How can mindfulness be made pervasive in an organization? How do we make it tangible to employees, customers, investors and the larger eco-system? Mindfulness is an approach but it has to be integrated with tools, process, and people training so that it is embedded in the organization. In this article we will explore some of the ways in which an organization can become more mindful.
Active listening is a communication technique that makes sure the listener is fully focused and listening. Often, listeners are not fully there – their minds are preoccupied with other matters. This technique teaches you the art of truly listening and absorbing information. It can be taught and is a valuable tool for roles such as sales, consulting, delivery and HR. When your people truly listen to each other and to customers so much value can be discovered in terms of opportunities and unstated needs.
Creative leadership isn’t about leaders simply becoming more creative. It’s about individuals leading for creativity. That means you, as a leader,
must unlock the creative potential of your organization, no matter the industry. It’s your job to set the conditions for your organization to generate, embrace, and execute new ideas. It’s a competitive imperative that will keep you ahead in the marketplace, according to Tim Brown, CEO & President, IDEO.
Design thinking is a process, a way to create new ideas and solve problems. It is a way in which you look at questions and take a 360 degree look at problems. The engineering approach, on the other hand, is to look at an answer and then break it up into its constituent elements and look at ways to do it better.
IT service organizations need an engineering mindset but it has to be coupled with design thinking for those clients seeking true transformation, or answers to problems that have not yet been defined or framed.
Breaking up a larger problem into smaller deliverables allows a better focus on the present. The shift from thinking about the inputs or raw material to tangible outputs also causes a greater feeling of fulfillment as both the client and the delivery organization can see progress in real business terms. This requires a transition from a time and material model of operation to one which is based on output and the value created. Internally, it pushes the team to focus on the continuous delivery of value, and from an external perspective there is greater appreciation for the work that is ongoing.
As a mindful organization, it is important to consider the entire stakeholder eco-system when looking at the impact of any initiative. So while a new facility may provide employment, you must also look at its environmental impact and how that can be minimized through technology or better building techniques.
Any activity that has an employee impact – positive or negative – needs to be approached empathetically. Leadership may ‘shadow’ team members to get a first-hand user perspective.
Large organizations consume large quantities of resources; it is important that they view this consumption through an environmental lens so they can be more mindful of its usage and disposal.
Creating an environment for mindfulness
Mindfulness cannot take root overnight. It requires training, reinforcement and a safe environment in which it can be practiced. An organization-wide initiative will require a combination of both one-time intensive training as well as ongoing learning that can be self-paced or opted for in smaller groups.
Once team members understand the principles of mindfulness at the individual level, they need to be introduced to the tools, techniques and processes that the organization has put in place for its implementation. This in turn must be linked to the company’s reward and recognition system.
The internal adoption of mindfulness is an organic process, and one that may take time, perhaps up to a year. While this is in progress, organizations may also consider putting architectural changes in place that will benefit this process—quiet rooms, meditation corners, etc. When the internal adoption is deemed complete, customers and other stakeholders will need to be informed about the changes and benefits they can expect.
Organizational mindfulness is a combination of individual, organizational and structural change that needs to be approached as a long-term transformation.