For example, I can love but none of my parts can love. Pull me apart and none of those parts can love. Love emerges through the interactions between you and me and our environment.
Life, love, happiness, beauty, trust, teamwork, communication, friendship, success and most things that are important to business cannot be managed or mandated; they can only emerge when people in their environments are set free to interact.
If all these qualities are emergent, then business success is about managing interactions rather than actions. Instead of tightly controlled, topdown management, it’s about loosely guided bottom-up leadership, encouraging people throughout the organisation to come together and self-organise in emergent ways that scientists understand but managers are only starting to learn about.
Physicists used to see their science as the study of physical materials like solids, liquids and gases. They are now starting to see it as the study of how things are organised and relate to each other. In business, we need to come to the same realisation.
In business, the important thing is not John and Bruce, the important thing is the relationship between John and Bruce. Most managers spend most of their time focused on the individuals within their organisation (John and Bruce). In the chart below they would be looking at separation and seeing the two faces.
Management is managing the parts; leadership is about encouraging connections between the parts to the benefit of the whole.
There are three important relationships that all managers need to develop in their people:
- The relationship we have with ourselves. This is about understanding the world within
- The relationship we have with others. This is about understanding the world between
- The relationship we have with our environment. This is about understanding the world outside.
My life’s work has been about encouraging managers to focus on what really matters. How would you do it?