How healthy is your organization – really? Put another way, how balanced and inspiring is your operating system? How freeing is it for people who work there? How well does information, work and value flow? Do people feel at peace? Do you have heijunka, or peaceful order as it is referred to in Japan by world class companies? Are your work systems and structure essentially stress-free? Do people feel good when they step into your corporate culture? Do they feel good when they go home, perhaps even sharing the positive impact with their family and friends?
These are questions a “zentrepreneur” asks. We go beyond the obvious questions to deeper, more systemic questioning. It is not always clear that a misaligned hip or knee is what is causing a pain in the neck or a headache. It is not always easy to detect that an imbalanced liver is causing fits of anger or depression. Root causes can be hard to find. “Systems-thinking” is the missing link in many of our innovative endeavors. We miss the critical connections and relationships between inputs and outputs, causes and effects. It does us little long term good to address a symptom with a synthetic pill when the true root cause is somewhere else and is completely immune to the quick fix. Indeed, we may even make the problem worse or create a new one. It takes a deeper level of understanding and knowledge to solve problems by eliminating root causes without side effects. Preventing problems is a very different strategy than detecting and correcting them after they have happened. Innovation is a vast step beyond traditional improvement efforts. This applies to corporate wellness program now more than ever.
W. Edwards Deming, the grandfather of Total Quality Management, once said, “Hard work and best efforts without guidance of profound knowledge may well be the root of our ruination. There is no substitute for knowledge.” As a business consultant and zentrepreneur, I see this correlation all the time – people working hard and stressing out but getting nowhere. It is as if they are on a treadmill – without the health benefits of true exercise! This on-going stress does not go away just because we hit the gym several times a week, obsess over a favorite television drama, or toss back a few drinks. Organizational leaders need to be aware that they can have a massive impact on holistic health and well-being, not just by providing and promoting healthy food choices and exercise classes, but by finding ways to alter the way people feel while at work.
Deming also said, “Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest.” In most cases, business systems and structures are synonymous with corporate culture. This is simply “the way we do things around here.” If these systems and structures are not healthy, balanced, harmonized and flowing, the people in these systems will not feel at peace. This “dis-ease” will ultimately cause disease – in one form or another. Like illness, true health begins in the mind. Fear, anxiety and stress do not help. These energy frequencies create resistance in the body at the cellular level and eventually manifest into troubling symptoms if not released. We have to learn to let go to let flow. True health requires more than exercise equipment and nutritious diets. These factors help, but we have to look deeper than this, especially when we are running organizations and hiring people to work in these organizations. We have to consider what we are requiring people to do day after day. Put good people in bad systems and witness them suffering, despite good intentions. Put good people in good systems and watch the inspiration coordinated efforts flourish into miraculous results. Remove the obstacles and constraints and life force will flow as it is meant to flow. “Zenergy” will carry us to new heights, authentic wellness and abundant prosperity.
Wise leaders and zentrepreneurs recognize that an oak tree does not have to try to grow strong and tall. A blade of grass does not have to work hard to grow green. The life force, or chi energy, is in its essence. It is in the seed. It is in the DNA. It is universal law. People are no different when it comes to inspiration and growth. We are meant to grow. We are the manifestation of spirit, eternal souls searching for expansion, expression and growth. This translates into an innate desire to be creative, act on ideas and experience joy. It is the Tao. It is the great current of life. It is the essence of well-being. All we really have to do is get out of our own way. We have to learn to let go of the fear and resistance and mental barriers blocking this powerful energy, or zenergy, and ride the great wave of life. Clinging to an anchor dragging us under is not wise. Baggage obstructs and disrupts flow.
Letting go for many people is easier said than done. No doubt, human beings are creatures of habits. We get attached to things, temporary as they are, and then fear losing them. Consciously or subconsciously, we go through life being afraid. Much of this is subconscious, meaning we do not even know we are afraid, and even if we do, we still don’t understand why or how to let it go. We never really figure out exactly what it is holding us back – the insecurity, the attachment to false self or ego, the resistance or the unrest. We just keep plowing away, often justifying or rationalizing the very anchor and baggage dragging us under.
Smart organizations are like winning sports teams. We exercise more than physical prowess, capital investment and positive motivation. We are well orchestrated, strategic and wise. We use intelligence and coordinated efforts to align people and eliminate obstructions – including fear, doubt and insecurity. In the end, the evidence of true health and success is revealed in how people feel at the end of the day. Winning teams design healthy attitudes into their cultures. Winning teams use flawless systems and zenergetic execution to manifest results that build enthusiasm, momentum and positive belief within the team. You know you are well when you feel it!
John Murphy, the founder (1988) and president of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in creating lean, high performance work cultures as well as the author of Zentrepreneur: Create a Culture of Innovation and Fearlessness