What we have in common is our desire to create and give life to a better world, where each human has the same worth, where nature is revered and protected as one living system, and where family and friends are the focus of our lives. — hrk

Catalysts of Change

Every day people work to improve the world we live in. While progress is made, change is often slower than we’d like. When we think of change in the world, much of that work and achievement occurs in small groups within organizations. At the center of almost all human accomplishment, is this human structure we know as the organization. At Mindshift, our work is about helping organizations transform—as they must, reinventing themselves as the needs they serve change.

The transformation of an organization begins with revisiting intention. Every organization must continually transform to remain viable in an ever changing world. In simple terms, organizational change is a process of observation, learning, insight, and renewal. This process of adapting to new information and living through new experiences brings about growth. Without growth we become settled, our thoughts stale and our actions routine. We move about in the world absent a mindful approach to our work.

It makes sense then—if we want to improve our world—that we work to improve the intent, structure, and effectiveness of our organizations, because in so many ways, organizations are the catalysts of world change.

Transformation requires clear intention, and if we hope to change the direction of our currently troubled world, an intent to do social good is necessary, not just making profits. Transformation is the meta process of change going on all around us every day. Too often we resist change and wait until there is no longer a choice. But we have a choice. We can harness the power of transformation and make it our own, for the good of the world we live in and for those we love.

Why do humans have such issues with change when transformation is the fundamental way of life? Psychologically, change represents the unknown and the unknown, for many, brings up anxiety and fear. Change makes people uncomfortable. At Mindshift, we understand human behavior, the human side of management, and organizational dynamics. We help people transition and organizations transform.

Everything in our world is connected in a web of relationship where the primary imperative is clear and inescapable: learn and grow if you want to survive. To meet this transformational imperative, organizations must continually learn and reinvent themselves. To do this, we use a systems thinking approach. A second imperative, equally as important, is the desire to not do harm. Because the world we exist in is an integrated and interdependent system of life, no matter what we do, each action creates ripple affects that bring about change far from where we first acted. As we bring about change in an organization, we must consider the unintended consequences, on people, the organization, and other connected systems.

All of this is meant to simply say that we must change how we design our organizations if we want to bring about better outcomes. But what do we mean by better outcomes? Our signature statement at the top of our home page describes this pretty well. Better outcomes are outcomes that give life to a better world, supporting equality and nature and supporting society in general—as opposed to a sole focus on Wall Street's interests, for example. So then, what kind of design makes sense for organizations if we want such better outcomes? In the past we designed organizations for production and profits. We still do. Design goals such as these can create places where people feel out of place and unable to flourish, because the design is not for human connection.

To design for human connection requires different design principles. At Mindshift, we design organizations and organizational change with community as a design principle, and with a focus on intention and structure that supports practice, learning, and form. For example, we design a change with the idea of bringing in the entire community of stakeholders and involving them from the beginning, involving them in the design of the change, up front.

In A Timeless Way of Building, architect Christopher Alexander describes spaces where people flock and flourish, versus other spaces where no one seems to come. Christopher studies a space—like a public square, for example, and how people experience it and use it, what purpose it serves and what purpose it might serve, before he begins to design. In other words, he learns about the people and their needs before he begins to design. The art of design is one of enabling purpose. When it comes to organizations, we are talking about a purpose-driven community.

People want to be in places where they feel they belong, where they feel they can contribute, and where they feel comfort. How we design organizations and change matters. Design today must consider the human condition, and strive for the creation of vibrant cultures and communities. No matter what you hope to achieve, this form of design will produce the most value from any organization. While every organization has the goal of producing something of value, perhaps we need a different way of looking at how we create a space for people to work together.

There is a simpler way to organize human endeavor. It requires a new way of being in the world. It requires being in the world without fear. Being in the world with play and creativity. Seeking after what is possible. Being willing to learn and be surprised. This simpler way to organize human endeavor requires a belief that the world is inherently orderly. — Margaret Wheatley

At Mindshift Consulting, we understand that organizations operate within the constellation of larger systems, that leaders struggle to balance stability with the need to move quickly and be nimble, and that all elements of an organization need to flow in harmony. Leaders set the vision and culture delivers the goods. How well any organization can pull this off, is a matter of clarity.

As simple as it may sound, we begin at the beginning. It is difficult to organize anything without first clarifying one's intentions. As people of the world, what we have in common is our desire to create and give life to a better world. From this place of good intention, an organization sets out to solve some need in society. Ideally, organizations exist to support human needs and social values, making it possible for people to translate their beliefs into their life's work. We all know people working in organizations and doing work they do not believe in. At Mindshift, we intend to change this.

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