Looking at the things I work on, the things I read, the things that attract my attention and generally the things that interest me, interconnectedness comes across as a major theme. What at first looks a chaotic mass of unrelated topics actually turns out to be a web of interconnected subjects. Communications, agriculture, sustainability, science, spirituality, music and art, creativity, motivation, communications. When I think about the books and articles I am reading these days, a growing number of them are about the need to manage integrated systems and not to micromanage in an overly specialised way. Either this is a growing theme, or I am filtering out all the material on specialisation and focus.
I’d like to look at organisational communications, agriculture, culture and creativity below.
When I was a staff communicator at a trade association, I used to describe my job as connecting the dots. Part of my role was to understand what all of the specialised experts were working on and to facilitate the interactions between them, among then and with external stakeholders who also had an interest in those topics. Communications is the Dark Matter that balances an organisation’s universe.
I grew up in a small town (1500 people) and swore to flee the countryside and all things related to it. But the need to pay the bills can lead to strange places, and I found myself working in agribusiness just a few years out of school. What I discovered is a vibrant, innovative sector that is absolutely central to all of the major issues facing the global community today (climate change, natural resource management, food security, immigration, education, economic development…), yet a sector that is misunderstood and undervalued and disconnected from the vast majority of people who depend on it for so much of their lifestyles.
Like most people, I grew up in a place where I was more similar to the people around me than I was different, although I didn’t know it at the time. Gradually I began to explore the world and have since worked with people from pretty much everywhere, which has led me to the clichéd realisation that we are all so similar and yet so very different. Having to negotiate cultural differences every day has led to my fascination with them, and their celebration. I once saw a simplified definition of culture as the way people solve problems. And what an incredible number of ways we have found to organise ourselves and to tackle all of those problems that life sends our way! Culture is a societal coping mechanism, but it is also a tapestry for our collective creativity.
Creativity is, I think, what is going to save us from ourselves. I get really excited when I see all of the amazing ideas at TED, read all the inspiring books on redesigning our global socio-political economy and see all of the amazing ways people are experimenting with new business models, social media, etc.
We may have reached a point where no one can master the sum total of human knowledge — although we will always need specialists — but we do seem to be at a turning point where we are beginning to understand and celebrate the human capacity to excel in multiple areas and to recombine them into surprising new ways. We are entering the age of a new type or Renaissance Man/Woman. We are becoming a Renaissance Society where the particles of an infinite number of ideas are colliding and creating new stars…the result is, always has been and always will be blinding light/energy and the capacity for great destruction.
Ahh..the promise and the peril. What you describe here is creativity at work. You should add Richard Florida’s ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’ to your reading list. It’s a brilliant analysis of how a new creative class is driving our economy, and a call to arms to encourage creativity in our cities and in our service sectors.
Thanks, Lise. I was also inspired today by Dan Pink. I like this version of his talk on what really motivates us: http://holykaw.alltop.com/the-art-of-motivating-employees