Core Process for Business

Successful businesses know what they stand for, have a clear purpose and direction and do things their way.

You start by sharing stories of your business at its best. This will help you do more of it and learn what you uniquely stand for.

How do you do this? What’s the effect?

You can start and do this anywhere. It could be a top team, a diagonal slice across the organisation, a group of volunteers or everybody, including suppliers and customers. You simply tell each other your stories about your organisation working at its best. The idea is for the talker and the listener(s) to enjoy the experience. What happened? What did you feel? What made it go so well? What did you do that made it go so well?

When you pay attention to and enquire into good things you get more of them. This lifts everyone’s spirits. It’s very easy to test this. Simply talking about a happy time makes you happy. You can expand these conversations across the organisation. Simply having them will enliven the whole organisation.

You can ask, what are we doing when we are at our best and distil this down to a simple and memorable phrase. You can use this to guide and inform action. It will bring out the best in you and your people.

The phrase is the unique talent of the business. It’s its Core Process.

This is an application of “Appreciative Inquiry” and “Core Process” to a business. See “Sources” at the end of this note for links.

Having a clear and shared purpose helps your people engage with the business. It also helps your customers and suppliers appreciate what you are trying to do.

How do you do this? What’s the effect?

Again you can start and do this anywhere. You ask each other “Why do we do what we do, when we are working at our best?” It’s best to answer this “in order to ….” rather than “because….”. “In order to…” looks forward. Keep asking “Why” until you come to a word or two that excites you. You will need to listen to each other carefully. A good test is when you all say “It just is”.

The most compelling purposes are about service, positive change, making the world a better place. These are holistic rather than simply economic purposes. People need more than “making more profit than last year”.

When you have this, people will want to work together to achieve it. You will also have a compelling reason for good people to want to work for and with you.

The word(s) are the Purpose of your business.

This is an application of Coverdale’s “How/Why Network” and “Core Process 2” to business.

You then clarify how you do the work. When you are clear and consistent about how you deliver your business, everything will work better.

How do you do this? What’s the effect?

You can start this anywhere, but it may work better in work groups, which could be the top team. This step is about what you do every day. If you have committed agreement in a working group, you can support and encourage each other easily. It’s a good place to start.

Ask each other how you deliver your work, when you are working at your best. Keep asking how until you get down to specific things you do. What is the idea or theme that unites these actions? This is how you deliver your work, when you are working at your best.

When you know this you have a clear agreement on the day to day behaviour everybody needs to use. It’s a philosophy, a set of values and a guide that people own. You can also capture the essence of this together in a few words.

The words are how you do things, when you are working at your best.

This is an application of Coverdale’s “How/Why Network” and “Core Process 2” to business.

You can make this process go more smoothly by helping people listen to each other and work together better and releasing people’s energy and commitment.

How do you do this? What’s the effect?

Doing any of this work requires you to be open and patient and listen to each other very well. This is hard because it takes time and skill. You can easily create the conditions where it is possible. In pairs, people can take equal time to talk and listen. Follow each half session with a brief review so the listener learns what works and can do it again or more. The same process will work beautifully in a small group.

The effects of enhanced listening are better and quicker problem solving, better relationships, improved communication and increased commitment and energy. You just feel more valuable when people listen to you. You even think better.

Listening is the crucial skill you need to do this work well

This calls on ideas from Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think” and the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counselling.

You would also review what happened and extract learning as you go. This would build up a body of learning and effective practice.

How do you do this? What’s the effect?

Simple stop at intervals and have everybody talk about what they are learning, what is good about the process and what if anything could be better in future. These questions help you look at what you are learning and how. They help you keep on track and make improvements. They also help everybody own what is happening, so it becomes theirs rather than something imposed. They model good practice that you can use in other organisational activities.

This helps you learn how to the whole thing even better next time

This calls on ideas from Coverdale Training and Organisation Development.

Elegant methods for doing all these exist, expanding from the Core Process work with individuals that helps them discover their unique talent and purpose, and how they can deliver this. All the elements are tried and tested. What’s new is putting them all together in a flexible structure.

Please call me to discuss this further.

I want to test this approach, as I think it is very powerful. This could be on a “Pay me what you like” basis, if you wish.


Appreciative Inquiry

Core Process

Core Process 2

Coverdale Training

Organisation Development

Re-evaluation counselling

Time to Think

Nick Heap June 2014

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick