By TetraMap International
In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes, “Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve the greatest success.”
The more we grasp this idea of inter-dependence*, the more effective we become at responding to challenges that come our way.
But does your business focus on practising inter-dependence?
For many companies, silo mentality prevails because the organisation is split into so many independent units. Silo mentality is the mindset “in companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the company.”
Rather than creating inter-dependence, we build walls around departments. It can lead to the demise of company culture, kill communication, waste people skills and resources and lose communal focus needed to move a company forward.
Instead of building walls, a company needs to collaborate across departments to work towards a common goal. How you get there, requires looking beyond the concrete walls and towards nature.
How nature is the opposite of silo mentality
Nature is an inherently complex system, and that is its beauty.
Nature’s sense of inter-dependence is what keeps it working so efficiently. Everything impacts everything. When imbalances occur in nature it is because some aspect doesn’t have enough influence. Over time, it will seek equilibrium. It focuses on stable improvement rather than boom and bust.
If we start to understand nature and inter-dependence, we can start to apply this understanding to organisational development in business.
Unfortunately for some, ‘boom-bust’ is their winning formula and they depend on it. While the success may be immediate, it doesn’t always translate to long-term sustainability. A common example is a manager feeling the pressure to meet short-term company targets and compromising the long-term strategies.
What is lacking in our organisational development strategy is systems thinking. Nature’s system is not a system of independent elements but rather a “system of interrelated parts or components that cooperate in processes (behaviour).” With more focus on the relationships between the parts we can better understand the whole and more long-term, stable solutions.
In Virginia Anderson and Lauren Johnson’s book Systems Thinking Basics, “they define systems thinking as a holistic and big-picture view of the whole. It is recognising the interconnections between parts of a system and synthesising them into a unified view. This thinking, along with a unified focus, should be applied across teams to encourage collaboration, teamwork and ultimately accomplishment of the common goal.”
Creating inter-dependence in a world full of silos
Creating a business free of silo mentality should start from the top.
The architect, futurist, and humanitarian Buckminster Fuller stressed the importance of being ‘comprehensivists’ rather than specialists. Understanding this distinction is being aware of the inter-dependency of our actions. A good leader understands that each department needs to talk to each other and work together synergistically. In order to do this you need a high level of trust in an organisation.
Think about it this way: When people are assigned a task, we often jump straight into “let’s just do it”, without any discussion about how. But have you considered that someone on your team might have done something similar before? Are you aware of any handicaps the team have that could be compensated for before wasting resources discovering them?
We tend to focus on the task, leaving the people side of things last. However, any team that is highly efficient at doing things will discuss how to do it first – finding ways to make the most of the team’s diversity.
When there are important projects to be completed, as a manager it may be tempting to just do them yourself. But what happens when you’re busy and the project needs to be done again? A manager needs to build a diverse team that is capable of working inter-dependently to complete a wide range of tasks outside their individual areas of specialisation. This creates synergy, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and long-term, sustainable solutions emerge.
One of our core values at TetraMap is inter-dependence as we’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to work together collaboratively and synergistically. By using the metaphor of nature in everything we do, we introduce a language into organisations that is easily remembered and easy to use. It breaks down barriers and gives you insight into why we think, behave and act the way we do.
To learn more, or to discover how you can use TetraMap in your own organisation, contact us today.
*Inter-dependent: Here at TetraMap, we hyphenate the word ‘inter-dependent’ to make it easier to say and read the word. As Buckminster Fuller would say, it’s okay to ‘create’ in order to simplify.