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Evolutionary raison d’être: How to articulate evolutionary reasons for being at both the collective and individual levels?

30 January 2019 | Thoughts

According to Frédéric Laloux, one of the main characteristics of “living” organizations (Opales, Libérées, Holacratiques,…) is to let evolve their raison d’être according to what the “situation” requires, i. e. not only the market or context in which the organization operates but also the meaning that each employee seeks to give, individually. In practice, the articulation between these individual quests for meaning, which are constantly evolving – if only as a result of the natural turnover of staff – and the collective raison d’être, which, even if it is evolutionary, must give the group a course, a direction, is obviously difficult to ensure. Within Phusis, beyond the respective meaning quests of each of us, we all find ourselves in Phusis’ raison d’être, which is to contribute to a better society, through supporting the implementation of collaborative governance in large companies. In this context, the need to make a profit becomes a constraint and a consequence and no longer the ultimate goal of Phusis. This allows us to remain aligned thanks to the shared meaning we give to our activity, while having great freedom of initiative, which increases the joy at work.

However, my experiences this year have taught me that one of the keys to success in establishing collaborative governance is to create the practical conditions (promoting freedom/autonomy, inclusion and personal development, as detailed below) for everyone to find individual meaning in their work, before seeking to agree on a reason to be ambitious, to change the world and to “inspire” all collaborators, but not credible in practice and often in conflict with certain practices still in use in everyday life. The first step is to ensure that the organization’s raison d’être, strategy and goals do not contain any fundamental elements that discourage a large number of employees. Only then can be gradually established an open and regular dialogue between all employees on possible changes in the collective raison d’être.

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