The need for love is growing in the digital age. Organizations, like people, need warmth and love to flourish. Organizations as “living laboratories” where it is legitimate to ask what do you wish to do, what do you dream of doing in the future or what is your dream about this organization.
Without passion – like that of entrepreneurs outside the organization – to succeed in the subject of their choice – the quality of work at best would be only mediocre.
Strategy is emerging
I have already written in the past about the need to move from strategic planning to the development of a new organizational capacity – the organization as a “living laboratory”, which allows constant renewal and emerging strategy. In this article I will elaborate on this.
Let us begin with the basic assumption – it is worthwhile to learn from the theory of complexity, which has been inspired by the natural sciences, to benefit behavioral sciences in general and organizational behavior in particular. The reason is simple: Every organization is a system created by people – looking for a good way to organize people so that they achieve good results over time. If the working assumption draws inspiration from the world of engineering and precise planning and optimization of resources – we make the basic mistake. Just as it is impossible to design the development of a child in engineering tools, this is not possible for organizations. “Organizations like people need warmth and love to grow” – a sentence I long ago invented as part of the message in the New Year card, we sent to our friends. Unfortunately, in most organizations, people do not get enough warmth and love to grow, and therefore the organization itself does not grow as a healthy and sustainable system.
Hi-Tech – Hi-Touch
The need for love is growing in the digital age. When sitting in front of electronic screens for many hours, hunger is created for physical contact – as John Nesbit recognized in his Megatrends study many years ago. He identified the mega trend of Hi-Touch – Hi-Tech. This is the source of the new norms of behavior, for example, of a multitude of hugs – which did not exist in the previous era, which was a restrained era, in which we did not show feelings. Today there is legitimacy for embracing and kissing friends in the workplace as well, but that is not enough for great teamwork.
Studies have shown that people can be happy in their work only if they find an occupation that meets their passion, a subject they crave to learn, and a problem they wish to solve. Organizing work by way of placing tasks top down is ineffective, with most of the work being the work of knowledge workers, who are required to initiate, invent, innovate. Without passion – like those of entrepreneurs outside the organization – to succeed on the subject of their choice – the quality of work at best would be only mediocre. There is very little discussion on this subject in the workplace. Everyone wants innovation and renewal, but few realize that only cultivating a culture of intra-organizational entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship) which encourages employees to express their desires to deal with issues they have themselves chosen, can make it possible. We often get even ridiculed in organizations when we talk about passion. Hugging yes – talking about a desire to deal with a particular subject or solve a particular problem – is still considered illegitimate.
From passion to love
When we create in organizations an open discussion platform in which it is legitimate to ask what you wish to do, what you dream of doing in the future, what is your dream about this organization, in which you work, for the future – the eyes sparkle, and the hidden desire is legitimized and the conversation creates magic in the air, and people emerge from it willing to volunteer to work on a certain task beyond their usual job definitions. It builds trust between the participants, a willingness to help one another realize dreams – fertile ground for the flourishing of companies, teamwork, joy of life and creativity for the individual to love and be loved. In short, organizational love stories are created that make organizations attractive to the best of people, creating a warm and loving community that people want to be part of over time. So simple, yet unfortunately so rare.
Overcoming the barriers
The main obstacle to such exciting processes is an outdated management culture that encourages command and control, which does not allow the processes described here to flourish. There is a desired built-in uncertainty in these emerging processes on an open platform that encourages trial and error, the formation of teams from the bottom up based on issues of interest and desire and the legitimacy of working with the people you love.
The big challenge is to develop such organizational capabilities within hierarchical and bureaucratic systems that are afraid of risks and want to know what exactly will come out in advance – and therefore, as management consultants, we are looking for brave, adventure-loving and people-loving clients, who really want to grow the next generations of employees with a lot of warmth and love. Leaders who are willing to talk about their passions, and allow others to talk about their own, those who know how to ask for help and how to give help beyond the formal job definitions, those who are willing to get excited with us in exciting processes and trust each other, those who know how to love and be loved – this is the essence of this theory: “organizations, like people, need warmth and love to flourish.”
Ps. the processes described in this article are successfully implemented in organizations. Recently, a joint venture was created by the writer with a former client, Col. (res.) Dr. Dan Torten, a physician, pilot and commander, who together they led such a process at his Air Force base, and today they are partners in leading such processes in other organizations.