Author: Ali Wooding

Stories, Think Differently

A different metaphor for value & inclusion

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About seven years ago I was working with a group who were exploring a potential restructure that would affect the ownership and remuneration in the business. As the group sat talking, I noticed a dominant voice in the circle – that of the people who land the work. As I tuned in, I became aware that those who sought out and closed deals displayed an inherent sense of entitlement and worth.

As I continued to hold this in awareness, I heard the archetypal voice of Hunters. Out in the world, their job was to track down the target, make the kill and bring in the meat for all to feast upon. Spontaneously a village appeared in my mind’s eye. I saw a triumphant Hunter group returning home and witnessed their particular strength, skill and alertness. I could discern the same energy signature at work within the business conversation at hand.

I recognised the truth of this pattern in wider business culture and saw how it underpins current hierarchical structures and related beliefs about money-generation. The assumption that the ‘big earners’ hold power and maintain everyone else sets up a particular dynamic, in which those being maintained are rather beholden and dependent upon the money-bringers. In the case of the business group that day, it was expressed in a benign, fatherly way, but examples like Sport Direct present a different, more exploitative face of the uncaring business winner.

There and then, I wondered about other forms of organisation that might release greater potential and wealth-generation for everyone. As if in answer to the question, the scene shifted and I found myself viewing the village as a whole… seeing the basket weavers, the growers of plants, the nurturers, the healers, the entertainers, the elderly and many others. Extraordinarily, I saw that everyone was actively participating and that each was contributing something. They each had a place and purpose within the whole, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of their role.

In that moment, I registered something profound about value and contribution. That there can be a different template for wealth creation based on wholeness. We can build upon a different truth: that every human life is inherently valuable to the life of the whole. This is borne out in our GenerativeWork approach and many alternative systems being proposed in the field of New Economics.

Returning to the business conversation in hand, the purpose of the session was to explore a new organisational form. Knowing that the culture of this organisation was deeply creative and built upon awakened principles, I tuned in, sensing an opening and listening for systemic readiness. The tension in the space built, as different people proposed alternative ideas and forms of governance that would have changed the ownership structure. The emergent potential hovered momentarily and then the group directors closed the conversation down. Much like a wisp in the wind, the seed of potential moved on and the decision was made to keep the structure as it was.

I, in the meantime, took the precious seed to heart. Sarah and I continue to pioneer new potential that we know will fall upon fertile organisational ground at the perfect moment.


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Making Teal real

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The Teal Exchange, 1-day event, 3 March 2017, London EC1.

The term ‘Teal’ to describe the corporation as a living organism was proposed by Frederic Laloux in his book, Reinventing Organizations. The color teal, along with its living organism metaphor, is seen as the next phase of organisational evolution.

This concept of an organisation as a living entity, with its aspirations of self-management, wholeness and emergent pupose has captured the mind of many corporate leaders, coaches and advisors. Indeed, many Teal-focused forums are springing up around the world, where business leaders and consultants get together to share experiences and create a better tomorrow. They are asking…

In our current climate, how does this concept become a reality?

One challenge is that the business world does not have the artifacts or language needed for such a paradigmatic shift. Many believe that the models and inspiration we seek lie not in the business space, but rather on the periphery, perhaps in unexpected disciplines and concepts, places we less often explore.

In this spirit of exploration, Agile consultant and ‘untangler’ Tobias Mayer has created a 1-day event. The Teal Exchange invites business leaders, workers and consultants into dialog with, for example, artists, poets, theologists, biologists, musicians, psychotherapists, life coaches and organisational change agents. Alison Wooding, co-founder of GenerativeWork.Space, is one of the guest speaker/facilitators on the day.

If you would like to explore the promise of Teal, come along on 3 March, London EC1 (9am-5pm). Full details can be found here on Eventbrite.

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The evocative work of Equality

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Generative Work.Space is co-hosting the Quaker and Business conference on Embodying Equality in work on 9 November at Friends House in London. This heartfelt project offers a space for participants to hear about extraordinary work in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and to move from insight into action.

Inclusion is at the heart of systemic work. It is based on an understanding that all living systems have a collective memory and that we all have an equal right to belong, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Evolution created this mechanism to ensure the survival of the whole, not the few. It is an intelligence of living systems that creates feelings of belonging, wellbeing and safety.

In experiential terms, we have an emotional connection and a felt sense of the whole. There is a recognition of ‘all of us’ though this is usually unconscious. What this means therefore is that we also register exclusion, even if that fact is largely being ignored because we may be choosing to look away or feel too overwhelmed to deal with it. If any person, people or group are being marginalised, ignored, abused or even killed, we deal with the effects of this on everyone. We see this everyday in the interconnectedness of world affairs.

This systemic understanding means that we all matter and we all have a place, a value and a role to play in the life of the system at different levels: familial, social, organisational, and so on. Part of the beauty of next week’s conference is that we are undertaking a journey of different dimensions, with:

  • self-awareness – what parts of myself do I exclude?
  • work system-awareness – to which intitiatives can I contribute in my work/organisation and where do I fit in the many different identity groups?
  • societal system-awareness – what impact is our vision, our initiatives & our being having on wider society and the ecosystem?
In the context of Brexit and the rise of Trump in the U.S. we know that the question of growing divisions and polarisation between different groups needs addressing. As we grapple with the reality of a global world, of living together as multi-cultural communities and a changing sense of identity, what will make a difference? As leaders of business, used to connecting people for mutual benefit, can we step forward and play a vital role in the deeper service of social integration and inclusion?
Please come along and join the co-hosts and our amazing speakers – Michael Lassman, Marcus Alldrick, Rehena Harilall and Satish Kumar. Booking details here