A great conversation yesterday with Australian facilitator Helena Read, around the word ‘belonging’, and how it links with vision and enterprise-vision.

In the enterprise, vision is the anchor for everything: the quality-system, the business-purpose, the enterprise itself. It’s a very human focus, literally emotive: “that which gets me out of bed in the morning”, and so on.

Behind it, though – and the driver that creates that literal emotion – is the human need to belong. To be part of something that is ‘greater than self’.

Belonging, says Helena, is about longing, about deep desire, ‘to long for’. To belong to something – to be part of something greater than self – is a way to express that longing. And, in the longing, to be. Literally, to be, in the longing; to know oneself as oneself in and through the expression of that longing.

A longing is also about or for something that does not exist, that we wish did exist. We accept that ‘that which is longed for’ may in reality never exist: yet it’s that very tension that makes us reach out for it, strive for it, do whatever we can towards it so that it might somehow exist in some unknown future.

Belonging. Longing to be.

To what do you belong? What do you long for? And how do you express that longing in your life, your work, your enterprise?

So that’s what an enterprise-vision is really about: it provides an anchor for that longing, that need to ‘belong’.

Which is why that enterprise-vision is not a trivial matter.

And if you don’t take it seriously, don’t be surprised that people show little interest in belonging to your enterprise?

3 Comments on “Belonging

  1. I agree with the “shared vision” and belonging. It’s the need for people to be part of something bigger than themselves. to be belong to a person’s vision.

    Where does vision come from? Here, I see “Starting with Why” coming first. It’s the passion around why that creates vision.

  2. I would probably argue that it’s the other way round: that clarity on the vision creates “the passion around why” – because the vision is the ‘why’.

    Strictly speaking, vision is a choice, something that we invent; except that when we get it right, it should feel more like that the vision is what invents us.

    But can argue it either way, really. Guess it’s one of those ‘chicken and egg’ questions, to be honest… 🙂

  3. Tom.

    I want to apologize, again, for the rather jumbled thoughts. I’ve found this topic to be incredibly larger than I initially supposed.

    There’s an old saying that a good salesman can sell anything. I have always had a core disagreement with this statement. As to this, you and Helena have brought up an illuminating point. Obviously, this topic has been toying with me for several weeks. Given that the Enterprise reaches into one’s ‘Community of Market’ (awkward phrase through which I’m trying to say, ‘that portion of the enterprise’s market with which a mutual Belonging between Vendor and Customer has been formed), then the level/strength of Belonging is the correlation of the Vendors’ Vision of the Enterprise against the Customer’s Vision of the Enterprise. It has been my observation that this boils down to the relationship between the salesman and the buyer; essentially the touch point in the Enterprise of the Vendor and Customer.

    When observing Organization sizes supporting Enterprise, Enterprise(Vendor(small)+Customer(small)) up through Enterprise(Vendor(large)+Customer(large)), the importance (perhaps impact) of the level of the Belonging in the salesman-buyer relationship lessens. At this point, I would say that this is due to an inertia found in complexity. (I would propose that axiomatically, Enterprise is not chaotic. Chaos implies lack of belonging.) Although there may still be a sense of inter-personal Belonging in Enterprise(Vendor(large)+Customer(large)), it is more like an institutionalized Belonging: a facade. So, it seems to go from a ‘wet’ Belonging to a ‘dry’ Belonging.

    The other parts are Enterprise(Vendor(small)+Customer(large)) and Enterprise(Vendor(large)+Customer(small)). Here Belonging really shows itself. Regardless of which combination of Enterprise is under consideration, it seems the Vision which the Vendor has for itself in the Customer is bent to how the Customer wishes to be en-Visioned. This would also be true for the other two types of relationships, just not as apparent. Now, what I find both ghastly and sad, when the attribute ‘large’ is applicable to either the Vendor or Customer, the sense of Belonging goes to ‘dry’.

    This, then, gets back to my initial thought on the salesman. My proposition is that the salesman in the Enterprise is responsible for the sense of Belonging in the Enterprise. The salesman provides the seed from which an inspiration for Belonging in Enterprise grows. Therefore, this suggests that the customer initially believes in the Quality of what is being received, acquired from the belief that the salesman has in its quality. This, then, would be the longing, or, if I may be so bold, the hope. If the referred belief which the customer picks up is shown true, through the use of what was received, then trust is ascribed to the salesman and Belonging begins. If trust continues, Belonging permeates the Enterprise. Yet ‘large’ness of Organization seems to cause Belonging to deteriorate.

    Now, let’s really gamble with our sanity – familiarity breeds contempt (Anti-belonging as accompanied by the Anti-client??). What if ‘large’ness, which is in Organization, spawns Anti-belonging, perhaps through a very old approach which recommends that higher orders of management must remain aloof from lower orders? It would then be that ‘small’er (flatter) organizations spawn less Anti-belonging than ‘large’r ones. I need to stop here or I’ll never get it in queue. Just one more dimension that wraps the whole thing – maybe.

    Epistemological processes. We’re talking about belief, hope, justification, trust, truth (quality), etc. This all construes itself up to Knowledge. Heavy.

    One more thing – if chaos has lack of Belonging and Organization(large) generates Anti-belonging, then does Organization(large) tending to chaos have as its antidote Belonging?

    I do need to write a book – but, I don’t think I could ever finish it ~~.


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