Today we have unprecedented technological means for connection, so it is paradoxical that there is so much divisiveness in the world. Divisiveness is one of the most negative forces we face, whether it be at the level of individuals or nations. Polarization is increasing, creating an ever greater divide between the haves and have nots and attempts at unification such as the European Union are under increasing pressure. Extreme right wing opinions seem to find more fertile ground. In the worst cases, violence is used to express frustration and widen the gap of difference. The Talmud says: “Anyone who engages in divisiveness transgresses a divine prohibition.”
Practical ways to unite people
We are all different from each other and we are all as unique as our fingerprints. Must this difference and uniqueness inevitably lead to disagreement? How can individuals, organizations and communities cater for difference and unity at the same time? It’s beyond the scope of this blog to offer political solutions. However, based on our experience with building collaboration in organizations and the bodies of knowledge of Deming and the Theory of Constraints, we know that there are practical ways to enable people to harness the power of unity while allowing for individuals to be unique persons.
Different people, common goal
In any organization, individuals are called upon to perform various tasks. When this is done in the context of a traditional hierarchy with functions, the work of the organization is artificially divided up, territories can be created and competition can arise among staff. This creates divisiveness. Everyone in the organization, instead, should be working in collaboration towards a common goal, the goal of the organization. This is only possible, however, if an organization realizes that it is a system, as Dr. Deming pointed out back in the 1950s. When that realization sinks in, then it becomes possible to map out precisely the flow of work that needs to be performed to allow maximum throughput to be generated. This in turn means that instead of creating artificially fractured roles and job titles, interdependencies can be designed effectively and transparently and it becomes clear which tasks have to be performed when and by whom.
Working systemically, using well designed processes and projects, every individual can be empowered to offer their contribution towards a clearly identified common goal. This is not only an aspiration, it is becoming increasingly necessary as technology and digitization rapidly gain importance in the management of companies. Organizational design will have to increasingly reflect the flow of work that approaches such as Agile and DevOps continuously emphasize. (See ‘The Network of Projects‘ organizational design for systemic collaboration.)
The higher road
“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels…” ~Albert Einstein, N.Y. Times, 1946
Does this mean that everyone magically gets along? Of course not. There will always be differences of opinion, even passionate ones. Working in a systemic organization requires a higher kind of thinking. The way to overcome divisiveness, then, is to move to higher levels in terms of thinking and interacting. This requires tools and practice and it requires leadership to keep attention firmly on the goal. We can thank Dr. Eli Goldratt for providing us with the Theory of Constraints and its full set of Thinking Processes to engender and reinforce systemic thinking and conflict resolution. These tools allow intellect and emotions to work in synergy beyond the instinctive, knee-jerk reactions that tense situations can create. This is also what allows truly innovative thinking to take place.
Living in peace is not something we can ever take for granted and it requires constant vigilance and effort. No matter how hard the effort can be it is always so much better than the alternative.
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Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore, specializes in Whole System Transformation, based on the systemic management principles of W. Edwards Deming and the Theory of Constraints. We are trusted advisors to leaders of organizations through our unique, whole system Network of Projects organization design. Sign up to our blog here. Intelligent Management provides education and training internationally on systemic management using the Decalogue methodology .
See our new books The Human Constraint – a business novel that has sold in 28 countries so far and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York, by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.