Meaning is interactive between you and your context. It incorporates your ethical and moral judgments on your own actions and those made by others. It also includes the responses of your customers and others audiences to what you are doing and how you are doing them.
It often involves a competition between different equally right values and goals. For example, it is right for the directors of a company to make profit for the shareholders they serve, it is right for them to keep and pay employees, it is also right to give high quality products and services to customers, it is right to look after the environment, it is also right to be generous to those in need and for a person to seek success and power. What happens when the situation goes bad and all these different goals start competing with each other?
Leaders weigh these up and make decisions based on their values and perceptions. This is the essence of the search for meaning but it is also where leadership gets real, where it becomes hard work.
Some take a warrior's view which says there are going to be winners and losers and so go with the decisions which will ensure they and their cohorts are winners and let everyone else sort themselves out - the 'everyone for themselves' philosophy.
For example, the directors' success is judged by their shareholder bosses, so they justify their decisions as righteous by saying that they serving their shareholders by making them profits (and serving their right to succeed) and that employees, customers and the environment are not their primary responsibility, not their responsibility at all. They are simply tools for the company's success in making profits for the shareholders. They often forget that the trust of their customers is the source of their success and this is based on not just the cheapness of th product or its quality but also how the are percieved for the values the use to treat their employees
Great leaders have a larger view, a lover's approach if you like. They realize that a greatest success can be achieved only through a balanced marriage of all the competing goals and values. If the competition mentioned above is allowed to get out of hand then trust is destroyed and ultimately so will be the company.
The success of any group enterprise has more to do with the culture of shared values and behaviors which happens between the lines of authority and the memos.
Culture is a function trust, vice versa. You can say whatever you like but if you don't live up to your word then you won't be trusted. What you think and feel about others and how they are considered in your actions will govern their meanings to you and those around you.
What are the competing goals of the project? Profit, quality products or services, pleasing the boss, lowering costs, finishing on time, employees feeling successful, paying the employees, pleasing the customers, protecting the environment, other.
What are the competing goals of the employees? Pleasing the boss, earning the salary well, doing the job well for personal fulfillment, feeding the family, living up to the standards of friends and family, health, political values, environmental values, religious (moral, ethical and/or spiritual) values, other.
What are the customers competing values? Cheap products and services, high quality products and services, living up to the standards of family and friends, aesthetic values, health, political values, environmental standards, religious (moral, ethical and/or spiritual) values, other.
What values do the government, other groups and individuals apply to your project? High quality products or services, safe products or services, aesthetic values, health, political values, environmental standards, religious (moral, ethical and/or spiritual) values, other.
What are the values you apply to the process of achieving the goals you've set? From - Shortest most profitable route is the best, it's up to anyone who gets in the way or who can be useful to stand up for themselves - at one extreme to - We have to be sure that everyone is happy as we head towards the goals - at the other.
Should you pay attention to all these different values? Yes or No.
What will be the affects of your actions on the environment?
What will be the affects on the employee families?
How will it affect cultural standards? (Be lateral - everything is cultural if you take out the snobbish attitudes. If advertising, production design, architecture, even the products of manufacture were from tribal or peasant societies with their garish colours they would be called art pieces. If you think about it, whatever you are doing has an emotional meaning for yourself, your team, and your customers that may have wider unexpected effects. For example, everyday objects from as recently as the thirties, forties and fifties are now thought of artistically and culturally important even to the snobs.)
What are going to be the economic consequences? (Making and spending money are economic activities, as are stealing, saving, investing, paying taxes and wages.)
All our materials come from nature. Every product, including and especially food, is the transformation of a raw-ish materials into things more useful to other humans than it previously had been, everything else is mostly distribution, use and making life more comfort. After passing through the economy nothing is destroyed, whether material or energy, it simply becomes more or less useful. How we make it useful will effect how it becomes useless, i.e. become waste.
How are your raw materials being originally obtained from nature?
What kind of processing have these material gone through before you got them?
Are their choices about these processing regimes?
Do we have choices about the ways we process our materials so as to minimize waste?
Are there ways that could be developed that minimize waste?
Could these become secondary sources of profit?
How much money can be saved by minimizing this waste?
What will happen to your products after they have been used up?
Are there new ways you could be developed which would minimize waste?
Could these become a secondary source of profit?
What happens to ancillary bits and pieces related to your products and services after they've been used? (Wrappers, instructions, padding &etc)
What are the systems you have in place receive feedback from both employees and interested parties outside the team or organization?What will happen to that feedback?
At every step along the way the unpredictable is waiting to remind you of your humanity. Achieving your goals is likely to depend on how you respond to what you don't think of, couldn't know but didn't, what was unknowable. THis is where the seventh Chakra, the act of God comes in.
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