What is The Living Organisation?

“There’s a corollary between moulding clay and moulding life outcomes. The thing about clay that I’m learning is if you try to force it, it’s not very cooperative and every piece gets messed up.”

Norman Wolfe


Do you want to know why 70% of all strategic initiatives fail to achieve their objectives well?

There is usually a pretty good reason behind it.

The good news is this is where Norman Wolfe has spent time creating and building an organisational model.

The other good news is that there is another way that makes achieving results so much easier. Just stop thinking of organisations as a machine and start thinking of it as a human being.

Businesses are traditionally run in a very rational, logical, organised, sequential, activity-based way. People with the right skills, knowledge and understanding are placed in necessary roles, with the expectation to get the job done. Unfortunately, organisations are not machines and people are not components which can be tweaked and plugged in before hitting ‘start’ on the machine. Leaders need to stop thinking of their organisation as a machine and begin to think of it as a living being.

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Norman is the Founder and CEO of Quantum Leaders and Author of The Living Organisation. As a 15-year veteran of Hewlett Packard, Norman is the leading voice in bringing about a transformation of the core paradigm of business. The Living Organisation Framework focuses on making organisations much more effective at creating the outcomes they want because they understand all the dynamic forces which are affecting it.

Culture is the organisational personality and comprises skills, relationships, mindset, belief systems and assumptions of which choices and behaviours stem from. Stories of life are what guide behaviours and what a leader must remember is that stories can be changed. However, new skills need to be learnt and they need to resemble those used by a coach rather than a traditional business leader. The shifting context needs to develop, mature and be nurtured to establish a new way of being. Once you change the context of the collective it will change the context of the people in it.

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There are three key theories behind the culture of the living organisation which starts by reframing your context, or reframing your stories and by beginning to look at this living organisation from a three dimensional view. Recognise that:

  1. Three forces exist:
    • Activity
    • Relationships
    • Context
  1. A lot of the elements of managing business are still very valid e.g. SWOT
    • A three-dimensional approach will include relationships and context
  1. Leaders need to learn to be able to sense the context
    • Sense what is going on

The first step that the team at Quantum Leaders teach is to understand. Understand and accept the reality that we are energy receivers and transmitters. In today’s episode of The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast Norman is challenging listeners to play with The Living Organisation notion and to imagine life as a flow. Organisations and individuals can have an extraordinary impact if they embrace a mindset of flow rather than one of control.

Think of it like a skier leaning forward when going downhill. This is counter instinctual as every fibre of their body knows leaning downhill could kill them and yet leaning forward, when going downhill, creates the momentum needed to go really fast with less effort.

Click here if you are ready to embrace an easy flow, learn how to problem solve from a different place and achieve outcomes with less stress. During our conversation Norman shares his three core skill sets of heart-shaped wisdom, improv mindset, storytelling & ritual and the benefits which can be gained when you integrate opposites. He even encourages you to dance with conflict along the way…


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