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Business and Spirituality – The Pyramid paradigm
Today I received the news that my paper on the “universal working model for sustainable progress” was accepted for the “Sustainability and Spirituality” conference in Hungary on Sept 21-23 2012. It is great to gain some international exposure for a method that I worked out in theory and also put into practice in my own living laboratory (The city of Eindhoven and the The Netherlands).
Many of the individual people involved in the related processes do it whole heartily. The institutions that I involve have still a strong dependence in the economic world and often lack sufficient backbone to show a sense of value driven responsibility. Here we encounter the true complexity of the paradigm shift from a money dependent society to a value driven one. The first is packed with institutions that have learned to uphold themselves artificially by the chain of financial dependencies, forgetting often the true original purpose of their existence. The value driven community of my model demands from the entities a commitment based on their true identity and contribution through application of competences and responsibility to the results we seek.
There are two moments when institutions become aware of their mismatch with sustainable progress and their confrontation with their lack of genuine and meaningful identity:
- When they fall over when their financial stakeholders withdraw their support in a crisis,
- When they get involved in value driven, co-creative processes and get blamed of incompetence due to internal bureaucracies, hierarchies and lack of capability to commit to true results.
We see this in most institutions, business, government and public services especially. In the second situation they “may” develop the awareness at senior executive level to transform into something that has a deeper meaning then just financial survival. In fact they start looking for genuine meaning and purpose, which is spiritual process. To take this executive action out of the sphere of abstraction I created the practical and measurable pyramid for multi-dimensional, value driven identity development and positioning of any institution.
When a company or institution remains at the traditional ground level in the base of the bottom triangle, it will develop and maintain an old fashioned a deteriorating strategy of financial dependencies. When it starts rising into the pyramid it will include much more value driven commitments that keep the organization alive and connected to a daily reality. The company become more sustainable if it finds a meaningful link with the surroundings.
To develop a true multidimensional value driven image (i.e. moving up the pyramid) represents a complex transformative process that affects the entire structure of the organization and all people related to it, internally and externally in the surroundings. As the value driven processes reposition the organization in society it will encounter a huge amount of organizations that are trying to do the same. The shake out is intense, driving organization to the kernel of their existence with a challenge to excel in their commitment to values rather than financial growth. Money becomes no issue anymore nor profitability. Profit becomes much more relative to results than just financial benefits.
From a multidisciplinary co-creation perspective only such companies will survive and link with value driven ventures in a sustainable way. It are not the products that make the difference but the set of values the company represents. Since these values represent the multiple inner meaning providing purpose to the commitment there will no customer relationships anymore but partnerships with other competence and responsibility driven institutions compatible with one’s own ideas.
Spirituality involves the profound understanding of a cosmic reality (matter, energy, purpose, finite limitations and abundance, her and now, eternity) and an evolutionary reality (dependence and independence, leadership, adaptability, sustainable progress). Business based on profound spiritual meaning is called multidimensional entrepreneurship. The difference can be summarized as follows:
2. No sustainable society without safety
The second key building block in the column of values is “safety”. Safety is a very broad subject that involves not just the physical but also spiritual aspects of security along the line of sustainable progress.
Very clear is the situation in Japan or Libya these days when the physical integrity of the population cannot be guaranteed due to the sum of natural disasters or the failure of human made systems. When one is in danger the very first thing that occurs is the attempt to save one self, the identity we spoke about before. Every one is on its own.
Only when the danger disappears one can think of working again along the line of creating a society and develop organizational complexities. Still, in times of physical danger we see people helping eachother. This is obvious in Lybia were people have suffered the man made dictatorship for many decades and manage to overcome their fear by joining forces along a vision of a new future. What is really happening is that the individuals break loose from the situation of total lack of individual identity with the regime of a dictator and stand up to show that they have universal rights. They first discover that they “are” and find relative safety in the brotherhood of those who think alike and are willing to fight for their identity.
In a modern society without the dictatorship or natural disasters the danger will not mainly be on a physical level, despite of course the problems of criminality and traffic accidents that occur in such countries. The problems reside much more in the spiritual safety. We refer her to the psychological, mental and behavioral integrity of the population. If one is safe to have an opinion, freedom of speech, to be self sufficient and creative, the society will be able to progress. On the other hand, if the population is deprived from individual identity due to accessive care and external securities it will become lazy, uninterested and eventually little productive.
For a physically safe society it is a challenge to see how far one needs to go with the creation of social welfare programs and what pressure remains on the population for self sufficiency. Creativity is highest when people feel safe and motivated or a need, either by dissatisfaction of sense of desired progress. It needs room for inspiration to florish. Progress is achieved by applying learning with purpose driven experimentation. Within this word “purpose” we find the secrete of a stable or unstable organization or society.
If the purpose is defined around money or what ever material system of having, the community will grow identity less and with the continuous fear of loosing out on chances. The individuals and government will experience the feeling of lack of security and safety as they develop a sense of greed out of fear of shortage. We see this in Western society all the time where fear is related to all the problems that society faces around child care, elderly care, infrastructure, housing, whatever. It is a fear driven society that cannot possibly live up to sustainable speculations as it is not capable to see the abundance it gathers but focusses on the chance of losing it all.
If purpose is defined on higher goals than a society develops a sense of security to be able to deal with everything that arises. The higher goals that are defined are seen as challenges that bind people around the common purpose. Purpose driven societies donot compare with others but look forward with the drive to improve continously. In such community money is never a goal, nor is external forms of security and glamour. They concentrate on sustainable happiness, togetherness, warmth, safety, health, vitality, love, etc. People in such societies only see opportunities, chances for progress and the desire to work for it.
So safety, in a physical and psychological/spiritual sense is the key, on top of authentic purpose driven identities, to progress in a sustainable way. Only then we can go to the next step in the column: equality.