I’m Part of a Larger System…Really?

In case you haven’t heard, we now offer our clients the powerful experiential learning event, Friday Night at the ER.

In FNER, participants in table groups run the various departments of a hospital. They have to manage the uneven and unpredictable flow of patients through their hospital (system). Intake decisions by the Surgery Manager that make the Surgery department perform superbly can cause serious back ups and chaos in the Emergency Department.

When you run this remarkable program, the “aha,” the learning that transfers directly to your workplace, is that what you do, the choices you make, matter. You may make decisions that optimize your success but they can have a negative impact on mine.

Did I mention silos?

Recently we conducted FNER for the national sales organization of a long-standing client. The VP wanted his Sales and Marketing team members to take accountability for their role in making the entire sales, marketing and distribution process work optimally. He wanted every account manager and sales rep to realize what an important impact he(she) has on the success of the larger system. In effect, he wanted them to “own” the performance of the whole.

After the program, our client found that the event and our customized debrief really hit the key points he wanted addressed. Yet it was a challenge for some of the players to raise their perspective to one of seeing the hospital as a whole system…and, by extension, to see the Sales & Marketing system as a whole.

So often our people are habituated to seeing their goals and priorities only in terms of just their own unit. We ask a lot of them when we want them to start including in their daily decisions the needs of the larger system of which they are members.

Scientists are discovering more and more how our existence on this planet is made up of an incalculably complex system of forces, influences, and events. And social scientists are applying this reality to the study of people in organizations.

This is what Friday Night at the ER brings to life in a very practical way. It raises participants’ awareness of the system in which they work. And, of course, the first step to making a change is awareness.

You and I are human. If we want to be more effective in the wider system in which we operate, we must be open to a new, wider perspective on what we do, whom we impact, and what & who influences us.


The Righteous Mind What I’m Reading

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haight

This is a fascinating exploration of moral values that drive people into vastly different camps of beliefs: Think religion. Think politics. While it is a somewhat US-centric treatment of the subject, Haight’s extensive international research has come up with six modules of values around with different groups of like-minded people cluster:

Care/Harm Loyalty/Betrayal
Liberty/Oppression Authority/Subversion
Fairness/Cheating Sanctity/Degradation

He offers the best explanation I have ever read for the polarization that is wrenching the body politic in the United States. His formulation, however, has great application in culture wars brewing or raging in nations all across the globe.

It is not a light read but I’m glad I stayed with it to the end.