Respiration - How is your Organisation entering into exchange with the world, environment and people around it?
One of the most powerful laws we see in the Natural World is seed time and harvest. This leads into important wisdom sayings such as, "You reap what you sow." Whilst this harvest principle is an important part of the Growth aspect of Living Organisations, the reaping and sowing concept is also a vital driver of the Respiration characteristic. It offers us insights into the vital importance of exchange.
From Metaphor to Explanation to Action
No Living Organisation is an island. It is a component of a much larger "Living Ecosystem" - and as such, must fulfil a positive role within that bigger picture. Living Organisations are dependent upon the health of the ecosystem in which they live and move and have their being. This means that the health of their suppliers and customers, their community and the families of their members is all extremely relevant to their own health and sustainability. Living Organisations live to make a contribution.
Exchange and investment in the context in which they live may take the form of:
- Community action programmes - improving the quality of life and services for local communities
Education initiatives - helping ensure the vitality of the future potential members
- Training for suppliers and customers so that suppliers‘ systems are the best they can be, and clients are getting the highest possible value from our products and services
- Fair trade in all exchanges - neither squeezing margins nor inflating prices.
One of the unusual aspects of wisdom around the exchange principle of reaping and sowing is to understand that what you sow looks very different from what you reap. This may mean that Living Organisations will choose to sow in an area not expecting a return in like-kind, but will exercise ‘faith‘ that investment made in ‘good faith‘ will always yeild good fruit.
Living Organisations also encourage mutual-respect, recognising that there are in fact ‘no-free-lunches‘. Their approach is more the "teach someone to fish" rather than "give someone a fish" - leading to the development self-respect, and self-sustainability in the areas in which they make a contribution.
Living Organisations have matured beyond independence and have moved towards inter-dependence with those around them. They proactively seek the well-being of others within their vicinity. More than this, they actively reward those outside the organisation who contribute to their ongoing vitality. Examples would include gratitude-investments in schools that have made outstanding contributions to members or their families.
Living organisations understand that without profitability, there will be no future, however, they also are opposed to profitability that is gained at the expense of their suppliers. This means high moral standards such as paying suppliers on time and other aspects of ‘fair-trade‘.
The golden principle respiration-exchange for Living Organisations is win-win. Whilst a win-win outcome may not always be possible, the win-win approach is always chosen.