How Alcoholics Anonymous strategies can help businesses grow

Margot Cairnes will host an organisational transformation workshop in October.
Margot Cairnes will host an organisational transformation workshop in October. Contributed

NEWRYBAR woman Margot Cairnes is recognised globally as a visionary thinker, which means her strategies for helping business people to evolve can come from the strangest places.

Indeed, her 12 Steps for Business program is based on an organisation formed to help the most desperate members of society - Alcoholics Anonymous - and is the basis for an upcoming master class entitled Organisational Transformation.

The idea of such a radical revamp came many years ago, after a family member went to AA and Margot says she witnessed "an amazing transformation".

"I thought, 'this works … why isn't the whole world doing it?'," she said.

The 80-year-old fellowship's paradigm for change is unequalled, because it allows its members to cope with the unknown without getting stuck in a fear responses - fight, flight or freeze.

Change is impossible from these states, she said.

The "psychological container" created by AA provides sufficient emotional safety to stop the fear response and ushers in what she calls the "wise brain", the neo-cortex and the limbic system.

"When they operate together, you can stay in the present moment, relate to other people and solve your problems," Margot said.

12SfB rewrites AA's First Step to read: "We acknowledged we were powerless over change and unable to control reality" and the master class sets the challenge "how do we run a business in a world where we are powerless over change?"

As with AA, acceptance is basic to the philosophy, and to "get there" you ascend through different levels of thinking - beyond egotism and socialisation, to independent, lateral.

She begins each day with yoga, to get the corporate types coming to her workshops "out of their heads".

"I can't help them solve their problems if they are not fully present".

But it's not all touchy-feely.

Margot has transformed the work practices in aluminium smelters, education systems and global corporates such as BP, with flow-on benefits to communities and the environment. "A huge percentage of Australians are going to lose their jobs in the next 10 years due to digital disruption," she says.

"You want to be out there creating, getting your business up to the next level. You want to be riding this wave."

12SFB Master Class. Dates: October 7 & 8, in Newrybar. Contact

Topics:  business

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