The seventh and final leadership skill is really very closely connected to emergence. It’s about self-organizing. As all this emergence is happening, how do you self- organize? As an individual system, as a team, as an organization, how do you self-organize? How do you come together and figure out all this complexity and change?
System thinkers, and self-organizers, and people who have an ability to see the whole picture, are able to look for the interdependencies. They are all seeking to create meaning. These are the meaning-makers, the creators of understanding, who can intuit that small changes can create big shifts in a system. As a system thinker, you’re able to change perspectives, to see how there are new leverage points in your system. Go wide. Go wide, go scan, go surface up, and really explore: What are these new conditions? What are these new needs?
There is, at heart, an order in the midst of all of this chaos and madness and messiness. If you look carefully, and if you allow the patterns to emerge, there is a structure underneath this. There always has been. There always will be. There's a great book that Meg Wheatley wrote, co-authored with Myron Rogers, called A Simpler Way. It’s probably my favorite book in my library of hundreds, and it basically says that we live in a universe that seeks organization and that, in all forms and in all systems and in all nature, we are seeking self-organization. It's an eloquently written book, and I would encourage you all to buy it. It's a pleasure to read. It's full of poetry and pictures and very graceful writing that can help anyone understand that there are structures, there are patterns, and there is a simpler way to figure this out. And in The Simpler Way, it is about playing with the problem.
And so, as leaders, I’d ask you to consider how you play with your problems. Ask yourself: How do you scan? What is your creative process? How do you engage in your team's creative process? How many times are you iterating this problem? And are you getting to a higher order solution?
The results of all of these seven skills, of scanning, of framing, of opening to multiple perspectives, to iterating, futuring, emerging, and all that goes into self-organization, is this: if you slow down and create your time to really think and scan, you will find a process within yourself, and you will find some very deep answers. And this is the most important renewal practice that you have to take as leaders. You must reclaim your time to think and reflect and figure out, in the midst of all this messiness and uncertainty and chaos, what is really underneath all of this. There is something there. And it’s deeply, profoundly important.
I'd also encourage you to find your thinking partners inside and outside your
organization. Don't go alone. Find a strong scanning team, and start connecting the dots. Host Open Spaces and unconferences. Create a zone of emergence. Create a knowledge wall. Start mapping into your organization. If you are a dispersed team, start a blog or a wiki. There are so many tools that can help with emergence. And, if you create some breathing room in your head, in your heart, in your soul, in your spirit, and if you manage yourself and others—you have to better manage yourself AND your team, and teach them some of these techniques and skills—you will create the acceleration necessary to sustain your organization within this time of flux.
You can create acceleration. You can figure it out. And you can be the leader your organization needs you to be. You may not be the CEO. You may not be the VP. You may not be the Senior VP. But you can be a sapiential leader. Sapiential leadership is the leadership that steps forward in a group, that knows that you need the space to play, to iterate, design, and to figure out the problem. It is the leadership that arises out of the group. No one person is going to figure this out. There is too much change and too much complexity and too much uncertainty. At the speed at which things are happening, it will take far more than one person to hold this.
So, this is about stepping forward, or about getting tapped on the shoulder. You're it. You're up. And if you're listening to this conference call, I would offer that you’re already thinking about this stuff. You're being called upon in your organization. Learn to be good scanners, understand your creative process, iterate multiple times, parallel process, bring big teams of people together—and you’ll get acceleration.
There have been multiple times that I have been asked to come into organizations and help organizations figure this stuff out. And it works, and it works over and over again. Trust me. Trust the process. And trust yourselves and each other.