Moving up the ladder of consciousness : Is it applicable in management ?

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    Rising consciousness : an appealing pathway but with many roadblocks

    How do we move as individuals from self-interest to contributing to common good? And what does it take for organizations to raise their levels of consciousness towards servicing not just clients, but humanity? It is taken for granted that moving from an individualistic, self-centred approach to a selfless service attitude dedicated to social responsibility, compassion and humility is a constructive and mature pathway for the development of the human consciousness.

    However, this would-be “natural” movement of the inner heart seems to be heavily context related. In other words, it is dependent on the satisfaction of profound physiological and psychological needs. Should an overwhelming sense of insecurity prevail, the individual has a stronger chance of restraining his engagements rather than openly letting go of his fears to demonstrate higher levels of consciousness. Presumably the same can be said about organizations.

    At a macro level, this has seemingly been demonstrated by the recent shortfalls in the political rhetorics of significant western democracies. We are witnessing the temptation to review established relationships and to seek new forms of security and stability through isolation strategies. This will inevitably impact also organizations and management attitudes. Because behaviours are built upon values and beliefs that are context-based.

    A key step to avoid falling into the trap of the mimetic theory well known since the 1990’s by late philosopher and teacher René Girard, is raising awareness of what is going on. In organizations, just as at individual levels, this is possible if it can be evidence based.

    The Barrett Values Centre (BVC) has developed an expertise in measuring the degree of fragility of individuals, organisations and community/society by assessing cultural values (CTT or Cultural Transformation Tool). It believes that value-driven individuals and organizations have higher chances of creating connection and trust, two key factors of cooperation and goodwill. By comparing the alignment (or misalignment) of current values vs desired values, it delivers specific insights in terms of motivation, cohesion and engagement that require strong leader behaviour attention.

    When interviewed, most managers explicitly place on-going improvement and employee participation (accountability, teamwork, continuous improvement) as their key focus area. Very few succeed to take their teams beyond what Richard Barrett defines as the 4th level in the evolution of consciousness. Generally, because too little emphasis is placed upon the sense of purpose and service of their organization and shareholder value is overemphasized. For example, in 2016, according to Goldman Sachs (1), an estimated 1.038 billion US dollars will be allocated to dividends and share buyback programs by US firms, while only 670 million (excluding R&D spending & acquisitions) will go to investments. Other organizations lack a common understanding of who and what they stand for and fail to have an open dialogue on how to reinvent themselves (Air France KLM group for instance).

    So how can the CTT help us here? By providing a clear picture of an organization’s current values, it avoids one of the most common pitfalls in culture change: implementing a new strategic policy based on values dissonant with the present culture. The people who devise these policies are clearly intelligent and highly experienced. However, because they lack the understanding of what the real culture shared by their employees is, they cannot hope of obtaining the coordinated and efficient responses they are expecting from their teams. By the time, they realise the gap, it’s too late and competition has moved ahead taking with it the market value.

    What are these seven levels of consciousness

    But the CTT’s ambition is not just to help CEO’s and their BODs avoid making mistakes and generating further cash. A glance at the seven-level scale (2) of consciousness that supports the model, clearly shows there is a commitment towards making progress in the collective understanding of the evolution of human consciousness. The CTT model provides the groundwork for what R.Barrett calls “evolutionary coaching” with the theory and subsequent exercises to help leaders and their teams figure out where they stand in terms of primary motivation. And by challenging these motivations and reviewing the educational and cultural conditioning that back them, the belief is that it is possible to break away from the mimetic temptation of the dominant forces that drive today’s political & economic world.

    If we are to believe in the fact that customer satisfaction is directly correlated with employee satisfaction which itself is the result of satisfactory interpersonal relationships with management, it must be possible to prove that rising the levels of consciousness in an organization can make a significant difference to improve the world we live in. Such is the project underlying the Barrett Value Centre. A common sense approach to tackle today’s multiple challenges.

    (1) Les entreprises américaines face au défi de la faible productivité in LesEchos Finance & Marchés 23/11/2016

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