs trying to guide people through it.
Stage Four leaders are looking to establish a new world view, a new metaphysics, a new stance in the world that is not a repair of the current system: A conscious, fully developed human being who decides how business should be done from a more conscious vantage point. We find that that kind of leader is no longer regulated by the normative social process of business school and the conventions of business, and that’s our target.
SC: Can you expand on what characterizes leaders and organizations in each of the four stages?
KG: Stage One leaders are those who use people and circumstances instrumentally, are very inclined toward a façade, toward a false self that they present to manipulate the world in order to achieve various ends. So they could appear very, very sophisticated, but their words and their music don’t match.
Stage Two leaders in organizations are fully immersed in the orthodoxies of our society and our way of working. They don’t question them, work well within them, and are very interested in working productively within the rules of sound business practice. They benefit a great deal from the way things are. These are people that do very well by playing within the law and managing things as they are. They’re not particularly interested in broader diversity or whether they may be crossing the line by hurting the planet necessarily. If it’s legal and considered ethical in business, then they just go ahead and do it. That describes the majority of businesses around the world.
The Stage Three businesses are different in that they start to be interested in human diversity. They start to take pluralism seriously, that there’s a sense of the other and that there’s a quality of learning not to use power, whether it’s individual power or organizational power, just for their own benefit. But they do start to learn to use knowledge and power in service of others, and this is done widely in business today. It’s not the norm, but it’s certainly broadly done.
There are many companies that start to have a social consciousness and really start to take seriously, not just paying lip service, how planetary sustainability, for example, fits within their responsibility. That’s what we would consider a Stage Three company.
Authentic community is a place where you can actually listen to people as an authentic other, as a person who has different views, a different way of thinking. In that acceptance we find a kind of community spirit or grace. So that’s a process that underlies heuristic discovery.
Stage Four companies are going deeper and are very intentional to recognize that it’s not enough just to tweak the old system. They have impatience and determination to create a new way of doing business, to cooperate with society, to grow society for the good. And they start to have this reciprocal relationship between the results that they produce and the way they experience their own satisfaction. So they start to define themselves by how much they can contribute and grow the world around them.
SC: How do you inspire a Stage Two or Stage Three organization to reach the next level?
KG: We develop generative learning communities that deliberately scaffold human development. Instead of just accepting traditional business practices, they begin to pursue a dual bottom line, a line that requires financial development and human development. When they begin to think this way, they can convert ordinary routines of business into challenges for growth.
You don’t have to add things like meditation or visualization exercises or whatnot. Those are things that any good practitioner adds to the mix. Foundationally, when we work with individuals within organizations developmentally, we can start to lead them through a process where they recognize their own need to grow in the face of the problems that are confronting them. They start to become very invested in others.
The basic idea of scaffolding is that everybody learns and everybody teaches. We assist an organization to become dynamic. They learn to go through the stages of development and of understanding a job from beginning to intermediate, then advanced to mastery. Traditionally, people move into a different job so that the knowledge underlying that role is embedded in an organization rather than in a person. Scaffolding development entails moving everyone in the organization deliberately, so knowledge is codified and shared as a formal requirement. Learning and teaching are structured into the organization this way.
SC: With regards to the double bottom line, what are some of the parameters you use to measure when the human development aspect is being met?
KG: We understand that development is innate in every human being. We begin to operationalize this when we hold ourselves accountable as to whether or not the people around us are growing in fruitful ways, month-to-month, quarterby- quarter, or year-by-year. Performance management systems can be set up that build a synergy between individual lines of development and operational metrics. Operations metrics can be utilized as a support system for human growth.
We look at the entire workforce and ask whether they have grown professionally, whether they performed in a personally excellent manner, and if they have acted as outstanding business people. We advocate that our clients cultivate an ongoing dialogue with their employees about their developmental growth. When the topic is growth about everything you do in the workplace, performance measures that assure success become everyone’s business.
Stage Four companies have this reciprocal relationship between the results that they produce and the way they experience their own satisfaction. So they start to define themselves by how much they can contribute and grow the world around them.
SC: How do you facilitate the process for an organization to create a future that is not a repetition of its past?
We do a planning process to address the company’s future, but it can only reflect their possible choices based on their level of development and their worldview. So no matter how much we want them to access the future, that’s limited by their capacity, or developmental adequacy.
We try to set a higher developmental field than currently exists in the organization. We do this through a process we call generative interviews where we enter into one-on-one dialogues with different stakeholders and ask them to reflect on their worldview. Then we draw them into a conversation about their organization’s biggest, most important, most complex troubling problems.
Then we lead them through a process where they get to see that those problems are a reflection of their own constructs in some way. It is their own level of development, their own ability to see potential futures. And then we ask them to work on themselves deliberately, to become a learning community of greater consciousness than they used to be. And with that we invite them to be consciously working on their communal identity, their organizational identity, their personal identity, and their sense of self. And as their sense of self is expanded, we use the community building approach. We basically believe in individual and communal transformation as being interdependent.
We promote this kind of conversation in community and ask people to begin a discipline of emptying themselves of their past mental models, of their past certainties. We ask them to focus on what’s required but to drop their current conception of what’s going on. This is a formal process of discovery called Heuristic Discovery.
SC: Is the process of Heuristic Discovery what allows organizations and individuals within the organization to access a different future?
KG: When we lead groups through what we call the heuristic discovery, it’s a process of getting in touch with the generative nature of the universe, the agency of the universe. And that agency has been variously called God, Dharma, the Tao, but we don’t define this agency as being God. We are open to whether it is or not, and don’t have a closed view on it. But we know that the universe is generative.
We can start a co-production with the universe, where we act through and with, this agency of source to evolve to whole different futures out of pure potential. That’s a characteristic of Stage Four organizations. They live and work and dialogue in relationship to something greater than themselves. We prefer to call that Source.
Stage Four leaders are looking to establish a new world view, a new metaphysics, a new stance in the world that is not a repair of the current system: A conscious, fully developed human being who decides how business should be done from a more conscious vantage point.
SC: How do you lead a group of people within an organization to tap into the Source and create a future from within all the different potentials?
KG: We have been using a process that was developed by M. Scott Peck. He wrote a book about community building called The Different Drum. We lead groups through a community formation process in which they are taught to self-monitor, to inquire as to whether they can accept differences, and whether they can accept and start to listen more profoundly to the people around them.
The group is led through a process of chaos where they first experience their differences where they begin to get a direct experience of listening poorly. We start to teach them out of that less developed way of listening, how to take steps that lead them to greater acceptance, to greater openness. And we teach them how to empty their preconceptions, their prejudices, their mental models, and to start making room within themselves for differences. That group learning process leads invariably to a place of listening profoundly. Authentic community is a place where you can actually listen to people as an authentic other, as a person who has different views, a different way of thinking. In that acceptance we find a kind of community spirit or grace. So that’s a process that underlies heuristic discovery.
SC: So the capacity to be present with other people without any filters or prejudice, allows us to tap into the Source?
KG: Yes. It’s making one available to listen profoundly to that, because it is listening to something outside of your own judgments and your own ideas.
SC: Makes room for new concepts to come up?
SC: It can be a challenge to reach that state.
KG: Absolutely. Well, it’s actually a very common experience during periods of crisis. During a hurricane or some major tragedy, or disaster, people temporarily come together in communities that are very highly effective, deeply compassionate, and careful. The collective intelligence is common with that kind of external stimulus.
Scott Peck taught us the method to do that deliberately, consciously, and we call that community formation. That’s leading a group through the stages of community building from what we call pseudo community through chaos, through emptiness, and then finally to authentic community. And it’s a deliberate consciousness-raising process.
When you do it right the results are quite close to what happens in these communities of crisis.
It’s a matter of perspective, and with the right perspective, business environments can be converted to systems that support [consciousness] development. In this way we have been learning to use business as a spiritual practice.
SC: So the problems become an opportunity for people to change?
KG: Yes, to become more than they were: Service of something that they could have benefit from. So before if they couldn’t solve X and Y and Z problem, but all of a sudden when they let go of some of their mental models, some of their constructs, some of their habits, some of the way they’ve seen the world in the past, all of a sudden they can come up with better solutions, which begins to be an attractive process, and becomes generative. That’s why this marketplace can become a place of great personal and organizational spiritual practice.
When a person directly gets to experience producing a result that they intend because they’ve changed their mind and opened their heart or considered something different, it reinforces that that’s a good way to live. That developmental expansion becomes selfgenerating when it’s connected to a way that you become. You have greater authority over the world and a greater capacity to produce what you truly want to produce. It starts to be a compelling generative widespread way of working, and people become very interested in their own growth and development in service of their life becoming better.
SC: And this realization and continuous development is what makes a Stage Four Organization?
KG: Stage Four leaders understand that an institution can’t alone be healthy. It needs to be healthy by generating a healthier society - the only way it becomes healthier itself, because it starts to step outside of the consensus culture, the norms that are practiced every day. It starts to bring others along and influence the larger world. Like a person who becomes conscious, more enlightened, they start to automatically attend to the world in deeper more careful ways.
When an organization gets healthier and starts to incorporate a more mature worldview, it automatically is drawn to building a better society. It does not need a stick or a carrot to act more maturely, it becomes part of its nature to do so.
SC: Is this the future that businesses will evolve into?
KG: We are profoundly centered in the idea that a more developed person and a more developed organization will thrive in the future. They’re no longer captured by the habits of norms that their predecessor companies or their competing companies are captured by, and that gives them a broader possibility for the future.
SC: To be able to adapt to changes?
KG: Or call forth a more progressive, more advantageous future than people who are less conscious. We think communities need to be conscious. The whole company needs to act as a community that’s conscious, and when it does that, it can create different futures.
For more information visit Generon International’s website at: www.generoninternational.com
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