Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Systems Thinking--The Big Picture

All people, all businesses, all social organization public or private operate in an ecology of systems. Social systems, mechanical systems, technological, economic systems, environmental systems, political systems--a incredibly complex web of systems.
Yet few people, few businesses, few organization have any kind of systematic approach to understanding this web of systems and more importantly, how it affects them, their future, their sustainability. Mostly, they want to know or hear just so stories that fit their vision of a future they want--which in itself is not a bad thing--but without a way of measuring or gauging that against a current reality, the person, the business, the organization begins to construct a 'reality' that often has damaging consequences.
The reasons for this can and do fill books, but at the root of the problem is either not having a systematic way of constructing and measuring the vision against the current reality, or as often the case, having the analytical capabilities but having personality driven management that over-rides the nature of the current reality.

This is called gambling. During a roll, executives, management, CEOs, etc can get away with this kind of ignoring of the reality, but eventually it comes home to roost. The 'house'--that is, the "marker of current reality"--almost always wins.
This was seen in mass with the global economic meltdown where Wall St. and eventually much of the industrialized world bought into the economics of cheap credit leading to a world economy based more on speculation rather than sound economic principles and value created products and services. Worse yet, solid companies that did have solid fundamentals were getting left behind by 'investors' (that is, speculators) because their earnings were not meeting the expectations of the market speculators.
This naturally all came to a crashing end in September of 2008.

The American economy and the global economy as a whole are going to take a long time to recover from that 15 year credit bubble run that many still refer to as a "bull run".
The savings and home investments of so many of the consumers were wiped out or left thread bare, that any kind of consumer driven recovery is going to be a long ways off.

North America--I am after all Canadian!-- has all the talent, all the abilities, all the creativity and innovation it needs to once again play the leadership role of being the economic engine and generator of the global economy.
Whether this can be repeated using the same outdated economic and organizational theories and practices is what remains to be seen.
Understanding why an organization would want to adapt the newer organizational models based on the principles of living systems and biology over those based on the old principles of mechanical systems means understanding the complexities of the current realities of the 21 century economy.

Understandably, that isn't easy. Yet organizations of virtually any size could benefit from having a deeper, broader, more realistic understanding of current economic conditions, but more importantly, the larger trends that are going to be shaping the nature of the economy as it continues to evolve. Organizations of any size can benefit from understanding and adapting the scientific developments that give us a much better understanding of human behaviour, and how that behaviour affects and shapes organization culture.
Increasingly, it will be the nature of organization culture that will make the winning difference.

 Organizations that adopt a systems thinking point of view and mindset, organizations that encourage learning as both an organization and that of it's personal level, organizations that develop an understanding of the use and potential of tools and networks of social media are going to by their very nature have a broader, deeper understanding of their operating environment.
They will have the flexibility and motivated talent pool to adapt to the myriad challenges and complexities of the modern economy.
They will have deeper and broader connections not just within the organizational culture, but extended well beyond to that of it's customer base, it's suppliers, and that of the world opinion.
They will have access to knowledge and information from more sources than ever before, and the organizational culture that can process and harness that knowledge and information for their good, and for the good of society.
They will also have the transparency that will foster the kind of trust organizations will want in a world where social media can spread rumours, and truth, about your organization in a matter of minutes.

These are going to be the kinds of organizations that are the leaders and winners in the ever changing, ever evolving modern economy and social norms. 

Old styles organizational models and mindsets will not be able to keep up in that world.

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