Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An Introduction to Managing Multiplicity

There are so many business and community challenges that need multi-perspective thinking, contribution and innovation, so being able to manage multiplicity and engage the whole is important for leaders.

If too much separation and lack of understanding other perspectives brings out our worst, what does wholeness do?

As the command/control way of governing gives way in the face of information proliferation and virtual connection, it is key for leaders [and all of us] to get better at navigating the multiple realities that make up our day-to-day environments.  We need one another to make sense of all that is going on around us, to make meaning together. This is more than just an appreciation of the value and potential of the whole but clear strategies and processes for tapping into the whole in ways that are open, dynamic and interactive.  It’s not just a nice thing to do; it’s absolutely necessary for organizational and community flourishing.

Leaders are often encouraged to ‘surround yourself with talent.’  The fact of the matter is, leaders are already surrounded by talent.   If that’s the case, the question becomes ‘How do you tap it?’

Inclusion of all frames and perspectives
When we want to attract the best thinking in our organizations and communities, it’s important to not think of top-down or bottom-up but of the whole, not just of a little representation or a little diversity but of the whole.
·      What is the configuration and pattern of completeness?
·      What can tap unlimited potential? 
·     What will bring fresh views of the truth to the table and elevate the conversation?

If it feels too messy to you, think of old-fashioned barn-raisings.  Why not do that now, in new ways? What new ways of thinking can you attract to build what your organization needs for the future?

We can invoke our own version of crowdsourcing. With the complexity of issues now, we need all the innovation and ideas we can tap.

As leaders, you’re going to have to relate to, include and deal with the whole system somehow, sometime on issues that have far-reaching impact.  Why not now?

People sometimes talk about participative management as abdication of leadership.  
But this kind of radical participation—bringing a whole plant together—is not abdication, 
but just the opposite.  Leadership is given life by relationship, by good conversation.  
The more relationship, the more leadership.  This is what the web of inclusion is about. 
Jim Staley, President, Roadway, Fast Company July 2001, p. 56

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