If your organization is moving as one, it means there is coherence – the activities of different persons and among teams are well attuned to one another. Everybody is unified behind the purpose of your company, understands one another and is able to anticipate what needs to happen. Coherence improves the organization’s agility and resilience, enabling the company to respond better to (sudden) changes in market circumstances.
How does an organization realize such a state of coherence? There are essentially two sides to this: the company’s purpose on the one hand and the organization that realizes it on the other.
A strong purpose provide energy and direction to your company. It defines where the company is going. The strategy defines the steps it may take, and the objectives to reach.
Moving As One
How do you align the entire organization around the purpose, objectives and strategy? How do you get the people to move as one?
Moving As One starts with the acknowledgment of each and every individual within the organization. Imagine a football team in which two of the players are not playing well. We all understand the adverse effects this will have on the entire team. This goes for any team: it can only thrive if the individual members themselves are thriving, individually and as a team.
So how and when does an individual thrive? In his famous book ‘Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience’ (1990), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes conditions that can bring about the experience of ‘flow’ within an individual. For the purpose of moving as one, we focus on those conditions that can be considered and/or influenced by the individual and/or organization (e.g. there are certain conditions or consequences of being in flow, such as ‘losing track of time’, which are not considered here):
- in a working environment it is important that the role and tasks that any person has, match their personal purpose and objectives.
- the skills of the person match the challenges at hand. If the challenge is too big or too small, anxiety or boredom may occur.
- purposeful attention on the tasks at hand (focus).
- direct feedback: it is clear how one is doing so that, if needed, one can intervene to improve the results.
In short: in order for in individual to thrive, the person needs to do what he/she wants to do, what he/she can do and be able to do it with focused attention and timely feedback.
Most people do not have solitary work. They work in a team that depends on its members, both for individual and team performance.
Therefore, there is a fifth element that is crucial in an organization or team. That is psychological safety. It is a prerequisite for highly effective teams. There have been many studies to highly effective teams and the one element that consistently stands out as defining, is psychological safety. It means that people feel trusted and free to express themselves, people speak up if they feel like that. They feel free to acknowledge failures because the team has got their back which enables them to learn from experience and grow. For the same reason, people dare to be vulnerable. This goes for the leaders as much as the team itself.