Meta-Business: An Emergence of New Consciousness

WORLD BUSINESS ACADEMY Perspectives, September 1989                           


Meta-Business: An Emergence of New Consciousness


by John Renesch


In the world of business, there are changes in the wind that will be more far reaching than technology, style, or form. There will be fundamental shifts in the way business is done worldwide. These differences will reflect many of the contextual changes that have been experienced by millions of individuals since the 1960's. It is impossible to describe how the new business organization will look, or exactly what values it will represent. That's because it is evolving, and evolution cannot be predicted or stopped to have its picture taken as a fixed model. Some have referred to this emerging phenomenon as the "new paradigm in business."


It is possible, with astute observation, to witness some of the early signs of this evolutionary shift and describe what can been seen and what can be reasonably predicted based on this changing "texture."


In an attempt to clarify this evolution, some characteristics of the conventional or traditional ways of doing business have been compared with some characteristics of what has been observed as emerging new ways. A partial list of these characteristics is compiled below, received from numerous sources.


The Evolving Business Organization


Some characteristics of the Traditional and Emerging Contexts for Business


                                       Traditional Ways                       Emerging New Trends


           A.            LEADERSHIP

                           Controlling, dogmatic, masculine                  Evoking, allowing, more feminine

                           Use of willpower                                        Use of time and space

                           Domination (power over)                            Dominion (power with)

                           Power-driven                                             Vision-driven

                           Power in money, status, information            Power in conscious awareness

                           Defined methodology                                  Unknown territory

                           Leadership = A Person                                Leadership = A "Space"

                           The leader as a status-filled role                  The leader as a service-filled role

                           Competitive/Secretive                                 Competitive/Cooperative

                           Dealing with conditions                               Discovering context

                           Economics rule                                          Individual empowerment                                                                                                  

                           Seeking usefulness                                     Seeking value


           B.             ATTITUDE/CULTURE

                           Solving problems                                        Creating opportunities

                           Progress by increments                              Progress by leaps

                           Blame for failures                                      Support for continuous effort

                           Short term focus                                        Long term considerations

                           Machine/capital based                                People based

                           Linear/logical, continuous                            Creative, discontinuous

                           Analyzing                                                  Synthesizing

                           Knowing, rigid, "rightness"                          Learning, exploring, open

                           Boredom                                                   Wonder, awe

                           Calculating, manipulative                             Unfolding

                           Conservative, traditional                              Evolutionary

                           Exploitive                                                   Socially responsible


C.             STRUCTURE

                 Hierarchy of unequals                                 Voluntary association of equals

                 Vertical structure                                       Horizontal, organic structure

                 Past regimen reinforced                              Creativity and freedom nurtured

                 Centralized offices, with controls                 Less centralized; more home offices

                 Hourly approach to performance                 Results approach to performance

                 "Leaders" given power                               Individuals empowered

                 Rigid structure, resists change                     Flexible structure, open to change

                 Form for sake of form                                Form flows from purpose

                 Denied spirit; mind rules                              Spirit endowed; mind serves spirit


D.             MANAGEMENT

                 Supervise, intimidate employees                   Inspire, care for teammates

                 Motivate through fear/security                     Support individuals in their growth

                 Secrecy                                                     Openness

                 Focus on organizational needs                     Focus on customer and stakeholder needs

                 Politics played                                            No politics

                 Co-dependency/dependency                        Inter-dependency

                 Alignment by agreement/edict                     "Natural" alignment

                 Focus on job performance                           Focus on individuals' well-being

                 Individuals should "play it safe"                   Individual-s encouraged to take risks

                 People valued for "productivity"                  People valued because they are people

                 Individuals restricted, confined                     Individuals free within agreed limits

                 Dispassionate                                             Compassionate

                 "Management by Objectives"                      Management by "Sixth Sense"

                 Valuation on corporate identity                    Valuation on diversity


E.             INDIVIDUAL

                 Loyal/obligated to organization                     Loyal to self, one's own purpose

                 Driven by survival needs                             Driven by desire to grow

                 Fearful and insecure                                   Trusting and secure

                 Financially motivated                                  Personal satisfaction motivates

                 Outer acknowledgement needed                  Acknowledgement comes from self

                 Individual "specialness," heroics                  Individual uniqueness

                 Adversarial thinking                                    Team thinking

                 Goals are to get ahead, "succeed"               Goals are to be kind, honest; have fun

                 Feelings unexpressed                                  Okay to express feelings

                 Blame directed towards others                    Personal responsibility

                 "Owing" the company                                "Owning" the company; there by choice


John Renesch invites feedback on these characteristics from members and fellows of the Academy. Please write to him at Renesch & Associates, 1000 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.


John Renesch has been consulting entrepreneurs since 1968, when he first founded Renesch & Associates, Inc He has served as founding CEO and Managing Director for many of his clients, as well as his own ventures. He is the author of Setting Goals, and a member of the World Business Academy.



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