Emotional Data Is Part Of The New Oil

The well-oiled workplace

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know data is the new oil. You can improve what you can measure, and nothing beats opinion like good data does. If innovation is relevant to scaling your business, then collecting data will allow you to make decisions with less bias.

Yet, in our new ‘data economy’, the focus tends to lie primarily on numbers and facts.
What if I told you that reading and collecting the emotional data of your workplace, the “emotional field”, will contribute at least as much to the achievement of your key business objectives?

This post came about after coaching a young leader in the industrial sector. As a corporate coach, I like to engage the client where the client is. So if my client loves data, I also work with data. The turning point in our conversation was the realization that there was hidden data in the emotional signals of her team members. She had been unaware of these signals, and by ignoring them, it prevented her from connecting to her people and have them fully trust her. So from now on, besides collecting facts, she will focus on uncovering the hidden information in these emotional signals as well.

This article is about the value of all data today, and that data’s network effects. It is also about pursuing conscious leadership by actively seeking an awareness of everything that lives under the surface in the workplace, including dissent and conflict. When handled skillfully, conflict can lead the way towards a transformation that will make you and your team productive today. The kind of transformation that will help organizations evolve from withholding information and creating silos, to a new paradigm of trust so you can design a well-oiled workplace.


Scaling Your Culture: Trust, the nature of data and the leap towards the 21st century

In the early 20th century when Standard Oil started becoming too dominant, it was split into an assembly line of 34 companies. Would splitting Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft into smaller chunks today be the solution to taming the enormous power their access to data gives them?

No. The biggest value of data is not its size, but how it behaves in context. Breaking up any of today’s tech giants into smaller companies would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves. Over time, one of those chunks would simply become dominant again. The antitrust solutions of the past do not work today.

Whether being active on Facebook, ordering food, or simply going for a run, every activity on the net creates a digital trace, while at the same time pouring more raw material into the giant data-churning machine. Networks will interact and reassess themselves over time anyway, so why not focus on reading the emotional field? Improving the quality of the interactions between you and your people is worthwhile focusing on today.

Collecting emotional data will allow you to make decisions with less bias, especially if scaling your culture is relevant to your goals. Are you thinking of firing John? Are you fantasizing about replacing your entire team? Nothing beats opinion like good data does.


Reading and Unfolding signals

By collecting data, companies like Tesla and Google continuously improve themselves.

Tesla is to self-driving cars what ‘Engaged and Productive Workplace Inc’ is to self-driving teams. Google is to self-informed employees what ‘Engaged and Productive Workplace Inc’ is to self-organizing teams. Being the Tesla or Google of leaders these days could mean that the more emotional data you read today, the better it can make you and your team at driving your business success.

What are signals? A signal is an unopened packet of information. When coaching teams and executives to unfold signals, I like to use ProcessWork where the goal is to unfold those signals in a sensory-based way. Is the team leader always looking at his phone during meetings? Is someone always sabotaging different projects? Instead of making a stand-alone interpretation of what that could mean, ProcessWork would focus on discovering with the team leader what is truly behind his behavior.

Signals are doorways to new information, and unfolding them is about following and giving expression to the information embedded in them in a bias-neutral, non-interpretative way. ProcessWork facilitates opening that packet of information without judging its content based on its external appearance.


ProcessWork for constructive conflict and comfort with ambiguity

ProcessWork is a methodology and an invitation to scout all the info present in your team to leverage the power of relationship. Instead of preventing self-expression in order to gain control over your company, ProcessWork helps leaders and teams to facilitate high-quality interactions. If you acknowledge that something is always going to be happening in the background of your organization, whether you are acknowledging or not, ProcessWork will help you and your organization evolve from silos to trust.

ProcessWork neither condemns nor mistrusts what is happening in any given situation and never looks down on the team members involved. Instead, it discovers the missing power of transformation in the tension itself and in people’s behavior. Within the frame of ProcessWork, conflict itself is the fastest way to community and team collaboration. Conflict becomes the organisation’s own healer.

A lack of conscious leadership is the reason why many of today’s troubled organisations end up being their own worst enemy. They assume that conflict is wrong and must be avoided at all cost. In fact, the opposite couldn’t be truer. When handled skillfully, conflict and discomfort can become catalysts for scalable and healing transformations.

Would you like to become a conscious leader? Drop me a note.


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Sonsoles Alonso – I help CxOs and Founders Build Highly Efficient Happy Teams in 6 Months or Less with the Right Hires, using Systemic Tools and Serious Games.

Are you in tech? I recently teamed up with top-rated instructor Mark Farragher for our online course ‘6 Tools To Improve Your Tech and Leadership Communication’.

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Would you like to read some other posts? My most successful one so far is The War Against Talent, with over 100000 views.