Updated: 4 days ago
All things are connected.
Zoom out far enough and a large city becomes a tiny speck of light.
Zoom in close enough and listen in on a conversation between two people in a cafe sharing their hopes and dreams about the future.
It is easy to see these two worlds as different, but in reality they are one in the same.
From far enough away, your business looks exactly like every other one of its kind. And one way to think about its different parts is like the way a car is made up of an engine, chassis and wheels. Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-connected world of information, this way of thinking can lead to serious trouble.
The idea of separating a business into its functional categories was a good one back at the beginning of the last century when building cars on a factory line.
In the Industrial Age each of the individual units on a production line were connected by a top down hierarchy that controlled every moving part of the factory.
If you have ever started a business from scratch, you know this method is absolutely necessary in the beginning. But as a business grows, it becomes more about what connects its individual parts.
Today information moves too fast for the control and command methods of the past... at least if you want your business to reach it full potential.
Now it’s all about self organization, where a constant feedback loop creates an opportunity to integrate an ecosystem of connectivity and continuous improvement.
I think it was Aristotle that first said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
True connection happens when people share a set of beliefs within a common purpose.
This leads to better results, because the beliefs and purpose as a whole exist within the individual parts of your business instead of it individual parts simply making up the whole business.
What story do your people tell about their place within your organization? Are they empowered with decision-making responsibilities and encouraged to bring fresh ideas to resolve organizational challenges? Or are they isolated within an operational island of disconnection, unable to see how the organization exists within the work they do?
Today business can get by with a certain amount of disconnection, but in the near future this will not be the case. Waiting for a weekly report or a monthly analysis to measure performance will no longer be sufficient.
There is a bright future ahead for companies that strive to make connections across every part of an organization.
The question is: Do you want your business to be about the whole within its parts or about the sum of its parts?
Updated: 5 days ago
There is so much talk about disruption these days and typically it has to do with innovation.
A new company or product hits the market and displaces existing market leaders — and even eliminates entire industries over time.
The 12 original components selected by Charles Dow to make up his original Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896 were: American Cotton Oil; American Sugar; American Tobacco; Chicago Gas; Distilling & Cattle Feeding; General Electric[ Laclede Gas;National Lead; North American; Tennessee Coal & Iron; U.S. Leather Preferred; and U.S. Rubber.
Not one of these companies is on the Dow today and most of them no longer exist.
What they all have in common is they have experienced the effects disruption through innovation.
Disruption is the interruption of process, work flow or sequence. And innovation is a new idea, a modern thought or a better application.
But innovation did not always have this positive connotation. In the early settlement of America, innovation was a negative concept that meant rebellion, revolt or even heresy.
Come to think about it, today, innovation and disruption are good or bad depending on where your business is when it happens.
Clayton M Christensen said, “Disruption is a process, not an event, and innovations can only be disruptive relative to something else.”
Like a pounding drum, each passing day marches a disruptive process closer to your business.
Can you hear the drum?
It’s a subtle change it the order of operations... the elimination of an unnecessary step.
It is the distant drone of shifting markets or the internal silence of a fixed mindset.
Markets move fast, and large companies are slow to change, but a small one can spin on a dime.
If you operate a small to medium size company, disruption can be a good thing.
Because what can be disrupted will be disrupted. It is only a matter of time. And there are significant risks if ignored and significant opportunity if embraced.
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:
“In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!”
Because nothing stays the same forever, at some point, some kind of change is needed if you want your business to keep growing.
But knowing exactly what to do and when to do it isn't always easy.
Sometimes it can feel like the only thing you can do is to take a leap of faith.
In its most commonly used meaning, a leap of faith is the act of believing in or accepting something outside the boundaries of reason.
Faith plays an essential role in our personal lives, but when it comes to making objective business decisions, accepting something outside the boundaries of reason is simply bad business.
Because there are ways to know what you need to know, faith is not necessary in its literal sense.
Now a leap, on the other hand, is very useful in making business decisions, because once you have the information you need, it is time to jump into action.
Paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken. And a rush to judgement can result in bad outcomes simply because the proper time was not given to consider a person or situation.
These are two kinds of cognitive bias that can negatively impact results, and rarely do we recognize them until they do.
Today there is no shortage of information, but the key is to slow down your decisions whenever possible.
And when it is time to make a change, have faith in knowing there is always a way to gather all the information you need, and, once you have it, take the leap that moves your business forward.