The power of IKIGAI for business

By Wednesday, December 12, 2018 0 No tags Permalink 0

Have you ever thought to yourself, what gets me out of bed in the morning? What really lights my FIRE? 

You would be right to believe this is a touchy subject, and for good reason. All of us wish to be great at something, no matter what that is, we all like to develop the skills necessary to achieve good work. 

Doing great work releases dopamine, our ‘feel good hormone’ which in turn, encourages us to continue with this work. However, in order for us to continue experiencing the positive effects of good work, we have to look within and allow the work to flow through us. 

Recently I published an article explaining that it only takes a single decision to create great impact and it begins with you. This is more of a continuation to that and I wish to introduce you to a concept that is changing the way business strategies are produced. 

BODETREE, ADAPTED FROM FRANCESC MIRALLES

Say hello to IKIGAI (pronounced; eye-ka-guy). Ikigai’s literal translation is “reason for being” and many businesses are starting to understand its relationship to business strategy. But you may be thinking, how could this concept really benefit businesses? It is a fair question so let me explain further. 

During periods of radical change, employees are met with a range of emotions; excitement, curiosity but mainly anxiety. This anxiety largely stems from the unknown and whether their jobs will be ‘safe’. Research has found that the brain processes information into 2 ways. 1) Non-threat and 2) Threat. 

During these changes, if there is a perceived threat, the brain goes into overdrive, releasing cortisol at a rapid rate which induces stress. The issue with cortisol in response to change is that it acts like a ‘drip feed method’. This results in constant stress, cellular breakdown, exhaustion and can fundamentally destroy an employees’ progression. 

Therefore, corporations have the challenge to manage these emotions, while driving towards their vision with clarity and focus. This is why ikigai becomes so important. It provides an opportunity for employees to look within themselves and discover what drives them, stimulate them and motivate them to provide value to the corporation. 

It also provides corporations the chance to create stronger bonds with their employees and in so doing, develop a beautiful environment to work in, despite challenges and adversities that come with change. 

One of our regular clients, a digital marketing firm based in Malta approached us to give a workshop about IKIGAI as part of their change management programme. Due to the radical nature of their plans, they required help to manage any anxiety or fear that was enveloping some of the employees and drive them towards a place of clarity and safety. Here’s what one of their employees had to say about IKIGAI.

“I get tied up in the day to day stresses at work and home, and its an endless struggle to find focus and balance, so I am forever seeking tools to guide me along the way. Ikigai was clear and made sense to me, through the process it helped me identify purpose and life force in what I was doing, and it gave me answers across the key areas in my personal life and in business. In essence my ikigai will reflect; what I love, what I’m good at, what I feel the world needs, and what I can be paid for. Simply put, it adds soul and purpose to my like; in business and personally.”

To make the process more manageable, we decided to approach each pain point in a systematic way by utilising oval mapping and clustering. Each process is designed to ensure that all voices are being heard and the internal ‘noise’ is removed giving rise to enhanced focus. Drawing back to the concept of IKIGAI, we have seen its effects on a personal level, helping individuals discover their purpose for coming into work on a daily basis. But can IKIGAI be applied on an organisational level? 

Absolutely. 

IKIGAI is broken down into 4 core pillars; what we enjoy doing, the impact we wish to make, is it profitable and are we focused towards excellence?. From the organisational context, these can be focused on; professionalism, impact, business growth and people development.

A company’s Ikigai is located in the centre of all of these and should form the structure of the overall strategy. An example of IKIGAI can be the value propositions of an organisation which form the back-bone of Porter’s business strategy model.

We can also look at IKIGAI like a ‘living organism’. To thrive, each branch must be fed equally for ultimate performance. Therefore, an organisation needs to look within to understand the value it brings to its people and to the market it is targeting. As for our client above, using the IKIGAI principle allowed them to develop laser-like focus to understand where they presently were, and where they were heading. Our CEO, Nathan Farrugia spear-headed the session to ensure it was engaging, productive and fruitful for their long-term strategy. 

The response by the individuals was significant, for some the process was straight forward and rewarding from the get-go. For others, it was a little more challenging and confronting but equally rewarding when completed. 

For those that like to go further, we dive head first into converting their ikigai into concrete business strategies and use OKRs to measure their progress over a set time period. This blends well with Simon Sinek’s golden circle principle by answering the 3 key questions; What do we do? How do we do it? And more importantly WHY do we do it? The result is a group of men and women feeling inspired to wake up every morning to speed up the change process and decision making necessary to see their vision into fruition. 

When this occurs, miraculous things happen. People are inspired, motivated and driven to provide immense value to the organisation and thereby supporting each other towards a cause that is ultimately greater than themselves, leaving behind a trail of great work and fulfilment. To read more about ikigai, check out the book “ikigai” by Hector Garcia, I am sure it will light your fire. 

For more information about our ikigai workshops contact us on [email protected] and be ready to be inspired, motivated and fulfilled to UP your level.

Much love and respect 

-DCW-

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