Imagine your organization as a home. Does your organizational decision making happen on the main floor of transactional life, in the basement of foundational fundamentals, or in the high place of the attic?
My experience is that most organizational decision making is transacted on the busy main floor. It is the highest trafficked place in the organization. It is the mainstream business world where there is a sense of order and busy-ness (business). It is the place of business as usual. Potential customers are hopefully ringing our doorbell regularly, inviting themselves into our transactional life. On this main floor of business, we offer goods and services for a fee. We hope and expect to make a profit because customers will find the value that will cause them to return for more.
Then there is decision making in the basement. Think of the basement of the business as the foundational practices. It is where we retreat to make bottom line decisions. Is our business profitable? Reviewing our financial statements is a way of inspecting our foundation. Are we on solid ground or do we need course adjustments to survive?
Jack Powers describes decision making that is made from the attic of our organizational life. It is the high place where we consider always the impact of our decisions on the world in which we live. Jack Powers is a wise friend. He has served in corporate executive roles in some of the largest and most successful global marketing firms. Jack Powers knows about decision making from a high place. He brings all his executive experience to his role as CEO of Recovery Passport and President of Recovery Passport Foundation. He started both organizations from decision making in the attic. He knew from his own lived experience that even vital organizations are filled with broken people. His immense vision of creating tools to support individuals and families in recovery from addictions grows from attic decision making.
Attic decision making space is uncluttered. There are few fixtures. It is seemingly empty space where there is room for self-reflection. In the attic, there is a little window where the light comes in. It is not the picture window on the main floor where we survey our community, the structures that we have built and the things we have accomplished.
In the place of attic decision making we look to the heavens. From this high place, we imagine how the world might be a better place. We envision how we might make a difference. There is little human traffic into our attic space. But, there is respite from the busy-ness (business) of everyday life.
Can we imagine our organizational life as being driven by higher purpose? Are we able to rise above the clutter and din of the world to find practices that are nurturing of new and life-giving paradigms? Do we allow time for reflective practice?
The attic is a beautiful place for children to play. Imaginary worlds are created in the place of attic decision making. I invite you to climb the maybe rickety steps into the attic-space of your organization. Sit in the silence of this space. Relish the natural light filtering in through the little window that looks only to the heavens.
What would our world be like if we operated from this high place in all our decision making? The attic is a good place to be. Through the cracks in the rafters, the light always shines in!
A version of this post was first published for Recovery Passport Foundation. Recovery Passport Foundation is a client of CNPS, LLC (www.comprehensivenonprofitservices.com), a niche global consultancy firm of which Samuel Mahaffy is a Founding Partner.