Clients and prospects, rightfully, will always ask the question: “how does an investment in the “BEING” impact the performance of my organization”? I have often wished there was an easy way to answer this. I have tried using the C.A.R (context, action, result) model but it never really seemed to fit. The BEING work we do doesn’t lend itself well to this linear way of measuring impact. Each time I would conclude that the results of BEING work are more subtle in nature and, therefore, shouldn’t be quantified in the same way as we would, for example, an organizational restructuring program. However, this does not mean we shouldn’t be asking the business case question. It simply means that the way we answer it needs to change.
In this paper we attempt to shed light on the most important variables contributing to the success of BEING initiatives and their contribution to organizational performance. We will start by defining what we mean by “BEING” and “DOING”, acknowledge the interplay between the two, and frame our thinking within the broader context in which the organization operates. Then we will share some examples / case studies to bring this thinking to life and finally we will propose a simple algorithm to help organizational leaders discover for themselves if an investment in BEING is worth their while.
Clarifying DOING and BEING:
DOING = The actions we take to address the challenges and create value for our business or organization. Typically these are easy to observe and measure.
BEING = How we are showing up in the actions we take (ie: what are the qualities we consciously, or unconsciously as is most often the case, embody in our day-to-day activities)? Are we exuding trust or control? Are we resisting change or embracing it? Are we competing or collaborating with each other?
Furthermore, the BEING qualities we exhibit depend on the perspectives, beliefs and worldviews we hold as true. So much of WHO WE ARE is a function of our past conditioning and therefore often lies beneath the surface of our awareness. It’s not uncommon to observe a gap between who we intend to be at the conscious level and how we are actually showing up (unconsciously). Changing our beliefs and thought patterns involves a deep personal process of letting go, stepping into vulnerability and embracing the unknown. In contrast to the DOING, the BEING is subtler, more complex, and trickier to observe and measure.
Acknowledge the interplay between BEING and DOING
The following framework helps to see the inter-relationship between the BEING, the DOING and our ability to unlock new value creation in our business or organization.
Consider the broader context:
Knowing which quadrant to focus on in order to deliver optimal business results depends on the broader context in which the organization is operating. In times when the “rules of the game” are stable and well defined, it makes sense for organizations to “play” on the left hand side of the framework. When business as usual is delivering satisfactory results then it makes sense to sustain the status quo. We simply need to continue DOING the same things and showing up (BEING) in the same way. If things do get off track then it is probably sufficient to apply current thinking to FIX, or problem solve, our way back to the desired results. The business case for FIX type of initiatives is easy to measure and often very compelling, as long as the rules of the game remain the same.
If however, the rules of the game are changing, as is the case today with Covid-19 impacting every aspect of society, we can no longer play it safe in the left-hand side of this framework. Applying current thinking to a radically different context simply doesn’t work. In order to move forward we must go down the courageous path of personal and collective transformation. Reframing reality, questioning our existing beliefs and relentlessly experimenting with new approaches are all part of the BEING work needed to make sense of, and eventually thrive in, the emerging new context. When the external paradigm changes, the internal one must follow. This is easier said than done.
Engaging in Being-ness work, such as coaching or other types of personal development workshops, can help us build awareness in a relatively short period of time. New insights emerge and powerful new intentions are set. In these moments of heightened awareness we can see exciting new ways forward. However, it is much more difficult for the DOING to follow and align with the BEING shifts that we are experiencing.
Most of the time when we engage in deeper work we find ourselves stuck in a state of TRANSITION (bottom right quadrant). On the one hand our awareness is growing but on the other hand we are still operating according to the same rules that we have always known. Breaking those ingrained patterns that have worked so well for us in the past is by far the most challenging part of the BEING journey. This is exactly why so many well intentioned personal transformation programs fail to deliver incremental value for the organization, and we end up questioning the business case for the BEING.
This of course is not the whole story. For the BEING to truly pay off we must take a leap of faith and boldly step into new ways of working together (DOING) that at first will feel uncomfortable and unknown. Learning to trust in the midst of uncertainty, express our vulnerabilities and experiment with new behaviors eventually brings forth a new reality. In the process there is a good chance it will have unlocked new sources of revenue and perhaps even a new business model. DOING from an altered place of BEING is the path we must walk to survive and thrive in radically new playing fields.
Examples to bring to life FIX, TRANSITION and BREAKTHROUGH states
Back in my days as a market researcher at Procter & Gamble we would meticulously plan the launch of new product launches. This would include multiple rounds of qualitative research, concept and product testing as well as creating thorough marketing and distribution plans. Based on this we would estimate the % of people who would try / repurchase the product and derive a volume forecast. From a BEING point of view, we very much believed we were “in control” of the initiative. If post launch it was not meeting the projected volume targets then we would quickly invest in some trial barrier research to understand why people were not responding to the product launch as expected and then quickly adjust our communication & marketing efforts accordingly. There was a clear procedure to follow from start to finish and very rarely along the way would we step back to re-evaluate the foundation upon which product initiative was based.
Many times this linear FIX approach worked but I remember when the 2008 crisis hit something very interesting happened. During the research phase of projects, consumers would still claim to pay more for the premium products we were developing but post launch their behavior told a very different story. Our models and methodologies could not account for that and as a result there was a much bigger gap than usual between the actual business results and what we had originally projected. This moment in time was inviting the organization to re-think and re-look at the consumer and market landscape through fresh eyes (ie: a shift at the BEING level).
To best illustrate this state I will share my personal story of how I went about setting up my coaching practice after a 10 year career at P&G. I was disillusioned with business as usual and was starting to envision a more human-centric approach where our creativity and intuition would have a greater share of voice. My personal development journey was revealing great clarity on the role I could play in facilitating this transition and so, from a deep place of my own BEING, a new business was born.
I quickly went to work to manifest this dream. Soon enough I was doing all the same things I had been conditioned to do throughout my working career, expecting that meticulous planning would be the key ingredient to success. I was approaching the launch of my coaching practice as I would the launch of a new laundry detergent, even though the context / rules of the game were significantly different (in fact they didn’t even exist yet). In hindsight this seems comical but at the time it was all I knew. So my first 6 months post P&G were filled with hours thinking about my target audience, USP, benefit proposition, RTB, 4p’s etc… I had a 3 year roadmap in place that would bring me to the same level of income as I had when I left P&G.
Of course none of this led to the expected outcome. It didn’t take long after the “launch” for me to feel on shaky ground. Answering the “how are things going” question was becoming more and more difficult. My confidence dropped and from there it didn’t take long to reach my breaking point. The investment in BEING didn’t seem to be paying off…at least not yet.
Fortunately I didn’t give up. Instead I went through an intense period of shedding much of what I thought to be true about launching a new business, especially one with such an ambitious and alternative vision. I was being invited to let go of outcomes, time constraints and, most importantly perhaps, the belief that I was ready to fully embrace and deliver transformational coaching in organizations. This was the moment to fundamentally redefine success from something that is outside of my control (clients, sales, projects, profit…) to something I could fully embrace irrespective of the circumstances. This simple shift in perspective was incredibly liberating. The first idea that came to me as a result of stepping into this alternative paradigm of entrepreneurship was very simple but also very profound. What if I didn’t know what organizations needed? What if instead of closing the P&G chapter and my life as a market researcher, I would instead reclaim it and build on it in this new chapter?
Sure enough, one day, shortly after opening myself up to these new possibilities, I knew in every cell of my body what I needed to do next.
It seemed so obvious yet, only a few days before, it would have been impossible to imagine. During the next 6-12 months I would put on hold everything I thought I knew about organizational transformation and re-immerse as a researcher to genuinely explore what it takes to bring a new level of consciousness into organizations. I imagined creating a short documentary film in which I interview a wide range of thought leaders and weave together a compelling story that would give more context and inspiration for the work I aspired to do with leaders and their organizations. It would be a rite of passage of sorts, one that would not only be a rich source of insights, but also serve to build my credibility as a thought leader / storyteller of the new paradigm.
My BEING and DOING were now once again fully aligned. What happened afterwards in terms of manifestation is truly exponential in nature. Two professional documentary film makers decided to join me on this adventure. The film opened up many opportunities to share my story with organizations and as a result, earn their trust. The researcher / explorer mindset that I had recommitted to led to the creation of the Human Potential Assessment tool which has now been implemented in 20+ organizations with close to 5000 registered users. The Being at Full Potential organization has grown from 2 founders in 2012 to a global network of 150 certified Human Potential coaches. None of this would have been possible without a realignment of the DOING with my new state of BEING.
How do I decide if the BEING is the right investment for me?
Deep down in our hearts we already know the answer to this question, however, the following decision tree can help us navigate what can easily feel like an excessively complex / high risk commitment to make. If you conclude that the time has come for the BEING to shift and the DOING to follow, please give us a call. We are happy to assist!