Presenting a New Guide to Wellbeing-oriented Business Practices

Presenting a New Guide to Wellbeing-oriented Business Practices

The result of our collaboration with the Wellbeing Alliance to encourage alternative management models is now available

One of our main goals as a company is to help develop and encourage other ways to run businesses, which reflect or incentivize alternative business cultures based on new conceptions of the relationship between people and the services or products they deliver as well as the relationships between the companies and all their stakeholders. So when we were asked by the people at the Wellbeing Alliance to facilitate the development of a guide on alternatives to traditional business, we found this project to be very much aligned with our mission.

In this context started by developing a collaborative process aiming to include many stakeholders including a steering group of business and wellbeing economy experts. The purpose was to determine the scope, target audience, structure and content of the guide. Based on the input gathered we defined 7 key business dimensions, developed a self-assessment tool and a solutions framework, and carried out interviews with representatives of the organisations whose case studies are featured in the document. The  idea behind the guide is to inspire decision makers of mid-sized organizations to explore the Wellbeing Economy space. This innovative document is a constant work in progress and will be regularly updated based on suggestions, recommendations, examples etc.

The Context

The guide begins with the observation that business today is at a crossroads between maintaining the traditional top-down structure and approach to labor, production and resource management on the one hand, and more humane and ecologically attentive approaches to business on the other hand. 

The first risks leading to more burnouts, overworking and general misalignment of the companies’ priorities with those of their employees, and perpetuate a chronic overuse of resources and other types of impact on the environment. 

The second aims to realign the priorities of the management with those of the staff by including the latter in the decision-making process, and with the needs of the environment by incentivizing a reorientation to more sustainable business and production practices. 

But perhaps the most important aspect of this guide is to encourage companies to ensure that such transitions remain compatible with flourishing businesses and a functioning economy. Indeed, taking the wrong path toward human and environmental sustainability could cause the economy as a whole to incur costs it cannot afford.

The guide proposes to build a bridge between the two models at play, and highlights the importance of building it from both sides and with incremental steps, in order to both preserve the necessary underlying economy and not shake up the entire ecosystem, which might go too far, lead to several nefarious consequences such as pushback or resistance from the existing systems, or the transitions themselves getting out of control and causing negative side-effects or backlash. But mostly the guide stresses the need for a collaborative approach to such transitions, including every member of the company in the transition and striving for a model that integrates all aspects from labor to production and resource management.

Download the guide here (PDF, 14 MB)

The principles

In order to achieve this, seven general principles are outlined that aim to cover every aspect of business and its impact on employees and the environment. 

The first is a recommendation for companies to redefine their business objectives to include not just stakeholder satisfaction but employee well-being and environmental sensitivity. These are important because such aspects have short, medium and long-term effects on everything from consumer demand to producer costs and regulatory frameworks, which will then in turn affect the conduct of the business.

The second principle involves ownership and governance, and recommends determining what the ownership structure of the company should look like. Companies nowadays are usually owned – and their priorities are therefore decided – by a small number of actors who are incentivized by shareholder satisfaction and dividends. But these incentives often end up at odds with the wellbeing of employees and with objectives of environmental impact. 

The third principle, linked with the previous one, promotes participatory leadership. Traditionally companies are run through a top-down structure including the top stakeholders, heavily incentivized by corporate profits and dividends. So the idea here is to include employees not only in the ownership structure but also in the decision-making processes, in order to give them a say in their own work and their own objectives. Several tools exist already to develop this kind of participatory leadership.

The next principle mentioned is the potential of the community surrounding the business. Many modern companies forget that their activity affects not only their usual stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees and local authorities), but these people’s families, neighbors, and even sometimes entire local economies. It then becomes important to integrate the well-being of all those groups into the equation. A company needs to find its proper place inside its local community and acknowledge its role and impact in that wider circle.

Next the guide touches on the issue of product and service design, which aren’t always best suited to the wellbeing of people or the environment. The recommendation here is to embrace a more circular production cycle. This is one where resources are recycled as much as possible, where important parts of the products themselves can be reintegrated into the manufacturing process, with a view toward achieving a completely environmentally neutral supply chain.

Another crucial aspect of such new models of management is the bottom line. Indeed, whatever the business model a company chooses, that will ultimately be its main incentive. Redefining the corporate objectives is a crucial step toward solving this issue, but there will always be aspects that are difficult to quantify and therefore incentivize. As such, the next principle recommends including social and environmental impact in accounting and ROI calculations, so as to motivate the entire business to actively pursue and achieve these objectives. Indeed, if financial success is linked to social and environmental impact, it is in the company’s best interests to take on and implement impact policies.

The final principle detailed in this document is that of learning together. Indeed, there is no single path to success, and some of them are bound to fail. But in order to truly take note and advantage of such issues, they must be noticed and addressed in the best way possible. Not just at the scale of a single employee but at the scale of the entire company. The economy is a vastly complex animal, after all, and it’s normal that not every single factor can be considered in every decision. It therefore becomes important to make decisions based on incomplete information and adjust course later. But the best way to learn from these mistakes is to include everybody, allow them to fail on occasion and encouraging them to learn from such failures.

Self-assessment

Of course, no substantial change is possible without some way or other of measuring said change. For this reason the guide also provides a self-assessment framework for a business’ progress on these fronts. It’s not completely equivalent to an external assessment and should be understood as such. But it is a way to subjectively measure it and, if handled honestly, can nonetheless provide valuable insight. In short, it involves evaluating the company’s performance on seven different axes and plotting the status of the company’s transition on a radar chart, with the center point (all indicators at 0%) being the purely traditional business aspects, and the points along the outer edge (indicators at 100%) representing fully transformed aspects. This tool has its limitations, of course, being subjective and open to interpretation, but it can give an indication of how the company feels it has come along. The dimensions to be plotted on the radar chart reflect the seven dimensions detailed in the main part of the guide. Of course, one single measure is pointless with such a tool. So the most important thing is to plot the perceived status of the company’s transition at various stages in order to get an idea of the change over time.

Solutions

The guide finishes with a selection of possible solutions to address the question of this transition. It is by no means exhaustive and any solution adopted by such a company will need to be adapted to suit that company’s context, environment, staff and other factors. The list contains, for each of the dimensions addressed by the guide, some existing tools, processes, consultancies, guidelines or regulatory frameworks that any business can choose to adopt. For example, one solution proposed for the dimension of leadership and participation is Sociocracy 3.0, a series of participatory decision-making processes and tools aimed at ensuring more agile, flexible, effective and yet still democratic management practices and choices.

This guide aims to help provide businesses with insights, ideas, principles and tools to ensure an effective and successful transition to a more humanly and ecologically sustainable mode of action. It is targeted at managers, decision makers and change makers within companies around the world who are committed to pursuing such alternative business processes. It provides an analysis of the principles involved, case studies to illustrate each of them, a self-assessment framework and a selection of tried and tested solutions to choose from. Remember, though, the guide remains a work in progress and will be updated regularly. It is not intended to serve as an absolute guide and in no way guarantees successful transitions or significant increases in impact, but as a guide to help people reflect on their companies’ status, aims and progress. It is in no way intended to be the sole solution and its precepts do require adapting to each business according to the specificities of its activity or sector. But if adopted properly by sufficiently committed and motivated people, there is no reason why this can’t be a first step toward a more sustainable, humane and ecologically respectful economy. And those who adopt its recommendations may eventually become the pioneers and role models upon which the future economy will be built.

Download the guide here (PDF, 14 MB)

Strong teams talk about elephants training March 2020

Strong teams talk about elephants training March 2020

In a time where more and more teams are expected to work in an autonomous way, facilitating team dialogue about interpersonal tensions might well be one of the most crucial aspects of leadership. And one of the most challenging.

Description:

Many teams and organisations struggle or fail to collaborate effectively because of tensions and conflict in teams. These interpersonal tensions often take up team energy and can lead to disengagement when they are not addressed.

Instead of ignoring the elephants in the room, strong teams are capable of dealing with interpersonal issues in an open and transparent way. They know that conflict is part of (work) life, and have the skills and awareness needed to have these challenging conversations with each other about team elephants. As a result the safety and trust in the team increases.

Register here More about the elephant model

Learning objectives:

After this 3-day course you will:

  • Have a sense and understanding of what facilitation practices can contribute to creating safe and trustful environments in teams
  • Have a basic understanding of non violent communication and how to it can serve you in moments of tension
  • Have identified personal learning edges when it comes to dealing with conflict
  • Have a basic understanding of S3 principles and practices including peer review, feedback practices, driver creation and navigating via tension

Benefits:

After this 3-day course you will:

  • Have a sense and understanding of what facilitation practices can contribute to creating safe and trustful environments in teams
  • Have a basic understanding of non violent communication and how to it can serve you in moments of tension
  • Have identified personal learning edges when it comes to dealing with conflict
  • Have a basic understanding of S3 principles and practices including peer review, feedback practices, driver creation and navigating via tension

General information:

Workshop date: 25 – 27 March 2020

Workshop language: English

Location: Affligem, Belgium

Organising partner: iLean

For whom is this course?

This training will bring great value to:

  • Team & organizational leaders, project managers, product owners and ScrumMasters
  • Organizational change agents, consultants and HR
  • Anyone interested in exploring ways of improving teamwork, especially in a context of self-organization and shared leadership

 

Workshop facilitators:

Sara Leysen, Mira Bangel, Bart Oste (further info about trainers here)

 

Course investment & registrations:

Register here   More about the elephant model

Sociocracy 3.0 training Porto, 09th-11th Mar 2020

Sociocracy 3.0 training Porto, 09th-11th Mar 2020

About the course:

    • How can you scale an agile organisation without loosing agility?
    • How can large organisations minimise management efforts and bureaucracy by reinforcing self-organisation beyond agile methods?
    • How to nurture a culture of innovation beyond an agile team, minimise hierarchies and create an attractive working environment for young talent?

Organisations all over the world are trying new ways to increase effectiveness and organisational agility. Self-organisation, increased autonomy and effective collaborative work methods are only part of the emerging patterns.

Sociocracy 3.0 offers a rich menu of possibilities that can be adapted to each organisation’s unique context and that build on Sociocracy practices, non-violent communication and lean & agile methods.

continue reading

Strong teams talk about elephants: Fostering safety & trust in teams

Strong teams talk about elephants: Fostering safety & trust in teams

In a time where more and more teams are expected to work in an autonomous way, facilitating team dialogue about interpersonal tensions might well be one of the most crucial aspects of leadership. And one of the most challenging.

Description:

Many teams and organisations struggle or fail to collaborate effectively because of tensions and conflict in teams. These interpersonal tensions often take up team energy and can lead to disengagement when they are not addressed.

Instead of ignoring the elephants in the room, strong teams are capable of dealing with interpersonal issues in an open and transparent way. They know that conflict is part of (work) life, and have the skills and awareness needed to have these challenging conversations with each other about team elephants. As a result the safety and trust in the team increases.

Register here  View programme

Learning objectives:

After this 2.5-day course you will:

  • Have a sense and understanding of what facilitation practices can contribute to creating safe and trustful environments in teams
  • Have a basic understanding of non violent communication and how to it can serve you in moments of tension
  • Have identified personal learning edges when it comes to dealing with conflict
  • Have a basic understanding of S3 principles and practices including peer review, feedback practices, driver creation and navigating via tension

Benefits:

After this 2.5-day course you will:

  • Have a sense and understanding of what facilitation practices can contribute to creating safe and trustful environments in teams
  • Have a basic understanding of non violent communication and how to it can serve you in moments of tension
  • Have identified personal learning edges when it comes to dealing with conflict
  • Have a basic understanding of S3 principles and practices including peer review, feedback practices, driver creation and navigating via tension

General information:

Workshop date: 23 – 25 October 2019

Workshop language: English

Location: Affligem, Belgium

Organising partner: iLean

For whom is this course?

This training will bring great value to:

  • Team & organizational leaders, project managers, product owners and ScrumMasters
  • Organizational change agents, consultants and HR
  • Anyone interested in exploring ways of improving teamwork, especially in a context of self-organization and shared leadership

 

Workshop facilitators:

Sara Leysen, Mira Bangel, Bart Oste (further info about trainers here)

Course investment & registrations:

Click here to register   View programme

Course: organisational design & Business Agility

Course: organisational design & Business Agility

Do you want to support the development of agile and resilient organisations that offer new organisational dynamics and work conditions?  Are you looking for practices that can help you make this happen?

In this course we will look at different organisational models and practices including Teal, Sociocracy 3.0, liquid organisations, anti fragility, agile etc., and we will explore innovative tools and real life cases (Zappos, Haier, Buurtzorg…) that help you amplify your perspective and resources to support digital and cultural transformation processes. The course has been developed in collaboration with ThinkingWithYou and 9Brains.

Course content:

For this course we have prepared different practices that we use to support our clients in their transition journey. We invite you to think of new ways of designing and developing your organisation, to discover different models, manifestos, structures and organisational practices that are emerging in new work contexts.

Discover new ideas and inspiration for the design of your organisation through an experiential learning experience.

Discover inspiring models and viewpoints from Zygmunt Bauman, Nassim Taleb, Edgar Schein, Bob Anderson, Wilber, Beck and Schneider. Find out about concepts and models including Antifragility, integral theory, the Schneider model and Cynefin.

Explore examples of manifestos, develop your own and discover new things about your own organisational context in conversation with others. Find out about paradigms like Teal and organisational practices like Sociocracy 3.0.

Discover a selection of examples and best practice and apply what you learn with concrete challenges (salary review, vacation management, motivation & recognition of teams etc.)

Register now  More info in the programme (in Spanish)

General information:

Course dates: Organisational design workshop: 16th & 17th of October + optional Business Agility Certification 18th October 2019

Language: Spanish

Venue: Thinking With You. Paseo de las Acacias 50 Bis, 28005, Madrid

For whom is this course?

This course has been developed especially for HR & innovation specialists, transformation managers, agile coaches, entrepreneurs & change managers

Workshop facilitators:

Miguel Ocaña (Twitter | LinkedIn), Anais Rubio-Galván (Twitter |LinkedIn), Eduardo Toledo (Twitter | LinkedIn), Israel Alcázar (Twitter |LinkedIn), Mira Bangel (Twitter | LinkedIn), Gerardo Barcia (Twitter | LinkedIn), graphic facilitation: Marina Roa (LinkedIn)

Course investment & registrations:

Register here  Course programme (in Spanish)

ESPON Participatory design-thinking lab

ESPON Participatory design-thinking lab

“We can’t solve problems by using the same way of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Design Thinking is a human-centred, collaborative approach to problem solving. Experience it first hand during our participatory design-thinking lab on spatial planning in Western Europe.

Join policy makers and experts in a collaborative process to explore some of the core changes which are affecting spatial planning in Western Europe today. Our team will be there to facilitate the participatory process and to do the graphic facilitation. Register here before April 10th: https://www.espon.eu/netherlands