Leadership Lesson #8: Look for how things naturally fit together

Systems Thinking

Author’s note: This is the eighth in a series of articles about the leadership lessons learned while hiking Usery Mountain with my 17-year-old son.  Read them all here.


Along the course of my hike, I came upon the rock formation in this picture. The way the pieces all fit together was striking.  It is so clear that the individual pieces are all part of the same whole.

I paused to examine this rock formation and wondered what wild and wicked weather had done this to the rock, presumably once a single, intact piece.

But more interesting than the force of nature that had caused the fractures was the pattern the individual pieces created and the clarity that they belonged together.

Individually these rocks would not nearly be as striking, as meaningful, as wonderful as they are together.

They belonged together.

While it is clear from this rock formation that all the pieces fit together – no, all the pieces belong together intrinsically, it not always so clear to see how all the pieces of our workplace puzzles fit together.

When you as a leader can – and do — spot the naturally occurring patterns in your teams and in your projects, you can capitalize on the effortlessness of nature.

:  The team that runs itself like a well-oiled machine.

:  The project partners that fit together like a hand and glove.

:  The products and market segments that belong together.

On the other hand, when we force things together that do not belong together organically, the road can be rough, vexed by friction and ill-fitting people, places and things.

You’ve probably experienced this.

It’s miserable.

And it is entirely preventable.

To prevent it requires paying attention, paying very careful attention.

It requires appreciating the simplicity and elegance of things that work well together.

It requires pattern recognition, environmental awareness and systems thinking.

When you can identify how sometimes seemingly disparate pieces can come together to create a complimentary whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, you can see new opportunities. You can practically predict the future. And when you can see new opportunities and predict the future you are well equipped to execute more strategically.

Slow down.

Notice the details.

Look for things that organically and naturally fit together.

Follow nature.

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