What is “Deepening” in Business?

By Jeff Klein

Writing this piece is an exercise in deepening. It demands attention and raises questions, such as “What does it mean?,” “How is it relevant to business?,” and “What are some examples of deepening at work?”

Deepening is a process of inquiry, exploration and discovery.

If we look beneath the skin, we find flesh and bones, blood and organs, etc. If we penetrate any material “thing” we find ever-smaller elements – molecules, atoms, electrons – and lots of space. Most, if not all, things – people, events and circumstances, are different and much more complex than they appear to be on the surface.

Looking Deeper…

It is easy to hold a simple perspective, to let it define reality for us and to orient ourselves accordingly. But when we open to other perspectives and more information than our familiar filters allow, things appear much more nuanced.

I remember having a conversation about sponsors with the co-producer of an event which one of my clients was sponsoring. When Starbucks came up in the conversation, she went on a rant about how bad they are, moving into communities and taking over, squeezing all of the independent stores out of business. She went on to say she didn’t go to Starbucks but continued to give her business to a local, independent coffee shop.

I responded with something like, “So, your favorite shop is still in business. That’s great. How is their service since Starbucks came into town?” She responded, “Much better than it ever was. And they’ve added live music and become even more of a community center.” “So,” I commented, “it sounds like Starbucks gave them a wake-up call and motivated them to do more and be better at what they do.” “Yes, that’s true,” she observed. “So,” I asked, “what’s so bad about Starbucks coming into town again?”

As our conversation continued, she acknowledged that she was carrying an anti-corporate perspective as part of an unquestioned worldview that she was wearing much like a suit of clothes someone had given her, without questioning where it came from or what it was made of. Because “corporations are bad,” she had never thought to consider the many ways in which companies like Starbucks contribute to communities and society overall, providing good jobs for youth, quality products and services, a new kind of urban community center, and competition to stimulate innovation and elevated service from other coffee shops, tea shops, and other local merchants and meeting places.


Deepening entails risk and, by nature, human beings avoid risk (billions of years of evolution have encoded risk avoidance into our DNA). But it is the insights that come from the courageous pursuit of truth and understanding, with ever-deepening exploration – like Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create the light bulb, the Buddha’s tireless meditation, Bruce Lee’s countless repetitions of his strikes and kicks – that lead to discovery, breakthrough and mastery.

The process of deepening communication, revealing thoughts and feelings, and opening into presence creates trust and understanding that foster connection and collaboration.

Key to Deepening

While deepening is something that happens, or that we experience, beyond our control, we can cultivate conditions to foster its emergence. Slowing down, taking time, space and silence, practicing Conscious Awareness, paying attention to what may be happening below the surface and beyond the noise, reflecting on experience and sharing insights, understandings, thoughts and feelings with others can all foster deepening.

The Bottom Line

During the second session of It’s Just Good Business this past Thursday, we explored the experience of deepening and flow that happens when we recognize that we are part of vast processes probably beyond our comprehension; when we release the illusion of control and trust these larger process as well as the people and processes we engage in during our conversations, meetings, projects etc. During the final conversation of the session, John, a millennial who is providing technical support during the calls, observed, “as we do these embodiment practices, something that occurs to me, as a millennial, I have a strong desire to serve and to see life flourish on this planet. A lot of times the response to this awareness is a sense of urgency that can turn into anxiety. But tonight I felt a sense of letting go of the need to control and an opportunity to trust and to ride the wave.”

As we recognize that we have this capacity to understand and connect more deeply with ourselves, each other and the world around us and cultivate and apply this capacity, we enter into a new realm of relationship, embodying interdependence. When we apply the framework of Conscious Capitalism, from a foundation of Conscious Awareness, then purpose becomes a living force, rather than a strategic initiative, and creating stakeholder value becomes a way of life, rather than a business model.

In the next post in this series I will explore the idea of Facilitation.


Jeff Klein is CEO of Working for Good, a company that activates, produces and facilitates mission-based, Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns and Conscious Culture development programs.

Jeff is a founding trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and authored the award-winning book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, to support conscious entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, leaders and change agents at work. He is offering a 6-week tele-course entitled It’s Just Good Business, beginning September 22, 2011, which will subsequently be available for download.

For more information visit workingforgood.com

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