Stocktaking first step to organizational vibrancy: consultant

“Look at the patterns of interaction.”

So implores Lorne Ellingson, professional coach and management consultant, in seminars to organizations that want to democratize, become more dynamic, and maximize their most prodigious strength - people.

“People interacting with each other is what makes for a great organization,” explains Ellingson, who points out that hierarchical, military-styled organizational structures are anachronistic, “a dead thing” and remnant of the industrial revolution.

“What makes today’s organizations ‘alive’ are the relationships, and the communication,” says Lorne, who will be presenting at a workshop entitled “Designing Vibrant Non-Profit Organizations” at the Sustainability Network on Feb. 15th in Toronto.

Acknowledging patterns of interaction are the first steps an organization must make in order to become more vibrant, he says.

“The challenge is to really look at organization through its own lens, and see the mindset. Change is not inserting another model or rigid structure on to the current one – that’s like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” he says.

Developing different organizational patterns – changing the landscape - through daily practice is the next logical step.

Ellingson first advises organizations to have an open meeting where all employees feel free to discuss all relevant issues. Paraphrasing the words of the Buddha as guide, Ellingson says that good governance is had “if you meet often, sit in harmony, and rise in harmony.”

Secondly, organizations need to understand the personalities of their respective employees. Understanding personality leads necessarily to acknowledging talent.

“You turn those talents into strengths,” he says.

A third method for increasing the vibrancy of an organization is to build on existing strengths. Instead of looking to mitigate weaknesses, examine and work from the positives, says Ellingson.

Ellingson, who is also a professor of Native Studies at Trent University, sees desire for broad-based organizational change as a reflection of individual desire for meaningful actualization through work.

“Expectations are changing,” he says. “This is a huge era for systemic change, people are re-thinking how organizations function and what the role of work is in their lives.”

“The acquisitive, bureaucratic capitalist model just doesn’t work anymore,” he adds.