To dig deeper into this issue, I invited George Por to speak at the Systemic Leadership Summit. Mr. Por has extensive and deep experience with collective intelligence, purpose, and visionary leadership; he is a faculty member at Meridian University in Petaluma, California; and he is the founder of an online magazine, ‘Enlivening Edge,’ that is the go-to place for future responsive organization professionals.
When I asked Mr. Por about evolutionary purpose, he responded by saying, “we don’t decide what the evolutionary purpose of the organization is; we listen to what it wants to become since it is a living organism, and that is called service. Work is the greatest gift of our organization; work is the greatest gift that we can bring. In the same way, if you have a child, you cannot decide what he should be when he grows up. You look carefully at the character and the gift of the person and then support the development of those gifts. That is very much the approach of evolutionary purpose.”
Ultimately, evolutionary purpose comes down to one crucial question that Mr. Por tells us to ask: “what is the question to which my life is the answer?” Analogously, what is the question to which your organization is the answer? We also need to understand that, as our purpose continually evolves, we need to regularly reassess by continuing to ask this question. Take a moment to ponder this question before moving on.
Listening to the System
Just like we need to listen carefully to a child to discover their passions, talents, skills, and even shortcomings, we need to pay close attention to the system to reveal its evolutionary purpose. Mr. Por explains, “the listening to the evolutionary purpose is based really on the leadership. By leadership, I don’t mean people who have on their business card a formal leadership function named senior vice president or this and that. By leadership, I mean everybody in the organization with the capacity to see the all and take the stand for action that supports the well-being of the evolution as a whole and not only the parts, but the whole.”
Essentially, this act of continual discovering is a collective undertaking. Each person brings a unique perspective based on their own history and role in the system. Nonetheless, we can cultivate an ability to articulate and express this purpose by seeking a “higher world view,” says Mr. Por. To this end, expanding one’s horizons by traveling, learning new things, and living a life full of curiosity are some of the best ways that we can develop a better ear for listening to the system.
A New Structure
By applying the principles of evolutionary purpose and systemic leadership, Mr. Por has helped to develop what he called “the holocratic method of self-management.” He goes on to explain that “Holocracy is a structure, a set of rules and processes that helps all energies to express themselves in action, in word and in collaboration…. In the holocratic system, the energizer of any and every role has the absolute freedom to make any decision that she wants to express, practice, carry out the purpose of the role.”
By infusing each level of the system with autonomy and leadership, we can empower people to strive for improvements for themselves and the organization, innovate, find solutions, and naturally transform the organization. Mr. Por concludes, “it is not just being free from restrains but being free from oppression or oppressive systems. Freedom is also being free for creating and discovering the best version of myself.”
Nonetheless, we should also be sure to build accountability into the system. Without pressure from higher-ups to keep everyone coming into work, we require a new coordination mechanism. Make sure to include controls in the system that keeps individuals accountable to each other; after all, says Mr. Por, “If you don’t know what you can count on me for, there is no way to bring together the fruits of our individual efforts.”
Discovering your organization’s evolutionary purpose, taking time to listen to the system, and implementing a holacratic structure are all great steps towards changing and transforming your organization. Nonetheless, there’s one more challenge that Mr. Por extolls us to overcome: “many leaders are ready to change and transform everything except themselves. That is really the biggest challenge. How can we engage in a no-kidding way in our personal development? Without such a commitment, any effort to change orders and to change systems will have very limited impact.”
This brings us back to the dual nature of evolutionary purpose. To find and enact the purpose of your organization, to be able to do that organizational inner-work in the first place, you need to complete that inner work for yourself. You need to answer the question of your own life, before expanding your scope to the organizational level. After all, as Mr. Por concludes, “The most important resource for any systemic leader for facilitating the transformation of the organization is themselves.”
Have you discovered your evolutionary purpose? Do you know what question your organization is the answer to? I’d love to hear your answers to the questions, so please sound off in the comments below. And, if you want to learn more about systemic leadership, if you want expert help enacting lasting transformation in your organization, or even if you just want to say hi, please drop me a line at www.jennifercampbell.com.
George Por: Campus Co-Evolve