4 steps to becoming a conscious organisation

2020, onwards and upwards!

When you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up often they say doctor, or astronaut or firefighter. It is in our DNA that we want to have a purpose and a positive impact. So building a conscious organisation or individual is a big part of creating meaningful lives. 

If you want to grow and maintain your business, build a conscious culture, create a solid foundation that keeps going when the players change and when you can’t be there. It’s no longer an option, it’s a necessity for survival. 

Charles Eisenstein says, “Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention. Covid demonstrates the power of our collective will when we agree on what is important. What else might we achieve, in coherency? What do we want to achieve, and what world shall we create?”

2020 provides us an opportunity to reassess what we stand for and how our activities reflect those values. When the Covid-19 crisis dies down, you should leave bad habits and values behind and establish new ways of working to bring into the future. 

We might ask, having done without it for a while, whether we really need so much air travel, Disneyworld vacations, or trade shows.

Charles Eisenstein

1. Know Your Purpose

As a leader, if you’re not excited about what you do and if your business doesn’t bring value to society in general, it might be difficult to go to the office, and can be difficult for you to be a conscious organisation. However in this age of constant transformation, businesses have the opportunity to redefine themselves, and indeed, are.

I am lucky enough to be passionate about the work we do – and want to do – as well as been through my own personal and professional transformation. It cost me time, tears and a lot of money. It wasn’t easy. 

When you change as a leader, your business, and indeed the rest of your life follows. As funkadelic musician George Clinton put it:

Free your mind and your arse will follow.

George CLinton
Imag credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

You must feel great going to work, you must feel awesome about what you’re selling, and what you’re selling or doing must have a positive impact on your people, customers and the wider world.

If you’re struggling to identify your purpose…

Think through what products you provide, and what supply chains you already have.

Then go full Walt Disney. Imagine the world as you want it to be. What changes need to be made to bring about this future? What role could your business play in this transformation? As a leader you must set the tone for the way everyone is working on a daily basis.

Refine your purpose into a mission statement. This will help you clarify what defines your social impact. Cementing your goals in writing will bring you and your team into alignment.

Our mission is simple and took 15 seconds to create via an over the desk conversation between two (aligned) people:

Partner with like-minded people, brands and organisation to create positive change in world.

2. Map It Out

Reaffirming your purpose requires identifying the activities you’ll focus on, as well as making strategic decisions to leave some behind.

In my own experience, we’ve always been driven to work on ‘good’ things, such as supporting OzHarvest and Global Citizen, or our many low- and pro-bono projects, each aiming to leave a positive dent on the universe. But we are still a commercial organisation. I made some tough decisions towards the end of the last decade that we would no longer be working for companies who didn’t reflect our values. For example, we couldn’t sell sugary crap that I wouldn’t eat myself or feed my own kids. This came with a clear financial cost. So there was pain before there was gain.

Map out all of your stakeholders and identify your relationships with one another to maximise impact. This process will also highlight which stakeholders are already being influenced and which you will need to nurture in order to achieve your goal. 

Plan two different communications strategies – one for your internal stakeholders and one for external. These big investment decisions need to be communicated to all parties involved. Your people need to know how any changes will affect them and also how excited they should be about the new initiatives!

Internally, a strategy needs to be put in place to ensure the goals are reflected in all areas of the business. Speaking from experience, investors and shareholders aren’t going to like it. But staff, stakeholders and your partners likely will. Can you bridge the gap between what you are offering and what you want to offer and still maintain rapport with your key clients?

3. Let It Be Known

Use strategy and creativity to include all elements of the business and identify avenues of inclusion for stakeholders, clients and staff. Engage value chain members, including industry and NGO partners.

Get people excited about being a part of your progression, involve them as much as possible and be available to answer any questions to ensure a positive response to your changes. 

Now it is time to make your mission public and external communication must be followed by action. There is nothing worse than a ‘gonna’ – you can’t leave people hanging with empty promises. You must follow through with substance.

4. Practice What You Preach

Organisations should mirror the beliefs and actions of the individual at the top and your staff. For example, pretty much everyone in our office is into well-being. We all exercise every day, we eat amazing food. We share recipes, restaurant tips. It’s part of the molecular and the vocabulary of The Conscience Organisation. 

A true leader needs to be an authentic, vulnerable, open person who reflects their core values in all aspects of their life. A conscious leader is the one who inspires, earns loyalty and reflects a consistent level of high performance within their team. 

Be true to your employees, yourself and your customers and you will be rewarded.

The culture of your business is its heartbeat. Without a healthy one, the business will ultimately fail. A ‘conscious culture’ fosters innovation, and calls for people to deeply engage with each other and with the process of the organisation. It builds trust between a company’s team members and its other stakeholders. Conscious culture also includes accountability, transparency, integrity, loyalty and personal growth, acting as a unifying force that truly brings a conscious business to life.

In closing, don’t be afraid to put your nads on the line right now, everything is up for grabs. This time is as brilliant and refreshing, as it is tragic and confusing.