Developing healthy organizations

Written by Nick Richmond, Tricordant for COCOONERS N.12

April 26, 2024
3 min read
Cyclists hand in hand, to express the concept of healthy organization

This article was first published in COCOONERS N.12 by Tricordant , one of the most valuable organizations one could walk with along the way to organizational agility and work evolution.

Poorly organized work wastes money, damages people and is bad for the environment too. This means leaders have an ethical and moral imperative to design and develop healthy organisations which are not just high performing, but also good for their people and the environment.

Organizational health has always been at the heart of Tricordant’s thinking. Some of you may not know this but we continue to be inspired by the divine when developing our thinking around organisational health. One Biblical principle is that we are made in the image of God, when we are at our best and in the flow we are fully expressing this image. We believe there is an equivalent pattern in working together, which enables people and organisations to thrive. Over time reflecting on others and our own practices, plus research we have commissioned, by Edinburgh University and the Oxford Review, have both improved and reinforced the validity of our thinking.

For us this means that even though there is a rapid evolution going on within the world of work, there are still key underlying principles which last forever.

One of these, which define healthy organizations, is adaptability. This is reinforced by both academic research and experience when you explore and understand why some companies last forever. For example the oldest organisation in the world is the Japanese construction company Kongō Gumi, founded in 578 AD. Closer to home these include the Royal Mint (Founded 866 AD), Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli (Founded 1000 AD) and Casa de Ganaderos (Founded 1218 AD).

However, though highly prized, organisations struggle to become more adaptable. The reasons for this are numerous. Earlier this year Tricordant was commissioned to help a business unit of a global pharmaceutical company with their mission to move ‘from doing…to being agile.’ The company had been exploring agility for over a year, but a history of risk aversion and compliance was preventing the leaders from developing the necessary adaptive mindset and behaviors. This also meant teams were “doing agile” by complying with a process without really “being agile”! Stelio Verzera of CocoonPro and I worked hard to build an understanding of the organisation’s dynamics and to plan a large group event with a microcosm of the company.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to use Lego® Serious Play®. However we were able to use Dixit cards to help the people to break free of their existing mindsets, fears and ways of working, to dream about how the company would operate in the next 2 years.

Working together, we helped our client to think about, and really get under the skin of what agility and organisational adaptability means to them. One of Myron E. Rogers Maxims for changing complex systems is, “The process you use to get to the future is the future you get.” This means, if you want agile teams and an adaptive organisation, then the pathway you use to get to the future needs to be agile and adaptive. We helped each team to think this through by translating their future vision into a roadmap for themselves and one for the company as a whole.

However, that’s just the beginning of the journey as we all know, if we want to become healthy we need to intentionally work at it. This is the same for organisations, leaders and their people need to intentionally develop organisational health together.

I will end this article as I began but with a challenge. Poorly organised work wastes money, damages people and is bad for the environment too. This means you have an ethical and moral imperative to design and develop healthy organisations.

How well are you doing this?

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