A Depth Psychology Lens to Shared Value

A Depth Psychology Lens to Shared Value

By Pam Fuhrmann.

Discussions during the recent In Claritas retreat resurfaced a key thought and application for furthering my research: the relationship of personal development to the concept of “shared value”.

Leaders today are confronted with potentially overwhelming challenges, in such areas as energy and water usage, financial management, poverty and social well-being, transportation, and material waste, which seem universally unresponsive to familiar solutions. Further, the majority of the population is unable to manage the increasing rates of change, complexity, and ambiguity encountered within these challenges.

Shared value posits a “new” inclusive mode of thinking about today’s business, social, and environmental challenges.  Through the creation of business strategy which values economic and social progress, shared value bridges the corporate/public divide. Fundamentally shared value promotes the concept of “both” and  manages the paradox of corporate profit and social well-being felt through the tension of what has been traditionally thought of as competing agendas. Shared value recognizes that no single entity (corporation, government, NGO, etc.) can address the manifold issues of the modern context. The concept of shared value clearly blurs the profit/non-profit boundary.

In creating shared value an organization addresses the creative tension of achieving short-term results while at the same time seeding for future growth and developing internal organizational capabilities while introducing new perspectives and knowledge from external sources. Pairing these polar opposites emphasizes the complexity of creating sustainable value and exposes the risks of maintaining a singular, one-sided approach.

The construction of a shared value strategy requires the capacity to suspend either/or thinking; relate to the unfamiliar situation; dialogue with disparate groups of people; collaborate across diverse boundaries; hold a multi-faceted perspective; and bridge disparate ideas, groups, and behaviors in the creation of a “new” attitude or outcome.  Building the human potential to meet these challenges stands as a leadership imperative. To this point, the process of development within Jungian psychology offers key indicators for cultivating an individual’s capacity to effectively operate within the modern context.

The faculty to generate shared value inherently aligns with the feminine components of Jungian theory of development, specifically those which contribute to larger inclusive thinking and addressing multidimensional complexity. This is most apparent through the feminine capacity to hold dialogue with an unfamiliar other; balance the tension of paradoxical and liminal states; and mediate and bridge opposites in a movement towards inclusion. These attributes, which mature through personal development and learning to know oneself, cultivate a leader’s capacity to create shared value.

Thus, I find depth psychology and individual development intricately tied to our collective innovation, growth, and sustainability in the modern context. As Carl Jung contends the state of our outer world is merely a reflection of our inner world, in which progress achieved or ills suffered appear both in psyche and the world, effort placed in creating shared value or inner development contribute to the development of “both”.


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