An Ongoing Journey to Discover Hidden Knowledge
I feel certain many of you have been as dismayed as I have when you’ve read the headlines over the past few weeks:
- “Prison-bound KPMG Ex-Partner Remorseful for Insider Tips”
- “New Questions Raised on GM Probe. Lawmakers Release Emails that Portray Senior-Level Involvement”
- “Investors Quit Barclays: Brokers Say Clients Don’t Want to Use Trading Venue Authorities Accused of Misleading Customers”
- “Veterans Administration Found to Have a Culture of Dishonesty and Fraud”
These are but a few of the seemingly constant stream of reports about the culture of greed and self-dealing that is doing lasting harm to the perception society holds of large organizations. In my direct experience with such organizations over the past two decades, all too often we find firms operating with a low level of consciousness about their true purpose and overall impact upon society. And the senior leaders in these firms all too often fall into the trap of focusing on maximization of quarter-to-quarter profits at the expense of engaging and connecting with their people at their deepest levels. Just this year, the Gallup Poll reported that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged”.
This is what happens when people feel used as a means to maximize profit; when they are required to lead a fast-paced, exhausting way of life, often in the face of vicious rivalry among peers. In this sort of environment, people not only disengage, but turn to self-dealing and greed, “going along to get along”.
∞ ∞ ∞
Physicist David Bohm used the phrase “fragmentation of mind” to describe this way of being – tending to see individuals and groups as “other” than ourselves, leading to isolation, selfishness and conflict. Bohm said to me in London when I met with him back in 1980, “When the self becomes the supreme focus of attention, we become unable to move and create in the flexible and subtle ways that characterize the general order of the Universe.”
Bohm said we inhabit a Universe that is imbued with profound meaning. Wholeness, love and significance infuse and inform the Universe and give it shape and form. Almost 100 years ago, the philosopher, Martin Buber, affirmed this view, describing the powerful process for the discovery of hidden knowledge: listening to what is emerging in the world, not for your own means or self-gratification, “…but in order to bring it to reality as it desires.”
Far from being an abstract ideal, leaders at all levels in organizations can cultivate this quality of “listening” and by doing so can transform an organization’s capacity to create its future. These principles described by Bohm and Buber lie at the heart of the U-Process which is designed to access the source of profound innovation and discovery. It is designed to discover and enact new realities for the benefit of the whole system under examination, including all of society.