By Judi Neal
We look forward to the time when the power to love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
– William E. Gladstone
A new kind of leader is emerging in today’s global world. They are Edgewalkers – people who walk between worlds. They are highly intuitive, deeply spiritual, and well-grounded in the practicalities of running an organization. This chapter will describe the emergence of Edgewalkers and describe the difficulties and challenges they face in traditional organizations. They tend to be marginalized and there are many pressures to make them conform and to be predictable in their behavior. Edgewalkers are the greatest resource an organization can have if the leaders understand and value their unique gifts and skills. Besides a handful of Edgewalkers, every organization has people who serve as Flamekeepers, Hearthtenders, Placeholders, and Doomsayers. Most organizations have very few Edgewalkers and far too many Placeholders and Doomsayers. This chapter will explore ways of creating an organizational culture that brings out the Edgewalker qualities in people so that the organization can be more values-driven, innovative, and leading edge.When I talk about Edgewalker Organizations, I am writing about something that doesn’t exist – at least not in the present. I do believe that they exist in the future, and that there is tremendous possibility for all organizations to be much more creative, much more in harmony with the environment, and much more joyous places to work..I define Edgewalkers as people who walk between worlds and build bridges between different paradigms, cultures, and realities. Edgewalkers are the people in an organization who sense coming trends, and who create new rules to the business game. Most organizations are uncomfortable, if not downright hostile, to people who are Edgewalkers. But the organizations that learn to embrace those who see things differently and who do not conform perfectly to all the corporate rules, are the ones that will have a competitive edge.The following profile describes what an Edgewalker Organization might look and feel like. Imagine that your company has just contracted with another company to help your business unit with new product design….
The drive up to the corporate headquarters of Genesis Systems is breathtaking. You ride along tree-lined roads that follow the twists and turns of the brook that feeds Lake Astron. Beautiful sculptures and gardens are nestled here and there among the trees, and tame deer lift their heads from their feeding as you pass by. The winding road takes you part way up the mountain and then you see this simple but beautiful building in front of you. It is mostly glass, stone, and wood, and there are solar panels on the top of the building. The shape of the building from the front seems to conform to the round contours of the mountain. You also notice a windmill higher up on the mountain, and a charming waterwheel next to the waterfall. In the distance you can see other large buildings dotting the hills and you notice how tastefully they seem to fit into the environment.
You park your car in the lower parking lot and a solar-powered cart picks you up and drives you up to the main entrance. On the lawn in front of the building, several people are playing with some kind of large circular toy that flies between them, although you can’t make out exactly what it is. You just notice that it seems to float almost effortlessly for a while when someone throws it. A young man leaps gracefully in the air and grabs this flying disk and spins it off to someone else. A large golden retriever is joyfully barking and running between the players.
There are seven steps leading up to the entrance and just below the Genesis Systems sign above the door, you read these words carved in marble: “The Universe pays us for being who we are and doing what we love doing.” How odd, you think to yourself as you ponder what this might mean. As you walk up the last step, the two wooden doors gently open and you hear soft music drifting out from inside the foyer. There are plants everywhere, and you almost feel as if you are in a greenhouse.
Your host, Gary Williams, walks in to meet you, and warmly shakes your hand. Gary is the Account Executive for your project. You have come here to begin your working relationship with Genesis Systems because your organization has contracted to use the company’s product design services to help develop a new consumer product line for your food business. He guides you further into the building and invites you to sit with him in a café type of setting in the middle courtyard. You notice that the inside of the building is circular, and is completely open in the center, with about four levels of balconies surrounding this courtyard. You can see offices on each level, and realize that every single one of them must have a view of the outside, from the way the building is designed.
Water from the brook outside has been diverted to a small stream that runs through the building, providing the soothing sound of trickling water in the background in the café area. There are beverage menus on the table and Gary asks you if you would like anything from the coffee bar or juice bar. You ask for a cup of coffee and Gary brings that back for you and gets himself a fruit smoothie.
As you begin to drink your beverages, Gary outlines the day for you. “First you will meet with Rob Rabbin, the Vice President of Corporate Consciousness. Gary says, “All clients meet with Rob so that he can explain the company’s core values and also talk about some of our unusual ways of working. Rob is a mystic, and we rely on his intuition and his access to higher levels of consciousness to help us make sound business decisions that are good for our clients, good for the company, and good for life on the planet.” Gary explains that we will begin our time with some shared moments of silence so that our work together comes from our highest source.
“Rob will introduce you to our concept of ‘Spiritual Support Team,’ to see if that is something your organization would like to take advantage of. We do not charge for this service, but we believe it makes a powerful difference. Basically we ask that two people from our company, and two people from your organization, make an agreement to set aside a half hour every month to share meditation or prayer. It doesn’t matter where each person is, they just commit to taking that time, say at 8am on the first Friday of every month, to connect with Source or the Transcendent with no agenda. The only purpose is to connect.”
“Next you will meet the Chief Creative Officer, Sonia Borysenkov, who will explain the way the company’s engineers work with artists, high school and college students, and indigenous shamans. An integrative, multi-functional team will be assigned to your project,” he explains. “She will introduce you to the team members and we will begin doing some creative, mind-opening exercises that will get us into the kind of consciousness that will help us best serve you and your company.”
He continues, “Finally, you will end the day with our Learning Liaison, Bill Kumar, who will ask you for feedback on your day, assess how we might better serve you in the future, and will also ask you about what you learned that was of value to you. Bill helps us to see every interaction as a positive opportunity for learning and growth. This helps to support the kind of corporate culture that attracts the best and the brightest talent from all over the world.” Gary then asks if you have any questions, and you feel like you have a million of them but don’t know where to start. He laughs and says, “Well you can begin with whatever comes up first, so why don’t we get started? I’ll take you on a brief tour as we head over to meet with Rob.”
Your mind is buzzing. You want to ask questions about the design of the building. Your engineering mind has taken in a lot of details and you suspect that they are energy self-sufficient. Why is the building round? How come people were outside playing in the middle of the workday? Are dogs allowed in this workplace? What did that phrase mean above the door? Where did they get the ideas to have a Vice-President of Corporate Consciousness and Spiritual Support Teams?
He takes you past the Meditation Center, where you see another circular room with plants, waterfalls, inspiring pictures, candles, cushions, chairs, and symbols from all of the world’s great traditions . Several people are in there sitting quietly, and one person is kneeling on his prayer rug. Next you go by the corporate library that includes all the latest technology. Gary explains that their library is actually better and more up-to-date than that of the nearby university.
As you walk by some offices, Gary suggests that you look in and notice the original artwork on the walls. “Genesis has a full-time art director that we hired away from a nationally-recognized art museum”, he tells you. “She is in charge of our art collection. We feel that our employees will be more inspired if they have access to original art, so they can select a Van Gogh or a Cezanne or Georgia O’Keefe painting from a catalogue and can borrow it from our collection for three months. At the end of three months, they can select a new piece of art.”
Just before you get to Rob’s office, Gary takes you to the Learning and Wisdom Center. He shows you the various types and sizes of training rooms, and takes you outdoors briefly. He points to the woods and a pathway off to the left. “That’s all state protected land with old growth forests, and land that has been sacred to the First Peoples. We sponsor regular Vision Quests for anyone in the company who is interested in taking time to explore the next stages of their life and/or work. We feel that it is very important to be close to nature and living things and that this closeness energizes and inspires us and helps us to keep a holistic perspective on any of the product development work that we help to create.”
You say to him, “I’ve always wanted to go on a Vision Quest.”
He responds, “Let me take you back in to the Learning and Wisdom Center and give you one of our catalogues. We make all our programs available to our clients and vendors at no charge. We are committed to helping all the people we interact with to reach their highest potential. That’s really our main reason for being in business. Product design services just happen to be the way we fulfill our mission.”
As you are walking back in, Gary points out a separate circular building nearby connected by a covered walkway. He said, “That’s our Family Care Center. It is a multi-generational care center where we have full-time child and eldercare staff. Many of our employees are in the so-called Sandwich Generation, where they must care for their children at also for their elderly parents. We have found that the children and the elderly love being together. We have Internet cameras and communication systems so that our employees feel connected to their family members throughout the day. Many of them eat lunch with family members at the Family Care Center cafeteria. Our working hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have a real commitment to the principle of “Family First,” and we turn the lights out at 6 p.m. and insist that people go home and get renewal with their family.”
Gary takes you up to Level 3 in the building and as you are walking around to balcony to get to Rob’s office, he points out all the small areas for group gatherings, with couches, tables, plants, electronic white boards, and coffee nooks. He tells you that they had an architect design the building so that it was ecological, energy self-sufficient, aesthetically pleasing, and supportive of chance meetings of individuals and groups. “Our research tells us that all these things contribute to creativity, innovation, and job satisfaction,” he informs you.
You have now reached Rob’s office and it is unlike any office you have ever seen before. There is a candle burning and very relaxing music playing in the background. On his walls are masks from Africa, hand-carved flutes from South America, and bowls of natural items such as driftwood, stones, and feathers. Rob himself is a tall, elegant man dressed in loose clothing and sandals – decidedly un-corporate! He reaches out to shake your hand and you wonder if it is your imagination as you feel a warm energy surround you.
You think to yourself, “This is going to be unlike any other business experience I have ever had!”
Creating the Edgewalker Organization
Organizations are communities of people, and the culture and the effectiveness of the organization is based on the shared values and collective consciousness of the members of the organization. An Edgewalker culture is one that values innovation, creativity, risk-taking, unleashing the human spirit, and living in alignment with values of sustainability, justice, compassion, and joy.
The leader in any organization is the primary creator of the culture, and this is especially true in Edgewalker organizations. Edgewalkers within the organization cannot go out to the creative edge of things any further than the CEO herself is willing to go. An Edgewalker organization must have a leader who is an Edgewalker. This person creates the mindset or overall consciousness of the rest of the organization.
In the next section we will examine the Edgewalker Orientation Model and explore the idea of getting the right mix of people to create an Edgewalker culture. Some suggestions for how to diagnose your organization are offered.
Getting the Right Mix
There are five different orientations that people can take in an organization, and these affect the extent to which the organization can truly be on the leading edge. These five orientations are:
Each of these will be defined, and then we will look at the implications for organizational culture and performance.
These orientations are based on two factors: (1) Relationship to Time, and (2) Relationship to Change. The Relationship to Time factor is a continuum between focus on the past and focus on the future. The Relationship to Change factor is a continuum between being closed to change and being open to change.
Edgewalkers are people who walk between worlds and have the ability to build bridges between different worldviews. They have a strong spiritual life and are also very grounded and effective in the everyday material world. They have five qualities of being: Self-Awareness, Passion, Integrity, Vision, and Playfulness. As they grow and develop, they increase their skills in these five stages of development: Knowing the Future, Risk-taking, Manifesting, Focusing, and Appreciating. Edgewalkers are much more oriented towards the future than the past to the degree that they can sometimes run roughshod over tradition and can close their ears to what has worked in the past. They are also high on the change continuum, with a basic philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.”
They are restless and always seeking newness and change. For this reason they can sometimes be difficult to manage, especially for a traditional manager. The Edgewalker may be more focused on his or her creative ideas than on what is most needed in the organization.
Flamekeepers are those people who keep the original vision and values of the organization alive. They are like the Olympic Torch Bearer, keeping the flame lit at all costs. Or like the Keeper of the Flame in a temple, the ones who keep the sacred candles lit morning, noon, and night.
Collins and Porras in their breakthrough Built to Last study concluded that one of the successful habits of visionary companies is what they call “Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress.” They give the example of how CEO Don Petersen and his top management team in the 1980s turned Ford Motor Company around when it was bleeding profits. Petersen is quoted as saying:
There was a great deal of talk about the sequence of the three P’s – people, products, and profits. It was decided that people should absolutely come first (products second and profits third).
This top management team was serving in the role of Flamekeepers by breathing life back into values of the founder, Henry Ford who said in 1916:
I don’t believe we should make such an awful profit on our cars. A reasonable profit is right, but not too much. I hold that it is better to sell a large number of cars at a reasonably small profit….I hold this because it enables a larger number of people to buy and enjoy the use of a car and because it gives a larger number of men employment at good wages. Those are the two aims I have in life.
I only know of two organizations that have institutionalized the concept of Flamekeepers. The first is a non-profit group called the Kripalu Consultant Collaborative (KCC). This is a group of consultants, trainers, coaches, and others that meet two to three times a year. They share an interest in spirituality in the workplace and they meet to support each other’s spiritual and professional growth. The group has designated the founders of the group, Ron and Randy Nelson, and a few others who have been in the group a long time, as “Flamekeepers.” Their job is to keep the original vision of the organization alive and to continually explore how the organization can more fully live that vision.
The second organization was the Strategic Programs Division of Xerox in Rochester, New York that created the first truly green, “zero to landfill” copying machine, the Document Center 265DC. The organization went through a massive six-year cultural change to support the development of a whole new series of products. In order to support their larger vision of a culture that focused on people first, they created what was originally called the Council of Elders and later renamed the Council of Wisdom Keepers. A nominating committee selected sixteen people, two from each of the eight functional groups. In the beginning, the people chosen needed to be 55 years or older, and have at least 20 years service with the organization. Later Xerox decided that it would be better to have more diversity on the team, since most of the people 55 years or older were white males.
The role of the Wisdom Keepers was to walk around taking the temperature of the cultural change program, to serve as Ombudsmen, to cut red tape when necessary, and to catch anything significant that might be falling through the cracks.
Flamekeepers are focused on what is best about the past and on preserving the core values of the organization. At the same time, they are open to change and are willing to look at how the organization can build on what has been developed in the past. They may not be your biggest innovators, but once they see how a new product, service, or strategy fits with the core values and is in alignment with the vision of the founders, they will be the biggest supporters of change.
Hearthtenders are the people who get the day-to-day work of the organization done. They are the ones who keep the home fires burning when the Edgewalkers are out scouting new territory. They keep things running smoothly and are committed to a sense of family in the organization, and to creating a “home away from home” atmosphere in the organization. Hearthtenders are the ones who remember peoples’ birthdays and who enjoy the organizational milestone celebrations. They are the ones who think of creative ways to celebrate accomplishments and to bring people together.
They enjoy working on continuous improvement, and if given half the chance, will have creative ideas about how to improve the workflow in their area, or how to better serve customers.
Hearthtenders are in the middle of the model in Figure 1. In time orientation, they tend to be focused on the present, and they are moderately open to change. These people are generally satisfied with their jobs and with the organization, and are happy to keep things the way they are unless someone has an idea on how to make their work more streamlined and less stressful.
Hearthtenders serve a very important function in the organization by providing stability and by keeping systems running smoothly. Depending on the climate and culture of the organization, Hearthtenders could move into any of the other quadrants. If you are trying to create an organization that is more values-driven and more innovative, you will want to actively find ways to help Hearthtenders to be either more future-oriented, thus moving into the Edgewalker orientation, or more past-oriented, thus moving them into the Flamekeeper orientation. Often Hearthtenders are Edgewalkers or Flamekeepers in disguise and can be encouraged to be more change-oriented if they are listened to, supported, encouraged and rewarded.
In contrast to Edgewalkers, who tend to be rare, just about every organization has Placeholders. Tom Brown defines Placeholders as the people who are holding back organizational progress and innovation. There are the people who see boundaries instead of possibilities, who are focused on the past instead of the future, who use up resources instead of looking at renewal, and who value doing over dreaming. They are the ones who want to employ as few people as possible in contrast to the leaders who engage all of humankind and look for ways to grow the enterprise. Placeholders are a drag on organizational energy and are usually the ones that clog the organization’s arteries with bureaucratic processes. They will tell you why something can’t be done and will resist change because “we’ve always done it that way.”
Placeholders are primarily motivated by fear and ego. They are risk-averse because they are afraid of losing whatever they have. They feel like they can’t afford to fail, and so they get frozen in place, fighting mightily to keep things the way they are. Oh, they will give lip service to change, but they will follow any words of support with statements such as:
- You have to show me where the money will come from.
- Let’s put a committee together, and I want a report in three months.
- Where else has this been done?
- How can you prove that we’ll be successful?
- Corporate will never go for it (or Human Resources, or Management, or the union, or someone else who can be the bad guy).
Placeholders are the self-proclaimed “stability police.” They are extremely uncomfortable with change, and they want to keep things like they are, or even better, like they were in the past, when life was simpler.
In the corporate world, a typical way of dealing with Placeholders is to offer early retirement programs. However, the ironic thing is that you are just as likely to lose your Flamekeepers as your Placeholders. Your Flamekeepers will see the early retirement offer as an opportunity to go start their own business in a way that is more in alignment with their values.
Placeholders do have a tremendous amount of organizational memory, and perhaps even some wisdom. A Placeholder is, in many ways, like a pessimistic, angry, cynical Flamekeeper. Probably at one time they deeply believed in the vision and values of the organization and perhaps had their faith and ideals trampled on one too many times. So they retreat into their protective shells and long for the past. And they try to block any new initiatives that move them even further from what they perceive as their idealized past.
It takes a tremendous amount of work, a high level of interpersonal skills, and may even spiritual intelligence, to deal with Placeholders. If you are trying to create more of an Edgewalker culture in your organization, you are likely to create even more fear in Placeholders unless you find a way to deal directly with their motives for being a naysayer. From a spiritual perspective, its important to remember that there is good in every person, and if you are in a change agent role, you want to find a way to unleash that goodness in your Placeholders.
Programs that increase self-awareness, that focus on values, and that help people to rediscover their inherent sense of service and higher purpose, can be very successful for those at lower levels in the organization. One-on-one coaching, whether it is with a professional coach or with a competent boss, can also help Placeholders to be more open to change, particularly if they can be shown that they will have some influence on the new direction.
But if your top leaders are Placeholders, your organization is essentially stuck in the mud. Edgewalkers and Flamekeepers will eventually leave out of frustration, and you will be left with people who keep the machinery running but who have forgotten the higher purpose and mission of the organization.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a Doomsayer as “one given to forebodings and predictions of impending calamity.” Even more than Placeholders, they can be a tremendous drag on organizational energy. These folks are not just “the glass is half empty” folks, they are the “glass is broken, the water is going to stain everything, and I’m probably going to bleed to death” folks. They are very concerned about the future, but they always predict the worst possible calamity and then spend their time preparing for doomsday. Or else, in their fear, they just get paralyzed and helpless.
Typically Doomsayers get pretty marginalized in organizations because they are such an energy drain. They tend to gravitate towards jobs like safety, environmental engineering, cost accounting, auditing, and other jobs that by their nature are supposed to look for what is wrong. The goal of these kinds of jobs is to prevent serious problems from happening and to quickly handle a crisis if it does. Many people in these professions handle the prevention work and the crisis work in a calm and professional manner. Doomsayers on the other hand turn everything into a drama.
They get themselves into a vicious cycle. When they see a potential problem emerging, they do whatever they can to get the attention of people who can do something about it. Often this includes using strong emotion to express their concern. Doomsayers also use exaggeration to get their point across. Because so many things seem like a crisis to them and because they tend to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion, they become like the little boy who cried, “Wolf.” People become immune to their cries of alarm, and then, when there is a real emergency, no one believes them.
Like Placeholders, Doomsayers are change averse. But their resistance to change is based on a belief that the future holds danger. Their theory about the world is that it is not a safe place, and you have to protect yourself at all costs from bad things happening. And as Jack Gibb said, our theories create our reality. So if the least little thing goes wrong, they are able to say, “See, I told you.” They tend to ignore all the things that go right most of the time, and if you point that out to them they say, “Well, we’ve been lucky so far, but just you wait.”
Doomsayers are very difficult to change. However, if you are creating an Edgewalker Organization, you will have to find a way to deal with them because their negative and fearful energy can be so contagious. Do anything you can do to help them develop a more positive relationship with the future. They are already future-oriented, but it is a fear-based orientation. If you can help the Doomsayer to understand how he or she creates his or her own reality, you have gone a long way towards transformation. Once they can begin to accept that there may be other ways to think about the future, you are on your way towards moving the Doomsayer to either the Hearthtender quadrant or even the Edgewalker quadrant.
Appreciative Inquiry is a wonderful process for beginning to open up the consciousness of the Doomsayer. They often find it very difficult to shift their thinking in this way, but it is possible. When I offer workshops, I often build in a one-hour or two-hour vision quest in nature as part of the process. This kind of experience can also be very helpful to the Doomsayer. Other programs, like the Noble Purpose program or the ONE program, also have the potential for helping Doomsayers to see that they could choose a more positive future for themselves. Once they see this on a personal level, they naturally begin to see it on an organizational level as well.
Every large organization will have a mix of people who see the world through one of the five different orientations: Edgewalker, Flamekeeper, Hearthtender, Placeholder, or Doomsayer. If we were to draw a bell curve of the distribution of the typical organization, it might look something like this:
This particular mix portrays an organization that has equal amounts of Edgewalkers and Doomsayers (5% each). They basically cancel each other out and prevent the organization from moving towards a more innovative culture. It also portrays equal amounts of Flamekeepers and Placeholders (10% each), and without strong direction from the Edgewalkers, the Flamekeepers and Placeholders keep the organization oriented on the past. The Hearthtenders make up the large majority of the organization’s orientation (70%), and their focus is on the present and keeping the day-to-day work of the organization going.
This traditional organization mix works fine when the organization is in a relatively stable environment with few competitive challenges. However, it will be a pretty frustrating place for Edgewalkers to work, and if their creativity and values are not respected and nurtured, they will go somewhere else to work for an organization that is more dynamic.
If, on the other hand, your organization is in a rapidly changing, turbulent environment, the kind of environment that Peter Vaill calls “permanent white water,” then it is essential to have a very different mix. You have a highly competitive environment, technology is changing constantly, your customers change their values and requirements almost overnight, and your old models of predicting the future just don’t work anymore. In this kind of environment, you need to have an Edgewalker Organization so that the organization is focused on the future and quick to adapt to changes in the internal and external environment.
An organization’s ability to be successfully is directly related to the proportion of Placeholders and Doomsayers to Edgewalkers. Too many Placeholders and Doomsayers can suck the life and inspiration out of a few lone Edgewalkers. And since Edgewalkers are risk-takers, they will take all their good ideas and go play in somebody else’s sandbox. They don’t just sit there quietly and turn into deadwood.
In Figure 3, there is a very different distribution of people. You will notice that this organization does not have any Doomsayers or Placeholders at all. People who are uncomfortable with change will not be happy in an Edgewalker Organization because this kind of organization not only responds to change — it creates change. It creates new rules to the game and sets the pace for other organizations. Both Doomsayers and Placeholders tend to hold a more fearful and negative view of the world, and their energy would only be a drag on the Edgewalker Organization.
There are ways to help Doomsayers and Placeholders move out of their mindsets, and if possible, you want to provide them every opportunity to begin to see the world differently and to join the emerging creative energy of the organization. Several of the methods of professional development could be helpful, particularly Appreciative Inquiry and personal coaching. If none of these approaches work, the most humane thing to do is to help the person find an environment that feels more comfortable to them. This should be done in the most supportive way possible, using outplacement services, personal development programs, and reasonable severance pay.
In Figure 3, there are only three orientations in this distribution curve; Edgewalkers (15%), Hearthtenders (70%), and Flamekeepers (15%). In this model, there are three times as many Edgewalkers as in the traditional organizational model. Although 15% is not a large portion of the overall employee base, it is at the level of critical mass, and is significant enough to keep the organization moving in creative and inspired new directions. The actual percentages that are the right mix for each organization vary, depending on the kind of business (for example advertising versus auto manufacturing), the organization’s past cultural history, the current stage of development, and the organization’s vision of the future.
It is always easier to create a new organization than to change an exiting company. You can hire the right mix of people to help you fulfill your vision, and you can establish the kinds of values and practices that will keep you on the leading edge. In fact, most innovation and job growth in U.S. companies comes from small, entrepreneurial firms. The large organizations that have been the titans of the corporate world are now the biggest source of the unemployment numbers. These dinosaurs are not known for innovative breakthroughs in their products, services, or management processes. Most positive change comes from the edges of the business world, not the center.
If you do not have the luxury of creating a new start-up, then how do you help your organization to be more of an Edgewalker Organization? One of the things you will want to do is to evaluate your current mix of Edgewalkers, Flamekeepers, Hearthtenders, Placeholders, and Doomsayers. A simple way to do this would be to hold focus groups in your organization, explain the definitions of the five orientations, and then ask people to individually create their own distribution curve for the five orientations in your company. Ask each individual to share their chart and explain why they created that particular distribution. Once everyone has shared, the group can create a collective chart based on their consensus of where the organization is at. Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to do this with several groups, making sure that there is representation of all the levels and functions. An Edgewalker Organizational Assessment tool has been created by Judi Neal & Associates.
This chapter has described a new form of organization that is needed in the world. The Edgewalker Organization is committed to offering leading edge products and services that enhance peoples’ lives and the planet. They are committed to sustainability, diversity, and nurturing the human spirit. They do this through embracing the people who have strong Edgewalker qualities and through supporting people in developing a stronger relationship to the future and greater openness to change. Now, more than ever, we need to attract, develop and retain Edgewalkers to our organizations. And we need to support the development of organizations who have a strong commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
Notes and References:
Adapted from Chapters 6-7, “The Edgewalker Organization,” in Neal, J. 2006. Edgewalkers: People and Organizations that Take Risks, Build Bridges, and Break New Ground, Westport, CT: Praeger.
This scenario is a composite based on innovative practices from several ideas, as well as images I had from meditating on the future with the idea of bringing this organizational design into the present.
Sounds True, in Boulder, CO, has a policy of allowing dogs in the workplace as long as they are well-behaved towards humans and other canines, and as long as no one in the work area has allergies to dogs.
This building design is similar to that of the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ.
Rob Rabbin is a wonderful writer on spirituality in the workplace. This mention here is to honor him for his work, and to make reference to his article, “Vice President of Corporate Consciousness,” Spirit at Work Newsletter (East Haven, CT: Association for Spirit at Work), October 1997.
J.-Robert Ouimet explains how Spiritual Support Groups work in his dissertation summary titled “The Golden Book,” available at http://www.our-project.org.
More and more organizations have meditation rooms or silence rooms. They include Ouimet-Tomasso, ANZ Bank, Pfizer, and Rodale Press, for example.
Johnson & Johnson has a program just like this in their New Brunswick, New Jersey Corporate Headquarters.
Times of India, an International Spirit at Work Award recipient, states in their award application, “The organisation structure is consumer focused and the customer is seen as God. Everyone in the organisation joins together to provide an offering to this God (customer) with the best possible news and views, of highest quality at fastest speed. The organisation is not solely governed by profits. The aim of the organisation is to make employees and stakeholders happy and achieve their highest potential by using the organisation as a platform for self actualization.”
This section is modeled on some of the practices of SAS, a major software company in Cary, North Carolina.
This description is based on the shaman character Jason Hand in Richard Whiteley’s book The Corporate Shaman: A Business Fable (New York, NY: Harper-Collins, 2002).
James Collins and Jerry Porras. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1997). See chapter 3, “More than Profits, for more information on how to “preserve the core,” pp. 46-79.
Don Petersen. Quoted in Collins and Porras, op cit., p. 52.
Henry Ford. Quoted in Collins and Porras, op cit., p. 53.
More information about the Kripalu Consultant Collaborative can be found athttp://www.spiritintheworkplace.com.
Tom Brown. Anatomy of Fire (Lexington, KY: Management General), e-book retrieved from http://www.anatomyoffire.com, 4/23/06, chapter 2, p. 3.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, retrieved from http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=doomsayer on 4/23/06.
Jack Gibb. Trust: A New View of Personal and Organizational Development (Los Angeles, CA: Guild of Tutors Press, 1978).
Peter Vaill. Learning as a Way of Being: Strategies for Survival in a World of Permanent White Water (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997).