In business, as in life, short-term thinking never works for very long. Many leaders are content to look only at what is immediately in front of them. While it may be tempting to behave this way in an increasingly complex and interdependent world, such narrow, near-sighted leadership hardly serves the organizations and systems we are a part of. Bigger systems naturally require bigger, broader thinking.
Organizations are quickly learning that departments operating in isolation are ineffective. There are no projects or processes that can be accomplished solely within a silo. Interdependent relationships are necessary in all organizations if goals are to be met and good work accomplished. This collaboration requires that we actively include others, communicate our planned actions, and assess the impact our decisions have across the organization.
Too often competing goals are established within an organization, resulting in internal competition for human and material resources. When pursuing goals, leaders must recognize interdependencies in terms of:
Larger scale, interdependent thinking can also be applied to systems your organization functions in: your community, the wider business world, the government, the world stage, and Earth's environment. Personal leadership decisions impact these greater systems and, conversely, these systems have tremendous impact on our organizations.
When our focus is limited to within our organization, we become organization-centric. The fact that we — our organization and these systems — are interdependent has not changed. What must change is our recognition of the relationships we rely upon on and the way in which we approach them. Isolated, short-term results that seem to feed profitability and growth may distort and shrink our perspectives, keeping our vision narrow and the wider world peripheral at best.
In an increasingly global and uncertain business environment, leaders will need a broader understanding of what it means to do business internationally.
In an increasingly global, uncertain, and unsettling business environment, organizations and their leaders will need a broader understanding of what it means to do business internationally and interdependently. Our focus must be as much external as it is internal. We must recognize we are a part of a larger whole. We impact the very systems we exist in. Interdependencies are always present, even if they cannot be quantified in short-term financial models. They must be recognized for the sustainability of our organizations and our world.
Are you making the best decisions given the big picture? Are your decisions truly for the greater good? If within your organization you are optimizing only your department, without regard for the organization as a whole, the answer must be "no." If within the global community you are optimizing the results of your company alone, without regard for others affected, again the answer must be "no."
There are huge incentives for leaders to suboptimize. Leaders are generally compensated based on their personal performances. Companies are rewarded for meeting and exceeding earnings targets for their organizations alone. In both cases, interdependencies are frequently ignored, causing increased friction within organizations and increased disparities in communities and the greater world.
Although critically necessary, the transformations required for change are never easy to make. They require enormous culture shifts that alter the way we collectively think about issues and our role in approaching them.
Optimizing your organization — and your world — requires major personal changes:
These changes in thought and behavior are not easy. But they are some of the most critical moves you can make in your business and in your life. As you widen your perspective, you widen your possibility of obtaining success that will benefit all of us.
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