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.