S. Ghoshal professor at the INSEAD and at the London Business school once said: “the value of an organisation's workforce can be more than the sum of its parts. The corporation has to move from an industrial-age emphasis on “strategy, structure and systems” to a modern-age emphasis on “purpose, process and people”.
Why, despite so many studies, data and I would also say a deeper inner knowing of what is at the centre of business, we keep looking somewhere else? Because it apparently looks easy and predictable to measure, structure and deliver on an assembly line mindset? In reality, in businesses that only focus on bottom line and results, we observe values and beliefs in misalignment and therefore not working to achieve the best outcome for both the business and the individual. How do we start then focusing on the inside, on the heart (or as I like to spell it HeART) of business? Ghoshal told us, it is by focusing on people.
It is not easy, everyone is different, not linear nor predictable; it can be challenging and time consuming working with the complexity of humans. In this hi-tech age with so many processes being automated, is it really worth investing time, energy and focus in people? When we can simply send an email or a tweet why do we have to spend time and connect in real time with people?
I recently had a dialogue with an executive at a large manufacturing global company. We were talking about the infamous topic of change and the challenges associated to it when she asked me if I really believed that it was possible to connect with everyone or at least with as many people as possible to understand were they were on the change’s curve. Can you imagine what I answered? Just in case, I told her that yes I believed that it is not only possible but critical to the success of the process. It is of course dependent on what we focus on and on what we prioritise. I do understand the importance of keeping the routine activities going and the time it takes to achieve that. However, if an organisation has decided that it needed a change, maybe it is critical to prioritise it over keeping the routine. It is confusing and misleading asking for change while putting emphasis, rewards and focus on keeping the routine.
Business is a process of self-discovery — it’s important to understand the reason you’re in business far beyond making money. If you’re going to put your heart into your business, there has to be a deeper purpose that lifts your sails and propels you forward. There has to be a process that connects purpose and people. A critical ingredient of this process is inquiry. This inquiry must start with self-inquiry. I invite you to reflect on some questions that might guide you closer to the HeART of your business:
1) What is your guiding principle and the spirit of the cause/idea you are advancing? By defining what you believe in gives you, your team and your customers inspiration. It is the HeART of your strategy, decisions, behaviors and messages.
2) What is your story? We all have a story and we can use it to elevate our ideas. Stories inspire us. They are the emotional glue that creates meaningful experiences, they speak directly to the human condition, to our hardwired emotions and instincts.
3) Do you feel at HOME at WORK? One of our primal human needs is belonging. Without it we can’t create relationship based on trust. Without a sense of belonging we do the bare minimum just to comply.
It might feel seemingly absurd or contradictory to focus on the human aspects of business in the era of VR, AI and hyperconnected networks. If we don’t, not only robots will take over our jobs but they will manage those who have become human doings by neglecting their being.
Humankind is at the HeART of business. Business can fulfil its purpose only when the people who work at, with and for an organisation are happy, healthy and feel they belong. The result is engaging, thriving and inspiring organisations that grow and succeed.