Tuesday, 6 February 2007

The Scarcity Mindset in Organisations

I had an email from Pam yesterday in response to her Daily Prosperity Thought. She says:
"That's really strange I was reading your book last night and read that section!!! Also just like to say that I really like the way you mix contemporary and historical fables, rhymes etc." She then goes on to say (I am summarising here) that she works in an organisation that is in a scarcity mindset, with a "competing" and "bullying mindset".
"I am now questioning this and thinking I don't want this and want to assert my values and change approach from one that is based on scarcity to one that is saying we don't agree with this way and wont compete". She then talks about her personal dilemma in this situation, about how she is in a position of responsibility and that she feels responsible for the livlihoods of people working in the organisation.
"I am still reading your book and hope that it will give me the answer I need. Thank you steve."

My response:
"Hi Pam, Many thanks for your email and I'm glad you like the book.
I believe that money will more and more flow to good causes that also feel inspiring. My work at Alternatives has also included reaching out to so called competitors and working cooperatively with many of them. The scarcity mindset does not understand this at all. The question is how can you help your organisation get its message out there in a way that is appealing and inspiring? Fear and fierce competing will not work in the same way as it did in the past. We seem to be sailing in uncertain times, and changes are coming. In the past organisations with a fear based mentality could thrive. More and more that is going to be difficult in the years ahead. Fear and fierce competing will not work in the same way anymore.
I am not sure of your exact situation. I am also not sure of the degree of commitment and passion you have for the organisation you work in. Yet your sense of frustration does come through loud and clear.

My advice is to find time to connect with your own inner wisdom and guidance and ask to be shown the next steps. It may be that your path is to help transform this organisation. However, if you are wasting your time and energy you will feel moved to put your attention elsewhere. Also rather than fighting against the scarcity mindset you need to develop a vision of what could be possible. If the scarcity conversation can be changed then the whole vibe of the organisation will change. You also will need allies in this work. See if you can sound out some people over tea and find out if there is any interest in a different way.
You might want to look at the issue of feeling responsible for the organisation. No matter your position of responsibility, if the organisation does not want to take your lead towards a more positive mindset then it will not, no matter how hard you try. You are not responsible for the collective attitudes in the organisation that continue to shape its destiny.
Hope this helps in some way."

I thought this conversation was worth sharing because it does highlight a common dilemma some people face where their personal values and way of thinking clash with those of the organisation. I have been in this situation a few times. In this situation I ask myself a few questions. Firstly is it right that I seek to impose my values and way of thinking on this organisation. When I worked in International Banking some years ago the answer I came up with was no and so I left. The bank I worked for was a major player in the City, and like most banks it was driven by shareholders who wanted to see an ongoing profit. On the other hand if the answer to that question is yes, then I would ask another question. Is this organisation truly interested in change for the better or not? I say truly because some organisations say they are interested in change, but in practise they are not. Some years ago I worked as a manager in a local authority who spoke about change and improving customer service but where in truth so bogged down in ideology that nothing changed very much.
If the answer to the question is yes, then all well and good. Then it might be worth putting your time and energy to support that change. If the answer is no, then the choice is to either leave and find somewhere better suited to your values and attitudes or to stay and slug it out. If you stay and slug it out you must know that there will be consequences. These consequences may be positive where you win through and come to a new level of personal empowerment. Or they may be negative where you burn out in a useless effort to turn a juggernaut set in its ways.


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