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The Future of Business: From Mechanical to Natural

Words by 3p Contributor
Leadership & Transparency
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By Giles Hutchins

Times they are a changing. Such transformational times inevitably invoke fear and threat-rigidity yet it is now evident to many in business and beyond that we can no longer deal with today’s challenges with yesterday’s logic.

Yesterday’s logic is centered around control-based thinking and self-assertion, which sets us apart from each other and nature. It is logic of command-and-control, top-down, hierarchic domination -- rooted in atomized, silo’ed, quantized, mechanistic thinking. As leadership specialist Peter Senge and many others have noted, this shift in management and leadership thinking to a more emergent, collaborative, relational and integrative logic is the most profound challenge facing organizations today.

Couple this with disruptive innovations transforming how we exchange value – open source, Creative Commons, 3-D printing, social media, etc. – and we have a revolutionary step change on our hands with profound implications for our socio-economic and political systems of governance, ownership and value-creation.

From separateness to deeper purpose


This shift in logic can be summarized as a shift from centralized to decentralized, from linearity to networks, from control to emergence, from competition to cooperation, from homogeneity to heterogeneity, from anthropocentrism to inclusivity, from power-over to power-with, from egotism to empathy, from short-term profit maximization to a deeper sense of value and purpose.

Put another way, it is a shift from a narrowed-down, left-brained ego-awareness super-imposing separateness and linearity on the fluid dynamism of life, in-so-doing breeding a vicious cycle of competition, fear, control and domination. This is a shift that transforms into a more balanced awareness that comprehends the world through both the left- and right-brain hemispheres while cohering the intuitive insight of the heart and instinctual experience of the body with the rational intellect of the head. For the ancient Greeks and wise folk further afield, this embodied experience was the path to gnosis (meaning ‘to know,’ or to attain real knowledge beyond the fragmented narrowed-down perspective of our ego-mind).

As the genius Albert Einstein noted,

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind its faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

The good news is that this sacred gift is available to all of us regardless of bank balance, class or creed. As quantum scientists now comprehend, there is an all-pervasive presence, a ‘ground of all being,' which permeates all of life, flowing through each interrelated evolving moment. It is the same ground of all being that seers and shamans, prophets and philosophers have long understood – the Tao, Shekinah, Divine Ground, Akasha, Motherly Space, it’s all the same thing.

As the Sufi mystic Elias Amidon noted,

"The ground of all being cannot be lost. Know that simply by opening yourself to ‘it’ again and again your capacity to sustain its natural presence throughout your daily life will increase."

We access this ground of all being – or Imaginal Realm as Henry Corbin called it -- through nothing more simple than our own natural awareness unhindered by distracting thoughts of past and future. It is what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger referred to as ‘worlding’ or ‘presencing,’ whereupon we open our ‘bodyminds’ up to the energetic aliveness of the world as it is in this present, unadulterated moment. This is an embodied experience that involves our entirety – our instinctual bodies, intuitive hearts and intellectual minds – allowing us to harmonize with deeper nature within and all around us.

Interesting things happen within us, both physically and psychically, when we 'presence' in this way. Our left- and right-brain hemispheres cohere, and our heads and hearts entrain -- which allows for our bodies to become more attuned with the deeper ground of all being lying just beyond our ego-consciousness. Physically, our stem cell production increases, neo-cortex brain activity becomes less erratic, hormonal levels change and our senses liven. In short, we become more balanced, developing an improved state of well-being. Psychically, it seems our intuition increases, or perhaps we just become more consciously aware of the subtle perturbations of our intuitive wisdom as our busy ego-minds quiet down. Here, Einstein’s sacred gift becomes less forgotten, and the rational mind finds its rightful place as faithful servant.

'Presencing' in business


A heartening current trend is the increasing take-up in organizations of practices that aid this shift from separateness to presencing; for instance: mindfulness,  applied improvisation, expressive arts, Way of Council, bearing witness, deep dialogue, Theory U, heart-in-business, leadership quests in nature and more. Applied improvisation, for example, is being increasingly used in a variety of organizations from blue-chip corporates to government agencies, charities and startups. It is now being taught in more than half of the world's leading business schools.

Daniel Ludevig of MOVE is a great exemplar of this good work. He applies dance and embodiment exercises to help leaders and managers access their natural aliveness so they can relate in more conscious, authentic ways. This enables them to be more receptive and responsive to change and helps improve creativity, problem solving, morale, sense of purpose, cooperation, innovation and resilience throughout the organization.

Yet such benefits are the tip of the iceberg of a more profound awakening in consciousness that occurs when we begin to open our ‘bodyminds’ to being in harmony with nature. Here we let go of yesterday’s logic and begin to participate in co-creating alternative realities with the deeper wisdom of our sacred gift and faithful servant.

This shift in awareness comes with a corresponding shift in values, where we develop a sense of humility and reverence for nature and our sense of place within it: an attunement of our inner awareness and outer service. This enlivens the quality of our interrelations with our colleagues, fellow citizens and wider ensemble of nature’s kinship.  We may begin to realize that our experience of aliveness is enhanced when our inner being resonates with our interrelations and outer activities – where our sense of purpose aligns with our work.

And so the bright future of business is of organizations as vibrant, dynamic, purposeful and regenerative places that allow our creative potential to flow through our activities with embodied awareness and loving attention. This is the new spirit of business: It’s nurturing, co-creative, participatory, enriching, life-affirming and damn good fun.

Giles Hutchins applies twenty years business experience to the emergence of new business logic inspired and in harmony with nature, for a short video see here.

A special for readers - a 20 percent discount code AF1014 when ordering "The Illusion of Separation" paperback here and the ebook here.

Giles blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org, facebook community https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature and tweets @gileshutchins

3p Contributor

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