Three years ago I left a good position in a well established company to follow an ambitious dream. At the time I formulated it something like this: “I will open minds and hearts to help create new possibilities and hope. I will facilitate the discovery of a better future – one where we are connected in more authentic ways”. I remember how good, but also how scary, it felt to claim that vision for myself. I had a strong sense of what I was supposed to do and I felt ready to step into it but I had very little idea on how it was going to unfold. Three years later there are still many unknowns but there are also many valuable insights I have gained along the way. I am sure they will resonate with many fellow entrepreneurs and I suspect (hope) they are also increasingly relevant to more established organizations.

Lesson #1: The initial goals, strategies & measures you set for yourself won’t last.
I will always remember the day I announced my intention to leave. I was making a clear choice to go after a dream, and was full of hope for the future. This energy carried over into the first couple of weeks & months. Everything was fresh and exciting, everything was possible. I created an ambitious plan for the next three years and clearly defined my USP, target market, financial goals, marketing strategy etc…I ticked all the boxes. As I moved to implementation mode however, things started to get off track. I wasn’t signing as many clients as I needed to meet my financial target and my message wasn’t coming across as clearly as it had been in my head at the onset. When people asked me how things were going I noticed that my story was considerably less upbeat than 6 months earlier. What had happened? Were my hopes and dreams being crushed already?

Lesson #2: The essence of your vision is the only constant you can rely on.
My default reaction was to take a step back into my comfort zone and broaden the scope of my work to also include more mainstream consulting projects. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do but after a number of such projects I started to feel the same restlessness as before. I knew that the vision I had committed to would not go away, I knew it would keep tugging at my heart. What needed to change was not the underlying purpose of my work but the mindset and approach for bringing it to life. This encouraged me to re-define my strategies, goals and measures in a way that reflect the long term aspect of this work and encourages me to put more focus on the elements that are in my control (such as building credibility and trust, sharing ideas, starting a dialogue…).

Lesson #3: Choosing to leave a stable job in pursuit of an entrepreneurial dream is a big commitment and takes courage but it is nothing compared to the commitment and courage needed to keep the vision alive on a day to day basis.
In re-committing to the original vision I was making a choice to be true to myself, to stand up for what I believed in and what I can uniquely contribute. In saying “Yes” to my dream I was saying “No” to many other potential avenues but I was also creating the space for more aligned opportunities to present themselves. From then on I realized that commitment is not something that you do once or twice at some critical milestone. Instead it is a continual, day by day, moment by moment, process of re-connecting with the core of what drives us and choosing to meet the world from this place.

Lesson #4: It helps to stay committed when other people believe in you but don’t seek it out as a substitute for believing in yourself.
In the beginning, I personally found it very important that my close friends and family trusted me and believed in what I was doing. In some ways I thought of it as a validation, and my confidence depended on it. This of course was a dangerous trap. The love and respect between friends and family will always be there, but truly getting people on board with my project is something I would have to earn. Realizing that my desire for external reinforcement / support was in fact driven by a lack of belief in myself was a huge eye opener. To continue on this journey I knew I had to re-calibrate my definition of success and create an environment where my own self worth did not depend on the outside world.

Lesson #5: Success is not found in what you do & what you’ve achieved but who you’ve become in the process.
To move forward I had to let go of my attachment to outcomes. I now pay much more attention to how I am feeling in the process. For example, am I inspired? Or am I responding to challenges with an open mind & heart? I know I am on the right path when the honest answer is “Yes”. In these moments I just continue to stay in the flow. When the answer is “No”, however, I try to take a step back and broaden my perspective on the situation. Feeling stuck can be painful and the temptation is to just “get on with it”. The real opportunity though comes when we stay with the tension and open ourselves up to the opportunity that lies beneath it. This will not always be easy to recognize and often it requires us to stretch our thinking, challenge our assumptions and take action in ways that may feel uncomfortable. However, it is when we stretch ourselves in this way that we can truly grow as individuals and unlock the necessary breakthroughs for our project.

Lesson #6: The bigger the dream, the bigger the challenge to engage people in a compelling way. Or in other words, the bigger the dream, the more rejections we will have to deal with.
A big part of my job is taking new ideas and concepts and making them more tangible / accessible to the mainstream world. In many ways it is a trial and error process where the ultimate goal is to create that spark of connection, the aha that opens a new door and gives a glimpse of what could be. It’s impossible to get this right from the beginning so inevitably responses will range from “so what”, if we meet them in their comfort zone, to “silence” or “blank look” if we meet them too far out. It is only when we pay close attention to the responses we get and manage to transform them into a rich source of inspiration that we will eventually start getting close to that magical sweet spot where people trust you to take them on the journey. Embracing this challenge as a fundamental part of what I do has made this work so much more enjoyable.

Lesson #7: Financial independence & comfort is a critical measure of success but be careful what you benchmark against. What you think you need to be successful, may be based on some outdated assumptions & no longer hold true.
I used to think that after the first three years I would be earning more or less the same as I had before. I somehow believed that this was the amount I needed to enjoy a comfortable life. Along the way though, as the numbers were not adding up, I realized that what I needed to be happy turned out be very different than what I originally thought. My attachment to material objects seemed to have decreased in the same way as my attachment to business results and eventually I was living a simpler, more balanced & fulfilling life. As my work matures, and I find that spark of connection with more people, I am sure that my financial needs will continue to be met.

No matter if you are an entrepreneur or you work for a more established organization, I hope that these lessons resonate in some way. In any case, I wish you much success and, perhaps more importantly, lots of fun along the way!


What's common between Satya Nadella, Indra Nooyi, Nitin Nohria and Rajeev Suri. Yes, they are all Indians who have made it to top global posts. But they have also brought in a new dimension to what characterizes leadership traits. The one trait that stands out among these stalwarts is humility, which increasingly is being considered an important virtue of leadership.

The era of the swashbuckling CEO whose extroverted demeanour at one point was considered to be the sole characteristic of a strong leader, is passe. As cocky arrogance gives way to humility, experts believe demand for a humble CEO is on the rise.

"Humility is the key to being a respected leader. Because that means you are receptive towards learning and professional growth," said Govind Iyer, partner, Egon Zehnder India.

Iyer, however, said humility does not mean one can't be aggressive and an extrovert. "If these qualities are displayed with positive intent (and not arrogance), then the leader is seen as inspirational and with humility. Some of the most successful organizations build these qualities in their leaders," said Iyer.

Recently, a study ranked Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo, among the top 10 humble US CEOs. Early this year, Nohria, the dean of Harvard Business School, humbly apologized for the school's past behaviour towards women, while promising to reverse the situation. Former colleagues and classmates of Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, and Suri, the new Nokia CEO, talk about their humility and achievements in the same breath.

Can the rise of the Indian global CEO attributed to 'H' factor? Rajiv Burman, managing partner, Lighthouse Partners, an executive search firm, thinks so. "Given our strong emphasis on family and social relationships, they (Indian leaders) work very effectively in groups with humility, a lost trait these days," said Burman. It is for this reason perhaps that Indian leaders are said not to push for maximizing their financial packages unlike their western counterparts, a trait appreciated by shareholders as well.

It is now an accepted fact that leaders who develop higher self-awareness tend to be more humble. In an uncertain world, a self-aware leader creates success by working with and leveraging expertise of peers and a larger network of colleagues, according to Vivek Chachra, country manager - India, Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), which works with several clients to develop current and future leaders with one of the pillars of focus being self-awareness. "We see several leading companies in India recognizing and appreciating this approach and dedicating up to 25%-30% of development time of their leaders to build self-awareness," said Chachra.

Leading in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world requires a leader to be flexible, reactive, dynamic and able to learn from others, and to demonstrate this, said Gurprriet Siingh, director & head, YSC India, leaders need to be humble. Humility underpins curiosity and a desire to learn which "allows them to be comfortable with the vulnerability of 'not knowing' but powerful in the belief that someone else might know and as leader it is their job to find and empower that 'someone'".

Evolved organizations are learning to distinguish between individuals driven by personal ambition and individuals driven to make a difference to the greater good. "Humility and the ability to delay gratification are becoming key traits that boards, outgoing CEOs are looking for in their successors," said Siingh of YSC India, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in executive coaching, organization development and executive assessment.

In her new book, 'The Key', Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice, London Business School, has pointed out how leadership is changing. She talks about authenticity, the 'inner journey' to understand and develop a sense of moral compass, and worldview, which is the 'outer journey' and is about looking outside, understanding the challenges of the world and being able to work across stakeholders.

Harish Manwani, COO, Unilever, recently told TOI, good leaders are those who build people bigger than themselves. Nothing works better than humility to accept that others can grow bigger than the individual.


After my first 2 years as an entrepreneur I wrote an article to capture the most important lessons I had learned. They ranged from: “The initial goals, strategies & measures you set for yourself won’t last”, to “Success is not found in what you do & what you’ve achieved but who you’ve become in the process”. People responded enthusiastically, especially those with big dreams seeking greater fulfillment and alignment in their lives. You can read more about the 7 lessons here.


Apparently these lessons were opening up an alternative model of entrepreneurship, one where innovation and creativity are sourced from a deep inner calling rather than a well defined need in the marketplace. I was learning that traditional business building methods no longer worked under these conditions. Therefore it was important to experiment with new approaches in order to reconcile the apparent contradiction between following one’s heart and creating a sustainable business model.


At the time of writing the article I could sense that these lessons were critical to getting a heart based business off the ground but I didn’t have concrete evidence yet that it was working. The following exchange with a good friend of mine at the time sums it up perfectly.


My friend in response to reading the article:

”Thanks for sharing Mark. Inspiring as always. I have the following questions: 1) Everyone likes a success story. The below does not sound like that. Do you feel you did the right thing? If yes, let it come across. 2) What would you have done differently? 3) How does future look like”?

My response:

”I am not so sure that people are looking for “success” stories. My experience is that people are most inspired by REAL stories. These often come with challenges, setbacks and lots of uncertainty. I am finding that, when it comes to telling a good story, the outcome is less important than the journey.

I can honestly say that I would do nothing differently. Every part (even the most painful ones) has played a critical role in getting me to where I am now. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The future looks very exciting. Many of my “R&D” efforts are opening doors. I am getting opportunities to speak about my work, facilitate workshops, write, coach and it really is having an impact. I expect this will continue to expand”.

Three more years have gone by since this exchange and I can now connect the dots to see the many concrete benefits (successes) that have come from this approach. In the following article I would like to share the 7 successes that have emerged as a result of applying the 7 lessons. I hope that this “evidence” will inspire more trust in this alternative path of entrepreneurship and encourage many others to respond to their deepest calling.

Success #1: A film to build credibility, trust & expertise

Early on I came to realize that my target audience (the mainstream business community) was not very interested in my ideas. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad. They simply did not understand why they were important and how they would benefit. This was discouraging and almost enough to make me give up. It turns out though that this breaking point was in fact a turning point. When I decided to put my own ideas to the test and see if indeed they can be made more accessible and relevant to business leaders, amazing things started to happen. This shift opened the door to a research project and eventually a short film. My sole purpose in the project was to deconstruct what it means to bring more heart into business and understand how it concretely benefits organizations. It seems that this genuine desire to learn was key to bringing the right resources together and miraculously producing a first film called “Heart in Business”. You can watch it here.

Success #2: Heart in Business workshop in a mainstream business context

This year long research project was the source of many great insights about Heart in Business but in the end it was also a very personal journey that I had to go through in order to show my commitment to this work and build the necessary credibility. This “rite of passage” had a profound impact on how I defined success and the confidence with which I spoke about the work. The film was a powerful way to engage people and open up new conversations. This directly led to success #2: running a 2-day Heart in Business workshop with a group of 20 people in a traditional Fortune 500 company. What seemed impossible just 6 months earlier was now a reality.

I had hoped that this workshop would open up many more opportunities within the organization. This did not happen and of course it made me wonder if the project was as successful as I thought it was. Eventually I started to see that this “upset” was in fact a “setup” for something bigger. To further penetrate an organization of this size I had to find even more creative ways to make this broad and intangible topic (HinB) practical and relevant to the context of a business leader. In fact this was now becoming my key focus as an entrepreneur. The following three successes are examples of that.

Success #3: A story in which “Heart” and “Business” are the main characters.

I was curious what they would say to each other, so I started writing. “Hi, my name is Heart”, “Hi I’m business, what can I do for you?”…

What unfolded is a dialogue between two unlikely partners who slowly get to know and trust each other. And in this process they come to understand the incredible opportunities available to them when they join forces and find effective ways to collaborate. In the end a whole new vision of business unfolds with a concrete map on how to get there. You can read more about the book and buy it here.

Success #4: A film about a CEO who has run out of answers.

Why not get even deeper in the shoes of my target audience and imagine being a CEO who has one night to prepare a speech that will re-energize both his people and the business? A remarkable story emerges that I have used on several occasions to help people understand how transformation occurs and the benefits it can bring. To help share this more broadly, I was once again presented with the incredible opportunity to work with a film maker and turn it into a short movie. Please have a look here and don’t hesitate to pass it on to all the CEO’s you know!:)

Success #5: A model that sums it all up and an assessment tool to generate mind and heart opening data

After having interviewed many experts, facilitated a dialogue between “Heart” and “Business” and stepped into the shoes of a CEO I was ready to bring all the insights together into a framework and take the next big step in making this work accessible to my target audience.

For success #5 I must give credit to my previous employer (P&G) who taught me the ins and outs of market research design, execution and analysis. I would never have known at the time but this experience helped me turn the rich qualitative Heart in Business insights into a robust quantitative tool to measure Human Potential utilization in organizations. This tool is proving to be extremely insightful and many exciting projects are currently underway. You can read a sample organizational report here.

Success #6: An integrated and scalable approach to greater Human Potential utilization.

The tool and assessment methodology has made it much easier for organizations to say “Yes” to taking the necessary steps to unlock the human potential and tap into the heart of their business. This was only part of the solution though. We also needed to develop an integrated process that would help people assimilate and act on the findings. Our 3-step process: Assess, Discover, Harness is ensuring that the desired changes are brought about in a truly sustainable way. You can read more about the integrated solution here.

We are now training like-minded partners to use the tool in order to deploy and create impact on a broader scale. If you are a change agent and interested in becoming certified, contact us here.

Success #7: Teaching & training other heart based entrepreneurs.

The 7th success that is opening up in parallel to all the other work is the unexpected expertise on entrepreneurship that I have gained over the years. I didn’t intend for this but somewhere along the way the lessons that I was learning became core to everything I do and people seemed curious to know more. I’ve been invited to speak about this approach, lead workshops and most recently create a program for a university. I don’t know where this is going but I feel something important is opening up. Just like in all the other work my job is simply to stay curious, step into the next steps (even when it feels uncomfortable) and trust that the different pieces of the puzzle will come together.

In conclusion, I would like to share the following observation:

A lot has happened in 5 years, more than I could have imagined when I first started down this path.  I am very grateful for all of it, especially the many amazing people who have supported me along the way. It’s clearly a sign that we are capable of extraordinary things when we stick with our heart’s calling. In some ways this is also living proof that focusing on the underlying states, which we believe contribute to the Human Potential Model (Inspiration, Abundance and Service), eventually yields breakthrough results. However, now more than ever, I am convinced that lasting fulfillment comes not from these tangible results. It is the process and the personal growth that comes from the journey that makes us feel most alive.


Diversity is a social and natural imperative for any organization. It is the law of nature. Any entity that does not reflect the diversity of the ecosystem it exists within will become replaced by another that better matches the diversity of the larger system. It is through embracing diversity that microcosms embrace the intelligence of its environment and evolve in intelligence, maturity and consciousness.

Whether it is government, a business, a social organization or a community, this alignment between the heterogeneity of the entity and its environment’s will reflect in positive ways; greater compassion, higher profitability, greater social cohesion and more sociability, depending on the reason for existence of the entity.

Inversely, when there is a disconnect between the heterogeneity of the entity and its environment, it will lead to the decay of the entity in due time. It is just a question of when.

These days there is quite some anger around the income and wealth inequality experienced in the United States. The battle between the mainstream 99% and the other 1% who seem to have undue political and economic control over society seems to have boiled over and reached a breaking point. When a certain society does not reflect the natural equity of all beings, it is doomed to perish.

*                   *                   *                        


Due to various reasons, today at the decision-making and policy-making levels there is a high awareness towards the need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I notice diversity has found a place in the Business Balance Scorecards of many organizations. Leaders have handed down diversity goals, targets and quotas, and they’ve established Equal Opportunity commissions.

Yet, they have very slow progress to show for results. Why is that? What is the bottleneck in the pervasive adoption of diversity in workplaces?


Within organizations across the globe, we have identified two mindset-related issues blocking greater adoption of diversity.

One is that many middle managers – including line managers and recruitment heads – just follow a script when it comes to following the diversity mandate. They are doing what they are being told. The middle managers are handed down quotas and they deliver on them. They are being told to recruit equal number of women, so they go out and recruit equal number of women. And when the targets are met, they congratulate each other.

But they are not seeing any business benefits. All the promise that diversity leads to creativity and business building is not visible. As an example, when women come into the workforce, the whole culture of homogeneity and conformism sucks them in and squeezes out all the diversity in their thinking.

"You lose yourself in that [strong existing culture]. That is how I felt," a very accomplished individual who worked for one of the globally renowned FMCG companies - and since left - told me. "When XYZ hired me, they hired a very diverse person, thinking wise. I always felt that I was very different than the people around me. But I was being trained to conform. And for a number of years I thought that’s what I got to do. And it got so painful and so difficult that I couldn’t survive in that environment, you know.

So, they lost a diverse person basically because of the culture. Even though they did a good job at recruiting a diverse person.

*                   *                   *                        

The second mindset-related issue blocking greater adoption of diversity is when the mindset of those meant to administer the diversity agenda, viz. line managers and recruitment heads, is set on HOMOGENEITY. When this happens, none of the goals, targets, quotas or commissions can persist for long. When homogeneity is the mindset, recruitment managers only pay lip service to diversity. Their instinct would be to preserve what is familiar to them. Their actions would unconsciously protect their ideologies and belief systems. As a result, they might pretend not to find diverse candidates who match the job profile.

In Decision Theory, mindset is defined as a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviours, choices or tools. 

When it comes to their diversity ambitions, organizational leaders from politics and business experience numerous bottlenecks at the organizational mindset level. Shifting mindset is not an easy thing. Mindset is often conditioned during childhood, and those beliefs stay with us in adult life and express in our personal and professional realms. Someone who has grown up believing that different classes of peoples belong to separate settings, or that a woman’s place is at home, will incline towards homogeneity in the workplace. Mindset is what leads people to extremism, rigidity of beliefs, attachment to ideology, dogmas, etc. Such is the power of conditioning.

Such mindset creates big bottlenecks to policy-makers and decision-makers who are sincerely intent upon nurturing heterogeneous organizations. Many leaders I speak to acknowledge that they are aware of this problem. And they are keen to master how to shift individual and organizational mindset. Here is where we can learn from the religious leaders of the past.

Religious leaders knew all about shifting mindset for centuries. They learned from the sages and the masters, and for good or for bad, they used their knowledge effectively. All religious practices and symbology originated out of this ancient understanding of how to convert mindset and keep its following.

In the next section we will look at the four levers that has been used for centuries to shift mindset and how that can be applied to creating diverse organizations on this planet.

*                   *                   *                        


However deeply ingrained a person’s mindset is, there are ways to transform it. We just need to find the right levers to pull in order to change an individual’s or organization’s mindset. Four such levers are discussed below. 


The first and foremost lever to shift individual or organizational mindset is VOCABULARY. If we want a new reality, we must speak a new vocabulary. For example, if there is only talk of war, war is what we will end up with. That is how we operate in consciousness. What we keep repeating to ourselves gradually becomes our reality. Alter your vocabulary and – in due time – the reality will change.

We saw this with the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties in the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King lead the movement from the front by introducing a new vocabulary. He called on his fellowmen to resist from annihilating the enemy through hatred, rather converting them through love. He constantly spoke of forbearance and reconciliation instead of retribution.

Dr. King’s vocabulary suggested a post-revolution reality where the blacks and whites co-existed as friendly neighbours. As a result of such an approach the Civil Rights Movement did not degenerate into civil war. Instead it opened up the possibility in the US mind towards a reconciled world. It changed a segregated mindset to a unified one.

Even as we write this piece, the US presidential primaries are ongoing these days. One of the candidates, Bernie Sanders, stands out from the pack for his use of vocabulary to create shift in the US. By using simple and clear language, he speaks to the highest aspirations of a disillusioned generation of youngsters. He consistently repeats his vocabulary.....over and over and over again. 

“Enough is enough,” he keeps repeating. And now Americans realize that voting for Sanders means putting a stop to the old ways. 

He effectively uses his vocabulary to move what Americans know at the subconscious level to the conscious. By being so intentional in his vocabulary, Sanders is signing off on a new culture.


The second lever for shifting mindset is rituals. Rituals are perhaps the most effective lever to transform an individual’s or organization's mindset. They rewire your brain and impact the way you think, speak and do things.

I found this definition of rituals on the net; Rituals are a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.

The All India Radio employees in Pune, India, do a ritual every morning. They start their day listening to a positive news item. Every morning all employees gather together and one positive news item is shared in the office. It is not just read out, they revel in it for a few minutes, they applaud the heroes in the story, they adopt the standards seen in the story, they embrace the moral, etc. Then they start their days work.

When rituals are adopted while holding the right intention in your thoughts, it will swiftly transform your mind and body. The secret is to conceive the right ritual that holds the appropriate intention behind it. How quickly a ritual transforms your mindset depends on how intensely you hold the intention in your awareness and how frequently you engage in the ritual. Whether at an individual level or organizational level, you can achieve transformation in a matter of days with the right rituals. Such is the power of rituals.

One of the organizations that I’ve helped have supported all cross-functional teams to create a set of ‘operating standards’ that each team member would repeat at the beginning of each meeting. This has drastically improved the listening, collaboration, humour, lack of judgment, gratitude, etc. in the team work. Some teams have since testified that their rituals have lifted their morale and team spirit.

So go ahead and conceive your own daily rituals. You could take several deep breaths before a meeting. Or you could say a prayer, or sing or chant, or you could make a practice of celebrating outstanding group efforts, or an informal early morning meeting over coffee to support each other or seek to be in service. You could end of day with an informal roundtable or a ‘learning session’. Imagine.


The third lever for shifting mindset is ceremonies.

One of my dear friends, a Maori elder from New Zealand, once told me that they do a simple but powerful ceremony every time any woman in their village is going through a difficult time in her life. They do not engage in all kinds of intellectual examinations…no psychoanalysis, no problem-solving. The whole village would gather and perform the Haka, a traditional Maori warrior dance, for her! It gives her a sense of identity in the village and she feels cared for. It gives her the strength to continue facing her adversities. More importantly, the ceremony raises her to a new, deeper level of awareness where she can access new answers for herself.

We have heard the famous quote from Albert Einstein: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Ceremonies have the power of raising us to different levels of awareness where we start to see solutions to problems that eluded us previously.

Most corporations do annual functions for one thing or the other; to felicitate customers or suppliers, to enhance creativity and innovation, to celebrate its diversity, to reinforce the vision of its founders, to bring renewed focus on cost or quality, etc. Such functions are valuable in shifting collective mindset … if the purpose of the ceremony is crisp and designed around a single issue.

Participants in a ceremony should not be engaged solely at the mental level. They should engage in the ceremony with their whole body with no inhibitions holding them back.

Ceremonies have the power to develop greater meaning and deeper relationships, whether they be personal, organizational or community ceremonies. Ceremonies help focus the collective intentions for yourself and your organization. Ceremonies acknowledge that life as it has been is changing, and it is important to process the change collectively. Going through any type of ceremony reminds us of what has been happening in the past and what we are moving towards.

Ceremonies offer us a broad picture of the future and instills in us a common sense of purpose. For example, when Pope Francis was crowned, we learned about his new vision and priorities for his institution and followers.


The fourth lever for shifting mindset is symbols.

A community college in Canada that I have supported in the past discovered that diversity was at the very core of its decades long heritage. Both staff and students of various races have always felt at home in that college. However, for a few decades it had lost touch with its rainbow nature. Hence in an attempt to fully reclaim its diversity and display it to the world, the management of the college decided to create a new logo that reflected its diversity. It adopted a multi-coloured logo that was instantly recognizable as inclusive. Today I witness a real sense of ownership from the faculty and students towards the logo.

Symbols resonate with you on a deep level. They are reminders of what you stand for. They stimulate your thoughts and ideas, and awakens your deeper mind. They have the power to penetrate you and code its message deep within your subconscious.

The meaning that you assign to the symbol is what it will stand for. So continue to enforce its meaning, and slowly others will also associate the symbol with its meaning. The more a symbol is used to convey a particular message, the more timeless the message becomes in your mindset.

Your life is shaped by the many symbols that have passed through your life, inherited from your culture, your family, your mythology or your society. Newspapers, internet, TV, and movies have a similar impact. These symbols are the models that you pattern your life after.

Symbols becomes potent when they are distinct and represent one clear message. Symbols should be placed everywhere where you – and others – can encounter them.

*                   *                   *


Diversity is an individual, organizational, social, national and global priority today. All across the globe, the landscape is turning into pockets of polarized groups that is unrepresentative of the blend of nature. Such a landscape is unsustainable, whether it be a home, an organization or a nation. That calls for an urgent shift in our individual and collective mindsets.

The deeper part of our individual and collective self needs vocabulary, symbols, rituals and ceremonies to shift its consciousness and move towards true diversity. That is the essence of this article.

Closer to home we have an opportunity coming up to apply the above four levers for shifting mindset. The DIVERSITY SUMMIT happening between 21st – 23rd Feb in Mumbai will be a circle ceremony that will expose our collective wisdom and innermost feeling about diversity. It will be a circle of thought-leaders and D&I champions, Indians & non-Indians, men & women, old & young, and stakeholders from industry, NGOs, academia, coaching/consulting and policy-making.


The purpose of this article is to,

  1. Shed light on why employee engagement is at an all-time low despite record amounts of money being spent on OD (Organization Development)
  2. Offer a concrete alternative to the status quo (unleashing greater levels of Human Potential realization), and 
  3. Open up a conversation on how to further engage organizations on these new approaches

*                   *                   *                        

“Conventional change initiatives spend most of the money, attention and effort focused on…the structures and systems that are needed in the organisation. Often this is expressed by Executive teams rushing first to a 'restructure' of the organisation chart…It also accounts for the immense popularity of Lean/6 Sigma business process reviews; again, people imagine that if only they could get the system right, then productivity would increase. The unfortunate truth is that most of these BPR efforts do not return the promised benefits to the organisation.”

                                        Brent Sheridan, OD Specialist



Gallup’s 2011-2012 “State of Global Workplace” survey exposed that a dismal 13% of employees surveyed across 142 countries were engaged at work! 63% of the workforce is not engaged (they are uninspired, lacked motivation and would do just enough to fulfill their job requirements), and a further 24% are actively disengaged.

Our own research has shown that on average only 50-60% of an individual’s talents and gifts (potential) are being utilized in their professions (see figure 1).

To compound matters, the challenges organizations face today are much more complex in nature than 30 years ago. For example, a single-minded focus on profitability and shareholder value is no longer sufficient. Organizations are expected to address the needs of multiple stakeholders (customer, employees, society, planet, etc.) and create true win-win-win solutions.


Organizations today are aware of the crucial need to fully realize its human potential as a means to survive in a complex landscape and produce results. Management acknowledges that a greater focus on its human capital is also critical in bringing meaning and purpose to individuals and driving employee engagement. However the actions, behaviours and investments needed to unlock the Human Potential are not yet being adopted.

Since the turn of the 20th century, “emphasis in most management methods continues to be on analysis; divide complicated tasks into manageable bites...and then glue them back together to produce the best performing system”[1] (see bottom-right quadrant in figure 2). One study has shown that the 2013 spending on corporate training exceeded US$ 130 Billion worldwide[2], almost all of which is spent on job skills, professional training or procedural or compliance trainings[3] (the Systems quadrant).

Although such a systems-based approach has been very effective at resolving the challenges of yesterday’s world and raising productivity and performance, it is simply not sufficient to deal with more complex and ambiguous environments of today.

This excessive focus on systems has created a disconnect between the individual needs and aspirations (a clear desire for greater engagement & meaning at work) and the collective awareness / habits of the organization.


Certainly there are a number of factors contributing to this disconnect. Anecdotally we know there is an implicit fear among organizational leaders and HR professionals that a focus on raising individual awareness (top left quadrant) will either lead to attrition (the employee realizing that their potential is not being utilized in the current work environment and therefore deciding to leave) or they ‘rocking the boat’ (when the ‘awakened’ individual starts challenging or disrupting the current culture and way-of-working).

More importantly perhaps, we have evidence that the mindset quadrant attracts the least attention because it is also one of the most ‘troublesome’, difficult and ‘invisible’ developmental areas for organizational leaders to deal with. Currently there are no practical and implementation-ready tools available to tackle the ‘Mindset and Inner Being’ quadrant in a robust, measurable and scalable way.  Hence many organizations shy away from it and instead focus on the other three quadrants. At least until now...


With the creation of the “HUMAN POTENTIAL Assessment Toolkit”, we can now close the gap between “knowing about it” and “knowing how to apply it”. The methodology is scalable from individuals and groups through to organizational-wide change.

This approach has been used by a varying set of clients worldwide; individual, organizational, political and NGOs. Years of refinement has made the model representative of the real drivers of Human Potential Realization (see 4 States & 23 Dimensions of figure 3), and the tool accurate in exposing how much of an individual’s or group’s Human Potential is being realized today (see color coding of Figure 3).

With the ability to measure how an individual or organization performs along these 4 States and 23 Dimensions, we can now, for the first time, open up data-based conversations on how to unleash greater levels of Human Potential and access the full value of the “Inner Being/Mindset” quadrant.


The Assessment, important as it is, is merely the beginning of an organization's Human Potential journey (ENQUIRE). The next diagram (Figure 4) illustrates in more detail our unique methodology to drive change within the organizational context.

Following the ENQUIRE phase where the data and insights are revealed, we encourage the key stakeholders to spend quality time in DISCOVERY. The Discovery phase is about processing and integrating the insights so they can be transformed into actionable next steps, fully owned by the organization. During these workshops the client is invited to look deeply into the current beliefs and assumptions that drive their business decisions today and make very deliberate choices on who they want to BE going forward. This typically involves “Subtracting” (the process of taking the participants into a deeper thinking state where their existing notions, familiar ways-of-working, ideas and culture are subtracted), “Passaging” (releasing control of the familiar processes and stepping into the unknown to co-exist alongside uncertainty) and “Arrival” (seeing opportunities in uncertainties and allowing new possibilities to reveal themselves).

Finally, in the HARNESS phase, the organization is encouraged to visualize and speak about its new intentions in full details (via townhall meetings or other) and start shaping them into a new implementation plan (Re-scripting).

Targeted training and coaching programs are rolled out at the individual and group levels to make the new inner states a reality. Collectively new language and customs are adopted so that employees are engaged in more empowering ways. Management embraces new leadership habits, and the new consciousness is reflected in the management objectives and tools, like in the Business Balance Score Card (Re-sculpting).


Deep down we all intuitively know that when we unleash the immense Human Potential that remains hidden within individuals and organizations, there is an increased sense of fulfillment or wholeness that leads to a peak inner experience. Our empirical research also shows that when we can take employees to their peak potential, major breakthroughs in organizational performance invariably follows.

Furthermore, we believe today’s management is well aware of the importance of Human Potential realization on bottom-line results. This is evident from the significant amounts being spent on organization development (OD). But due to various reasons shown above, management has approached this challenge at a systems level. They have mostly ignored the individual aspect simply because of the scaling nightmare individual intervention entails.

The advent of the HUMAN POTENTIAL Assessment toolkit and the methodology has finally brought scale to the missing quadrant in figure 2 (‘Mindset and Inner Being’), both at an individual and organizational level. Plus, it is the only known assessment today that goes deep beneath the behavioural, personality and preference levels of an individual to expose findings at the mindset/BEING level.

Across Europe, North America and Asia, Human Potential work is rapidly turning into a movement. There are now 50+ certified Human Potential Coaches who are using these tools with their clients and creating significant shifts at the individual and organizational levels. Let us know if this work speaks to you. There are opportunities to experience the assessment yourself, run a pilot project in your organization or join a certification training if you wish to use this approach with your clients.

As the community grows and more and more people are attracted to this work we are looking for effective ways to harness this passion and create platforms where like-minded people can share best practices and learn from each other. One of these platforms is the Summit for Human Potential Realization being held in The Netherlands.  This is an open event to all people who feel inspired by this work and are called to contribute in this area.

If you feel this movement speaks to your calling, leave us a message at