Book Review: Future Fit

futurefit_Future Fit by Giles Hutchins is “not a ‘cook-book’ offering a prescriptive methodology,” but “an exploration into unchartered waters” (p.28). The most important challenge, according to Giles Hutchins, is “our ability to embrace a deep and fundamental shift in logic — how we think, perceive and relate” (p.12). “We need to get radical and deal with root causes” (p.13). “Such a shift challenges us at deep and partly unconscious levels” (p.13).

Artificial constructs closes us off from life
“Too many of today’s organizations find themselves caught up in a top-down, hierarchic, KPI-obsessed … and reactive fire-fighting mindset” (p.22).”So often, we find ourselves bound to artificial constructs … that seek to control and manage us, yet actually undermine our vitality and wellbeing” (p.22). The “tragedy of the top-down control-based logic … is that it deprives us of sensing and responding to change” (p.23). “[O]ur search for control closes us off from real life” (p.23).

Embracing natural ways of being and doing
The “’new way’ seeks harmony with life: embracing natural ways of being and doing by resonating with the inter-relational, participatory, co-creative nature of living systems” (p.29). “In short, a firm of the future serves Life” (p.29). Our and our organizations’ deeper sense of purpose is “ultimately to enrich our humanity and the wider fabric of life” (p.33).

Participating in the unfolding of life
“Living systems thrive through relationships” (p.26). “Organizations, like all living systems, are lit up by interconnections and networks of relationships” (p.41). “Control mechanisms … simply get in the way of open, emergent, reciprocating networks” (p.41). “The more conscious we are … the more we can call upon … different perspectives and align them in to our sensing and responding” (p.83). This “greatly enhances … the way we experience, learn and participate in the unfolding dynamic of life” (p.83)

Opening up to ‘all that is’
“Gnosis is a dynamic knowing” (p.105). “It is an alive sense of what is continuously emerging” (p.105). It is an “opening up to ‘all that is’ in our experience of the world” (p.105). “In developing our gnosis … we open ourselves up to a more soulful way of attending” (p.105).”By learning to actually feel … we can more readily tune-in through feeling rather than thinking” (p.107).

Being vulnerable to ‘what is’
It is in the midst of fear and vulnerability that “we need to be ever-conscious of what we are feeling and thinking” (p.108). Through practice we can “begin to trust ourselves to be open and vulnerable to ‘what is’ rather than grasping at the urge to react, defend or control” (p.108). This “deep and intimate self-mastery is paramount if we are to attend to life in a wise way” (p.108).

Deep somatic awareness
“By allowing our awareness to go into the arising experiences within our body, we enter a way of knowing that is … freed from … our thinking mind” (p.120). However, it “takes time and practice to develop deep somatic awareness” (p.120). It is a “cultural-norm” to prioritize “rational-analytical thinking” (p.120).

Staying connected, aligned, and coherent
Studies point to the “necessity for leaders who are deeply connected, aligned and coherent within themselves” (p.127). What is needed is for each of us to start “cultivating our own gnosis so that we bring more authenticity, creativity, connection and wisdom into what we do and the way we do it” (p.127).

Participating in co-creativity
If we try to “control or dominate the flow of exchange during a conversation or emerging situation, we will impede the flow” (p.133). To flow in an open way requires an “attuning of our … awareness … to each other and to the co-evolving movement” (p.134). The dance itself responds to the “ever changing receptive-responsive dynamic” (p.134). All need to be active or “the dance won’t happen at all” (p.134). “Ultimately, life is a dance of co-creativity” (p.135).

Control-based logic stifles life
The corporate culture “over-values short-term quantified financial metrics and personal achievement measured through these performance metrics” (p.152). Too much focus on “short-term financial success” undermines “longer term viability” (pp.152–153). The “prevalent control-based and mechanistic logic” over-looks “inter-relationality … within a wider context” (p.153). Too “tight management and control” stifle, rather than encourage, “collaboration and openness” (p.153).

Stillness
“Stillness is essential to our receptive quality of being” (p.155). Intuitive awareness needs a “still, calm quality of attention” (p.155). Stillness “allows us to gain perspective” (p.156). It “brings spaciousness” and “open receptivity” (p.156). And it “greatly enhances” our “way of performance” (p.157).

Fear undermines self-organization
“Our personal gnosis … enriches the organizational gnosis … which in turn enriches our personal gnosis” (p. 162). Essentially, it is all about “creating and nurturing … working spaces where we feel safe enough to allow our … awareness to emerge” (p.163). “Fear can be the biggest obstacle to our take-up of self-organizing” (p.165). If “fear is allowed to dominate,” then “our relationships are undermined” (p.165). “One of the most essential human qualities is our heartfelt relating with others” (p.170). “With practice, we learn to replace our defending, judging … or attacking with … compassion” (p.174).

Learning to improvise like Jazz musicians
A “fundamental aspect of all living systems is the emergence of novelty through creativity” (p.229). “The art of leading is an art of hosting” (p.239). We need to “learn to sense the flow within ourselves and … in our teams” (p.239). It is like “learning to improvise with fellow Jazz musicians” (p.239). We need to “sense, tune-in, listen, open-up and emerge with what is best for the situation at hand, learning as we go” (p.240). “In the midst of criticism or conflict, we can bring our attention into the body and sense how we are feeling” (p.241).

Attending to life with love
The challenge is to “remain grounded and centered as situations unfold” (p.257). “A loving interest in each … moment provides for an active creativity” (p.257). “Every moment opens up the opportunity to attend to life with love or fear” (p.259). “How we attend to the world shapes our world in-turn shaping us” (p.259). “It’s time to stand up for what we know in our hearts to be right” (p.259).

Conclusions
This is a well researched book, which contains many examples, practical tips, and interesting references. The over-arching vision of a firm of the future is to be in service of life. I fully agree with Giles Hutchins that future fit businesses require a ”fundamentally different logic” drawing on the deep wisdom of life (p.29). The book can be used both for inspiration and for further exploration. To find out more about the book, visit futurefitbook.com.

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