Emergent Strategy at Work: Good For Humanity, Good For Business

by | Apr 28, 2023 | Hummingbird Blog

I am thrilled to see Hummingbird Humanity’s human-centered workplace culture framework. It’s a framework that informs my work and strengthens my belief that humans are (still) your greatest resource as an employer. 

Discussions about employee engagement or workplace culture often suggest that an organization can either invest in its employees or be successful. It’s a binary that understandably leaves many leaders feeling hopeless about their ability to influence their internal audiences positively. Simply put, positing workplace culture as an impediment rather than an asset to success is unnecessarily obstructive and inaccurate. 

What I appreciate most about the framework is the application of multiple lenses to specific situations. Most of us show up in organizations with various life experiences, all of which inform our ability to solve problems and collaborate. 

As a “millennial multihyphenate,” I enjoy engaging the various aspects of my identity to solve problems. Being bilingual allows me to better connect with collaborators abroad as we bridge our respective gaps in understanding. Overcoming significant health challenges in my adolescence later informed my desire to provide more equitable environments for employees.

As a Black woman, my experience of being othered and, at times, excluded fuels my curiosity about the voices we uplift and affirm, who we exclude (however inadvertently), and who we believe is capable of power, leadership, and success. My time as an elected official broadened my perspective on ways to develop solutions in the face of competing interests. 

Brian’s blog post and his breakdown of the problems organizations are facing are spot on. Organizations can’t ignore shifts in hybrid and remote work in favor of “holding out” until everyone returns to the office. We are past relying on brick-and-mortar buildings to foster trust and connection. So if not this, then what? 

I recommend looking at nature. This approach, called “emergent strategy,” coined by Adrienne Maree Brown, aligns with designing human-centered workplaces. Nature is full of fractals, or neverending patterns. These patterns remind us that who we are on a smaller scale is who we are on a larger scale. At work, these patterns of how we communicate, with whom we interact, and how and whether we connect seem small. However, at scale, these fractals lead to burnout, organizational splitting, and turnover. 

When thinking about the best ways to increase trust, communication, and productivity at work, think about your day. Which habits hold within your organization? How do you make decisions, and, more importantly, who makes them? Compare the habits to your current roadblocks. How is communication delaying deliverables or identification of key strategic initiatives?

Brittany S. Hale

Brittany S. Hale

Senior Consultant

she / her

Brittany S. Hale is a consultant, speaker, founder, and lawyer with over ten years of experience in culture, DEIB, and employee engagement. She is passionate about aligning business initiatives with human outcomes.

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