“People bring their humanity to work with them every single day, and until we find a way to engage the emotional life of the workplace, we will not succeed in meeting our most important goals”
Kegan and Lahey, Immunity to Change, 2009)
We tend to see the workplace as entirely separate from the home and personal life of the individual, but theorists such as Kegan and Lahey argue that this is unhelpful and restrictive. What if, instead, we realised the connections between the public and the private spheres, and began to operate our businesses on these terms?
For me, enterprise is a collective of individuals who all take risks in their employment. This necessarily means that shared purpose, risk and reward underpin every aspect of organisational life, and the commitment that every individual brings to this process should be valued on an equal level. Partnership, rather than a typical hierarchy of power, must surely be the model for the businesses of the future.
It is a commonly held, but misguided, belief that individual contributions to a business are most valuable if they come from higher up the chain of command. In reality, those businesses that adhere to a top down management system are typified by the way in which greater importance is allocated to the views, beliefs, experiences and ideas of those in more senior/management positions, compared with others working within the business. I believe that this is a skewed perspective that can ultimately only produce skewed outcomes.
In The Theory of the Growth of the Firm (2009), Edith Penrose argues that effective and sustainable business growth can be the result of a social learning process that values contributions from the bottom up as well as those from specialist staff. This is a radical departure from the existing status quo for most organisations, and it is a serious undertaking to ensure that this change permeates throughout the core of a business and becomes an embodying principle at every level.
An Equality-based theory of business:
- Relies on re-framing expectations and relationships within the enterprise
- Stems from a believe that there is enough for everyone, and that the distribution of knowledge, power and experience must be equal
- Redefines effectiveness and success, with opportunities for everyone to ‘win’
- Breaks down the barriers between the public and the private spheres, allowing for new levels of communication and understanding
- Embraces the knowledge that everyone is capable of extraordinary things when conditions allow.
Your Business, Re-Framed
Kieth Deats is a specialist in Equality-Based Practice and has committed his lifetime’s work and doctoral practice study to addressing equality at every level of society as a practitioner. He is driven to enable this with individuals, teams and leaders. He currently partners with peer practitioners and entrepreneurs, working to develop frameworks that introduce and integrate Equality-Based practices and management actions to update and evolve their enterprises. The goal is to sustain and increase rates of growth, with a determination to see each other’s success and the well-being of leaders and their organisations as a priority for Modern Enterprise.
Kieth is available to give talks, and enable the design and implementation of Equality-Based Practices in your own settings, and is contactable via www.recree8.com.