Disciplined Reflection in the Evolution of a Firm

I have written one book that seems to bring more feedback than any of the others.  I am grateful for that feedback because I always learn from it.  I want to share a recent example, because there is an important lesson in the words of the man who wrote to me.

The purpose of my email is to tell you about the profound impact your book – “Deep Change – had on my career. In the late 1990s, I was the Managing General Partner of First Chicago Equity Capital (later Bank One Equity Capital and now known as One Equity Partners). I worked with an executive coach who recommended your book. She knew before I knew that I was about to make a “deep change”.

In March 2000, I resigned from my post as head of the private equity operation for what was then the 4th largest bank in the country and began a journey to create a healthcare & life science focused firm. This was a novel idea at the time, as there were no other private equity firms focused exclusively on healthcare & life science investments. I used your book as a study guide to reflect on my own experience with change and, with coaching and guidance, developed the plan for a new kind of private equity firm. That firm has grown dramatically over the past two decades. It has a strong foundation, which drew from lessons and exercises from your book.

This is a photo of your influential book alongside the journals I kept between 2000 and 2004 as I was starting the firm. I used these journals as workbooks to answer the questions at the end of each “Deep Change” chapter. It was a deliberate, years-long study, which shaped the strategy for my new firm AND gave me personal insights into the process of change.

 

I receive feedback like this with deep personal gratitude, but there is something important for all of us in this message.  The book Deep Change is about personal and organizational transformation.  It suggests that organizational change is a function of a leader continually engaging in deep reflection and operating from a higher level of consciousness.  Note what happened in this particular case.  The author had the courage to specify vision and then act upon it by stepping into uncertainty.  As he did he wrote a journal.  He answered the reflection questions in the book.  He engaged in a “deliberate years-long study, which shaped the strategy” for his new firm, and gave him “personal insight into the process of change.”

 

The last sentence is the crucial lesson.  Disciplined reflection is hard work.  Doing the work increases consciousness and shapes not only the person but the strategy of the young firm.  This happens because the person of increasing consciousness is constantly receiving “personal insights into the process of change.”  The person is in continual, deep learning while shaping a firm that must be in continual deep learning.  This is necessary for young firms and it is necessary for the world’s largest organizations.

 

Reflection

  • Are organizations in equilibrium or are they continually changing?
  • What is organizational change, what does it mean for an organization to learn, adapt and prosper?
  • Why does every leader need to be engaged in disciplined self-reflection?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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