A new collaborative book by members of the “Great Work Cultures” (GWC) movement aims to transform organizations and create more humanistic environments for employees to work in. Joan Blades, a prominent activist for positive change who launched the movement, praises the contributors to the book as “brilliant innovators and leaders who know how to structure workplaces that sing.”
Statistics show that the average worker is disengaged and that most workplace productivity is a fraction of what it could be. Members of the GWC movement believe, however, that workplace environments which are deeply respectful of all workers will be productive and experience very low turnover. This book is an outcome of their intention to accelerate positive change at work.
In this interview book contributor, Dawna Jones, discusses her chapter, “How Companies Create Costs by Ignoring Workplace Health.” Dawna Jones is a speaker, author, and strategist who provides insights and advanced decision-making awareness to function optimally in complex environments. Her transformational insights free personal and organizational potential to be more creatively responsive to high speed change. She is the author of Decision Making for Dummies, contributor to The Intelligence of the Cosmos, and host of the Insight to Action podcast.
Dawna Jones, what do you do and what is your company called?
Dawna Jones: My company is Insight Out Consulting, and my moniker is: From Insight to Action. What I do is I bring what my clients call transformational insight. It’s a different way of seeing the situation and then I combine that with a broader awareness so that decision makers can see the bigger picture and make much better, more accurate decisions, particularly in the context of complexity and transformation.
What do you hope to achieve with this collaborative effort?
Dawna Jones: Well, the beauty of a collaborative effort is you get different perspectives. Some people will be drawn to one perspective over another in the moment and then later on pick up the book and discover that “Ah, that’s the perspective I need for this moment.” So, everybody’s in a very different place. The value of collaborating in the way we have on this book is it allows readers different windows to see their world through and go, “Okay, this is where I’m at and this is really valuable for me in the moment.” And then maybe down the road another aspect or another point of view will be perfect. Collaboration also builds strength in terms of how you evolve as a change agent with whatever role you’re playing – as manager, as leader, as whatever role that happens to be.
What would you say is your expertise?
Dawna Jones: I specialize in organizational dynamics and seeing the inner relationships between how one thing impacts another formally and informally; observable and invisible. To me, it’s very much about how energy flows inside an organization because that reveals the focus and level of inspiration. It’s a very deep and intuitive capacity that allows you to see through a lot of the superficial noise that goes on and just cut to the heart of the matter. When you can see the pivotal point, then it’s clear that that if you focus here, you can shift things very quickly. That’s my area of specialty – intuitive insights plus this capacity to see at multiple levels at once for faster transformation through creativity.
Who or what type of companies do you work with and help?
Dawna Jones: I work with all levels of companies and have worked across a range of sectors. Humans are human wherever you go. It’s the mindsets that dictate who is most receptive to doing things differently. Obviously, it’s the bigger companies that have to make the bolder decisions because a lot of them are stuck in very old patterns of behavior and deeply ingrained beliefs about how the world works. The more deeply ingrained, the more radically creative you need to be in order to shake things up and jump to a higher level of functioning. If companies are really ready to make big leaps then, by working together, transformation can be more effective and more fun.
There are many statistics about how disengaged the average worker is. Briefly, why do you think the average worker is disengaged?
Dawna Jones: I don’t think there’s anything inspiring about meeting the next quarterly targets. I think that companies have aimed low on their aspirations. Their focus on profitability at the cost of all else is the source of workplace disengagement. People need meaning, a sense of belonging and something bigger than themselves to work toward – something that makes a difference in the quality of life. Just being profitable at the cost of quality of life creates a depleting environment. Stress related illness indicates where people have had to suppress their creative contribution to do routine work. Instead, companies should go for big goals that improve the state of the world. Go for ones that matter. Numbers don’t have much meaning. People do. Accomplishment does. Collective achievement does.
It is said that workplace productivity is a fraction of what it could be. What do you believe will increase workplace productivity?
Dawna Jones: You know, that’s an interesting question because it depends on how you define productivity. Productivity is a fraction of what it could be because people aren’t engaged. If they were engaged, then obviously you’d have higher productivity. It goes back to the previous question. Fundamentally, there’s a need to rethink purpose to go beyond ‘we exist to make money’ and stretch into being of service to the world. Those that do achieve higher profitability without making unethical decisions that compromise systemic health. The great illusion of business efficiency is that if you focus narrowly on profit, you think you will increase profit. But in fact, when you focus very narrowly, you ignore everything that creates the bottom line, including engagement. If you re-shift the lens to ‘why do we matter in the world?’ ‘What’s important about our contribution as a company in the world?’ Then ask, ‘what do we want to do to make the world better?’ That’s the level of thinking and perceiving where not only engagement increases, but consequently so does workplace productivity. So, we like to think it’s about business process, but more about what lies at the heart of the matter.