How to kill a great organisation?:

„Sinnlosigkeit erfüllt das Leben – ob beruflich oder auch privat!“ 

Die deutsche Version und die vollständige Podcastfolge finden sie hier.

From profit maximisation to meaning maximisation

In the new episode of the podcast series „How to kill a great organisation“, Markus Petz talks to Martin Matheo Döller about sense-oriented management. Coming from the business world, Döller reoriented himself a few years ago and discovered a love of writing.

He is now primarily concerned with the question of „why“. His goal is to inspire people to look at the essential things and find their meaning. In the podcast, he talks about the search for meaning, holistic corporate management and the need to attach more importance to the topics of mindfulness and sensing in companies and organisations.

An episode that definitely makes you think.

Focusing on the meaning

For Matheo, maximising meaning before maximising profit is the central theme for the future:

„What happens when the tide of life suddenly turns, what serves as orientation and where can you find this new thread that you can then dangle along? And that has become the focus of my life, to inspire people a bit, but also not to lose sight of the economic aspect. And I believe that our economy has reached a point where it could or should go from maximising profit to maximising meaning.“

Matheo bridges the gap between the personal search for meaning and the increasing importance of „meaning“ in the business environment. Answering the question of „why“ can bring about profound change for employees, customers and stakeholders. In this context, Matheo speaks of a positive spiral and a balance of give and take.

„I think that when you go into a company today, you notice relatively quickly whether it is a meaningful company or whether certain guidelines have been set up, so to speak, where meaning plays a role.

Holistic human being and holistic corporate governance

Matheo speaks of the body, mind and soul of a company. The body of a company is the tangible things, the hardware such as products, buildings, etc. The spirit is about the spirit and philosophy that a company has or does not have. The spirit is about the spirit and the philosophy that a company has or does not have. The soul of the company, the „software“, is the employees. Fear vs. error culture is one of the topics Matheo brings to the fore, as well as the importance of leaders being role models: „having an open heart is good for any organisation“.

At the end of the podcast, Matheo talks about feelings and the need to take them seriously and allow them in the corporate environment as well: „People will feel that you have a very different approach, that you really take this holistic approach seriously.“ Making the subconscious of a company visible, the soul of the company, brings valuable impulses for change, whereby it is very important to respond to people individually: „It is a huge opportunity for organisations to really take this individuality seriously, a lot of power can arise from this individuality.“

How to not kill a great organisation

  • Turn away from pure profit maximisation towards meaning maximisation. If there is a lack of fulfilment for the people in the company, nothing good will come out of it in the end.
  • Follow your personal „why“ and leave room for the individual „whys“ of your employees.
  • Do holistic entrepreneurship and take care of the body, soul and spirit of the organisation in equal measure. Only if you perceive all areas as a unit will you find holistic solutions.
  • View the organisation as a living organism and always keep an eye on the overall well-being and the complex interconnections.
  • Lead with an open heart and honesty. People sense if you are really open with them and interested in their well-being or if it is just a show.
  • Instead of a culture of fear, promote a culture of mistakes, where mistakes are allowed and people recognise a learning opportunity in them.
  • Take individuality seriously and use it as an opportunity from which new strengths can emerge.

The full-length interview:

This text was translated by a machine and clearly shows that we still have a long way to go before we are in danger of being rendered obsolete by A.I..

Markus Petz: Welcome to our new episode of the „How to Kill a Great Organisation?“ podcast. Here we talk to people who are crucial to the long-term success of their organisation. My name is Markus Petz. I am one of the founders of Meta Shift. And my guest today is Martin Döller. Welcome, Martin.  

Martin Döller: Yes a wonderful afternoon. I am very happy to be your guest.  

Markus Petz: Yes, I am also very pleased. Today we want to look at the topic: What gives orientation when it comes to profound change? And these aspects of sense-oriented corporate leadership are very much in the foreground. But before we deal with this topic of sense-oriented management, I would like to invite you to introduce yourself. Perhaps you would like to tell us a few sentences about yourself as a person and about your career.  

Martin Döller: Very, very much so. Yes, in principle I am already a man of advanced years, you could say. You could say I’m over 50, but I feel I’m in my prime. Yes, I come from the construction industry, worked in the field of ceramic products, built up a company that was internationally active, but in the end was not entirely successful in large projects. In other words, the company was active in 18 countries and then we had problems with a few large projects and I fell into a very deep hole. And after that or in that deep hole, there are of course two possibilities. You stay down there or you try to re-orientate yourself, to say it economically, to reinvent yourself. And then I simply asked myself the question: What could I do well or what can I do well and what not so well? What are things that could be improved or still have potential in the learning aspect, so to speak? And what are things that could perhaps be shared with other people and that can also bring something to other people. And that’s how this topic of telling meaning stories or developing meaning for companies gradually came about. That is, with the know-how to know what doesn’t work and to help companies accordingly.  

Martin Döller: In the process, I also discovered my love of writing and became a writer. I will soon be writing my third novel with Martin Matheo. You introduced me as Martin, but Martin Matheo, the very concrete name. But that doesn’t matter. But there you can also find, so to speak, my, my books, my literary aspects and there, too, it’s about deep things and more profound things. What happens, so to speak, when the tide of life suddenly turns, what serves as orientation and where can one accordingly find this new thread that one can then dangle oneself along? And that has actually become the central focus of my life, to inspire people a bit, but also not to lose sight of this economic aspect. And I believe that our economy has reached a point where it could, or should, move from profit maximisation to sense maximisation. Because we all know that we have reached certain points where resources and various issues can no longer go on as they are. In this respect, a rethink is certainly not a bad thing. And that is what I like to do and what I think I may continue to do for a long time. I hope so. But you always see that in the future. But that’s what fulfils me at least.  

Markus Petz: Now you have already mentioned the topic of meaning. Something that drives many people, especially the young generation, in the sense that I would like to do something, to make a contribution to something that is meaningful for me. You have already said that this is also very important in your work, this question of maximising meaning. What experiences have you already had that you would like to share with us?  

Martin Döller: In principle, I believe that the meaning of the whole, if you want it that way, whether as a person or a company, is the meaning you give it. And that is of course very individual. But it is of course different whether I have an aspect that means that it is primarily about profit, it is primarily about hard facts, about monetary goals, etc., or about growth at any price, as was very much the case for a long time. Or whether it’s about looking deeper, really saying yes, what’s the deeper story behind it, what’s the real benefit accordingly. What is the benefit for our entire company, what is the benefit for the employees? What is the benefit for the environment in which a company is embedded, also in a community? And, of course, what does it ultimately bring to the people who pay for the whole issue, namely the customers, that is, to simply take this „slash and burn“ structure of meaning to another level. And I believe that if something is really filled with a „why“, that is, also filled with a human why, then things go quite differently and then the counterpart also feels that and ultimately you get something else in return. And so a certain cycle is created, a positive spiral, you could say, where simply through this giving there is also a taking.  

Martin Döller: And so it can really develop upwards in very, very positive aspects. And ultimately it fulfils people differently. I think everyone knows that under inverted commas „their certain crisis of meaning“. Then you say, „Does it all make sense now, to get up again and work into this project again and will something come out of it? Or all these negative things that often come our way. But do you feel the fire? Do you feel the „why“? Have you discovered this meaning? Then the spirit is simply there. Then it is no longer work in the classical sense, then it is simply a different dynamic. And that’s why it’s so important, I think, that we each find a personal why, and it can look very different. And I also had to reach a certain age to discover my meaning, my why, so to speak, in the first place. And as I said, there are perhaps also events in life that sometimes life invites you to rethink, sometimes not in a very friendly way. But if you then look into the depths, then things definitely make sense, in the truest sense of the word.  

Markus Petz: Now you have also spoken about sensing the meaning. What is the best way to find out whether the meaning that an organisation communicates to the outside world corresponds to what it really lives? Because I think some people see it as a communication task. How can I get on the track to find out which meaning actually plays the decisive role in an organisation?  

Martin Döller: Well, finding out. That always brings us to the classic hard facts, of course, when you devote yourself to things, for example, a workshop or something similar. But that is of course only a small aspect of it. Feeling, you said it right, I think, is the decisive point. And it is definitely felt by the people who are active or involved in this whole field, if you like. So the employees feel it, customers feel it, suppliers feel it, the shareholders and stakeholders in general feel it. And in the end, everyone who is in there feels it, and you feel it too, and especially in a philosophy. I believe that when you go into a company today, you notice relatively quickly whether it is a meaningful company or whether certain guidelines have been set up, so to speak, where meaning plays a role. People can sense that, and what is also decisive is a certain openness, namely to face up to this openness, also and especially in companies, that it is about the holistic. From my point of view, it is at least about the holistic. It’s about being a holistic human being, but it’s also about being a holistic entrepreneur. And I could definitely delve a little bit into this area, I wouldn’t say delimit, but into this area, that we say body, mind and soul. For me, at least as a human being, this is a very important, very important aspect. But I think this can also be applied quite well to a company.  

Martin Döller: You could say that the body of a company, the hardware so to speak, is simply the products. It’s the company building, if you like. It’s the production, whatever. The spirit. Then, dear Markus, it’s very much about the philosophy behind it. It’s also about the spirit that a company has or doesn’t have. It’s always about this reason and the personal „why?“. The philosophy and the soul of the company are the employees, the software, if you like. But it’s also the founders, it’s the people who work in and with these companies, including customers and suppliers. And I believe that if you start to perceive a company as a unity of body, mind and soul, not in an esoteric sense, but always in this area, that we will act more holistically, think more holistically, find holistic approaches to solutions that are ultimately not only monetarily driven. At the end of the day, it is all about economics. We all have to earn a bit more than we spend, otherwise the game simply doesn’t work. But every entrepreneur knows that. But there’s always a difference between reinvesting to keep my sense of dynamism going, so to speak, and saying, „Zack. Just out with the money and it’s NOT about meaning, it’s ONLY about profit. And ultimately, the question is always at what cost are certain elements generated?  

Markus Petz: Now, of course, it is exciting when you say that this triad of body, mind and soul is also applied to an organisation. What practices do you know from your own experience to cultivate this? Or can you also recommend to bring about harmony between these three levels?  

Martin Döller: Well, I think it is very important, or my experience is, to really talk, to take the time with the staff, not only in weekly jour fixe or whatever, but also to really sit down, to listen to the other person, to really have an open ear, that is also practised by many successful people. They say „OK, I’m here for you“. Opening up so that the other person really has access. I think that is the essential thing, the really, really important thing. And of course, to have a culture that is also a culture of mistakes, that allows mistakes. From my point of view, mistakes are wonderfully valuable and I also like to make mistakes, but I only make them once. Or I try to make them at least once more. To learn from mistakes, to really integrate this trial and error philosophy into a company, so to speak. That’s not so easy, because you have your superiors, you have a certain culture of fear, in inverted commas. Managers and entrepreneurs really need to set an example in order to really allow this. But I think that is a very, very important point, that we say okay, we are holistic, we have a good in mind and this basis, the foundation is also our, our why, our meaning behind it.  

Martin Döller: And people, let’s pull together! Get involved, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Living a culture of mistakes is certainly a very important point from my point of view. Allowing mistakes, but also evaluating them and learning from them. A very important point is to really take the time to talk to people. The less, that is my experience, at least the less structured it is, but the more open a manager’s office door really is, for example, and you really find a hearing there and it is not just a sham hearing, the better something like that can really work. And finally we are back to feeling. That’s what a person feels. Whether you are really meeting him with an open soul and whether you are really interested in his well-being or whether this is a show. And if you really live that, then something positive will come back. There we are again with this spiral, with this give and take spiral. So I think having this open philosophy and really having open doors and now you could put it a bit exaggerated, having an open heart, that’s good for every organisation.  

Markus Petz: I am very happy that you mention that. An open heart, being ready to admit feelings, to talk about feelings. But my experience is that this is still a bit difficult in professional contexts.  

Martin Döller: There is also a bit of a pipe dream. I don’t want to contradict you there, Markus. But of course it’s like that because the boundaries then become blurred and there’s no question that this can often be exploited subconsciously. You don’t like to show your weaknesses, but of course you also reveal them. But nevertheless, this is always the case with the culture of mistakes. So how do I really deal with it now? Does something like that remain unique? Is it something like a really dynamic process? I think people feel that behind it, too. But ultimately, this holistic view of the company as a living organism, which is what it is. A living organism that sometimes suffers from ailments and is perhaps more dynamic there. Maybe there’s a sore muscle or maybe there’s a headache. But in the end it’s about the overall well-being. And from my point of view, meaning is really indispensable, because it simply creates this common basis, the common identity behind it. And feelings, when you mentioned that, which have always been trained for a long time, of course, not to show. I think we have now reached a phase where there are certain possibilities. Yes, I agree with you, within a certain framework, but at least to talk about feelings, to allow feelings. And there has to be a protected framework so that it is not exploited. And from my point of view, because you first asked me about tools, a constellation work, a company constellation, for example, can also hold very interesting aspects for such developments.  

Markus Petz: Now I also have the topic of meditation, because you spoke about bringing about this harmony between body, mind and soul on the one hand, and there are now also companies that not only allow this, but also support it, for example, to do a short meditation at meetings. And you have already mentioned this: We humans always believe that we decide everything intentionally and rationally, but in reality we have many unconscious aspects within us. And the question is: How can I find access to these hidden unconscious aspects? And there is one possibility, so to speak, meditation. What do you think of it? Or are there, from your point of view, other practices, other ways of accessing these unconscious aspects of people?  

Martin Döller: So of course we have arrived at Freudian depth psychology. To a certain extent, at least if we want to penetrate the subconscious. But I think very highly of meditation. I meditate and I add; I also pray every day, which is also a form of meditation. And if you now, so to speak, bring meditation, if you also bring work, certain activities into a meditative context, then there is already the meaning in it. So I think a lot of meditation. And there are also companies that report and say: Yes, before we go into an important story or a meeting or whatever, and we all reflect, so to speak, not esoterically, but just really factually, to get into a basic mood or a basic vibration. Then, of course, you have a completely different basis, which can also bring with it a different decision-making structure. I think a lot of it. And there are good examples of companies. You mentioned this and here we are again in the area: is this still an empty phrase, an unfulfilled guiding principle or one that has not been fulfilled in depth? We say we meditate. Or do we really fulfil it? People feel that too. And when you say that access to the subconscious. I think that then opens automatically and we automatically get deeper because people just change. You have to give this process, I would say, a certain amount of time, but it will certainly change or certainly deepen a company.  

Martin Döller: You may no longer appeal to certain people in the same way, but you will attract others. So here, too, a certain, let’s say, transformation or selection process is perhaps not impossible. What is really decisive is that I think people will sense that you are doing it as a company or as a business, entrepreneur whatever, or as a company, as a group, as a board of directors – it doesn’t matter – and be it only under inverted commas, „only“ as a head of department or division. People will sense that you have a completely different approach, that you really take this holistic approach seriously. And we have arrived at a time today. We know work-life balance, we all know this system where on talents etc., everything does not tell. People today also, justifiably in my view, want to be picked up on a different level. And no human being would give up the most valuable thing they have at their disposal if we think it through, which is their lifetime. Or can you still pay so much? It can’t be balanced with money. You can’t take millions with you, but you can create a good vibration here. And you can contribute something so that this company contributes SOMETHING to making this world a little bit better. At least that’s my approach. I know sometimes it’s on the border of naivety, but it’s still a nice idea for me.  

Markus Petz: Well, I think it’s important to me that we also have the courage to bring new things into organisations that are perhaps not yet so established. And in this respect I am also grateful if you also support and encourage this. And I would like to come back to what you hinted at earlier, namely constellation work in organisations, making new perspectives visible, accessible, describable. What are your own experiences in this context?  

Martin Döller: Well, I don’t have much experience in the practical sense, except that I have worked with constellations in my private life. And that’s where I learned that it’s just as applicable for companies. And I believe that accordingly. Because ultimately, if you presuppose a certain basic understanding of it or presuppose a certain basis, so to speak, then I think it is all energy, it is all vibration in some form. Just because we can’t measure it exactly yet doesn’t mean it’s not there. I think we already had the frequencies of today’s smartphone technology 300 years ago or 500 years ago, it was already there. But if we had had a smartphone, I think we would have been burned at the stake. So that means, just because it’s not there, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That is, what works for one person, so to speak, may work even more interestingly for the corporate energy field. And what was reported to me, as I said, I can’t refer to practice, but to conversations. It was just this, because you first spoke of the subconscious, it was to some extent this making visible of the subconscious of a company, the soul, the company, so to speak. And you have now brought up a very interesting aspect, namely this making tangible, then also of impulses, of changes etc.. I think that in summary one has another possibility to approach things, partly in a protected space, because of course one can say, yes, this is not so tangible for us now, but let’s have a look at it and then people take with them what they want to take with them anyway. It is very different and there are different types of people, as we all know. And everyone takes with them what they can take with them or what they want to take with them.  

Martin Döller: Ultimately, it also depends on where they are at the moment, what their learning progress is in their life, and so on. It’s all very individual and I think that’s also a huge opportunity for organisations to take this individuality seriously, to bundle it accordingly and to create incredible power from this individuality. Not this making things the same. In the past, I don’t need to tell you as a business expert and organisation expert, everything was really tightly organised, certain areas, stable reporting structures. And so on. And I think that’s coming undone to some extent. And it can only be solved well, I think, if it is surrounded by an overall framework that doesn’t let it get out of hand. But where everyone puts their best into it. And someone will do it if he or she recognises the meaning behind it, but then it takes on a completely different dynamic. Then, by the way, we also come to this famous situation, motivation, self-motivation. I don’t think much of having to motivate employees. But I think a lot of showing them a purpose. And if you can identify with that, then it’s wonderful. If the meaning is missing, the motivation will also be missing at the end of the day. But that’s again something that’s imposed from above or given by someone in charge, so to speak. I have to motivate you. Nothing at all. If the job, if you don’t find your fulfilment in this area, in this job and in this responsibility, then at some point your motivation will be over, especially your self-motivation.  

Markus Petz: Now, if you could perhaps conclude by looking a little bit into the future. What do you think will come to the fore from the point of view of meaning? You said so well that instead of maximising profit, we should maximise meaning. What is your assessment? What would be the essential changes in organisations in the coming months and years?  

Martin Döller: Dear Markus, since we have arrived at such unpredictable times, it is really a very, very difficult question. I can only imagine one thing, that the whole train of this longing for depth, this longing for fulfilment and ultimately also for recognition, for love, for warmth is so great among people that if you don’t find that in your job, then you won’t do this job either and you will possibly prefer the unconditional basic income, i.e. like no fulfilment or, so to speak, pursuing a job where there is no fulfilment in it. I think it’s going to come to us that without a clear perspective of people in a fulfilment, in a meaning and thus answering their why, it’s never going to work. That’s really my conviction behind it and you can spin that further, of course, especially to the customer, if the customer doesn’t plead. Only the better price doesn’t make it. Today we have arrived at things where, all of a sudden, I don’t need to explain supply chain problems to you. If today. Things simply don’t work that way, if the reliability behind them doesn’t fit. If the human factor doesn’t fit behind it, then it won’t be as exciting. There are areas where things are better and there are areas where things are less good. But if we’re being completely objective, when I make a purchase decision today, depending on which specialists you talk to about it, some say 60%, some say 80%, it’s made irrationally or, in inverted commas, „subconsciously“. So in any case, it’s not rational, it’s not controlled by reason. And I think that will become even more so, because we simply want to be perceived more and more as human beings.   

Martin Döller: That means that there is more and more humanity, I think, even in companies. And the companies or organisations that recognise this will, I think, continue to be at the forefront. And the others will perhaps reach their limits with clear, tight and top-down structures. I am already convinced of that. What else may come our way is ultimately also that faster, higher, further. I also think that the limits are being reached in corporate growth and entrepreneurship. From my point of view, we are now entering the phase, which does not exclude the one, but we are entering a phase of reflection, where it is about deeper, where it is about more value and where it is also – I know it’s a loaded word – but about the topic of mindfulness behind it. That I really think MORE about it. There we are again with the strained word „sense“. Does it make sense what we are doing? And above all, how do we align it in a timeline? Short-term, medium-term, long-term, of course behind that. And the more stable this framework is, so to speak, the more people can clearly answer this why for themselves, they automatically follow this corporate structure. And in the end, very good companies, where charismatic personalities are often at the forefront, who of course also have a certain sign that gives them a sense of purpose, also set an example. And I believe, once again, that we have really arrived at a time when I don’t want to say that no stone is left unturned, but where many stones are being turned over. We look behind them and see if the stone is still lying there really well.  

Markus Petz: Yes, you speak from my soul and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much for the inspiring conversation. Thank you very much for this podcast.  

Martin Döller: Dear Markus, I can only say that the thanks are all mine and I thank you very much and, of course, especially the listeners for allowing me to share a few thoughts with you.  

Markus Petz: Yes, I want to pick up on that now. Thank you very much for listening. If you enjoyed the episode, we would of course be very happy if you subscribe to us via your favourite podcast app. Of course, we would be even happier if you gave us a five-star rating or recommended this episode to a colleague or someone in your circle of friends or family who might also be interested. This helps us to continue to attract exciting guests and to be able to present new topics on transformation, change and transformation to our customers. See you on the next episode. Best regards, your MetaShift team.