Volume 1: 2002 Abstract 5

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

Volume 1: 2002

Toward an ecology of spirit: A new paradigm for oganisational development

Mike Bell


When we ask about the nature of organisations, we are not simply asking about their characteristics. We are asking, quite literally, about organisations as part of nature – infused with the same energy force or Spirit that links the Spirit of the living universe and planet, to our own personal Spirit, to the Spirit of our organisations. This requires a new way of thinking about organisations and our role in them, a way of thinking based upon what we call an ecology of spirit.

In this article the author describes his own journey of Spirit, at times painful, from his early days as a Roman Catholic monk and priest, to his work as a street-worker in American inner cities, to his present work in the Canadian Arctic. For the past two decades he has worked in the North with Inuit and Dene (Indian) peoples in the areas of community and organisational development. His discovery of an ecology of spirit has emerged from the convergence of two streams of thought: the traditional teaching of the aboriginal elders and the lessons of the New Science which has abandoned the machine model of organisational development and sees organisations as living organisms.

In the final section of the paper the author offers some practical suggestions. He discusses the need to discover a new way of being in organisations based upon our ability to discern Spirit, discover our own inner Spirit, and animate the Spirit of our organisations.