6 Organizational Performance Metrics brought to life

As a business leader, you are no doubt very focused on impacting the 6 Organizational Performance Metrics at the top of the iceberg below. But when is the last time you paused to consider the “underlying assumptions”, or the deeper human qualities that are influencing the way you show up with your colleagues and the teams you work with?

Ask yourself – do you come from a place of trust or control? Is your thinking based on a long term roadmap or short term pressure? Are you inspired by a set of numbers to be achieved or a future state yet to be manifested? Are you purely rational in your approach or do you also allow space for the intuition to lead your decision making? Do you believe that opportunities are scarce, leading to competition, or do you see an abundance of opportunities inviting a more collaborative approach?

These can be profound questions, especially when we engage with them in an open and honest way. A deliberate shift at the level of underlying assumptions, or inner mindset, can have dramatic impact on all aspects of the business. For example: our level of engagement, capacity for innovation, trustworthiness, and our ability to get things done!

Get in touch if you would like to know more about the BEING at Full Potential approach to working on the invisible / high impact parts of the organizational culture iceberg. This is where we shine:-)

In this article we break down each one of the 6 Organizational Performance Metrics to make them more tangible and help you identify the inner growth levers you can work on to unleash more potential in these important areas.

 

Of the 6 OPM’s (organizational performance metrics), CUSTOMER ORIENTATION is the one closest to my heart.

As an entrepreneur, who has championed the importance of infusing organizations with deeper Human Potential development for the past 10 years, I know how hard it can be to bring an idea to market when there isn’t yet an explicit need for it.

Working within the purple box of the diagram below, can be a lonely and frustrating experience at times. But as the bridge between our lofty visions and the needs of organizational leaders gets built, we enter into a creative zone. From this place we have given birth to the Human Potential Assessment, culture iceberg, OPM’s, maturity model and much more.

Thank you Andrew ThorntonLaura Saldivar LunaTanya GonzalezDr. (HC) Guruvayurappan PVDr.Saravanavasan KSVirginie Helias and many more for trusting BEING at Full Potential and following your innovative spirit!

 

Everywhere we look there a breakdown in TRUST. We don’t know who & what to believe anymore and it’s easy to put the blame on others, be it politicians, business leaders, media organizations, etc…

The thing about TRUST though is that it is not something that exists “out there” or an ideal state that we somehow “deserve” from others. Instead it’s a quality that we must cultivate and practice in our own lives first. There is a dynamic aspect to TRUST. The more we live it ourselves, the more we receive it in return!

This is why I find it helpful to focus on TRUSTWORTHINESS. It brings the responsibility back to myself and what I can do to actively create the experience of TRUST in my relationships.

To what extent are you expressing this quality in your leadership? Considering the following image, where on the spectrum would you be? What would it take for you to move more towards the purple box?

 

 

 

A growing number of people are feeling the call to step into a new paradigm of LEADERSHIP – one that is motivated by being in service rather than being in power. This transition in how we lead recognizes that there are limits to what we can control and influence when it comes to the thinking and actions of others. We may not be able to change these external circumstances, but when we turn our focus inwards, and reflect on how we can best respond, a multitude of choices start to open up.

This is what we refer to as SELF-LEADERSHIP.

Considering the following image, where on the spectrum do you see yourself as a leader? What would it take to move more towards the purple box?

 

At BEING at Full Potential we talk a lot about the BEING and the importance of working on ourselves but that doesn’t mean we don’t GET THINGS DONE. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, I’m always amazed how much can be created and built in such a short period of time when our hearts are fully engaged. Recently I have experience this with Peter LeongAndrew ThorntonFabienne LocherLakshmi AroraNeelanjana MaityShyaamlal N NDinesh kanna B , Khuze Siam and the team at Siam Computing

Hence, our motto: “When the BEING comes alive, the DOING thrives”.

Considering the following image, where on the GETTING THINGS DONE spectrum do you see yourself as a leader? What would it take to move more towards the purple box?

 

INVENTIVENESS: our ability to create breakthrough ideas and produce radically new products and services (that may, or may not yet, have direct market application).

To what extent are you expressing this quality in your leadership? Considering the following image, where on the spectrum would you be? What would it take for you to move more towards the purple box?

 

 

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT is the 6th and last Organizational Performance Metric of this series. It’s also the reason why, 10 years ago, I felt compelled to develop solutions that would make it easier for teams and organizations to unleash the unexpressed potential in their people.

It must have been around 2008, while I was still working for a large corporate when the light bulb went on. During the deployment of the latest employee engagement survey, the HR team had identified a major new insight in the data. By far the #1 driver of employee engagement was a sense of PURPOSE & MEANING in a person’s work.

This was groundbreaking compared to the conclusions being drawn in previous years. For the first time they had concrete evidence that intrinsic motivators were far more important to the younger generation than extrinsic factors like pay, status, career development…However, the survey did not provide much insight into the underlying drivers of meaningful work.

Intuitively I knew that PURPOSE & MEANING were the result of a person having the opportunity to fully express their human potential (while aligning it to the priorities of the organization). But I had no way to prove it and without “the data” no new action could be taken. This is when, together with Sujith Ravindran, we decided it was time to create a tool that would measure the immeasurable.

In 2013 we gave birth to the Human Potential Assessment and BEING at Full Potential. Since then, we have served over 50 organizational clients and 8000+ individual users. We now have the tools and methods to work on the deeper human levers of organizational performance, and in doing so, we inevitably create breakthroughs in Employee Engagement, Trustworthiness, Inventiveness, Customer Orientation, Self-Leadership and Getting Things Done.

 

Is our approach to Human Potential Development scientifically validated?

As more and more people are starting to realize that Inner Development & growth is a pre-requisite to achieving the change we want to see in the outside world (for example Sustainable Development Goals), our work at BEING at Full Potential is becoming increasingly relevant but also more closely scrutinized.

The following article was written in response to the many inquiries we are receiving about the research foundations of the Human Potential Assessment tool and how it relates to existing models of adult development. Most of the credit for this compilation goes to Peter Leong who has always looked at what we do through the lens of leading-edge research in the field of ego development and leadership maturity. He is a master at connecting the dots between our ground up, experimental approach to wisdom skill development and the more scientific method followed by people like Terri O’FallonSusanne Cook-Greuter, Ph.D. and William Torbert.

At the intersection of ART and SCIENCE lies something beautiful that cannot be fully explained by the rational mind, but in our hearts, we know it resonates as being deeply true. We hope you will enjoy learning more about our slightly unconventional, but intuitive and holistic, “road to validation”. By no means have we fully arrived, and it’s unlikely that we ever will be able to capture the expansiveness of human consciousness in the well-defined confines of science, but the journey in itself continues to be a worthwhile one.

Background

  1. The idea for the Human Potential Tool was born in 2013 to address the need for vertical growth & development (BEING leadership) in a world dominated by tools focusing on horizontal development (DOING leadership).
  2. It was the lived life experiences of Mark Vandeneijnde and Sujith Ravindran that informed the initial foundations of the model. Seeing so many people (including themselves) experience a lack of meaning and purpose in their lives & work inspired them to ask the simple question: “How much potential is being wasted and what does it take to unleash it”? They knew that even 1% improvement in potential utilization would significantly impact our ability to address the increasingly complex challenges we face in organizations and society at large.
  3. Having decided to take on the challenge of “measuring the immeasurable” they spent 6 months mapping out all the available knowledge (latest research on consciousness, adult development, management theory, mystical traditions…). Combining that with their own personal awakenings, a map started to emerge which eventually took the shape of a house with 4 states and 23 dimensions as well as the 83 questions needed to reveal these deeper human insights.
  4. Unlike other behavioral, cognitive, and personality assessments that are usually “normative” – observed external behavior and actions of a large sample size of people (bell-curve) and grouping them into behavioral norms, the approach we took was developed “from the ground up”. It’s part art, part science attempting to bring more depth, heart, intuition & spirit into a world overly consumed by the rational mind.

 

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The Portal for Human Potential Development

Validation & reliability – empirical research

  1. Our first confirmation that the tool “does what it is supposed to do” (ie: validation) came in 2014 after presenting the results of our first pilot project. The client experienced the results as a mirror of what they knew to be true about their organization, but until then hadn’t been able to clearly articulate. In other words, it was confirming their intuition and making it more tangible by generating new conversations with new words, language and symbols. In this way it could be discussed and acted on in more objective ways (as per the old adage: “What gets measured, gets done”).
  2. Over the years our confidence in the tool only grew through experience, practice and many generative conversations. Both at individual and organizational level we continued to see how it was able to reveal deeper layers of the human condition, open up transformational conversations and correlate with more conventional performance metrics.
  3. We now have 8000+ users of the tool and multiple organizations who have done measurements over different periods of time. These pre / post projects and case studies have given us additional confidence in the reliability of the tool (ie: it’s ability to produce stable and consistent results over a period of time)

Validation & reliability – conceptual research

When Peter Leong came on board, he brought years of experience in adult development and consciousness research. Looking at the Human Potential tool from this perspective he helped us “connect the dots backwards” and realize that this experimental creation was deeply in sync with state-of-the-art research (and therefore not surprising that we see so much overlap with important initiatives like the Inner Development Goals). Here are some of the many connection points:

The Spectrum of Consciousness (Ken Wilber)

The Spectrum of Consciousness is a unique approach to the study of human identity which synthesizes psychology, psychotherapy, mysticism, world religions (spirituality), and enlightenment. It demonstrates that different approaches to the study of consciousness can be “integrated and synthesized into one spectrum, one rainbow.” Ken’s model of consciousness not only sensibly unites mysticism and Eastern and Western psychologies in general, but it also clarifies various Western approaches to psychotherapy. And like enlightenment itself, it illuminates them all while transcending them all. (adapted from Ken Wilber – The Spectrum of Consciousness)

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Torbert’s theory of adult development & the seven developmental action logics

This image gives a high-level view of how we may apply the Being at Full Potential 5 state maturity framework to leadership action logic. We can also adapt the Being at Full Potential framework and metrics to other consciousness maturity maps like the 12 stages of development by Terri O’Fallon, founder of Stages International

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We can also adapt the Being at Full Potential framework and metrics to other consciousness maturity maps like the 12 stages of development by Terri O’Fallon, founder of Stages International. This overlay is available on request. The image below shows the Stages International 12 stages of Person Perspective and the 3 Questions.

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12 Stages Model

Validation & reliability – there is no holy grail

No matter how advanced and “scientifically validated” a tool is, when it comes to consciousness or maturity development, the deeper sense making will always happen through a process of inner reflection or dialogue with others. Tools aspiring to add value in the expansive field of human consciousness can never claim to have “the” answer or solution for somebody’s growth and development. At best, they can be mirrors to see oneself in a more holistic way and open up targeted conversations that bring out the important insights for a person’s next steps.

This is why our method for deploying the results of the Human Potential assessment takes great care at putting the client at the center of the discovery process. We do this in the following way:

  1. The Human Potential Tool is invaluable for generating transformational conversations to change or shift the social reality by enabling people “to see the world through fresh eyes”. Since we cannot solve and achieve sustainable change with the same level of consciousness that created the unstainable problem (paraphrasing Einstein’s famous quote), a new level of seeing and constructing a higher social reality with more expansive “mental constructs” is needed (see slide 9).
  2. Therefore, the tool needs to have trained and certified change facilitators capable of creating safe containers where people can expand their thinking and engage in deep generative conversations. From this place we invite our clients to take the lead in discovering the story in their data (vs come in as experts with conclusions and recommendations). This unique methodology leads much greater levels of insight, ownership and accountability with the client.
  3. In other words, the Human Potential tool, when used in a generative change process, comes complete with a practical methodology (assessment and sensing, subtracting, passaging, arriving and harnessing). It is an emergent change process. It is not a set of instructions for what to achieve. Sustainable change is emergent in nature (systems theory – sensing and seeing that the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts – seeing wholeness as an approach).

Conclusion

At the intersection of ART and SCIENCE lies something beautiful that cannot be fully explained by the rational mind, but in our hearts, we know it resonates as being deeply true. We hope you have enjoyed learning more about our slightly unconventional “road to validation” through the intuitive and holistic lens. By no means have we fully arrived, and it’s unlikely that we ever will be able to capture the expansiveness of human consciousness in the well-defined confines of science, but the journey in itself continues to be a worthwhile one. For more information about BEING at Full Potential and our services please contact Mark Vandeneijnde or Peter Leong.

23 ways to express your Human Potential

Over the past months I have shared little stories to highlight the human qualities that I deeply appreciate in the people I work with. Each of these stories represents one dimension, or “brick” of the Human Potential House illustrated below. Brought together, this framework is a powerful map for any individual, team or organization committed to expressing its full potential.

Furthermore, with the Human Potential Assessment we are able to measure the extent to which these essential human qualities are expressed at a given point in time. Mirroring this back to our clients leads to deeply insightful conversations and profound clarity on the interventions that foster a greater sense of purpose, meaning , fulfillment and impact in both work and life.

Thank to all the friends and colleagues who inspired me with this initiative: Marco Angelini, Peter Leong, Marie Josee Smulders, Sujith Ravindran, Fabio Salvadori, Annelieke Verkerk, Vanessa Jane Smith, Geoff Swannell, Mathew Cherian, Rodrigo Martínez Romero, Laura Saldivar Luna, Nathalie Bayol, Kannan Swaminathan, Luca Salvini, Harmen van Dijk, Michael J. Dawkins, Hughes Mileng, Shraddha Patel.

 

BEING AWARE

It takes courage to go on a journey of self-discovery. More often than not it reveals aspects of ourselves that are misaligned with our current life choices. It takes a whole other level of courage to then follow through on these new “revelations” and realign our lives accordingly.

When we live our lives with such a high level of integrity some doors will close. We might feel alone and misunderstood but eventually it will reveal new opportunities that we couldn’t have imagined before.

Who do you know that is unwilling to compromise on their values and ready to assume the consequences? Feel free to tag them in the comments below!

2 people stand out when I think of the Interpersonal Awareness dimension of the Human Potential House: Nathalie Bayol and Kannan Swaminathan.

Both have the unique ability to read into situations, understand the other person’s perspective and respond with patience and care.

As somebody who can be a bit impulsive at times, I have learned a lot from you and continue to be inspired by your high level of interpersonal maturity.

Our capacity to grow and realize our potential is often a function of the people we surround ourselves with. The more supportive they are, the more likely we are to stretch into new territory.

It gets a bit tricky when our desire to “support” gets mixed up with our own projections of what we believe is right for the people we love. I find this tension especially present when it comes to our children. At what point is “parental guidance” no longer needed? At what point can we simply show up as a friend who listens and unconditionally supports the self discovery process?

For me, that moment came last Friday when my son turned 18. This is an extract of the message I shared to show my commitment to evolve and expand my relationship with him:

As you step into 18, Another layer of life comes into being, Keep exploring, keep discovering, Finding novelty in the open land, And wonder in a grain of sand. I wish the world I send you off into was in better shape, Your future isn’t handed to you on a silver plate, But because of who you’ve become, I know for sure it’s not too late.

Just remember, When you look carefully through the clutter, What remains, Is pure beauty and wonder. Although my job as father is slowly coming to an end, I want you to know, That I will always be here for you, As a friend

For many of us it’s been another year of “holding space” in the eye of the COVID storm. But unlike 2020, where this global phenomenon seemed to bring us together in our shared humanity, 2021 was more divisive.

Either we followed the science or we believed in a conspiracy, either we did the right thing for the collective good or we were inconsiderate and dangerous, either we were vaccinated or not.

In 2021, everything appeared to be black and white, leaving little space for open, constructive dialogue. In our desire to return to “normal” we have allowed the allure of a quick fix to narrow the conversation and momentarily distract us from the bigger issues we should be putting our attention on.

As we get ready to enter the new year, which conversations do you think we should prioritize in 2022 to grow in our #societalawareness?

Every morning Fabio Salvadori sits down with a blank sheet of paper and writes. In these 30 mins he expresses whatever is moving inside of him at that moment and then shares his insight with the world.

What I find most beautiful about his writing is that it almost always comes down to a shift in his own thinking. He offers fresh perspectives on common challenges – like a morning yoga session for mind & spirit.

These “Daily Apples” as he likes to call them are at the core of the self-development process and, in doing so, they reveal the leader within.

BEING INSPIRED

As children, PLAY is part of our natural state of being. Then, somewhere along the way, we lose touch with this innocence and wonder that so easily fills our life with joy.

That’s why it’s so special when we come across individuals who, irrespective their age, keep this youthful flame alive in all aspects of their life.

Geoff Swannell is one of these beautiful people. Thank you Geoff for your playful presence that makes our collaborations such joyful, creative experiences.

Thank you Marco Angelini for so beautifully bringing to life the 23 dimensions of the Human Potential House.

Today I present “Curiosity”: the ability to look at the world with fresh eyes. How much of this quality is being expressed in your life today & in what way does it unleash potential?

Personally, I’ve been working on seeing the world through the eyes of my 18 year old son. Whenever I manage to do this, it builds connection, compassion and respect.

When Vanessa Jane Smith stands in front of a large, blank sheet of paper, and gets ready to draw the essence of a conversation that is about to unfold in a group, she switches off her mind, takes a deep breath and surrenders to the unknown. The moment her crayons make contact with this empty canvas, a magical flow takes over.

I have been fortunate to witness on many occasions this deep trust that she has in the collective space. Her presence awakens generative conversations and the visual story that emerges becomes the mirror through which the group (re)discovers their own brilliance.

This dimension of the Human Potential House brings to mind a mountain or solid oak tree. No matter how turbulent the external conditions are, it remains firmly grounded and centered at the core.

This same quality is what many of us value about our friend Sujith Ravindran. His steadfast acceptance of “what is” brings a sense of calm, trust and freedom to those around him.

Thank you Sujith for being such a wonderful example of Being in Flow.

I came across a cartoon this morning that beautifully illustrates the Open to New Possibilities dimension of the Human Potential House:

One person asks: “Aren’t you terrified of what 2022 could be like? Everything is so messed up…”

The other person (who is working in his garden) responds: “I think it will bring flowers. WHY you ask? Because I’m planting flowers”!

Hughes Mileng is an expansive and holistic thinker who helps us see the world through new light. What appears broken to most of us, Hughes sees as whole.

For example, he refuses to label his home country Papua New Guinea as a developing nation. By looking beyond limiting measures like GDP, Hughes is able to shine light on the intangible value of culture, beauty and the generous people of his beloved land. He brings this same abundant spirit to the people and the organizations that he serves.

BEING ABUNDANT

Luca Salvini has opened my eyes to the power of “open-source”. This is the principle that everything created by a community is openly available for everyone to use, modify and further build upon. I have come to appreciate how this abundant approach to collaboration not only unlocks greater creativity and innovation but is also the key to multiplying the impact of an initiative.

Thank you Luca for being such a great role model for me to learn from. Your many contributions continue to nourish the collective BEING at Full Potential ecosystem.

“Doing from Being” is the dimension of the Human Potential House that looks at how much of our true potential is being expressed in our day-to-day life.

To illustrate this aspect of the Being at Full Potential framework, I share with you the story of how these cards were created.

One of our Italian Human Potential Coaches, Marco Angelini, saw an opportunity to support his clients by providing gentle reminders throughout the day of the dimensions they have chosen to work on.

He took the initiative to express his creativity and bring to life this deck of cards so his clients can print them out to stick them on their fridge or use them as a background image on their phone. In this way their self development intentions are kept top of mind throughout the day.

Thank you Marco Angelini for being such a great example of “Doing from Being”!

Trust in oneself and trust in the possibilities we know exist, but haven’t yet manifested, is such a critical part of human potential realization, which is why this dimension sits right at the center of the Human Potential House.

I will always remember the first time Laura Saldivar Luna reached out to us sharing her bold vision, one in which she imagines a world where ALL children have the opportunity to thrive in their education.

She deeply trusts in the role her organization can play to create these system level changes, but also recognizes that these changes first need to be fully embodied by herself and the teams she works with.

In looking for the right partner to support her in this work, she once again trusted her intuition, which opened the door to a collaboration with BEING at Full Potential. Our work together was a great launchpad for her daring vision but the really hard work starts when the day-to-day reality sets in.

This is when the “new” and the “old” collide and our inner trust is really put to the test. It’s her commitment to continue nurturing this vision while compassionately navigating the organizational constraints, that really distinguishes her as a leader.

When we are able to hold a challenging situation long enough – to simply be with it free of judgement and listen to it with an open heart – we start to get a glimpse of the gifts hidden beneath the surface. This is the essence of “Gratitude” as defined in the Human Potential House.

It’s also one of the unique gifts that Harmen van Dijk brings to the BEING at Full Potential community. Thank you Harmen for fearlessly bringing attention to the deeper conversations that unlock new awareness and potential, and remind us of the abundance all around us.

When I met Marie Josee Smulders 8 years ago, she came to me and confidently stated: “Mark, you have a pure heart. It’s time to step out of the shadows and radiate the full gift that you are.” She was seeing potential in me that at the time I could not fully grasp.

However, Marie Josee Smulders doesn’t easily give up. Her gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, reminders would always be the push that I needed to take the next step on my journey. Anyone who knows Marie Josee Smulders will surely agree that seeing potential in others and relentlessly acknowledging it until it manifests, is one of the great gifts she brings to the world.

Mathew Cherian has been one of the most loyal and trusted advisors in building the technical platform for BEING at Full Potential. I have always known him to be abundantly generous with his time, expertise and friendship. Admittedly, there have been moments when, through my narrow lens, I felt he was giving more than receiving.

However, I realize now that this unique quality that he embodies comes from a deep trust in the natural flow of giving and receiving. Mathew holds a much more expansive expression of generosity – one where the pure joy of being in service and making a meaningful difference is in itself a compelling reason to offer his gifts.

BEING IN SERVICE

This one goes out to Peter Leong. Your dedication to putting your wealth of experience and knowledge, as well as your generous heart, in service of the greater good is a gift to all of us.

Thank you for being such an inspiring friend and partner in this work. Thank you for so fully expressing this important dimension of the Human Potential House.

Rodrigo Martínez Romero is a natural connector who experiences the world as a unified web of interconnected relationships. He not only senses into the potential across different groups of people and projects , but he’s also a master at connecting the dots of his own rich life experience.

This deep integration of who he is with what he does has given birth to the Spiritual Politics Lab, a Training & Research Center for Innovation on Political Leadership Education. In this work he brings together an international community of changemakers who take on social challenges from the healing strength of love and a rich inner life connected to purpose and meaning.

Perhaps there is something in you yearning to be part of a larger movement of social healing & transformation? You can connect with Rodrigo Martínez Romero to find out more.

“Youth are a window into the future. Allowing ourselves to be led by them.”

Thank you Shraddha Patel for this profound expression of #compassion. It is a testimony of the deep heart connection you have with the younger generation.

You naturally see the world from their perspective and sense into the wisdom that is already there. From this standpoint, to “be in service” simply means allowing them to lead the way.

In this fast-paced, hyper connected world it has become even more important to create space for reflection and self care. This is the essence of the Harmony dimension of the Human Potential House.

When it comes to self care, there is no one-size-fits-all. Working with Michael J. Dawkins and the ph360/Shae program I am discovering the power of a personalized approach. Understanding my unique body type and genetic make up not only determines which kinds of food and exercise are most in sync with my system but it also gives me great insight how to respect and harness my natural energy flows.

This has opened up a new world for me and I am seeing the tangible benefits of a more individualized approach to self care. Please connect with Michael J. Dawkins or Michiel Schuurman if you would like to know more.

When I started this challenge to infuse more life into the 23 dimensions of the human Potential House,

  • I did not know if I would have the discipline to carry this out to the end,
  • I did not know where the inspiration for these 23 stories would come from,
  • I did not know if anyone would be paying attention.

But I did enter into this exercise with some awareness of what was in my control and what wasn’t. The more I focused on the process instead of the outcome, the more it started to flow. It still takes time to craft these personal stories in a way that is relevant to a broader audience but it’s deeply fulfilling and helps me further embody the essence of BEING at Full Potential.

Annelieke Verkerk embodies the essence of the “Living My Calling” dimension of the Human Potential House.

I remember the first time we met back in 2017 when she clearly articulated:

  • Why she felt drawn to BEING at Full Potential
  • How she saw it evolving in the future
  • The unique role she could play in helping us take the next step.

This unwavering commitment to Living her Calling and championing human potential has led to breakthroughs on multiple fronts: training programs, facilitation techniques, product development, community building and much more.

Thank you Annelieke Verkerk for the generous collaboration these past years. May it continue to grow and expand well into the future.

 

Reflections on 2021

To set the tone at the beginning of 2021 I picked the card: “Holding space in the eye of the storm” (from the Be the Change card deck of Vanessa Jane Smith). In the description it says: “Breathe and stay right here! Sink your feet into the ground and hold a big generous solid space for all of this to whirl around you”.

For many of us it’s been another year of holding space in the eye of the COVID storm. But unlike 2020, where this global phenomenon seemed to bring us together in our shared humanity, 2021 was more divisive. Either we followed the science or we believed in a conspiracy, either we did the right thing for the collective good or we were inconsiderate and dangerous, either we were vaccinated or not.

In 2021, everything appeared to be black and white, leaving little space for open, constructive dialogue. In our desire to return to “normal” we have allowed the allure of a quick fix to narrow the conversation and momentarily distract us from the bigger issues we should be putting our attention on.

For example, what if Covid was inviting us to deepen the relationship with our body and soul so we can better care for it and activate our natural healing capabilities? What if Covid was inviting us to slow down, simplify our lives and spend more quality time with our loved ones? What if Covid was there so we can more easily see the uncomfortable reality of substance abuse, homelessness, depression, suicide… and recognize that these can only be addressed when we collectively meet them with more care, compassion and love. As the year winds down, I feel we are being invited to step into a next level of collective maturity.

Looking through the lens of the Being at Full Potential maturity model, I can see how we have been journeying in a closed loop between fear-based and reason-based consciousness. Understandably, all the uncertainty about the virus and new variants has triggered a fear response, which in turn has divided us into tribes united in our shared beliefs (feel good-based consciousness) and led to a linear problem-solution response with mass deployment of the vaccine (reason-based consciousness).

I am convinced that as we step into 2022, this vicious cycle can be broken open to allow more wisdom-based consciousness to permeate the conversation. There are some beautiful examples of this happening already like in the following interview between Freddie Sayers and Paul Kingsnorth:

 

One part of their conversation stands out as being particularly relevant for Being at Full Potential in 2022.

“This virus, and our reaction to it has revealed a great spiritual void in our culture but we don’t know how to talk about it and explore what’s going on under the surface. This is what I mean about Covid being a revelation, showing us this spiritual void at the heart of our culture. We don’t even know how to talk about it yet, so we end up arguing about the science. Instead, we should be asking: what is the higher value of our society, what is the purpose of being here, what kind of culture do we want to live in? These are debates nobody can agree on, even in the best of times, but they need to be discussed. We need to learn to talk again on that almost mythic or spiritual level. We must use this as an opportunity to raise the debate, and do it with kindness, trying to listen to each other’s fears”.

I believe Being at Full Potential has a role to play in holding space for these deeper dialogues. For many years now we have been practicing the standards of: allowing, being fully human, and deep listening. This is how we nurture transformational spaces for our clients to discover their own breakthroughs. Now is the time to expand this rich being space to also include the important conversations we are yearning to have at a societal level.

Therefore, from January onward we will be offering an open & inclusive “Being Circle” around the theme: Transformational power of Covid. This will be a space where anyone, irrespective of their beliefs, can show up so that together we can heal the divides and discover new ways forward. During these sessions, there are only 3 standards we ask you to uphold. If we can agree on these then I am certain that collectively we can raise the conversation and reground ourselves in the deeper purpose of our existence.

  1. Honor your own truth
  2. Honor each other’s truth
  3. Honor the truth that lies in between

Contact us if you are interested to join.

3 steps to embedding the cultural dimension in the M&A due diligence process

When thinking about due diligence in the context of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A’s), most of the emphasis is on the financial, IP and legal aspects of the deal. Interestingly, the cultural dimension, which is well understood to be the key success factor in creating the valuable synergies in M&A deals is rarely an integral part of the due diligence process. As a result, synergies are always promised, but rarely delivered.

The following data points from Deloitte clearly show that a more proactive approach to predicting and managing the cultural dimension is key to unlocking the full potential of M&A deals. This makes sense, since the most important asset of any business today is its people and the shared values & beliefs that help them work towards a common goal. According to a recent survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research, nine out of 10 CEOs believe that a strong set of values and beliefs will increase their company’s business value and performance.

Isn’t it fascinating how readily we accept the gap between what we know and what we do? Even more so when it comes to things like human emotions, that are much more difficult to “understand, control and measure” than the financial or legal aspects of a business? Not surprisingly, we observe the same dilemma in the context of change initiatives. We know that 70% of them fail to deliver because we are reluctant to address the human mindset changes that need to accompany any transformation project.

At Being at Full Potential we have made it our life’s work to bring more visibility and action-ability to the deeper, human and cultural dimensions of an organization so that it becomes easier to work with in the context of these important strategic initiatives (for example, M&A deals, digital transformation projects and re-organization).

As thought leaders and practitioners in the “soft side of business”, we invite you to reflect (and act) on the following three steps that we have seen proactively embedded into a human first, cultural dimension in the M&A due diligence process with outstanding results.

1. Reframe how we think about cultural integration: Consider cultural maturity before cultural fit as a catalyst for positive and sustainable integration.

On the rare occasion when culture is proactively brought into the due diligence equation, we typically approach it from a “fit” perspective. In other words, we use tools that measure the cultural attributes and leadership paradigms of both organizations and look at how closely they overlap. We assume that the more aligned they are, the smoother the integration process will be and the easier it will be to create value. For example McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index (OHI) or the Merger Compatibility Assessment from the Barrett Values Center.

This, however, only tells part of the story, and often leads to overlooking the true synergy potential of two organizations coming together. Let’s consider marriage as a metaphor for M&A. No doubt that the most successful unions have some underlying values in common. Equally important though is the extent to which the couple respects and values each other’s differences and gives space to each other to fully be themselves. In this way it becomes easier to accept and constructively work through the inevitable challenges that arise once the honeymoon period is over.

Kahil Gibran describes it beautifully in The Prophet. This is what he says about marriage: “Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music”.

This may sound “soft” and idealistic. The reality we observe though, as Generation Y and Z grow into more strategic, leadership and executive roles, is one where this level of Human-first forethought – almost symbiosis- will not only differentiate companies, but also give them a competitive advantage.

In this symbiotic relationship then, acknowledging, respecting and understanding each other’s differences is the key to collaboration, and hence, unlocking synergies. It’s also the sign of a highly mature organization, which suggests that maturity, rather than fit, is what we should be striving for when evaluating the potential of M&A deals.

2. Understanding and assessing organizational maturity: What gets measured, gets done!

The Being at Full Potential Maturity Index is a robust way to measure where both individuals and organizations are on the maturity spectrum, and predicts how people are likely to behave in M&A situations.

For example, an organization that is in the “Feel-Good based maturity” (See below table – Orange) will prioritize a sense of belonging. This translates into policies that ensure a higher level of conformity with guidelines that show how the employee should behave in solving problems or handling relationships with peers, managers, leaders and customers. The “feel good factor” generally overrides personal freedom, creativity and identity.

At this level of maturity it will be very challenging to embrace the diversity in thinking inherent in M&A deals. Instead the tendency will be for the acquiring company to impose their culture (or ways of doing things) on the acquired organization.

On the other hand, an organization operating in the Purpose-Based maturity (Blue) prioritizes:

  • Honest and authentic conversations
  • Feeling empowered and sense of ownership
  • Closer collaboration
  • Intuition in decision making
  • Higher tolerance for risk taking
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Personal development is a priority

At this higher level of maturity it is easy to see how diversity in thinking becomes a key strength to leverage and further stimulate creativity and innovation.

The following table summarizes the 5 stages of organizational maturity, the behaviors we can expect at each stage and predicts the likelihood a M&A deal will create value for its stakeholders.

3. Bridging finance and culture: 6 human-centric measures to unleash value

M&A’s will inevitably increase the natural tension that already exists between finance and culture. The desire to drive up profitability in the short term (especially in target assets preparing for IPO/Sale) often comes at a high cost to the people. This “debt”, often unwittingly inherited by the acquiring company, always needs paying. As a result, it’s common to see morale drop, good people leave and short and long term value erode.

Finance typically has the upper hand in the M&A context, not necessarily because it’s more important, but because hard numbers are easier to measure and control and this is the prevailing western corporate narrative. In this way, the divide between the mind of a business and its heart is further torn apart. Measures like employee engagement or customer satisfaction try to bridge the gap but don’t reveal much about the underlying mindsets that form the basis of culture. Nor are they improving YoY as Forrester and Gallup reports clearly show, despite heavy focus and investment.

On the other hand, cultural dimensions like psychological safety, purpose, integrity and trust are great predictors of a healthy culture but can feel too far removed for the CFO, CEO and Board to integrate into the decision making process for M&A.

Being at Full Potential has developed 6 measures designed to integrate both cultural and performance dimensions of a business. We refer to them as the 6 Organizational Performance Metrics. They are aligned by proxy to critical corporate KPI’s as follows:

  • Inventiveness (Relative Innovation Performance): Measures the extent to which the culture of an organization is conducive to creating radically new products and services (that may or may not have direct market application)
  • Customer Orientation (Customer Experience KPI’s): Measures the extent to which the culture of an organization encourages genuine service to the explicit and implicit needs of its customers.
  • Employee Engagement (Employee Experience KPI’s): Measures the extent to which an organization’s culture ignites dedication and commitment in a person’s day-to-day work activities
  • Trustworthiness (Trust index by GPTW): Measures the extent to which an organization’s culture is deserving of the trust / confidence it receives from its stakeholders
  • Self Leadership (Employee Sentiment/engagement e.g. GLINT): Measures the extent to which an organization’s culture encourages people to rely on their deeper values and principles when navigating the complexities of the organization
  • Getting things done (Numerous Productivity KPI’s): Measures the extent to which an organization’s culture supports people’s ability to execute and deliver concrete results

Being able to assess and measure the 2 organizations coming together in a deal along these dimensions can prove to be incredibly insightful. Here’s an example of the type of output that would be available and the kinds of conversations it can open up.

In this situation we can see that company A is well expressed (green) on all 6 OPM’s (organizational performance metrics). Although there is still room to grow, performance is strong and it has an underlying culture to support it. Company B on the other hand, is under expressed (yellow) on all dimensions, meaning there is underutilized potential and an opportunity to strengthen the culture of the organization.

Having access to this data provides deep insight into the fundamentals of a business. Different profiles like this doesn’t necessarily mean that the “fit” between the two companies is not good. However, it does signal that the cultural & people aspects need to be better understood, and proactively addressed, in order to bring out the full value of the deal.

In this case, as part of the cultural due diligence, we would want to investigate why Company B is scoring so low on Getting Things Done, Inventiveness and Self Leadership. Bringing these measures up in line with Company A will unleash a significant amount of unexpressed potential, which in turn will also lead to significant breakthroughs in performance. The more attention we can bring to the cultural dimensions of performance, the more likely we will be able to tap into the synergy potential of mergers and acquisitions.

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For more information on how we can support you in the culture due diligence process please contact:

  • Ben Hobkinson: ben@exponentialhumanpotential.com
  • Mark Vandeneijnde: mark@beingatfullpotential.com