Hazel’s Thursday Thoughts – Think Bigger


First, let me preface this thought by saying I am far from an art critic, and artistic appreciation in not the crux of this piece…

A few weeks ago, I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to view the Mystical Landscape exhibition, which included the works of some well-known impressionists like Monet.  As I admired the displays, I wondered how these great artists could myopically create images that the casual observer could only discern in its entirety from farther away.

Then I thought … who are the “impressionists” in organizations?  You know, those people who see the whole picture while working on the individual parts? How are they perceived and valued? Like the artist creating a masterpiece, how are they empowered to balance short term and long term goals?

In a business environment that prioritizes “low hanging fruit” and “quick wins” the value in balancing short term and long term is not always evident.  We consistently witness companies that wait until the 11th hour to implement changes with unrealistic timelines that are expected to increase unknown efficiencies. Furthermore, they have no process to track and measure the resulting performance.  Why is this?  Companies act on a perceived threat, or because something has gone wrong; short term thinking.

Organizations who are successful in this endeavour practice system thinking.  For example, according to the Elevate team at Uber, by 2025 VTOLs (Vertical Take Off and Landing) will shape urban air transportation.  Imagine the system collaboration and integration that needs to happen to get this off the ground, literally.   The plan is to have pilots operate the machines, but Uber is already considering the infrastructure required for them to be autonomous. All of this is occurring while some companies are pondering the question “who is my Uber?”

So, it is not one or more individuals in an organization that balance short and long term goals, system thinking organization accomplish that feat. Many times, I hear “just teach them what they need to do the job”, but recently in a training session, participants were most engaged when we ran an exercise that connected what they did to other business activities.  Organizations are ecosystems that interconnect. Making these connections transparent allows individuals to broaden their understanding their ecosystem, which is the foundation for creating an organizational pièce de résistance.

My challenge to you is this

  1. Is your organization system thinking?  If you hear the word “silo” many times, then the answer is no.
  2. What can you do to help your organization become better at system thinking?

Let me know if you have questions and perhaps we can paint that picture together.

About the Author: Hazel

Share this article