Modern science has changed how we view the world though most of us who are not scientists don’t think about it. But we do hear words like systems, and when we reflect on complex issues, we recognize that there is more than meets the eye – a fact that writer, Daniel Kahneman, in his wonderful book, Thinking Fast and Slow, playing on the maxim “What your see is what you get”, identifies it as WYSIATI – “What you see is all there is”. There is a focus on wholeness and systems, rather than on parts.
The metaphor used to be the machine. Now the model for the world is the web – brought home by the fact that if you are reading this, you are part of the “www” world. And like the Web itself, the world is being constantly built, altered and transformed by collective and widely distributed expertise. Just this morning alone my e-mail delivers an Idea Connection newsletter from the US and a knowledge management one from the UK. The environment is becoming more and more the focus than the economy or society. If there are links, the common element in all three is the emotional impact of all of these.
We are starting to organize around networks rather than hierarchicl pyramids – though the hierarchies are usually the last to notice or accept this. The focus of the organization starts to be interaction and relationships rather than the hierarchies themselves. So the chief task of the leader becomes communicating, translating the views of others and developing a unified and positive organizational identity. We are also starting to move away from being victims and taking responsibility for making things happen.