Becoming a Human organization – HEROIC blog series

Becoming a Human Organization

Humanized Organizations accept human vulnerability. They accept the need to slow down sometimes,
releasing pressure and reconnecting to what is essential to individuals, organizations and society.
Humble and authentic, they are aware of their potential limitations and address them.

The Covid crisis in the spring forced many of us to scramble to reinvent the way we do business.  In June, together with Sekaten, we talked to 160 business people from around the world to better understand what they had learned from the crisis, how confident they were that they could continue to learn and adapt and what insights they had gathered about the changes needed in the way we do business.
Six systemic themes emerged from this dialogue, which we organized under the acronym ‘HEROIC’ or ‘Human, Empathetic, Role Model, Open, Innovation and Courage’.  Today, I am going to discuss the first – Human.

How often have you been confronted with signs of your own vulnerability since the Covid crisis blew our way?  We are constantly confronted with new technologies and new ways of doing things. And we are forced more regularly to admit our own limitations. The ubiquitous Zoom call has forced us into each other’s lives in a novel and not always comfortable way.  We see the inside of our colleagues’ homes, and they see ours.  We hear (and often see) partners, children and pets.  We learn things about each other that in the pre-Covid business environment would have been unthinkable.

But, is this really a bad thing?  The 160 people we talked to did not seem to think so.  In fact, many see this enforced unveiling of everyone’s humanity as an opportunity moving forward.  The main themes that emerged were the following:

  • Accept the need to pause Accepting the need to slow down saves time in the end as it helps us to focus on the priorities and projects that matter. Feeling at ease with silence and connected to the present moment enriches human connection.


  • Be Humble Being self-aware, experimenting more without fear of not being perfect, and being able to forgive make us human. It is ok to fail and try again.


  • Accept Vulnerability Accepting and revealing vulnerability — being more aware of one’s own limitations and the limitations of the system — is a key step towards humanizing organizations.


  • Be Authentic In humanized organizations, people feel they can be themselves — revealing who they are, accepting their true nature, being more authentic and demonstrating honesty.


  • Value People Creating a people-centered world, valuing people as connected human beings, not just human resources, respecting people and caring for their needs are at the heart of the heroic organization.

Clearly, in spite of all the difficulties it has brought, the Covid crisis has provided us with a mirror in which to see ourselves and learn while moving forward.  HEROIC organizations allow us to be ourselves, to be human, to make mistakes.

In my next blog, I will discuss the second theme of HEROIC organizations – Empathy.

If you would like to learn more about HEROIC organizations and our study, please click on this link to download a copy of the report: The HEROIC REPORT


A blog series by Anne Clark