The other day my good and distinguished friend Héctor Reichard invited me to a dialogue between friends. It was a form of discourse (people from all ideologies) in which we shared calmly together to find possibilities rather than fighting to make sure our particular ideas prevail. We spent two hours co-creating a free flow of meaning between a diverse group, in the sense of a stream that flowed freely between different minds. When we finished, I left the room re-charged, and with a huge sense of hope for Puerto Rico and the things to come.
Sometimes accomplishing any significant at the society’s level is so difficult, because people feel that their brains are tied, but that afternoon experience was break through and vital. The belief that you cannot achieve anything fundamental destroys any society.
What builds a society is the sense that everyone together is producing economic and social results. In the complex, fluid, diverse and differentiated community, we can never truly say one person alone causes something to happen. We cannot say that a single individual will save the situation. Because every event is the confluence of many different contributions and causes, it is more nearly adequate to say that everyone caused it. When different people, with different perspectives, come together in a friendly environment, it is possible to produce an outcome that in the correct moment can have system wide consequences.
These reflections point to a different meaning of the word of responsibility. Within a complex system environment everyone should share responsibilities for what is happening and for what can occur in the way to the future. Social and economic behavior can go in several directions, and it may take only a very small push or effort at the right time and place to nudge the system into a different outcome. If a team or an organization chooses a course of action, a policy, a program or a project, it is important to establish what earlier events or ideas conditioned their thinking and decision-making. The point to ponder is that many people impacted each of those earlier events, so all of them had a role in that undertaking or outcome.
We have learned from the theories of how to manage complex systems that, when the difficulty of assigning cause in an interlinked (I prefer self-contained) society becomes obvious, we can understand that there is no way to keep score on who did best, who was most influential, or who mattered the most. This was the case at our exquisite meeting of the diverse minds. Personal ambitions become less important, and contributing what one believes is right in the deepest senses becomes the best guide of action…
If we want to have a relevant dialogue for social and economic action, we have to treat everybody as having and intrinsic value. By the way, these are the normative principles encapsulated in the expressions of “everybody is equal before God”, “Do unto others as you would have others do into you”, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. These serious statements urge us to see all people as potentially equal in value to create more opportunity for all of us to develop and express our capabilities. This was the kind of environment that we shared in this beautiful meeting between friends.
This is the empirical organizational design proposition: COLLABORATIVE ACTION DEVELOPS WHEN PEOPLE TREAT EACH OTHER AS HAVING EQUAL VALUE. BUT THE INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY IS TO SHOW, SPEAK AND GIVE THE BEST!
In order to create such a formidable atmosphere we have to contribute to the sense of shared purpose, with growing heart, wisdom, maturity, authentic service and a deeper loyalty for ourselves and those we serve, as was the case of Hector Reichard and his community of friends…
Copyright 2008 QBS, Inc.