I’ve just googled “collective mindfulness” that turned up 12,600 hits but “shared mindfulness” turned up only 1,130 of which 795 dealt with cockpit situations. Isn’t that interesting? Karl Weick, the grand ol’ man of organisation design, who introduced the concept of mindfulness to business in his book on Organizing for high reliability:Processes of collective mindfulness (1999), wrote:
“High Reliability Organizations are distinctive because of their efforts to organize in ways that increase the quality of attention across the organization, thereby enhancing people’s alertness and awareness to details so that they can detect subtle ways in which contexts vary and call for contingent responding (i.e., collective mindfulness).”
Mindfulness in that sense is the sum of each person’s alertness and awareness to details. In the cockpit, where the quality of the pilot’s and co-pilot’s presence can make or break an emergency landing operation, it’s more than just the sum of their individual alertness. They have their fate in each other’s hand, and what will decide it is the quality of the inter-subjective field, where their listening to and responding to each other’s action in a split second is participating in a shared mindfulness.
How can we develop not only collective but shared mindfulness for achieving mission-critical results?