Focusing on the Authentic in the Individual

by cv harquail on October 2, 2009

Jamie and Maren Showkeir, authors of the book Authentic Conversations, also write a blog about the same concept. Their work is inspiring, and I often find myself referring to their book when I talk with organization members about how they can bring more authenticity into their organizations through their relationships with each other.

Just yesterday, we had an interesting overlap – both blogs published posts that raise a concern that real people disappear when we start to think of “the organization”.

Jamie pointed this out in the comments on the post, but there’s even more to it. Here’s a clip from the Showkeirs’ post:kelseyannette.jpeg

By seeing people as “the organization,” they lose their histories, dreams and choices. By seeing people as targets of change waiting to be transformed by our leadership or new programs, we seriously delude ourselves. Absorbed in our manipulation, we focus attention where it will be futile. …

What is real is the flesh and blood of a person. We find them standing before us with their history, dreams and possibilities. If we want change, we must engage this person, not some abstraction we have created.

Even when we know intellectually that it’s not “Organizations” that behave, or change, or seek, but instead that it’s the people who compose organizations that do anything and everything ….   we still do well to remember that it is the real people, each with their “histories, dreams and choices” with whom we want and need to engage.

When we seek authenticity in organizations, what we’re really looking for are pathways through which we can individually be authentic and simultaneously be authentic in our work together.


Bernie White October 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Is it too heretical to propose that an effective organisation’s intent should focus less on shareholders and customers? What would happen if an organisation declared it’s primary intent as ‘to create an environment for people to grow and realise their full potential’ ? Too idealistic, you think. Maybe building a strong sustainable business is just the vehicle. When shareholder value, customer focus, efficiency etc become the primary issues – what’s in it for the people?

CV Harquail October 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Hi Bernie-
Based on the kinds of reactions that I get whenever I write posts that are critical of ‘profit only’ thinking, I’d say that yes… in many places, asking organizations to have a purpose beyond profit is heretical. That’s one of the reasons why I find initiatives like B Corporations and the Triple Bottom Line (and beyond) so compelling… these initiatives attempt to counter the claims of economists and simplistic ‘free market’ advocates. Otherwise, all of these employee engagement and collective meaning strategies are add-ons that aren’t connected to the core being of the organization and are thus unstable. I’m with you on this one….
.-= CV Harquail´s last blog ..Focusing on the Authentic in the Individual =-.

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