Corporate Shamanism

By MICHAEL GRABER & JOCELYN ATKINSON

Everyday we advise clients to take risks, leap into unknown and unexplored areas, express themselves in new ways – all to locate, validate and capitalize on new areas of growth.

We have formal methods and processes for unlocking potential and manifesting new realities for them. We always tell them to be true to themselves, their organizations and be a positive force on the planet. We embolden and encourage. We connect them to the real lives that use their creations.

For these reasons, we would like to state that real innovation work is a form of Corporate Shamanism.

Shaman (pronounced SHAH-maan) is a word of the Tungis people of Siberia, which means “one who sees in the dark.”

This visionary work dates as far back as 40,000 years. A shaman uses the power, wisdom and energies of a different frame of mind to create and promote constructive change in people and their environments.

A good shaman sees him or herself as a “hollow bone” through which healing and messages are transmitted to clients. Isn’t this the same work as an Innovation Catalyst who strives to connect their clients with their own humanity and the humans who use their products and services? Without imposing a pre-amped set of prejudices, innovation starts in the dark of discerning what people perceive of your offering.

Then, through a set of rigorous exercises, the energies are harnessed and the perceptions that are gathered are put into a new pattern, a new way of seeing, a new way of measuring value. This creative process holds true on individual, product and corporate levels.

As organizations are nothing more than collections of individuals, it makes deep sense that these time-tested, powerful methods can be used to restore organizations to a sense of mission, purpose and optimal creativity. In fact, many actual Shamanic practices can be applied to business issues and corporate cultures with great effect.

Besides, Innovation, as a word, has no real meaning anymore. For some organizations it is a lofty goal, for others a marketing plan, for others a new IT platform. Yet, real innovations – categorized as Disruptive or Breakthrough – change the world they inherited.

While it seems like a wild leap of fancy, calling the discipline Corporate Shamanism instead of the empty word from the industrial revolution (innovation) is a better-fitting moniker.

Corporate Shamanism re-humanizes business, focuses on the people who use a product or services, and uses a scientific approach to achieving a visionary result.

Who wants to journey into the vast land of possibility? Let’s go.

Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.