The April 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review includes an article that features Decurion prominently.
More than 20 years ago, we identified Decurion’s purpose as providing a place for people to flourish (updated three years ago to providing places for people to flourish). Since then, we have been on a journey to make that purpose more and more true, more and more a fact of day-to-day experience at Decurion. We have got clearer on what it means to flourish, and we have introduced practices that apply to individuals and to communities.
Over the years, we have brought in people whose intention is aligned with ours but whose thinking and practices are more advanced. Jim Collins helped us identify our purpose and values. Michael Ray said we could gain insight into our individual purpose by asking, “Who is my Self?” and “What is my Work?” Kaz Gozdz showed us how to move from the individual to the collective level by building learning communities. Fred Kofman, among other contributions, urged us to be the player, not the victim, and pointed to our “unconditional response-ability.” Ron Heifetz gave us the distinction between adaptive and technical change. Joseph Jaworski spoke of our ability to sense and create the emerging future. Parker Palmer described the possibility of living an “undivided life.”
Living an undivided life is one aspect of flourishing, the aspect we call wholeness. Another key aspect is growth or development, and we have learned much of what we know about development from another contributor to Decurion, Robert Kegan. About two years ago, we were on the phone with Dr. Kegan, exploring how he could continue to contribute to the company. After raising a few ideas that sounded like a traditional consulting relationship, he paused and then said, “Can I tell you my fantasy? Rather than doing a consulting project, I would love to come and observe what you are actually doing.” We were immediately struck by the possibilities. For, while we were quite clear on our intentions and on what we called our operating philosophy, we were so enmeshed in the implementation that it was difficult for us to step back and to describe in any organized way what we were actually doing.
Now, two years later, Dr. Kegan and his colleagues Lisa Lahey, Matt Miller, and Andy Fleming have written an article for Harvard Business Review describing the approaches and practices of Decurion and one other company, Bridgewater Associates. (Bridgewater is an exceptionally successful hedge fund manager, based in Westport, Connecticut.) The article’s publication represents a significant marker in Decurion’s journey, one we want to celebrate. To be written about in such a prominent journal points to the fact that we are doing unusual and important work. And, at the same time we acknowledge the recognition the article gives us, we want to be clear that we are by no means at the end our journey. As we continue to pursue our purpose of providing places for people to flourish, we will continue to refine our ideas, to deepen our commitments, and to mature our practices. We will find new ways to encourage wholeness and development. Leading from intention, we will invent new methods and embed new assumptions so that we can create the future that wants to emerge.
The HBR article (entitled “Making Business Personal”) is here: http://hbr.org/2014/04/making-business-personal/ar/1. You’ll need to register, but then you can view the article for free and print it out.
Dr. Kegan and his team have a new website at www.waytogrowinc.com that includes an extended “whitepaper” version of the article (and a photo of the Decurion Executive Council in dialogue). I believe it will soon include a PDF version of the HBR article.
I am excited by the publication of Dr. Kegan’s article. And I am profoundly grateful to all of Decurion’s members (including alumni) for making the company what it is. I am hopeful that the article might serve as a platform for us to change the way people think about business.