Mindfulness@ Microsoft - An Internal Champion's Pursuit of Scaling Mindfulness Worldwide

BL00 - Session Highlight From Mindful Leader Summit (1)

Key Highlights:

  • Dual Approach in Mindfulness Programs: Charles Morris spotlighted the concurrent creation of Microsoft's two mindfulness programs: "Mindful Growth" and the "High-Performance Mindset." These initiatives targeted distinct facets of employee well-being, one emphasizing holistic growth and the other honing high-performance mindset skills.
  • Integration of Mindfulness into Corporate Culture: Morris emphasized the importance of aligning mindfulness initiatives with the existing organizational culture. They discussed how incorporating mindfulness into the broader context of company values and priorities is crucial for long-term success and widespread adoption.
  • Mindfulness Without the Label: The session explored the idea that mindfulness practices don't necessarily have to be explicitly labeled as such. The speaker provided examples of initiatives like "Press Pause" and "Resilience," which incorporated mindfulness principles without explicitly using the term. This approach aims to make mindfulness accessible and relatable to a broader audience.
  • Reflection on Corporate Mindfulness Impact: Morris delved into the question of whether corporate mindfulness initiatives might inadvertently contribute to "McMindfulness," a term associated with the commercialization and dilution of authentic mindfulness practices. The talk encouraged reflection on whether these initiatives genuinely contribute to well-being or risk becoming superficial trends within the corporate world.

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Session Summary

At the 2019 Mindful Leader Summit, Charles Morris, the former director of learning and development at Microsoft, discussed the narrative of incorporating mindfulness within the tech giant. The session provided a glimpse into the dual-track approach at Microsoft, where two distinct mindfulness programs, "Mindful Growth" and "High-Performance Mindset," were fashioned to address diverse facets of employee well-being and professional development.

Navigating the Dual Currents of Mindfulness Initiatives

Charles Morris guided the audience through Microsoft's mindfulness endeavors, recounting the simultaneous emergence of "Mindful Growth" and the "High-Performance Mindset" in 2016. This dual-track strategy demonstrated the company's commitment to addressing both holistic personal growth and the cultivation of a high-performance mindset. These parallel programs offered employees a comprehensive toolkit for navigating the multifaceted demands of work and life.

Integrating Mindfulness into the Corporate DNA

A pivotal insight from Morris's narrative was the strategic alignment of mindfulness initiatives with the overarching corporate culture. Morris underscored the importance of incorporating mindfulness seamlessly into organizational values and priorities. By positioning mindfulness within the broader context of company culture, Microsoft aimed for sustainable integration, ensuring that mindfulness becomes an integral aspect of daily work life rather than a trend. This approach, Morris argued, is vital for fostering long-term impact and widespread adoption.

Beyond Labels: Redefining Mindfulness Initiatives

The session challenged traditional notions of mindfulness, encouraging a departure from conventional labels. Morris spotlighted initiatives like "Press Pause" and "Resilience," demonstrating how mindfulness principles can be embedded without overtly using the term. By reframing mindfulness as a set of adaptable practices rather than a rigid concept, Microsoft sought to make mindfulness more accessible and relatable to a diverse audience. This nuanced approach emphasized the universality of mindfulness principles, regardless of the terminology used.

Corporate Mindfulness: A Double-Edged Sword?

Morris delved into a provocative question that lingers in the world of corporate mindfulness – does its widespread adoption risk dilution and commodification, leading to what some skeptics term as "McMindfulness"? The session prompted reflection on whether corporate mindfulness initiatives authentically contribute to employee well-being or risk becoming superficial trends within the corporate world. It sparked a call for mindfulness practitioners to continually assess the impact of these programs and ensure they align with the ethical and compassionate foundations of authentic mindfulness practices.

Final Thoughts

As the session unfolded, Morris provided valuable insights for leaders and organizations venturing into the uncharted territory of corporate mindfulness. By embracing duality, aligning with organizational culture, and transcending labels, Microsoft's journey stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of mindfulness in the corporate sphere. The session left attendees with not just a roadmap but a contemplation on the role of mindfulness in shaping the future of work and well-being.

He is the founder and principal of Numen Studio, dedicated to bringing my unique blend of professional, academic, and personal experience towards helping organizations empower their employees with mindfulness, awareness, and depth-psychology-based practices. His mission is to unlock personal and collective transformation to meet the needs of the modern workplace, through fostering purpose, clarity, and compassion.

Previously, he was a Learning & Development leader and mindfulness pioneer at Microsoft. His passion for human development and mindfulness led me from a career in software engineering leadership to a career in HR learning & development at Microsoft. His passion for the transformation of human consciousness will continue as he integrates depth schools of exploration such as Jungian psychology and Tibetan Buddhism/mindfulness. Earlier in his career, he spent 17 years in various software engineering and leadership roles at Microsoft.

Learn More about Charles


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1 comment

Luis Bonnell

I was impressed with the idea of Mindfulness without labels. Including Mindfulness principles in programs called "Pause" or "Resilience" will make it easier for more people to access and practice tunnel rush. This is a smart way to spread the benefits of Mindfulness to a wider audience.

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