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Hybrid Thinking for Human Sustainability
BALANCING PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONAL ENVIRONMENTS FOR A BETTER FUTURE
In January, I introduced a new way of thinking to help us create our desired future–transformational resilience—so our organizations can adapt and thrive in a constant state of intentional evolution. Hybrid Thinking is our means to do this. By balancing seemingly opposing concepts that are exponentially better together than in isolation, we can make everything that matters most to an organization BETTER – People, Business, Ideas, and Decisions. In my message, I outlined four critical elements that need Hybrid Thinking for our organizations to thrive, Human Sustainability, Inside Out Perspective, Radical Innovation, and Augmented Intelligence.
This month, we will focus on leveraging Hybrid Thinking for Human Sustainability. We must get this right. People are the foundation of everything. This is no secret given the Great Resignation we are experiencing. Attracting and retaining the best talent has been a critical business issue for years, long before the pandemic. The pandemic has merely heightened a condition we already had.
When we solve for people and ensure they can be their best and do their best – happy and healthy – we will unleash their full potential. If we solve for what is good for people, it will be advantageous for business, ideas, and decisions. With so much at stake, isn’t it worth the risk of experimenting with the best way to solve for our people and unique organizations?
WHY DOES HUMAN SUSTAINABILITY MATTER?
We need our terrifically talented people free to focus their energy on their highest value. We need to capture maximum mindshare, unlock creativity, unleash potential and create mutual loyalty between people and organizations. People are the foundation of business—generating the ideas, products, and services that impact and increase shareholder value. When we solve for people in a way that enables them to be their best and do their best, people AND organizations will flourish. If we don’t, the best talent will find someplace that does, and our organizations will suffer.
WHAT ARE WE BALANCING?
The Hybrid Thinking or opposable spectrum we need to balance for Human Sustainability is People and Organizational Environment. We must solve for people in the context of an organization that has goals, constraints, and responsibilities to lead people toward business success.
People need to feel connected to their colleagues and the organization they work for. They want to be empowered to work together towards a common goal and know their work positively impacts the world. All while feeling their best physically and mentally so they can reach their full potential.
The Organizational Environment needs to provide the structure for the why, how, when, and where of work. It must operate with efficiency and effectiveness. It needs to provide clear guidance – the policies and protocols that establish cultural norms and behavioral expectations. It needs to provide the tools necessary to support the work.
We must solve for both in a way that does not compromise either—bringing the best of both together to create an exponentially better solution.
THREE HYBRID SOLUTION CONCEPTS
MAGNETS NOT MANDATES
ATTRACT PEOPLE TO AN INTUITIVE ENVIRONMENT.
People don’t want to be forced into our offices by mandates; they want compelling reasons to be there. People are magnetized by the energy of other people and experiences they can’t get elsewhere. Consider the unique attributes that will attract your people to your workplace and create an irresistible environment. To amplify human energy, create a multi-zoned workplace that provides distinct areas for community gathering, socialization, team collaboration, and quiet focus. Creating zones and arranging spaces to achieve the desired optimum density ensures the “vibe” of human energy is present even when the entire office isn’t full. The organizational environment needs to enable people to do their best work by outfitting spaces that attract, inspire, and support humans while simultaneously making the experience intuitive by providing tools and technologies that seamlessly connect people to others, workplaces, and meaningful information. Consider policies that allow choice and control over how and where employees work. Create protocols that encourage the use of all workplace benefits. To amplify results, encourage leaders to be first adaptors—leading the use of all new spaces and tools to establish new behaviors. Bringing together elements that magnetize people to your workplace AND make it intuitive to use – that’s a better hybrid solution.
GO HOME HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER
BUILD COMMUNITY IN A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
People thrive when they spend time with colleagues in an environment that enhances their physical and mental wellbeing. Feeling connected to others with a shared purpose creates a sense of belonging to the organization. This is important across the broader organization, not just within immediate working groups. You can help visually connect colleagues by increasing transparency and sightlines through spaces and buildings. To create opportunities for spontaneous interactions, centralize gathering places and locate them adjacent to thoroughfares that connect zones, floors, and buildings. The organizational environment can enhance physical and mental wellbeing by leveraging passive and active health attributes. Passive attributes provide benefits without additional effort on the individual’s part – fresh air, daylight, filtered water, and nutritious food and beverages. Active attributes require additional effort on the individual’s part– stairs, fitness and wellness facilities, and outdoor walking paths—but can be made accessible by locating them in a prominent area. Ensure policies and protocols allow for maximum use of all health attributes. Creating a collegial environment that brings people together around a shared purpose AND enhances their wellbeing every day – that’s a better hybrid solution.
ME, WE, WORLD
CONNECT PEOPLE TO IMPACT
People need to know that the work they do matters and positively impacts the world. A connection to nature reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. The ability to go outside, breathe fresh air, or walk in a park energizes us to think bigger. From inside, the ability to see outside, with vista views beyond our immediate surroundings, opens our minds and makes our impact tangible. To create a strong connection to nature, maximize access to daylight and provide multiple views to the outdoors. Expand visual vistas – long views – to create open interior spaces that connect people to the vastness of the world. Bring the outside in with natural materials and greenery. To encourage people to get outside, activate outdoor “rooms” for work and outdoor lounges for respite. The organizational environment must make culture its number one priority. More than ever, people are moving towards organizations that reflect their personal values. You can connect employees to your purpose and values by creating a branded environment that proclaims why you exist, gives reasons to believe, and creates places people want to gather. Ensure people understand how their role in the organization aligns with their purpose and contributes to its success. Connecting people to their purpose in your organization AND to their impact on the broader world – that’s a better hybrid solution.
The goal is to create great places and experiences for people to be their best and do their best in an environment that makes work easier and people healthier.
Leaders are anxious to bring their people back together in the offices because they intuitively know that in-person interaction is valuable. But we need to define why we are BETTER together and create environments and experiences that support that. Most people are willing to work in our offices. But we need to shift willing to wanting by creating a compelling experience that inspires people and supports what they need to do, all while helping them feel great about the organization they work for.
Finding the right solution for your organization will require experimentation. Be bold, experiment with new ways to achieve your goals. Hybrid Thinking establishes a new decision criteria—ensuring we balance all the opposing forces with the ultimate goal in mind. For people, that’s Human Sustainability. Humans need Balance. Hybrid Thinking achieves balanced solutions that work for people. As you experiment, keep Human Sustainability as the foundation. This will help you create places and experiences that make your people BETTER. If it is good for people, it will be good for your 0rganization and our planet. That’s a Win-win-win!
Until next time,