Movement - What is your Organisation Moving towards or away from?
Organisations that are not moving are actually moving downwards or backwards. Life is in constant motion - only death is static. So your Organisation, if it is truly alive, is either moving towards its goals or away from what it want to avoid (or a mixture of the two in most scenarios). If we were to mix metaphors for a moment, organisational life is like a river - the life is in the flow towards its destination. When a river becomes sluggish or ceases to flow, life slows and eventually dies - while its force both evaporates and seeps away through the river bed. I have been in organisations that have the appearance of busy-ness, but there was little true movement towards their vision.
By way of contrast, a vibrant river brings life to everything it touches. Along its banks, we find a vast array of plants and trees - providing food and shelter for all manner of fauna. Living Organisations do the same - they bring life to everything they touch, and life flourishes through everywhere they move. Does this sound like your organisation and the effect it has on its environment and community?
From Metaphor to Explanation to Action
Goals - towards or away-from?
The "towards" motivation is useful when pursuing growth goals. The "away" motivation is more useful in areas where violation of legislation is a key characteristic to be avoided. A Living Organisation will have clear, measurable outcomes for its desired future. It will be actively involved in scenario planning to explore multitudes of possible futures - making quality decisions based on a proactive consideration of consequences of its actions. Goals chosen are both bold, big and bodacious... and also small, incremental and subtle - realising that a 1% improvement in 100 elements of fine detail can be as positively impactful as 100% improvement in a major BIG Picture, high profile area.
The people that make up a Living Organisation will have a positive attitude towards change - realising that all movement involves an ever-changing landscape. Change will be proactive and purposeful wherever possible - and positive personal catalysts for change will be rewarded and encouraged. The value of change as a lifestyle will be manifestly expressed by systematically moving staff (called "members" in a Living Organisation) into new areas of responsibility, new roles and new locations around the organisation‘s "realm". Members will be encouraged to actively seek new career opportunities within the context of a properly conceived succession plan. In this way, Living Organisations keep knowledge-sharing fresh and vibrant.
Living Organisations move towards new paradigms - realising that the previous patterns of thought and thinking will neight solve current nor future challenges. Living Organisations embrace new thinking tools and technologies that help them move.
Living Organisations are smart - they work with existing systems that help organisations move and measure (eg, Investors in People).