I came across the phrase “a practice of comforting” in Frederic Laloux’s intriguing book Reinventing Organizations. It was in the context of examining the character of an organization, its short-term health and long-term quality, its ability to recover from setbacks and to heal from injury. The suggestion was clearly that organizations with an established practice of comforting are healthier in the short and long term.

What a remarkable concept – an practice of comforting people as something we do in our organizations. Imagine that! That sounds reasonable enough in a healthcare scenario, but in a tech firm or manufacturing company? Wow.

As I read, I found myself wondering about the range of comfort people in an organization might need, and in what sorts of situations? What sort of comfort might people in an organization expect or receive? It occurred to me that ITK’s tradition of eating Failure Cake together is one such “practice of comfort.” We often describe these cakes as something that take the sting out of failure, that destigmatize shortcomings and brings people together. Failure cake is a practice that we find to be deeply meaningful, helpful, and yes, comforting.

What about you? What could a practice of comforting look like in the organization you’re a part of?