Inspire Envisioning

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Book Review: The Awakened Company

Awakened Company cover
Our colleague Catherine Bell (no relation to Melanie Bell) recently released a book that we’re excited about. Written in collaboration with Enneagram expert Russ Hudson and Christopher Papadopoulos, The Awakened Company is a passionate and pragmatic call for a new way of doing business. While traditional business models focus primarily on profit and efficiency, Bell calls for a big-picture approach that also takes sustainability, community, and mindfulness into account.

The Awakened Company comes at a time, post-financial crash, when “the historic notions of doing business are rapidly unraveling on nearly all levels” (p. 4). Bell describes the problems of meaningless work, a growth-based (and thus ultimately unsustainable) financial model, and the “business is business” philosophy, which “assumes that the purpose of business is to make money, and whatever it takes to do so is okay” (p. 1). She recalls the history of early businesses, rooted in family, community, and service, and calls for a way of doing business that returns to these roots and innovates beyond them. The result is the “awakened” company of the book’s title, which is attentive to global context.

Bell argues that the smallest business decisions have consequences, and that companies benefit from making sure that these decisions – from the sourcing of products to the creation of company culture – are made ethically and with deliberation. “Business is far from just ‘business’,” she concludes; “It’s deeply interwoven with the whole of life” (p. 57). In order to thrive in the modern world, corporations need to adopt a deep-rooted sense of civic responsibility and connectedness.

Much of the book discusses the importance of building greater awareness in the business sphere. Bell introduces the qualities of “presence,” a state of being grounded, attentive, and open, and their positive effects on the workplace. Cultivating presence in leaders and teams fosters adaptability, harmony, and work relationships that feel meaningful. The book argues that the functioning of any company is improved when a leader or small team cultivates a climate of mindful awareness that spreads throughout the organization. Bell also makes a convincing case for the importance of growing aspects of company culture that are often overlooked, such as reflection and aesthetics (and the Enneagram is in there, subtly).

The Awakened Company takes a macro approach, and covers a lot of ground. The book is peppered with brief case examples, allowing readers to better understand how the book’s organizational principles are implemented on the ground. Hopefully a future publication will cover such examples in more detail. The book often uses spiritual language, but The Awakened Company’s suggestions are well researched and eminently practical. This book is ideal for leaders seeking a thorough and well-thought-out guide to principles of sustainable company-building. Happily, the approaches laid out by The Awakened Company are increasingly common in today’s business landscape. With Bell’s book reaching a broader audience, their reach may continue to grow.


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How Enneagram Types Work in Teams

20140926_143809Strong collaborative skills are more crucial in the workplace today than ever before. According to the New York Times, jobs with a strong social component continue to increase, while more solitary occupations have lost positions. Additionally, modern workplaces of all kinds are embracing a collective, consensus-based approach, with over 70 percent of offices using an open floor plan in their company.

Most employees spend a significant amount of time with their coworkers. Our coworkers often become our friends, and sometimes even feel like family, but when misunderstandings ensue, there’s also the potential for conflict and even workplace bullying within teams. In order to work together cohesively, teammates must learn to respect and leverage each other’s strengths, while productively solving any conflicts that arise.

The Enneagram provides a personality map that shows the unique gifts different workers bring to their team and workplace. When employees’ strengths are leveraged, and they’re each given a role in the team that plays to their strengths, they thrive and contribute in group work. The Enneagram also identifies areas of difficulty for each of the nine types, areas where teammates can provide support. All of the nine Enneagram types have the potential to work well in teams. Below, we describe the strengths and social role of each Enneagram type in teams, as well as blind spots they can face.

Type One: Ones bring principle and discipline to teams. Often inspired by great vision, Ones ensure everyone is working toward the team’s goals in a manner that is ethical. Under stress, Ones can challenge other team members by being critical of their teammates not doing things the “right” way. Ones work best in teams when given a role where they can bring structure and pragmatism toward pushing goals forward.

Type Two: Twos bring interpersonal skills and consideration to teams. In groups, Twos are excellent at checking in and making sure everyone on the team is taken care of. Under stress, Twos can challenge other team members by focusing on team relationships at the expense of completing the project. Twos work best in teams when given a role where they can work on the relational or collaborative aspects of the project.

Type Three: Threes bring excellence and adaptability to teams. Often extremely polished, Threes are great at selling and marketing the team’s product and helping out in any way they’re needed. Threes can challenge other team members when they become too focused on doing the work themselves, at the expense of collaboration and delegation. Threes work best in teams when given a role where their impressive results are valued.

Type Four: Fours bring creativity and awareness to teams. Oriented to the personal realm and aesthetics, Fours ensure goals are created and executed in a manner that’s true to the team and company. Team members can be challenged by Fours when they become self-absorbed, making it difficult for them to participate fully. Fours work best in teams when given the opportunity to bring their creative abilities and sensitivity to projects.

Type Five: Fives bring focus and strategic thinking to teams. In teams, Fives often become the designated expert, using their brainpower to solve difficult problems. Team members can be challenged by Fives when they detach into their intellectual worlds, ignoring team relationships. Fives do their best work in teams when given a role that uses their sharp mental focus, such as strategic planning and innovation.

Type Six: Sixes bring dedication and hard work to teams. Sixes make wonderful allies and are willing to put in long hours, building group cohesion and giving their all to any workplaces they support. Sixes can challenge their team members by doubting their commitment to a project, causing the Six to “test” their teammates. Sixes work best when given structured opportunities to provide team support and the opportunity to be an advocate.

Type Seven: Sevens bring lightning-fast productivity and team spirit to teams. Sevens make teamwork fun, ensuring team members enjoy themselves while they work hard. Sevens can be challenging to their teammates when they become overly scattered and busy, making it hard for them to be pinned down or complete work. Sevens work best when given a role where they can wear a variety of hats, taking advantage of their spontaneity.

Type Eight: Eights bring strength and energy to teams. Natural leaders, Eights are great at getting a project started and ensuring that it continues to move forward. Team members can be challenged by Eights when they become overly domineering and don’t let others on the team have an equal voice. Eights do best in active, “doing” roles and situations where they can express their natural confidence and leadership.

Type Nine: Nines bring consensus and harmony to teams. Nines make great natural mediators when there’s conflict on the team and are often excellent at seeing the broader picture of the team’s goals. Other team members can be challenged by Nines when they become overly passive, “checking out” from the group and not expressing opinions. Nines do best in roles of creating group cohesion and mediating conflict.

Ultimately, when teammates learn each other’s teamwork style, they develop a greater understanding of differences and respect for their colleagues’ strengths, creating a happier and more productive workplace.