Optimising the Functional Health of Organisations

16 August 2019

Humanity has reached an existential crisis due to decades of exploitation of planetary resources so that we must now change or die. This month Health Coach Paul Curran describes a shift toward a ‘4Ps’ paradigm that embodies the needs of ‘Conscious Capitalism’. Making the sole fiduciary duty of a board of directors to maximise profits for shareholders has distorted our concept of responsible business behaviour and has failed us all. We must now embrace an expanded bottom line of People, Planet, Processes and Presence so that we relate to one another in sustainable ways. The rewards are great for those businesses that achieve this shift.

The mind-set change we need results from thinking of our organisation as a human cell. In this way we immerse ourselves in the system itself so that we are constantly aware of the ‘self-harming’ nature of current practice.

The outer membrane of our cell represents the People in the organisation. This ‘Bi-Lipid layer’ illustrates both outward and inward facing personnel – those responsible for customer and market interaction and those engaged in internal operations. Just as every contact with a cell is through its membrane, every contact with the organisation is through its people. Attention to the health and attitudes of an organisation’s people is essential for its overall health.

Functional Health

The nucleus of our cell is our planet, the mysterious source of everything we need for our physical existence and the precious source of all materials. The other internal organelles of the cell represent the functions of production; how we do what we do as contributors to society. We see that cancer cells often have mutations of their nuclei and we seek to protect our DNA as best we can to preserve our longevity.

The communications within and between internal departments of an organisation determine its levels of engagement and productivity.  We require that departments collaborate in the most effective manner, sometimes as a linear chain of processes, sometimes as a multi-functional engagement. In each case the departments need to successfully discharge their responsibilities as depicted by the cellular mitochondrion, which generates the energy molecules ATP that support life in the cell and the organism as a whole.

Presence can be thought of that spark of life that gives an organisation its sense of purpose, its WHY. It is the emotional engagement we have to it as stakeholders. It defines our tribe, our sense of pride and belonging. When we can retain this emotional engagement, it permeates every decision we make so that our values are consistently presented to the market. Like the iceberg, most of which is unseen below the surface of the ocean, an organisation’s cultural essence is more easily understood by its stakeholders than vocalised. An organisation’s leaders are responsible for modelling and safeguarding this culture as it grows – just as the vineyard worker trains the vines. 

Leaders are custodians of the WHY. As staff are drawn to the organisation through identification and appreciation of its values the organisation becomes ‘Leaderful’. Such is the imperative for 21st century business. We need to be enthusiastically engaged in the effort to build a better world rather than fatalistically accepting the ever-tighter constraints and inevitable consequences of the status quo.

Action Centred Health logo