Orientation to Growth

In order to support each person’s unique purpose (Individuality), we must have an orientation to growth, to supporting each person’s unfolding along their own path.

One can see a company as a platform for the growth of the people who work there, just as centrally as one can see it as an organization that makes products for the market.

In his 1966 essay, Buddhist Economics, EF Schumacher writes:

“The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task, and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence.”

The first of the three functions (giving people the chance to use and develop their faculties) relates to unique purpose, or Individuality. The second (joining with others in a common task) relates to Interconnection. And the third relates to the specific mission and product that the company is bringing to the world. Each of these three is important in any organization. We discuss here the first: individual growth and development.

Perhaps the most comprehensive recent work on this matter is An Everyone Culture, in which the authors give an overview of adult development theory, and in that context introduce the notion of a Deliberately Development Organization (DDO): an organization that explicitly prioritizes the development of everybody in the organization, and has at its center a culture and practices that do so. These organizations have three things in common:

  • Aspiration: a culture that relentlessly encourages people to grow, not just as employees but also as people.
  • Communities: safe, trustworthy communities that allow them the vulnerability necessary for such growth.
  • Practices: A set of structured and central practices and routines for growth.


Have a clear orientation to the growth and development of the people in the organization, not just as employees, but as people. State that explicitly as a key purpose of the organization and of each role and realm, and deliberately design structures and practices that foster that growth.

Foster prospective practices (for example, Vision, Strategy and Objectives) and reflective practices (for example, Regular Self-Reflection and Continuous Feedback) that foster visioning and reflection. Allow for autonomy so that people are making decisions independently (through Advice). Create safe communities in which growth can occur optimally (for example, through Communal Dinners, High-Lows, Heartbeats). Treat conflict as an opportunity for growth (through Conflict Resolution).

Published May 5, 2019