Subscribe to our Blog!

Podcasts

Ingrid Martine and Rick Maurer - The Un-Game Book Interview

Subscribe To Our Feeds

Monthly Archives: January 2013

Corporations of the Future: Dream or Nightmare?

Un-Game Principle: Corporate success can be measured in traditional terms only at great risk to our future.

I’m a coach. Among the clients I coach are business leaders. Corporations have been vilified since the housing collapse of 2008, the economic bailout, outrage over CEO bonuses and CEO pay that is 300 times (or more) that of the worker, and the amazing amounts of money pouring into our elections when the Supreme Court in the Citizen United v. the Federal Election Commission decided that money could be speech. On the recent 3rd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision there were 75 cities asking their state legislatures through rallies to amend the Constitution and curb corporate power. Eleven states have already officially petitioned Congress.

The country is in great unrest. Independent of political party affiliation, we have deep questions about our institutions including our corporations which we, our great country’s citizen, created to serve the public good. I believe corporations deserve to be vilified. I’m even passionate about my position. Sounds dangerous to my job, doesn’t it? Maybe so. But let me clarify. The corporate villains are few. They are the mega-corporations like BP and Enron. They include the banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who cozy up to our gridlocked government. They are the ones that have been designated “too big to fail”. Implied in that is that they’re also too big to be held responsible. They’re not unlike 12 year old kids whose hormones and parental laissez-faire make them into monsters even their mothers can’t stand!

I work almost exclusively with smaller businesses. And small businesses agree with the majority of Americans that the mega-corporations have too much unregulated power. They, in large numbers (66.6% if they are aware of the 2010 Citizen United decision) support a constitutional amendment which will not let money be equivalent to speech, thus reducing your and my voices to a whisper of influence.

“Ok. Where are you going with this?” you wonder, if you’re still reading.

Let me cut to the chase. I’m suggesting that we need to change our mind about corporations in a fundamental way. And when enough of us change our mind, we’ll change the corporations’ operational mind-set. And lastly we’ll change the politicians’ mind (Sigh! They’re the last to do it because, like it or not, they always wait for us to lead.).

Presently most corporations have a very specific job. Make money for their shareholders. That has been and is the guiding principle. There is one bottom line: Money. Everything else takes the back seat or is not counted at all. The longest vision is the next quarter. There’s no question about the true cost of the product, upstream and downstream. The embodied energy it takes to produce that t-shirt? Not considered. The disposal of the product after it expires, be it computers or athletic shoes? Irrelevant. The human cost in child labor in countries that do our work cheaply? Not our business. The toxins put into our waters from disposal of petroleum waste products? Someone will figure it out.

Money is the bottom line. And now money equals speech. Can you compete with the roar of the corporations?

We’re so used to business as usual that we don’t question the bottom line. But the corporation of the future (and the future is or should be now) will question this business model. There are many smaller businesses who have already embraced the future. There’s Stonyfield who makes my yogurt and Patagonia who dresses me for outdoor challenges. The best example of a larger corporation who has questioned the single bottom line is the multi-national giant Ray Anderson founded: Interface-Flor. These corporations conduct business as UNusual. And they started the only way change can start if it’s to be sustained. Supported by the best thinkers in the country, they started by their leaders changing their MIND!

Changing minds sounds too small. Sounds like inaction. Un-American even. But it’s actually where all major changes originate. Change your mind, change your life. And these corporations’ leaders changed their mind about what constitutes good business and what constitutes the bottom line.

The bottom line of Interface-Flor and the corporations you and I will support in the future through the purchase of their products will be the triple bottom line. In order to be successful, the corporation must be profitable, serve people, and do no harm to the planet. All decisions will be filtered through this triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profits. All three represent the wealth of the business (Read about it in story form in The Un-Game: Four-Play to Business As Unusual and in Ray Anderson’s true account of the transformation of Interface-Flor in his book, Mid-Course Correction. Both are available at www.amazon.com)

Observing the triple bottom line in action nation-wide would represent a massive mind-set shift. The difficulty for getting there can’t be overestimated. Most people say it can’t be done. And so we tweak a little here and a little there, but it’s hopeless. Our old mind-set will reassert itself unless we see what holds the old mind-set so firmly in place. And in order to do that we need first and foremost to be interested and open-minded, acknowledging that we don’t have the corner on the truth.

Our old mind-set is unsustainable. By definition it cannot last.

Mind-sets are held in place by unexamined assumptions. We are powerless to make sustainable changes unless we can make our unexamined assumptions, parading as truth, visible and can start to scrutinize the “truths we hold to be self-evident.” So what are the truths we hold to be self-evident that would make it impossible to change our mind, even if our life depended on it? I’ll offer a starting point with one unexamined assumption. Assumption: Earth’s bounty, commonly described as resources, is unlimited and exists for human consumption.

If this one is NOT a valid assumption, what then? Our dream or our nightmare?

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Chronically Contented People and the Creativity Crisis

Un-Game Principle: Behaviors we neither see nor choose disempower us. It pays to look, see, and tell the truth about them. Doing so leads us to authentic, creative action.

Corporate America, oh heck, let’s even say life in general, is unintentionally doing everything possible to assure a diminishing creativity just at the very time we need creativity more than ever. I know. You’ll argue and pointedly point to the enormous creativity we’re experiencing amidst the technological revolution. True enough. I give. My statement is both true AND false.

So here’s how my statement “we’re in the middle of a creativity crisis” is true. People report record degrees of stress and overwhelm. We see evidence all around us. Increased depression, addiction, obesity. Oh let me stop before I get depressed. And here’s what we know about creativity. People are zero% creative when they are stressed, especially if the stress is chronic. Creativity flourishes in quiet spaces: meditation, the shower, while napping; also in cultures of creativity…who know something about creating and supporting said culture. Think exercise rooms and couches for napping in some of the most amazing corporations like Google.

Traditionalist leaders shake their head in dismay and say “Crazy! People are here to work. I’m going to get what I pay for. Eight hours of work.”

Not! You’re not going to get eight hours worth of good work. There’s plenty of evidence for that too.

Chances for creativity and innovation are enhanced when you can get radical. By radical I mean get to the root of something. So a good question to ask is “What keeps stress-producing behaviors and expectations in place even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they won’t get us what we fervently desire?”

Engaging in the question, not taking your first or second answer as “That’s it!” is a real step toward creativity, but we tend not to do that. We tend to ask a question and then expect an answer. Partially it’s because we’re stressed and in a hurry (sigh), and partially it’s because we value expertise over curiosity. Experts often get in the way of being creative! The answer cuts off further inquiry. You are no longer open and receptive. You stop being alert for possibilities. You’re on to the next thing.

Another good set of questions might be “What’s so urgent that is served by lack of openness and receptiveness?” “Is the urgent also important?” “In what way could it be useful to question your certainty about this?”

So I’m not going to answer any of these questions. Their value is in the questions themselves and in the process of engaging with them. I invite you to offer up your own answers, and I’ll offer a few too in one of the next posts. If you accept the invitation to inquire within, take a few deep breaths (really!). Then resist the temptation to accept your first or second answer as the definitive truth. Chronic stress not only seriously impairs creativity; it also prevents you from experiencing chronic contentment.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Goals, Not Ghouls

 

Un-Game Principle: To be empowered, a.k.a. getting out of the mind-fog, you must learn to make distinctions.

Do you remember your reaction upon achieving a goal that you were really excited about? Getting that perfect job? As a teacher raising your under-performing class’ performance to exceed grade level on the dreaded standardized test? Making a showcase out of a formerly sad old rambling house?

I bet you didn’t say “Relief.” Nor just satisfaction. No, you say “Joy.” That’s what you feel like when you accomplish a goal that you really care about. One that was chosen by you, not someone else. Not one that you think you “should” accomplish.

A “should” goal is not really a goal. It’s a ghoul. Relegate ghouls to Halloween! They don’t belong in your life. And don’t confuse the relief you feel when you accomplish a task on your “to do” list with accomplishing a goal. A task is not a goal. Remember Goal achievement equals JOY, Task achievement equals RELIEF.

Now, I know we need to accomplish tasks too. It’s not one choice or another, but it helps to know what you’re going for, so that when you get there you won’t be disappointed.

This is the time of year people think about goals and making changes. It’s been on my mind too. I’ve been asked by a local women’s organization to speak about goals. So I want to distinguish what we need to be aware of operationally in order to design goals worth playing for.

PLAY. Joy and play are closely related.

Most people don’t think about going for goals as play. Why not, I wonder. After all, the dictionary defines a goal as an area or an object toward which play is directed. What if we looked at them that way? And would it be useful to be curious about what would make going for a goal “play”?

The most important thing about a goal is that you be excited about it. It should be related to demonstrating a value that’s really important to you, for example, being a loving family member or friend. Or being a visionary leader, or an effective manager. Or being physically fit and healthy. Or being financially successful (as defined by you). Or being a successful poet, writer, or an artist or an adventurer (all defined by YOU, not some authority). These are not goals in and of themselves. People confuse them as goals. Don’t do that. They simply give you a sense of direction. And you should remember the value that you will be demonstrating when the opponent…all those doubts and worries that say “What were you thinking when you decided to put sky-diving on your bucket list and scheduled it for May 15, 2013?”…wakes you from a fitful sleep. You answer confidently: “I long to be an adventurer, and this goal is how I demonstrate it!”

I guarantee you’ll feel joy on May 15, 2013 after the jump. And again when you show your friends the video to prove it!

The other thing you need to know about goals is that there are two types of challenges associated with goals. And one is easier to meet than the other. A technical challenge has a technical solution. If you want to learn to speak French for that new Parisian account you just landed, you can find many ways to do it. If you achieve it by following steps 1 through 10, then learning French was a technical challenge for you. If you start and stop, abandon it entirely, surprise yourself by the seemingly stupid obstacles you put in your way (not study, not ask questions, etc), then you have an adaptive challenge (Most weight-loss goals and stop smoking goals are adaptive challenges). With adaptive challenges we need to change behaviors. Therefore, for adaptive challenges you need a whole different set of skills as well as awareness of why the behaviors that are obstructive in terms of goal-achievement are at the same time brilliant and necessary for other very important reasons. Go to my website www.ingridmartine.com, fill out your contact information, get one of two free reports, and click on the “I’m tired of the I’m Stuck Muck” graphic to read about the coaching offer I make for meeting an adaptive challenge you have. Anyone who does that by the end of January can contact me for a free session during which I’ll help you articulate one goal, technical or adaptive.

That’s another reason people often don’t reach their goal. The goal they articulate is often not actionable. You’ve probably heard the acronym S.M.A.R.T. goal. A goal needs to meet ALL criteria: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, and TIME-BOUND. I left out “R” because there are several versions of “R”. I like RELEVANT. Relevant to what? Relevant to a value that you really, really long to express (see earlier). Because when the going gets tough, and it will, you need to be able to refocus on why this is important to you. “Why is this relevant to who I see myself being in the world?” That’s what will see you through, give you stamina, and clear-headedness. That’s what will contribute to the joy on May 15, 2013 after you overcame your fear and jumped out of that perfectly fine airplane (Plenty would say you’re crazy, but it’s your goal not theirs!).

Enjoy your goal-setting. Leave the ghouls for Halloween. Here are some examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Notice the present tense verb. Not I WILL take but…

  1. I take a walking tour with Judy in the Himalayas by August 1, 2013. (longing: to be well traveled. Judy must agree, or you have to change your goal to something you alone can probably control)
  2. I publish my memoir with illustrations by October 16, 2014. (longing: to be a successful author)
  3. I work under legendary Bill McDonnough’s supervision on the design of our Seattle office by June, 2013. (longing: to be a visionary leader)

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

The One Practice We Must Relearn

Un-Game Principle: Moment-by-moment awareness of ourselves and others in challenging situations is highly relevant to learning to think creatively with each other.

Our modern world is full of increasingly stunning technological advances and an increasing inability to live together. The short of it is that we don’t know how to talk deeply, authentically with one another. We don’t know how to connect through dialogue.

In professional settings especially, we see talking together as a “waste of time” if we don’t have a specific objective. The norms all seem designed to prevent genuine contact. We look to people as functions and what they can deliver relative to their function.

Dialogue according to William Isaacs is the art of thinking together for the purpose of uncovering shared meaning, a practice largely forgotten but one we can’t afford to not relearn given our global village and challenging situations where people routinely dig in their heels (think union/ management negotiations, mergers).

To be in dialogue we must learn four practices. These practices require constant repetition over time with the understanding that one is always learning. There’s no quick “how to”. Here are the skills, although “doing” always takes a back seat to who we are “being” in dialog (Moment-by-moment self-awareness is important).

  1. Listening
  2. Respecting
  3. Suspending
  4. Voicing

Listening means not only hearing the words (my own and others’), but also letting in and eventually letting go my own reaction and my own clamoring to build my case. In other words, I have to slow down. And notice how I’m listening now. Do I say “I don’t have time for this?” How much am I affected by my opinions of this person? What am I adding to what I’m hearing based on conclusions I have about this person or what she’s saying? What stories am I making up about the set of “facts” he’s presenting?

Stop assuming you know how to listen. You’ll stop learning, and learning to listen through practice is essential to dialogue.

Respecting comes from Latin and means “to look again”. It acknowledges there may be more to see than I thought. It’s an honoring of the person and an acknowledgment through action that I may have closed down some possibilities in relation to them, and an action. I had such an experience this morning. A young woman had written me how we could live sustainably on the planet. From her previous writings, I had expected a vision of a little eco-village that was a throwback to the 60ties. I blushed in embarrassment when I saw a vision of breadth and depth with mathematical models that made my head spin.  My self-awareness as to how I was listening to her enabled me to back up and look again. Respecting. It’s an acknowledgment that participants in the dialogue have something to teach us. Respecting is essential to dialogue.

Respecting is also about not trying to fix the polarizations present in the group. In dialogue we resist trying to solve a problem. We are trying to have shared meaning. That means we’re willing to surface the polarizations so that everyone can see them. Respecting is to look again and to observe what there may be to learn as we look together.

This doesn’t mean it’s easy. The group starts out polite and cautious. But conflict happens sooner or later. And then most groups quit or retreat into politeness where nothing happens. We don’t know that conflict is good news! One step closer to thinking together. We’re not practiced in going through the conflict; we just try to get beyond its discomfort. But dialogue is about inquiring, being curious, especially in the midst of conflict. Hard as it is, we must not discuss, analyze, advocate, placate or manipulate. If we do it, somebody has to show us our misguided effort if we don’t see it ourselves. Once we see it, we have to change course and go into inquiry mode.

With the next skill, suspending, you can get to the other side of conflict. Beyond conflict there’s magic. People relate authentically and start thinking together. There’s peace, even friendship, and profound satisfaction.

Suspending: Normally when we listen to someone, we form an opinion. If we don’t agree with what we hear, we usually resist or reject theirs and defend our own. In dialogue people see an additional choice. They can suspend their opinion and the certainty behind it. It doesn’t mean they suppress what they think. Just the opposite. Suspending means “hanging” your view out for all to see. It does mean that nobody advocates for what they think. This is a difficult challenge everywhere, but especially in business.

In business people are paid for their expertise, that is, to be certain. But people who are certain can’t get into dialogue. They need to access their ignorance! In dialogue people don’t have everything they say worked out in advance. They value their capacity to surprise themselves. They’re willing to be influenced by others and by what they hear. Suspension is the ability to see what’s happening as it’s happening and to make use of it. Suspending is essential to dialogue.

Voicing: Finally we come to perhaps the most challenging aspects of genuine dialogue. Says William Isaacs: “Speaking your voice has to do with revealing what is true for you regardless of other influences that might be brought to bear.” And poet David Whyte who works with corporations writes that “courageous speech has always held us in awe.”

It’s true, but what choice do we have? Our authentic voice is what’s needed to bring forth a new and overdue paradigm in every aspect of modern life. We cannot keep on with business as usual. But this new paradigm cannot emerge when we think alone together! It cannot emerge with our present attitudes and skills. It can only emerge in a long-forgotten, sorely needed practice we must revive: dialogue. It’s about time to take the time.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.