Whose Idea Was it Anyway?
The Role of Source in Organizations
Today’s topic looks at the importance of identifying the starting point of an idea or a project. Who was the original creator, the inventor, the initiator (which I shall refer to as the Source)? How are upsets in teams connected to this concept of source? Why do some projects simply not work and why do we often react miffed and protective when it comes to sharing our ideas? And how does it influence hierarchies? Naming the source is not only important to create balance in teams, projects and organizations, but also in our personal relationships and in dealing with us. When I acknowledge the source in someone else, we work together more joyfully and create fewer misunderstandings. If I feel and honour the source in myself and follow it’s natural flow, I am more likely to do “my thing” and experience more wellbeing.
- any thing or place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained.
- the beginning or place of origin of a stream or river.
- a book, statement, person, etc., supplying information.
Any enterprise, project or event always goes back to a single Source; the person who gave life to an idea and was the first to risk something in order to realize their vision.
Even in instances where shared ownership is declared because “we” had the idea together, closer investigation of the path of creation will always lead back to one particular person. This person, who has the role of Source, has an energetic connection to the endeavour, quite unlike any other member of the organization or team. The Source is not simply the person who had the idea, but who took the first risk and invested energy into the realization of the idea. As a result, the Source has an intuitive knowing about what the next steps are and will have strong reactions, sometimes viscerally, if this intuitive “knowing” is not honoured. The “Gestalt” (the visible, external form of something, what it “ought to look like”) can be sensed by the Source, even if others sometimes have more accurate language to describe it. The effects of the importance of recognition of Source can be witnessed whenever the Source is not acknowledged; power struggles emerge and tension is tangible for everyone involved. The recognition of Source will lead to an ease of flow in processes and decrease the potential for conflict.
The Creation Process
If an idea, a project or an organization were an individual, we could attempt to trace back how this being first came into existence. At the beginning of the individual’s life, there was the act of creation. Just as a child has a mother and a father, ideas do as well.
Let’s assume there is a field or a dimension in which all ideas and all creations exist; the field of limitless, and impersonal, potential (at this stage, the ideas are impersonal, they belong to no one and are available to anyone as pure potential). This field as the masculine or “father” connects with a carrier, the feminine or the “mother” who brings life into existence as the Source. As with carrying a child, a person having “received” an idea that came from the field of limitless, potentially may indeed feel as if he or she is “going pregnant” with the idea for a while prior to it’s birth.
Even after an idea has been born, a strong connection continues to exist to the field and the Source. Like parents, they exist as the biological origin of the child. Irrespective of (and not diminishing the influence of) who raises the child, they will always have a special role. For the success or the child in life, it seems to be vital that this primary connection is recognized and honoured, even if other people bear a bulk of the childrearing work or even if another parent adopts the child. Likewise, the connection of the Source to the project or idea will remain, even if others take it upon themselves to realize the Sources’ vision.
The Role of Helpers
The role of others as supporters and helpers for the success of a project envisioned by the Source is paramount. As in the metaphor of the child, a single parent would never be able to do as good a job raising the child as a whole community could. As they say: It takes a village…
The bigger the original vision is that the Source brings into existence, the more likely the Source relies on others for realization of this vision. The helpers can take on all kinds of different roles; from translating the idea into concepts or tasks, to taking on roles as “sub-Sources” with full responsibility for a sub-project.
Each helper can form his or her special connection to the project and become a central figure in the growth process — but the Source as the point of origin must be recognized and be free to energetically balance the larger space within all sub-projects are nested. If anyone unrightfully claims ownership of the idea, the balance in the system is disturbed and will suffer a multitude of consequences.
The more connected the helpers feel energetically to the idea/vision and the more they are able to honour the special role of the Source, the more momentum the endeavour will gather.
The Source of Organizations
Every organization has a point of origin, the moment when the idea was conceived and someone gave shape to what was previously shapeless. This idea of Source in organizations is especially observable in family owned businesses. However, it is important to note, that identifying the Source may not always be as obvious as it might appear at first sight. Often, the founding of the company is attributed to one person (for example the patriarch), but the driving force behind the endeavour is in fact someone else (for example the matriarch of the family). It is therefore essential to examine closely who was the original life force behind the organization before drawing premature conclusions about the Source.
The role of Source can be inherited or passed on from one person to another. The passing on of the Source is not a bureaucratic or legal act, but a ritual on an energetic level by which the founding values are passed on, but not necessarily the vision, which can change depending on a number of factors. Even if due diligence has been done to ensure that all the right contracts are in place, the Source can remain with the original founder and the transmission has not occurred. If this is the case, the new leader/CEO, and subsequently the organization, will be weakened. Succession ideally occurs if the person passing it over and the person receiving it are conscious and open to the process. Without full transmission of the Source, a struggle for dominance and recognition ensues.
In family run businesses, it is not unusual that the passing of the Source skips one generation. If the Source remained with a grandparent that has already passed, the transfer might be accomplished through a personal ritual of initiation that honours the original Source before the new CEO steps fully into his or her new responsibility as the new Source of the organization. If the person fulfilling the role of Source is still alive, this is a ritual that can and should be conducted in person. In some shape or form there has to be a moment of “letting go” of the old Source for the succession to take place. At the same time, the new Source has to decide consciously to accept her function and to honour the central values that were essential to the original Source to fulfil her responsibility successfully.
A few of the tell-tale signs for the Source not having been transferred (or not transferred fully) can be, that a newly appointed leader
- feels disconnected from the business,
- is unsure about next steps, has no vision,
- cannot feel what his or her place or purpose in the endeavour is,
- has no execution authority even though he/she has all the legal power,
- experiences power struggles with other people in the organization,
- is not accepted by others in the organization as the new leader.
It is important to consider that only one person can fulfill the role of Source. The ownership structure of an organization or the distribution of profits are not tied to being Source, however, the final say about strategic decisions is.
The Role of Source in Leadership
In any organization, there are numerous Sources for numerous projects, the more complex the organization, the more Sources there are. The importance of accepting that the Source will “sense” more strongly than anyone else involved what has to be done, should not be underestimated. If the leader of the organization is the Source, this is more easily accepted than if a normal employee is the Source for a particular thought or project. However, the Source needs to be recognized in order to function as the channel through which information flows from the space of potential into the organization, regardless of their formal position in the hierarchy. A lack of recognition of Source is often felt by members of the system and experienced as unfair, unjust or out of integrity. If leadership does not correct the injustice, the trust in the leaders and or the organization as a whole is diminished. Acceptance of Source creates harmony and trust.
Non-recognition of Source often results either in a dictatorial approach to running the company (“I am the new boss now and you will do as I say!”) or in a spineless egalitarianism (“We are really all the same and we all have equal say!”). The first leads to organizations with a high number of sick days and a work morale weakened by fear, whereas the latter leads to inefficiency and a culture that values comradeship over performance. Both will bleed the organization of talent, since intelligent and self-responsible individuals will neither choose to work for an organization in which submission to an authoritarian leader is required, nor an organization in which every process is stalled because no one ever feels empowered to take a decision.
The Responsibility of The Source
The responsibility to recognize source, lies, to a large degree, with the Source itself. A Source that denies its power or “plays small”, acting with false modesty, drains energy from the system. Often tensions and jealousy arise in the team or in the relationship and the project stagnates, because the flow of information is interrupted or even sabotaged by the Source itself.
A Source not standing in her/his power feels constantly undervalued by the environment and is looking for the origin of its hurt in the behaviour of others. On the contrary, a Source that positions itself with a clear vision, becomes “tangible” for its environment and is an attractive and charismatic partner.
The Power of Love
The power of Source is grounded in a kind of “Gelassenheit”, a stillness in listening that allows Source to be the channel for something arising out of the field, the place of unlimited potential. A masterful Source humbly recognizes, that the act of creating is not to be confused with ownership, that I can never possess “my idea”, the same way as “my child” is not my property.
Struggles for power and influence in organizations can throw the Source off balance and disconnect it from the quality of listening, which made this act of creation possible in the first place. When this happens, Source may attempt to counteract the loss of intrinsic authority by exercising extrinsic control, violence or by manipulating information for personal gain. As a consequence of this behavior, the Source will cease to be a channel for information flowing through it and kill its access to creativity and wisdom.
The art of the Source lies in balancing Power (the force of actualization) and Love (the force of connection) in order to transform pure potential into something tangible. The loss of humility results in a failure of connection, a loss of love and a forceful execution of control inducing fear and creating false scarcity of resources. Martin Luther King speaks about this balance as follows: “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
This article was written by Nadjeschda Taranczewski and is based on the ideas of Peter Koenig who has researched the role of “Source” in organizations for many years.
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