Individually, we are one drop but together, we are an ocean. Connectivity and collaboration build impact exponentially. Making the change a partner in life generates a sustainable, exponential impact as we break down silos and connect the dots through ecosystems. The world operates from a flow of unbroken wholeness, where everything is connected and behave like a network. Since the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of the number of connected nodes, the wholeness of an ecosystem is larger than the sum of their parts and has additional properties and potential not possessed individually by the parts.
How can we generate the maximum impact of change in a sustainable way? Performance is one thing, but impact is something else entirely. Our performance is ultimately individual, but our impact is a collective measure that captures how people respond to our performance. This is why infinite thinking requires a true networked perspective of the world where everything is interconnected. In fact, we know that the good life is built with good, committed relationships, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to colleagues, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected.
We all are connected to everyone and everything. Our world appears to be a thoroughly interconnected, inseparable whole where all are members of a living system whose many parts influence and mutually define each other. Therefore, everything one does as an individual impacts the whole. But our usual, fragmented view of the world is only a by-product of thought rooted in the effective practice of attaining knowledge by breaking up the whole into smaller parts, and once these smaller parts are analyzed, the whole big picture can be reconstituted. In the medical field, we can easily see this ‘silo thinking’ in which we break down and separate various disciplines and fields of specialization from one another. Doctors are taught to see the body as a collection of separate working parts, and each has its specialist physician. None is taught to see the body as an organic, living whole. The problem with this Cartesian approach is that the whole is not merely the sum of the parts. Just think in an ant colony, while the intelligence of an individual ant is minimal, the collective intelligence of the colony is remarkable, far greater than the sum of the parts.
In the classical ‘silo thinking’, our sense of individuality reigns supreme, which naturally engenders the competitive drive. But when we learn to change and participate in the wholeness, remarkable things happen. When we open to the wholeness, the creative spirit ultimately subsumes the competitive divide. Our efforts are no longer fragmented, but connected, and the impact of change can transcend simple linear expectations. Our impact rises exponentially in a sustainable way as we break down silos and connect the dots, since the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of the number of connected nodes.
Martin Luther King didn’t change America by himself. He wasn’t a legislator, for example, but legislation was created to give all people in the United States equal rights regardless of skin colour. It wasn’t Dr. King who changed America; it was the ecosystem of millions of others whom he inspired that changed the course of history.
Think of an orchestra. The individual musicians and their instruments don’t lose their singular contribution, but they blend into an orchestrated concert so that the whole is not only greater than the parts, but is also immeasurably more complex and beautiful. In business, the emergence of orchestration is a beautiful story of change and innovation. In 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone. The iPhone’s revolutionary touch UI and its all-screen design made smartphones accessible to mainstream users, changing the relationship of people with technology for ever. However, it was even more transcendental, when Apple opened the App Store one year later. When the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, the iPhone worked as an integrated and closed value chain with no way to install third-party software. But the app store was a remarkable change of strategy for Apple that created an open ecosystem connecting users and developers. The concept was that Apple and developers could share in one another’s success with the iPhone user as the ultimate beneficiary. It worked beyond the wildest expectation. The app store launched with just about 500 apps, and a year later it already offered 50,000. This ecosystem has become a major global business unto itself, where Apple customers downloaded 32 billion iOS apps in 2019, spending a total of $58 billion. The app store showed how powerful orchestration is for augmenting impact of change in an exponential, sustainable way.
The more the connected dots, the better the impact of change. Ecosystems are changing the rules of the game and rewriting traditional playbooks about change. The wholeness of an ecosystem is larger than the sum of their parts and has additional properties and potential not possessed individually by the parts. Thinking in the wholeness and connecting to others provide one of strongest foundations to make the most of change both in life and business. Or, as Mother Teresa once said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
This is the third in a series of four articles that details the Infinite Thinking approach to change our relationship with change and make it a partner in both our professional and personal lives.
- Infinite Thinking: Making the change a partner in life
- The Why of Change: Singular Intent
- The WHAT of Change: Sustainable Impact
- The HOW of Change: Scalable Intelligence