The “Carbon” of The Organic Enterprise

The “Carbon” of The Organic Enterprise

September 21st, 2009 // 2:03 am @

While participating this past week in Dr. Peter Senge’s leadership program based on his book “The Fifth Discipline“, I was asked several times about The Organic Enterprise. Specifically, the questions centered on what makes an enterprise “organic”. Many of the answers focused on how natural systems provided great models for organizations to use in how they structure themselves to best deal with constant change and complexity.

While describing the concept to one fellow participant, it occured to me that much like all organic matter contains carbon as it’s basic element, so too must there be a common foundation for any Organic Enterprise – and this common element is purpose.

As part of Dr. Senge’s program, we spent several days probing deep into ourselves to discover what really drove us to live life – what was our vision? In the final session, we spent several hours describing this vision, what it meant to us, and how we were going to work to make it real. To a person, we each discovered that no matter what we wanted personally, we were each craving a desire to make a positive difference in the world; to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; to really matter. One wanted to help lead his native Haiti out of devastating poverty and cycles of economic dependence. Another wanted to find ways to increase the cooperation among governmental branches in Zimbabwe. Still another wanted to start their own business and develop new innovation in re-newable energy. Regardless of the personal vision each participant had, the one common element was having a passion for making a difference in the world.

These teleological discussions serve to illustrate why the core principal of any entity that desires to get the most out of it’s people must be designed to capture the innate desire for people to make a difference; to have a purpose. It’s no accident that the most passionate people can be found following some kind of a religion – whether it’s an established sect or a cult of their own creation. For example, one only has to go a few verses into the book of Genesis to find the assertion that humans were made in the “image” or “likeness” of the Creator. If the Torah is true, everyone is literally a “carbon copy” (pun intended) of the Deity – having an inherent value as the essential basis of their nature.

In a similar way, we find that any organization missing this elemental, “carbon”, life-giving component cannot really consider itself to be truly alive.

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