This blog is primarily intended to address concerns of team leaders who are trying to adapt themselves to their emerging environments. This blog is about ‘doing things’ and does have applicability to individuals who are ‘captains of their won ships’ and action oriented communities.
AS with other blogs in this introductory series, it has its roots in the Eastern tradition of energy centers in the body. They are commonly referred to as ‘chakras’. I won’t go into detail here but refer you to piece done back in 2015 in Work Design Magazine.
By the time you get to this blog you should have gone through “Three Pillars of Wholeness”. If not now would be a good time to review (link back to that blog). That blog out an analysis of the three major underlying concepts holding up the idea of wholeness. Basically, ‘function’, which can be seen as the physical aspect; ‘being’ which is the emotional part; and ‘will’ which is the mind/spirit part.
Function and Wholeness
In today’s parlance ‘function’ is embedded in the ideas of environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical wellness. Human functions give order to our physical world and are usually experience presence, forces and direction. Translated into the realm of workplaces that becomes how we sense the environment, what forces we feel working and lastly the notion of movement or change.
In the old industrial world that become an oppressive presence constraining behavior. It became forces stressing order, repetition and uniformity. And of course, no sense of movement, rather of permanence.
The world that is being born is the opposite of, hence a need for new design paradigms.
Today’s world demands collaboration and innovation. The stage is set with infinitely moveable pieces and interconnectivity. Change is now the new permanent – fluid and flowing.
Before I launch into a description and design challenges surrounding function as a pillar of wholeness, I’d to go back a bit and link this discussion to an older one. I wrote about the connection between chakra energy centers and design. Roughly, function refers to the two lowest centers. The root and sacral chakra centers. Imbalance in the root chakra would represent a disconnect between the work and the customer. While the sacral imbalance would be seen as an overly emotional environment, loud, boisterous and bully behaviors. Think about that and the vision of the work world you are trying to bring into existence.
The Wholeness Design Process
“The Three Pillars” blog suggested we could take a concept like ‘function’ and trace it down to specific design pattern guidance. The steps were:
For the foundational principle of ‘function’ we are expressing arrangement and control. That leads to design objectives of collaboration and accessibility followed by competencies of coordination of activities and accessing whatever is needed for the task.
All that is a complex way of saying we want workplaces that provide visibility to workflow (no visual barriers), open access to resources such as maps and way finding guides and lastly a workplace that provides a container for learning such as social areas with display work surfaces. Your responsibility as a leader is to make that happen.
The idea I’m putting forth is that there is a knowable and logical process to move from an underlying foundational principle to the exact manifesting of a workplace. And, conversely, when you have a sub-optimal workplace you can track it back to the principles and foundations, which have been violated.
So what Does a New Leader Do?
When you stand in that workplace, or are looking at a set of floor plans, there are five basic questions you need to ask to make sure you are doing what is required to achieve functional balance.
- What kind of work process are they trying to realize? Just what is it they want to do here? What would that work process look like? Draw a picture.
- What energy are they trying to remove? What are the time and energy wasting processes that need to be removed or at least minimized like unnecessary movement from place to place?
- Time removal? What time are they trying to take out of the process? How can we arrange things so they can do it faster?
- Space removal. The same for space. What can be taken out, or re-arranged in a more efficient order?
- What will be unique in its effectiveness of use? How will it be defined in unique way so that people inhabiting that space will begin to develop an identity and others can find them?
I know it sort of sounds simple on the surface, but it is not. Each environment is different, designed for a certain purpose and inhabited by a different group of people. That is your design challenge. Here’s a map of the journey, but remember the map is not the territory.
Bonus for the Curious
Here’s a little bonus for the curious. As much as I would love to dig even deeper I will remain true to the curation process. Short, sweet and clear. But I have been picking up on sort as a ‘weak signal’ that is not completely articulated but hinted at here and there. Something that may be of interest for you to pursue on your own.
The idea is that there are physiological correlation between these three components of wholeness and our neurophysiology. Roughly speaking the brain structures, which are sometimes called the ‘reptilian’, the social or ‘mammalian’ and the ‘primate’ brain. This should make for an interesting discussion about what kinds of behavior are elicited from different workplace designs.
If you work in a reptilian world, how would you behave?
How does Leadership and Wellness Relate to Each Other?
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