Guest Post by Dr Dimity Podger, Barasa Consulting Group, and Lina Mbirkou, MACROLeaders
Conscious Business Learning Labs: Supporting the growth and transformation of business leaders and practitioners
The journey of building a purpose-driven business, that is financially prosperous, human and planet centred, inside and out, and is an awesome place to work is profoundly worthwhile. There are many on this journey, challenging the why at the heart of the way we do ‘capitalism’ and are part of the significant shift towards creating businesses for good.
However, whether you are a leader in a business seeking to transform it, an entrepreneur building from scratch, or a conscious business on the journey, it can be isolating and challenging, working with the “how to” of building a conscious business: How do you encode your higher purpose and values into the DNA of your business and infuse it into all its aspects? How do you work with all your stakeholders in a manner of deep respect, care, collaboration, and trust? How do decide when it seems like you are making a trade-off between purpose and money? And so on.
To delve into the challenges and questions purpose-driven business owners, start-ups, leaders, and consultants are grappling with and move towards finding solutions, we kicked off the Conscious Business Learning Lab with a Co-creation and Discovery Session.
The session brought together thoughtful, like-minded purpose-driven business people to explore their specific questions and ideas around practising the four tenets of Conscious Capitalism: Higher Purpose and Values; Stakeholder Orientation; Conscious Culture and Management; and Conscious Leadership.
The four key questions that rose to the surface for participants were:
1.How do you integrate purpose, profit and impact sustainably?
The questions and challenges for participants revolved around three things: how to discover and craft the purpose and values of the business, how to embed them and encode them into the organisation, and how to do this in order to deliver both impact and financial viability. An important conundrum for participants is how to navigate dilemmas when your purpose and values appear in tension to business opportunities that are in contradiction.
2. How do I develop and practice conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership was likened to servant leadership, in service to the purpose and values of the organisation, to all stakeholders connected to the business, to the development of colleagues, and to collaborating with others in a deeply human-centred way. It was also something that looks different from one leader and one context to the next.
Given the diversity of views in the room, it led to some important insights and critical questioning around: What it is to be a conscious leader? How do I develop my practice as a conscious leader? And how can a conscious leader bring about change across an organisation?
3. How do you create the conditions for a conscious culture to emerge?
A core theme to emerge from the conversation during the session was how do you create a human-centred workplace, with cultural norms (eg behaviours, rituals, practices, ways of doing things) and systems (eg processes, procedures, governance, business models) that are purposeful, values-driven and contribute to the flourishing of the business.
Questions that emerged included: What does purpose and values-aligned decision-making and accountability look like in my business? How do you know whether your culture reflects your ideals and mission? How do you move from the old to the new in a more established business? How do you manage behaviours in a conscious culture on daily basis?
This is important for inspiration and ideas, but it is also true that you cannot transplant the culture of one business to another. It emerges through your deliberate and thoughtful efforts particularly in discovering a well-defined meaningful and compelling purpose and values set, in conjunction with a focused strategy, aligned business model, conscious leadership, genuine involvement of stakeholders and aligned management, work processes and operations.
4. How do you engage all stakeholders and find solutions that benefit everyone?
For some participants, the practice of this tenet brings to life the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism. It does blur the boundaries of the organisation as to who and what is integrated into the heart of the business and its purpose, and heralds the movement towards an ecosystem of value creation and systemic change.
We know that businesses that have a purpose, create meaningful work experiences, that help people grow and develop, and create aligned experiences for customers, lead to improved engagement from all and improved performance overall. We also know customers and investors want to spend their money with businesses who contribute positively to the environment and are socially conscious.
As you can imagine, this topic really engaged participants with the challenge of: What does creating value with and for your stakeholders look like at different stages of your business? And how do you shift the mindsets, behaviours, decision-making culture and the fundamentals of the business such as the strategy and business model to accomplish this?
Questions that emerged from the conversation included: How do you work to find solutions for the benefit of everyone? Is this absolutely necessary? What are the business models that are designed for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, team members, investors, suppliers, communities and the environment? How do you make decisions in this environment?
It is not often that we have the space to explore questions like these with our peers in business, in a safe and focused environment. Through a learning experience like this though, people can engage in meaningful conversations about the why, how and what of their business and can explore potential ideas and solutions that can propel them forward, or assumptions and practices that are holding them back.
There is a new path for business to take that creates meaning, fulfills potential and delivers a positive contribution to society and the planet. As a supportive, committed community of reflective makers and builders we can walk that path and bring that into reality.
It has been a solid start to the journey of the Conscious Business Learning Lab and its purpose of building and accompanying a thriving community of sustainable purpose and values driven businesses, growing and maintaining momentum and delivering impact for the greater good.
To receive updates about upcoming Lab Discovery Workshops and programs click here to join the newsletter.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Barasa Consulting Group and MACROLeaders co-designed and facilitated the Conscious Business Learning Lab Co-creation and Discovery Session, and are pleased to share the outcomes with the CCANZ Community.
Dr Dimity Podger is Founder and Director of Barasa Consulting Group and the Conscious Business Learning Lab. She works with small to medium sized enterprises to bring their noble purpose and core values to life across leadership, culture, systems and operations. Her dual purpose is to support clients to develop both great places to work and deliver positive impact for humanity and the planet. She has worked as a consultant, learning experience designer and facilitator, and researcher for over 15 years, working with participatory and collaborative approaches with clients, delivering leadership and culture initiatives for not for profits, change makers, social enterprises, and small and large businesses across sectors in Australia and overseas. She holds a doctorate in Education for Sustainability and is a certified WeValue facilitator.
Lina Mbirkou is Founder of MACROLeaders and has partnered with Barasa as Co-designer of the Conscious Business Learning Lab Co-creation and Discovery Session. MACROLeaders is founded on five pillars: Mindfulness, Authenticity, Courage, Resilience, and Openness. She uses these to guide her work in transforming people and their organisations. She draws on mindfulness practices, design thinking and emergent methods for collective systemic transformation, such as Theory U, in her approach in developing leadership potential and meaningful team-building. Clients benefit from her innovative and creative approaches to integrate learning, change individual and collective behaviours and formalise practice, for example through her Mindful Cooking programs. Lina is a lead experience designer and an accomplished facilitator. She holds a Master of Commerce, an MBA, and is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher.