More workshops for founders and entrepreneurs

I’ve just launched two more dates for my workshop for founders.

They’re happening on 16 Nov in Brighton (as part of the Meaning Conference fringe) and 1 Dec in London.

The insight behind the workshop is based on research with over 500 entrepreneurs and founders led by Peter Koenig, and will be useful to you if you’d like answers to questions like these:

  • What’s the role of a founder in realising a big idea?
  • How can I maintain the startup passion as we grow?
  • Why do acquisitions often drain the life out of startups?
  • What’s the secret of successful co-founder collaboration?
  • How can I ensure my startup doesn’t fizzle out after I exit?
  • How can I hold the vision and also create autonomy for my team?

Full details are on the event pages.

They are both limited to 10 places maximum so reserve your place for London or Brighton before they fill up.

Previous workshop participants said:

“intriguing and insightful”

“real clarity on why I have founded the businesses I have”

“great insight on some possible blockages on my existing business”

“a day very well spent and I look forward to spending more time with Tom”

“The results: a common language for my co-founder and I to navigate the ups and downs of lives as entrepreneurs”

“a real understanding of the individual roles of my co-founder and me”

“I’m so happy I discovered this so early. Now I’ve done this, I can’t see how you could found a company not knowing it”

“Tom does a great job of sharing his practical experiences, his theoretical models whilst staying away from dogma and leaving the conversation to emerge based on individuals needs”

“a gift if you’re starting a company or if you’re feeling a little lost where you are”

 

Five links: Google team success; getting men writing; Medium is off Holacracy; falling behind; impact lifestyle business

  1. Research: What Google found from a study into successful teams
  2. Kickstarter: Beautifully designed journal to get men writing about their thoughts and feelings
  3. Org structure: Holacracy ‘gets in the way of work’ at Medium, so they’re moving off it
  4. Motivation: To anyone who feels like they’re falling behind in life (lovely counterpoint to throwaway motivational messages)
  5. Article by me: Supercharging a lifestyle business with IMPACT.

Don’t forget the humans: Keeping the organisational soul in its right place

There’s a growing trend in organisational thinking to consider companies and other organisations to be distinct entities with a ‘soul’ of their own. Like an organism that evolves separately from the humans that created it. With this mindset, the role of the humans changes to listening and sensing where the organisation wants to go next and then acting on that.

It’s a powerful metaphor and can be useful to bring people together in service of something higher. But it’s easy to become attached to a belief that the organisation really is a separate, almost living entity. The risk is that we diminish the importance of the needs of the humans who are working together.

I’ve written about the subject before, for readers of Frederic Laloux’s excellent book Reinventing Organisations who may become overly attached to the organisational soul myth, but I wanted to write a standalone article for a wider audience. So here it is.

 

Unfucking the world, Reinventing Organisations and transforming NixonMcInnes

In recent months I’ve been publishing articles elsewhere on the web rather than this blog. I thought it would be a good idea to keep everything joined up, so here are a few things I’ve been writing about.

First up, some thoughts about how we perceive the world, and the notion of needing to change it: I’m giving up trying to unfuck the world and so should you.

I’ve also been exploring the importance of individuals (not groups) holding a vision for their initiatives: Resolving the paradox in Frederic Laloux’s wonderful book Reinventing Organisations; and on a similar theme, another article on breaking the taboo of authority in organisations.

Here’s the backstory about my company NixonMcInnes being radically transformed. The consulting business has been decentralised into an ecosystem of independent initiatives. The Meaning Conference which grew out of NM is happening for the 4th year on 12 November 2015 where 350 people will gather in Brighton to explore the future of business. Earlybird tickets are on sale.

How a dictatorship over corporate purpose sets everyone free

Peter Koenig‘s work on the Role of Source has been the most powerful business idea I’ve come across in a long time. We’re using it at NixonMcInnes right now to unlock the company’s purpose, as well as with start-ups at The FuseBox. It’s unbelievably useful and liberating so we need to get this idea further out into the world. I worked with Peter Koenig and Charlie Davies (who helped Peter develop it) on an award entry for this work. Please check it out and let me know what you think. If you find it useful, please click the ‘like’ button towards the right-hand side of the page, next to the headline.

The biggest truth about leadership that you didn’t know

Big thanks to my friend Charlie Davies who switched me on to the concept of The Source recently. One of the ever growing list of things I wish I’d understood years ago. An incredibly important dimension to leadership with huge implications for all organisations that I’ve never seen discussed so explicitly before in any business book.

These reflections are based on the work of Peter Koenig who has researched the role of “source” in organizations for many years.

Source

1. any thing or place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained.
2. the beginning or place of origin of a stream or river.
3. a book, statement, person, etc., supplying information.

The role of source

Any enterprise, project or event always goes back to a single source; the person who gave the spark of life to an idea and had a compelling vision that wanted to be realized.

In instances where one might feel that “we” had the idea together, closer investigation of the path of creation will always lead back to one particular person. The person who has the role of source has an energetic connection to the endeavour quite unlike any other member of the organization or team. The energetic connection is derived from the source-person being the first person in time to take a risk, i.e. make an investment in manifesting the idea. Often the first risk was taken in communicating the idea to a second person.

As a result, the source has an intuitive knowing about what the next steps are and will have strong reactions, often viscerally, if these insights are not honoured. For the source, the “Gestalt” of the idea can be sensed, even if others can at times have more accurate language to describe it. The effects of the importance of source can be observed, whether or not the source is acknowledged. However, acknowledgment of source will lead to an ease of flow in processes and decrease potential for conflict.

A metaphor for source

If an idea, a project or an organization was an individual we could attempt to trace back how this being first came into existence. At the beginning of the child’s life, there was the act of creation, which required a father and a mother.

Let’s assume there was a field or a dimension in which all ideas and all creations exist; the field of limitless potential. Let’s say this field is the “father” in this metaphor. The field chooses a carrier,the source, a “mother” that will bring the child into existence. This person is inseminated with the idea; the source might indeed feel as if “going pregnant” with the idea for a while prior to it’s birth.

Even after the baby (the idea, project) is born, the connection to its creators (the field and the source) is very strong. The field and the source are the genetic parents of this baby and regardless of who will help to raise the child to be an independent person – the birth parents will always remain the birth parents.

For the success or the child in life, it seems to be vital that this primary connection is recognized and honoured, even if other people do a bulk of the childrearing work or if the child is going to be adopted by another parent in the future.

The role of helpers

The role of others as supporters and helpers for the success of a project envisioned by the source is paramount. As in the metaphor of the child, a single parent would never be able to do as good a job raising the child as a whole community could. As they say: It takes a village…

The bigger the original vision the source brings into existence, the more likely the source relies on others for realization of this vision. The helpers can take on all kinds of different roles; from translating the idea into concepts or tasks, to taking on roles as “sub-sources” with full responsibility for a sub-project that feedsinto the larger source.

The more connected the helpers feel energetically to the idea/vision of the source – and this comes not just from liking the project content but from their relationship to the source and acknowledging the source’s source role – the more they are able torealize and exercise their own source within the project. This increases the momentum of the endeavour.

Each helper can form his or her special connection to the projectand become a central figure in the growth process – but the source as the point of origin must be recognized. If anyone unrightfully claims ownership of the idea, the balance in the system is disturbed and will suffer a multitude of consequences.

The source of organizations

Every organization has a point of origin, the moment when the idea was conceived and someone gave shape to what was previously shapeless. This idea of source in organizations is especially observable in family owned businesses. However, it is important to note that identifying the source may not always be as obvious as it might appear at first sight. Often, the founding of the company is attributed to one person (for example the patriarch), but the driving force behind the endeavour was in fact another (for example the matriarch of the family). It is therefore essential to examine closely who was the original life force behind the organization before drawing premature conclusions about the source.

The source can be inherited or passed on from one person to another. The passing on of the source is not a legal but an energetic act. Even if due diligence has been done to ensure that all the right contracts are in place, the source can remain with the original founder and the transmission has not occurred. If this is the case, the new leader/CEO, and subsequently the organization, will be weakened. Succession can only occur if the person passing it over and the person receiving it are conscious and open to the process. Without full transmission of the source, a struggle for dominance and recognition ensues.

A few of the tell-tale signs for the source not having been transferred (or not transferred fully) can be that the newly appointed leader:

  • feels disconnected from the business,
  • is unsure about next steps, has no vision,
  • does not feel what his or her place or purpose in the endeavour is,
  • has no execution even though has all the legal power,
  • experiences power struggles with other people in the organization,
  • is not accepted by others in the organization as the new leader.

It is important to know that only one person can fulfil the role of source. The ownership structure of an organization or the distribution of profits are not tied to being source, but the final say about strategic decisions is.

In family run businesses, it is not unusual that the passing of the source skips one generation. If the source remained with a grandparent that has already passed, the transfer might be accomplished through a personal ritual of initiation that honours the vision and importance of the source, before the new CEO steps fully into his or her new responsibility as the new source of the organization. If the person fulfilling the role of source is still alive, this is a ritual that can and should be conducted in person.

The role of source in leadership

In any organization, there are numerous sources for numerous projects. The vital importance of accepting that the source will “sense” what has to be done should not be underestimated. If the leader is the source, this might be easier than if another employee is the source for a particular thought or project. Regardless of the position of the source in the hierarchy, the source needs to be recognized in order to function as the channel through which information flows into the organization. Furthermore, a lack of recognition of source is noted by members of the system and feels unfair or unjust; members of the organization/team will revert to “just doing their jobs”. Trust in the leaders and or the organizationas a whole is diminished. Acceptance of source creates harmony and trust and is also the key to all people being able to realize their own source potential. The recognition of source is thus key to innovation.

If the role of source is not acknowledged in leadership, this either results in a dictatorial approach to running the company (“I am the new boss now and you will do as I say!”) or in a spineless egalitarianism (“we are all the same and we all have equal say”). The first often leads to organizations with a high number of sick days and a work morale weakened by fear whereas latter leads to inefficiency and a culture that values comradeship over performance. Both will bleed the organization of talent since intelligent and self-responsible individuals will neither choose to work for an organization in which submission to an authoritarian leader is required, nor an organization in which every process is stalled because no one ever feels empowered to take a decision.

This short article on source was written by Nadjeschda Taranczewski and Peter Koenig in July 2012. Please feel free to copy onto your own letterhead by mentioning the authors.