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"Systems Thinking" World View

The Cooperative and Collaborative Process uses the emerging literature on networks to challenge the billiard ball conceptualisation of corporate behaviour, whereby firms respond neatly to use a series of interventions, as a ball does to a well-placed cue shot. It shows, the process of influencing becomes much more about managing, cultivating and spreading change. The Cooperation and Collaborative Process shows how to identify the intermediaries and network hubs able to influence others to change behaviour. It examines Seth Godin's ideas (author of "Unleashing the idea virus") about sneezers. Sneezers are at the core of any idea virus. Sneezers are the ones who when they tell 10 or 20 people -people believe them.

In Systems Thinking we have increasingly been using the language of "open source" borrowed from software programming (Linux operating system is an example) to describe what we talking about. It's an approach and a way of working that recognises the value of collaborative effort and values openness and transparency and improving the quality of output. The Cooperation and Collaborative Process shows how to think about your model using the same sort of approach. For example: What is the code? How is it made available? How is it shared and communicated back? Who constitutes the developer community? Who arbiters what constitutes an improvement in the code?

The Process also borrows from the value network perspective that makes it abundantly clear that success today is all about relationships. We sometimes are dazzled by technologies and what they can enable us to do. But the bottom line is that business is about exchanges and transactions that happen between real people, even when people never see each other or speak directly. Only real people can make decisions and initiate action. Technologies may fill the role of decision makers at times, but only based on what a real person would do. When business is viewed as a linear process, a set of functions, or simply material transactions, it not only diminishes the role of people, it makes invisible the all-important human relationships. The value network focus puts people back into the business model in such a way that every individual can see who they need to be in relationship with, and what their responsibility is in that relationship.

It is entirely possible to have business relationships with almost no intangible value being exchanged or generated. However, enduring business relationships are rarely built solely on tangible transactions, especially when dealing with sophisticated or complex products and services. The value network view demonstrates that knowledge and intangibles build the critical business relationships and create the environment for business success. We do not so much build a business but rather grow or "weave" a web of trusted relationships.

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