When we are trapped inside a specific model of how things should operate in this world, like how to reduce time to market or be more productive and efficient, we can’t see much else.
In the current model, resource efficiency is a servant to sustainability. Because we are so efficient we can produce seven air conditioners, for example, instead of one. We don’t necessarily consider the resources and materials it takes to build one or seven items when all we are focused on is productivity rates.
We can’t claim we’re efficient and care about the environment when we choose to ship our trash to another part of the world. Making our trash someone else’s headache does not come close to systemic thinking.
And because many organization are operating on 19th century linear models, we stay stuck in how things should be productive.
But we can step out of the hamster wheel when we’re ready to see that there is another way.
Complexity is uncomfortable because it requires being comfortable with the unknown. It is where true innovation happens. And yes, we can learn to navigate uncharted waters.
To collaborate across boundaries, we need shared values and cultural understanding of not only the problems but our opportunities.
Two people are working on a project. One sees a gap and asks, ‘shall we address this gap?” The other looks confused and asks, ‘what gap do you mean? I don’t see anything missing? This is how things should be.
We experience a sense of politics when two people with two different visions or agendas try to work together. And therefore, communication becomes key in understanding people’s agendas and how to bridge the divides. True understanding requires acknowledging uncomfortable realities like that not everyone can be right all the time. And that negotiating in the new world means coming to an understanding of what we are working on together; not being stuck on how things should be.
Who wants to constantly live in the past where we only jump from solving one problem to the next? It becomes a type of addiction to always explore where we went wrong and try to solve the same problems with limited progress.
Imagine that every time you hear, ‘this is what’s wrong with …”, you asked yourself, what’s possible?
Do things really need to escalate when there is another path of collaboration and caring about what we are creating?
Many don’t want to hear that we need to do much more than re-think our current systems. But what If what we need is to create sustainable ones? Our current economic system and lifestyles, for example, are gobbling up our natural resources. The Earth has no productivity goals as it focuses on sustainability and regeneration.
The more we focus on what’s possible, the more we learn how interconnected we are and how important it is to see the whole system from nature’s point of view.
When we’re in alignment with nature, we understand that unlimited growth is not sustainable and even possible. The Earth simply cannot support unlimited growth.
If we want to be sustainable and build a healthy economy, we need to understand systems and expect unpredictability.
Our opportunity, as leaders, is to think and create on multiple levels. Perhaps our greatest opportunity is right in front of us in plain sight?
By Ayelet Baron
Keywords: Business Strategy, Change Management, Open Innovation