Posts Tagged ‘organisation’

Scharmer on leadership

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Here’s a taster from a really interesting paper by Otto Scharmer:

Leadership is the capacity of a community to co-sense and co-create its emerging future. This shifts our framing of leadership development from the single-person-centric concept to a concept of leadership that is more about “igniting fields of inspired connection and action.” (Otto Scharmer).

The full paper is here.
I don’t think this means that there shouldn’t be leaders – the position of those who see leaders inevitably as tyrants. It is a question of the kind of leadership. If the leader’s role is seen as facilitating the co-sensing and co-creating Scharmer speaks of, his / her strength will be welcome in holding the boundaries and making it possible for everyone to be involved in that process.


Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Here’s a paper that emerged from a day workshop on leadership on 11th September 2010. Here’s a taster before you decide whether to read a Word document:

Finding out what to do

In the Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner describes 3 stages that lead to our doing something:

  • Moral intuition
    where we conceive the idea
  • Moral phantasy
    where we imagine how it could work
  • Moral technique
    where we bring the idea into reality

Thinking and imagining (the first two stages) are gifts of Lucifer, and when we work with them we have to resist the temptations of Lucifer (arrogance, vanity, delusion). Having good ideas tempts us to underestimate the struggle of bringing them to earth. We have to grapple with our own shadow, our fantasies and projections, and we meet the double of pride and delusion.

Making something happen inevitably involves us in human institutions – temporary ones like an ad hoc planning meeting, and / or permanent ones, like a company. For this paper, we will call any grouping of people working towards a commonly-held purpose a system. The moment we are involved in a system, other dimensions of reality come into play with an exponential increase in complexity. Now we bring our own shadow-side into relationship with those of the other people, and they become the objects of our projection and fantasy. We encounter too the being of the group itself, the whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, which in turn has a shadow, an unconscious, and a higher being – the angel of the group.

The moral technique needed for bringing ideas into reality in systems is the understanding of how groups and organisations work. The reality of power and what works unconsciously in groups takes us into the realm of Ahriman. In this realm, we are tempted to become cynical or to despair and give up trying to make our ideas come into reality. When we go through this temptation, we are following Christ in his ‘descent into hell’ on Holy Saturday.

Purpose – owned and unowned

Friday, March 26th, 2010

One big problem in organisational life comes from the discrepancy that may exist between the stated purpose of an organisation and the actual purpose. Normally we think that we have a purpose, which is our ideal, and what hinders us from reaching it is our human shortcomings. It’s frightening and strange to think that there are other purposes at work – are we to think that we’re conspiring against ourselves? This is a place where the concept of the system of an organisation helps. Let’s say for the moment that this is made up of all the unconscious drives and motives that the human beings in the organisation bring into it. The less these are acknowledged, the more power the unowned motives will have. Far from being frightening, it’s liberating to step back from our organisation, in which we invest so much hope and effort, and see what purpose it is trying to realise. A crass example is the organisation with a charismatic leader: the stated purpose may be education, or care, but if we examine the evidence we find that, whilst these are important, they take second place to the aggrandisement of the leader, or his protection from painful self-knowledge. Some anthroposophical institutions make conducting an experiment into consensual decision-making without clear leadership structures into their purpose, sacrificing their stated purpose to this end, even in the face of very strong evidence that their stated purpose is being hindered.
(This is not to dismiss the importance of trying to find appropriate forms of leadership for today; in fact if we examined what ‘appropriate’ means, we might find that our definition included the idea of enabling us to work to our purpose. )

The mirror we look in when we examine this discrepancy is a great liberation. The problem can of course be on either side: we may need to realign to our stated purpose; or we may need to restate our purpose to include new elements which have become important to us. Then we can integrate these into our mission statement or leading thought, and all stakeholders will have the opportunity to decide whether they can identify with them. In the crass example of the charismatic leader, could we imagine what would happen if the mission statement was recast to say “the purpose of X is to provide Y with an opportunity to realise his aims, and to mirror positive reflection to him in doing this. One of the tasks that enables us to do this is Z (eg education etc).” Leaving the absurdity to one side for a moment, how liberating would that be for all concerned! How much time have I spent agonising to understand how to square my experience of unstated purpose with that which was stated.

To recognise all this is one thing. The next challenge is to find ways of communicating it that don’t alienate, but liberate!