Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


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Organizational Development Using the Enneagram

20160217_134027The Enneagram benefits more than just the individuals and teams who exist within a workplace; it also supports the organization itself in remaining healthy. Understanding company culture from an Enneagram standpoint can help organizations address blind spots, build new capacities, and grow.

Just like individuals, organizations and cultures also have an Enneagram type! Many Enneagram teachers, for example, will observe that the United States has a type Three culture and Canada a type Nine culture. Similarly, companies tend to have a culture based on an Enneagram type. A type Two company culture, for example, may be particularly focused on serving the relationship with their customers, while a type Six company culture may be particularly focused on protecting the security of the company.

While most company cultures have inherent strengths, they also tend to have certain blind spots. A type Two company culture may be so focused on relationships that they forget to attend to important paperwork and balancing the budget. A type Six company culture may be so focused on preserving the security of the company that they avoid taking risks that would move the company forward in a positive way.

An assessment from an Enneagram workplace consultant will assist companies in seeing what Enneagram type strategies their workplace culture values and what Enneagram types they tend to neglect. Often, workplaces will tend to hire people who display the Enneagram types their culture values. For example, a company that strongly values type Two strategies may hire a large number of workers who are Twos, while being less impressed by the contributions of another type, such as a type Five who is more likely to be focused on information than customer relationships. Looking at hiring through the lens of the Enneagram can help diversify the process and acknowledge the value and necessity of overlooked skill sets.

Organizational Enneagram consultants may also look at the Level of Development in which a company is functioning, outside of type. A company that is functioning well will not only have minimize the conflicts among employees, it will also bring strong contributions to the world. Companies that are less healthy will typically have more miscommunications and conflicts and will spend more time mediating these challenges than growing as organizations. Unhealthy companies may even resort to cutting corners, or even unethical behavior, just to stay afloat.

Using the Enneagram in organizations supports companies in creating and maintaining a culture that hires and values a workforce of diverse, complementary personalities. It also aids companies in developing strategies that allow them to function healthfully and focus on bringing intrinsic value to their field.


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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.