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Recently I watched a video about ‘shining eyes’ that touched me very much. It’s a TED-talk from orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander. Benjamin talks about what leaders can do to bring about ‘shining eyes’ and he touches – in his unique style – the core element that we have found in our work with organisations to be crucial for thriving organisations: energised or impassioned people.

What to do to bring about shining eyes

In his own words he talks about a thriving state (for a piano player this is “one-buttock” playing), about his profound ambition (in his case connected to using the power of classical music), about the importance of a natural style (for an orchestra conductor or leaders in an organisation) and about deep connectivity (this is what Benjamin Zander is clearly doing with the audience).  He is evidently demonstrating and explaining what to do as a leader to help employees to become impassioned about their work.

thriving organisation_Organisational agility to keep the eyes shining

However, to bring about ‘shining eyes’ in your organisation in a sustainable way, the elements mentioned in the lower part of the model (agility) are equally crucial in our experience. Next to energised or impassioned people, you also need organisational agility to keep the ‘eyes shining’ in your organisation.  In an agile and open organisation, rapid context-guided learning is stimulated and people engage in result oriented discovery processes. They know that in a complex environment it’s better to experiment locally and ‘fail forward’ than to follow top-down strategic planning processes and implement them via a cascading approach.

Furthermore, the mechanisms and instruments used in agile organisations are ‘healthy’: they are adapted to serve the needs and development of the people in them, instead of forcing people to comply with the rules, regulations, processes and instruments. They stimulate rather than stifle fluid collaboration. And a true open organisational design fosters on the one hand ‘exploitation’ of the business of today and on the other hand ‘exploration’ of the business  of tomorrow. It catalyses co-creation across organisational borders.

Shining eyes + agility = breakthrough results

So, to keep the eyes shining, also in the long run, we believe it’s important to add the agile components to Benjamin Zander’s story. Consequently, you can achieve the following outcomes: people are full of passion and engagement, the ambiance is very attractive, there is a lot of vitality and innovation and you can achieve breakthrough results.

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