What is organizational unity?

The first thought that comes to mind when I think about “unity” in an organization is the notion that everyone in the organization is working toward the the same thing. That is a powerful component of driving a company forward, and it represents a form of unity (i.e. Unity of Vision). Still, there are many companies that have a clear vision of where they are going and their employees are in alignment and yet they still don’t demonstrate true unity.

What I mean by organizational unity is the concept that individuals in the organization have a deeper understanding of themselves and others in the organization and through this understanding are able to find greater unity. What’s more, it’s about developing a culture that continuously strives to increase this understanding.

This definition may be a little obscure. Let me try to give an example.

An organization has two departments which have difficulties working together. Each department manager regularly complains about the other to the VP noting their unreasonable actions, requests or behaviors.

The VP continues to struggle with the situation until he/she gains an greater and deeper understanding of the true nature of each of the managers and adjusts his/her expectation and actions.

After gaining this understanding, rather than loosing patience at the seemingly endless discussions, the VP is able to support and help each manager to better understand and interact with the other. And by gaining some ability to transfer this “wisdom”, each Manager also gains a different way of thinking about the VP and about the other manager and is able to accept certain things more easily and solve other things more easily. What happens in this process is that there is a systematic spread of “Wisdom” in the organization.

So how does this happen?

“Wisdom” is something that we normally gain with experience and is often accompanied by significant pain. The pain is generally the result of endless cycles of the same behaviors that only continue to deepen the pain until it is no longer bearable and finally, action is take to break the situation. Sadly the wisdom we sometimes gain is in this scenario is that we should move more quickly to break the relationship rather than gaining the wisdom of how to improve the relationship.

Another way of gaining “Wisdom” is through repeated cycles of guided trial and reflection.  In this scenario, certain wisdom and expertise is transfered to the VP by someone who has experience in the mechanics of transfering wisdom and the ability to solve relationship challenges. This wisdom helps the VP to reflect on what brings unity and what causes disunity in her/his own organization. The VP then begins to make changes in the way they look at the situation and, as the VP sees the situation in a new light, they begin to make changes in philosophy and actions, and as they reduce the pain, they also gain wisdom.

Although it may seem strange to talk about Wisdom when we talk about Organizations, it’s fairly easy to consider the consequece when the leaders of the organization lack wisdom.

I’ll talk more about this later and I’ll begin providing a method for implementing these concepts. For now, we can just think about it.

Garth


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