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Bruce Holland

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Networks and Networking

A key to success in a system is to stay close to your neighbours. And don't be mistaken, your organisation is a system - a system of networks.

Good networking requires hard work and dedication, faith that something will come of the sometimes-meandering non-linear activity. Networks have died by the hundreds from disuse. They are delicate and transient entities. Often the feedback linking in these creatures is too weak or loose or fleeting. Sometimes death is the natural fate of a network, allowing its members to move on to other networks. It's possible that we may not yet have evolved this cooperative species to its most viable form.

Senge believes that we're only just beginning to understand how to handle such complexity on a social level. He says that learning to handle complexity means learning to live more intuitively because intuition is the key to making significant changes in a complex system. He says there's an incredible, "Tell me what I can do so I can fix it" attitude about organisations.

Get people to operate in a learning mode rather than a fix it mode, which makes them a helluva lot more effective.

For quite some time I have been concerned about the importance business theory puts on the concept of competition. I expect that this will upset some of you, I know when I talk about it to some of my friends they get upset. Now I know there's two ways to look at this issue. Indeed during the summer 2003 break I read about two people who demonstrate the extremes of this issue:

  1. The extreme in terms of competition was Rupert Murdoch who I'm sure you will agree has been very successful, at least in terms of making money. The book was called Business the Rupert Murdoch Way by Stuart Grainer. According to Grainer, Murdoch doesn't believe in anything but business; he doesn't want to be seen as a nice guy; he plays to win even if that hurts other people and he has an ambition which never says die.

  2. A quite different approach was shown by John Wooden who for 27 years at UCLA was one of the most successful coaches in American basketball history. Coach Wooden says you should never try to be better than anyone else, but you should never cease trying to be better than you are. He defines success as knowing that you have tried your best to be the best you can. With this philosophy he and his team went on to win more championships than any other team in history.

It seems to me that we don't need to belt each other up in order to get our share. It's much better to grow the cake so everyone wins.

In my business while competition does exist, it is not the most important thing. I have found that it's far better to concentrate on what I'm really trying to achieve (successful businesses in New Zealand). Indeed it seems to me that the more I focus on winning and earning dollars the less I win and the less dollars I earn.

There are many people in Wellington, working in the area of strategy and yet we hardly ever trip over each other. Sometimes people ask me why I sent my Strategic Snippets to people who are clearly competitors. Why share your best ideas with people who will use them against you?.

Perhaps it's different in your business but it always seemed to me that I'd rather share good ideas so we all grow and learn from each other. It's better to focus on how New Zealand benefits rather than to worry too much about where the money comes from.

It boils down to a world-view that the world is one of plenty. The pie is already big enough and if I give some away it will come back tenfold.

I wonder how you react to this intuitively?



Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZ's most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work
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