An Integral Approach
Over a long period in both technical and management roles in the oil and gas, chemical, recruitment and contractor management businesses, and now as the Managing Director of a leading Australian based consultancy, I know many senior leaders want to leave a legacy for their organisation and their communities based on the quality of their reputation for leadership.
Most of us have extensive expertise in technical areas such as finance, science, engineering, marketing etc. yet we struggle to fully engage the minds and hearts of our people and customers. In fact we often assume they share our points of view on our organisations’ capabilities only to be shocked when the realisation occurs that there is a disconnect between what we as leaders believe is important and what our customers and our people believe is important.
Intriguingly very few leaders understand the nature of organisational dynamics and the way in which organisations are profoundly driven by the influence of multiple stakeholder points of view and the organisation’s capability to align and energise these perspectives.
Importantly most of us don’t want to be known as the leader that led our organisations to stagnation, takeover or bankruptcy. However, history shows us that there is a litany of senior leaders in economies all over the world that have done exactly that.
Why is there so much evidence suggesting that CEO’s and MD’s of small, medium and large enterprises have difficulty in engaging their people and having them reach performance levels that will leave a lasting legacy?
There can be no doubt that the world is now more complex than ever before - it is mind boggling and at times emotionally overwhelming. The world only seems to get more complex as we confront the major challenges of the day; technological changes, volatile markets, extreme religious fundamentalism, environmental degradation, failing education systems and reactionary financial markets. Senior leaders everywhere need to adjust and cope with the rapid, seemingly never ending changes facing them on a daily basis and yet many of them ignore what is going on around them and continue doing what they have always done. This invariably leads to performance that is suboptimal and possibly to failure.
As leaders we have applied many different disciplines, approaches and worldviews to these issues often hoping to find the one ‘silver bullet’ that resolves these complex issues. In my career I have witnessed and been engaged in the following to name just a few:
- Cost Reductions Initiatives
- Cultural Change Programs
- Management Development and Leadership Programs
- Quality Initiatives
- Vision and Values Initiatives
- Balance Scorecard Initiatives
- Innovation and productivity Initiatives
All of these have a role to play in organisational performance but undertaken in isolation they are at best only partially effective and this is the dilemma. Do I as a leader do nothing, or do I lead effort that is at least partially effective? Most of us know that we need a way of linking, leveraging and aligning these initiatives so that their contributions to the challenges and opportunities we face are optimised and effective.
But how do we do it?
Since the mid-2000s organisations have been integrating some of the world’s leading leadership and development approaches with the work of Ken Wilber and the concept of the Integral Framework, a term he coined for both assessing and designing integrated organisational and business solutions.
The Integral Framework provides individuals and organisations with a powerful organisational contour map that can be applied in any context and scale. The Integral Framework organises all existing leadership and organisational development theories into one overarching developmental approach and enables us to connect our organisation’s development efforts into one coherent whole.
The Integral Framework can be used in personal development and organisation wide contexts: from coaching to leadership development to organisational change and transformation.
At Cornerstone Integral we use the Integral Framework to help our clients manage and deal with complexity by developing coherent and effective solutions.
So the obvious question is, “What is the framework?”
Like a compass that shows direction through north south east and west, The Integral Framework enables us to navigate four perspectives that are always present in any sphere of organisational activity.
- The perspective of individuals connected to the organisation (Perspective Mastery).
- The perspectives of groups and teams connected to the organisation (Cultural Mastery).
- The capability of individuals within the organisation (Capability Mastery).
- The tangible systems, structures and strategies of the organisation (Systems Mastery).
The Integral Framework provides direction when requiring an approach to organisational diagnosis and need identification. The following key questions are examples which guide us in our approach.
So when I’m asked to explain the benefits of applying an Integral Framework I summarise it as follows:
The Integral Framework enables leaders to align their approaches to organisation and leadership development so as to create long-term value through a balanced approach that accounts for people, profits, service delivery, innovation and the community we operate within- both globally and locally.
Finally, I would personally like to thank and acknowledge the work and contribution of both Ken Wilber and Sean Esborn Hargens who have through their unique intellects brought the Integral Framework to life and have shown the value of new and broader perspectives that will in the years and decades to come, make our organisations and communities better and more livable places to inhabit.
So where to from here?
Before starting, we need to make sure we don’t stop anything. Asking people to pause while working out a new path or making large declarations of change programs can easily impact the organisation’s results.
Engaging with the Integral Framework is not a case of throwing out what has already been done but building on it and planning the next integral development steps.
To assist you in scoping how to proceed we offer an obligation free 3 hour white board session to discover the power of using the Integral Framework and to help uncover your current and future road blocks, while mapping your entire organisation in a way that you never thought possible; please fill out the form on our contact page or call us on 1300 133 550 to get started. One of our experienced consultants will get back to you within 24 hours to arrange a time to begin your unique journey.
Chris Drake, Managing Director