This is the first blog explaining one of the 8 elements of thriving together in an organisation. Let’s explore the 1st element: a thriving state.

Thriving redefined

Thriving literally means to grow or to flourish. How do we translate this to the business context in (y)our organisation? People are thriving when:

  • They feel energetic (physical, mental, emotional, and spirit(ual) energy)
  • They learn (stretch themselves and experience progress and thus growth)
  • They act (add value to something bigger than themselves: the common mission)

Thriving state

Intuitively we all know what it is to be ‘thriving’: we feel that we have (positive) energy and that we are learning/growing. In literature this ‘thriving state’ is defined as a combined sense of energy and a sense of learning. To this definition we added the desire to act on a meaningful mission:

Thriving state = sense of energy + sense of learning + desire to act


Since starting The Thrive, over three years ago, one of our ambitions has been to be a ‘living lab’ for what we believe in. In this ‘living lab’ we experiment with finding answers to a core question: how can we organise ourselves so that we experience this ‘thriving state’ more often?

It proved to be very valuable to monitor this on regular basis. After our conversations, meetings and interventions we regularly look forward by asking ourselves the question: what would increase our sense of energy, our sense of learning and (inner) desire to act in line with our mission? We have become a lot better at self-regulation aimed at thriving together.

While experimenting we found many ways to influence our inner state and be more effective/efficient in thriving together. For example:

  • a rhythm and the right context: a minimum frequency to stay connected and choose or create the right environment for our meetings
  • starting with the most important thing first instead of going through an agenda
  • previews instead of reviews
  • manage on energy: e.g. prioritize courageous conversations when tensions arise

Yet, there were also moments in which we were disappointed in our own ability to combine individual thriving and thriving together. This asks active monitoring on a regular basis. Neglecting this disappointment is not a wise thing to do, but addressing it is not easy. We would be the first to admit!

Neglecting the ‘dragon’ of the inner state in organisations

We have been observing how people in other organisations are dealing with this. We observed that people are usually not consciously aware of their own inner state, let alone the inner state of others or the team as a whole. One of our most profound insights was the fact that the default in most organisations is to neglect the inner state.

What is the risk of neglecting? It regularly emerges as a three headed fire-spitting dragon at an inconvenient moment. Facing a fire-spitting dragon requires a lot of courage, doesn’t it? The dragon could spit the ‘cold fire’ of silence, the ‘hot fire’ of violence or the ‘nurturing fire’ of co-intelligence (thanks Jan Bommerez for the terms: ‘silence’, ‘violence’ and ‘co-intelligence’). When we are not proactively conscious of and/or reactively courageous with what is going on, thriving becomes surviving. So face the dragon when it emerges and avoid the survival mechanisms under stress: the ‘amygdala hijack’ with its ‘freeze’, ’flight’ or ‘fight’ mechanisms. Like the knights of the round table: sit down, lay down your weapons and engage in dialogue as equals. Marschal Rosenberg’s techniques and attitudes on non-violent communication, the U-process of Otto Scharmer, as well as the dialectic dialogues techniques of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner are very well suited to facilitate these kind of conversations.

Slow down to accelerate and capitalise on diversity

When we perceive too many dragons, we lack the consciousness and courage to see them for what they really are: bundles of neglected energy, passion and talents. So prevent the dragon from being born. Proactively use the energy and intelligence behind emotions and feelings. What would happen if we would unleash this hidden potential?

Acknowledge the inner state, listen to it and use it for the common cause. The ‘attunement’ process based on emotional and sensory cues is therefore at the heart of developing a thriving organisation. Slow down to accelerate. Enable and facilitate team members to monitor their own and each other’s inner state. When people are in a thriving state they are fully aligned in inner state and outer behaviour: our natural state. And that allows each individual to bring their best for the common good.


Photo credit: Kenny Louie


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