Make your organization future-fit
Yes, we know that climate change is happening. But we’re so busy…. Many of us, leaders and employees, are overwhelmed enough as it is. But if we keep doing what we’ve always been doing, we’ll keep repeating the same old story and produce the same results. Ecological and social challenges may not be your favorite topic. But they aren’t going to go away. We need to think, talk, and do something about it. At home and work we need to become future-fit.
This time, I want to highlight the program The Week, created by Frederic Laloux, Helene Gerin, and friends. You may remember Frederic’s inspirational book Reinventing Organizations and Otto Scharmer’s Theory U. This new program, The Week is as uplifting as possible and is a great way to start the conversation at work and engage your teams! The program helps to develop a positive culture together, using the principles of positive psychology, Theory U, and the theory of nonlinear, complex systems.
In this series, I explore organizational culture and what we need to face our current ecological, social, and governance challenges and become future-fit. Organizations can play a crucial role in humanity’s transition to a healthy future when they make their products, services, and actions sustainable and just. Organizations can be spaces where people learn crucial new ways of thinking and doing, and where they find support and meaning. People take this new culture home to their communities and spread it. Organizations can help people learn and adapt as the world faces several transitions.
A future-fit culture provides the glue, the speed and trust, the shared identity, the narrative, the purpose, the core values and priorities, the key behaviors, and the openness to learn new skills needed in the VUCA-world, that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.
What’s this program about? In their own words: “The environment is breaking down and the climate is changing rapidly. The Week is a group experience to help us see what’s coming and what we can do about it. This is the defining adventure for humanity in the next 10 or 20 years.
Often, we look to the powerful to bring about change for us. To the person in the White House, the Prime minister’s office, or to the corporate CEO. But real, deep change has never originated with a prime minister or a board room. History shows that massive change always happens when enough people stop believing in an old story and embrace a better story. That’s our power! It just takes enough of us to show up.
To overcome a crisis of this magnitude, we truly need everyone’s contribution.
When there is a crisis, our first instinct is to figure out who to blame. Blame can feel good, but it’s not always effective. Those we accuse are the very people who need to be part of the change. When we blame them, they often dig their heels in even deeper. Instead of blaming, let’s extend an invitation: You can stay in an old, dying story, for which your children are likely to blame you. Or you join a better story and be celebrated for your leadership.”
The program is called The Week because it works best if you do this within one week. You meet three times for about two hours. The format of the meetings is that you first watch a one-hour documentary, and next, you have a group conversation based on a question.
Down the U
The program follows the Theory U-process in three phases. You open your mind and heart to the facts, however bleak they may be. Everything in the program is backed up by science. Next, you understand the deeper story of our culture that got us here, and how sudden change can happen in a society or organization when the story changes and a tipping point is reached. Then, you start to get ideas for what you want and can do to improve these ecological issues and you emerge on the right upper side of the U.
1. What’s the situation and what are the facts?
2. How did we get here?
3. What can I or can we do?
Especially with colleagues, this can have a powerful effect as it engages the team in a respectful dialogue and can lead to great initiatives. Of course, this only happens if the sessions are safe and voluntary.
You can read more and sign up for The Week here.
The Week is there for you, you can follow the format and start the work to make your organization future-fit and engage your teams!
The collectives in organizations
One such example comes from a French participant who started to change her company from the inside out. She is an organizer with the French “Les Collectifs” that engages employees to help their organizations become future-fit. This is great for organizations that don’t have a sustainability manager just yet.
They say: Companies are called upon to accelerate their ecological and social transition, and can rely on the extraordinary driving force that makes them up: their committed employees.
Together, we have brought together around a hundred collectives, already involved thousands of employees, and carried out hundreds of actions to develop projects, and practices and strengthen mobilization around these ecological and social issues.
"It only takes 10% of employees to change the entire company,” according to Harvard Business Review. Throughout France, many are already involved in internal collectives to move the lines.
Coming from companies of different sizes, sectors, and areas, made up of a handful of employees or several hundred, more or less close to our management, our collectives act wherever they can to accelerate the transition towards models responsible. We have already launched hundreds of initiatives: raising awareness among our peers via Climate Frescoes, developing new, more sustainable products or services, skills sponsorship, strategic discussions with our management, implementation of a responsible purchasing policy, projects eco-mobility, ... Sometimes modest, sometimes leading to structural changes, our action aims to systematically place these subjects at the heart of our companies.
Rethinking and transforming our economic models is a necessity. Our companies are part of the problem: disruption of the climate and ecosystems, increasing inequalities, loss of meaning... We believe that they are also part of the solution: through the impact of their products and services, and their unique ability to focus human and economic resources toward a given objective.
Changes and initiatives are multiplying: so much the better! But these developments, although necessary, are still insufficient, and we no longer have time to wait.
Our message is intended to be demanding and ambitious while being positive and constructive: the company must profoundly transform itself and we are ready to help it do so. Together, we hold three beliefs.
First, companies must make taking into account ecological and social challenges their priority. Secondly, companies must involve and mobilize all their stakeholders, particularly their employees, in this effort.
Thirdly, the organizations that succeed in these transitions will be the most impactful tomorrow and also the most attractive for consumers, investors, and future employees.
We want to continue our actions in collectives and bring together employees, decision-makers, and committed groups, to carry out joint projects and strengthen our expertise. Every half-degree counts, and every action counts.
Good for the planet and organizations
A study conducted by Unedic in conjunction with the Elabe Institute reveals that four out of five employees say they are concerned about their own company's environmental transition. However, only one employee in five believes that his or her company is making a positive contribution to the global ecological transition.
Employers in France are increasingly interested in the eco-movement. It starts with the promotion of everyday eco-actions and continues with workshops to raise awareness of climate issues. Sometimes this translates into job-specific training in responsible purchasing or low-energy IT systems... Sometimes they go so far as to reorient certain activities within their company.
The French National Association of HRDs details how employees can be involved. And with good reason: they have understood that transition has become a powerful argument for attracting candidates. According to the Unedic study, one employee in four is ready to change company or sector - or has already done so - to be in tune with environmental issues.
Last but not least, make sure to check out The Week’s list of actions you can do! We can all make a difference, every day. We influence the people around us all the time.
Co-creating change is the core of organizational culture and leadership. How do we prepare ourselves and our organizations for the future? How do we train our resilience and adaptability? By collaborating on these challenges and embarking on this great adventure….
If you want to know more about your culture’s openness to learning and creating the future, check out the OCAI culture assessment.
If you want to know more about developing the organization, check out the Positive Culture Academy.
© Marcella Bremer, 2023
The time for a positive transition is now. This decade until 2030 determines the future. Let's help people and organizations become future-fit.
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