Thursday, November 1, 2012

Excellence and holistic thinking

I have been out for two month's , for different reasons :
- First , preparing my next year business plan and preparing articles, workshops to support it .
- Secondly take a month holiday in one of the most beautiful landscapes in US : Yellowstone Park and the Utah Parks( Bryce, Zion, Canyonsland , ...)

 It has not been easy in 2012. A lot of people tell me , I have to focus more and be more specialized in one discipline.But by my education, and 37 year professional career as a business leader , I am a generalist .
In my previous organisation, I've always managed the whole and seldom focused on individual parts of the system and I have to say , that on the long term it has given sustainable results.
Also in my work related to systems thinking , I've seen that focusing on parts will give you in time unforeseen circumstances, and when not be prepared for it , difficult to handle.
So, am I wrong to be a generalist ?Perhaps , when only thinking to gain money yes, but to provide guidance for company's in order to gain sustainable results NO!
The below summary from a article "Excellence and holistic thinking"from Arthur Dahl has convinced my that I am on the right pad:
Here you have it:

"Our scientific and technological civilization has flourished by encouraging increasing specialization. The universal man (think Leonardo  da Vinci) has not existed since the renaissance.
 With the rapid multiplication of knowledge and the techniques for storing and transmitting it, the human capacity to absorb and use knowledge is rapidly saturated, so we end up by knowing more and more about less and less, compensating our increasing specialization with a division of labour among more and more specialists, with managers ensuring (hopefully) that everything fits together.
This is accompanied by a reductionist approach that assumes that if you know each part, you also know the whole.
While this may be true of machines, more complex systems like computer programmes, ecosystems and people show emergent properties that cannot be predicted simply from a knowledge of the component parts.

Many of the world’s problems today are the result of failures of holistic thinking.
- The economy ignores things that are not bought and sold in the market as externalities.
- New chemicals are discovered and used without consideration of unintended consequences, or even of what happens to them after use.
- The short term wins out over the long term.
-  The financial crisis was caused by an overconfidence in scientific tools of risk assessment for each financial product without considering the overall behaviour of the system.

 Many aspects of our unsustainability are due to failure to consider all the consequences of our economic activities and consumption patterns.
In today’s complex world, we can no longer afford the risks and failures that result from the compartmentalized structure of government, academia, business and most other human activities.
A capacity for holistic or systems thinking should be one of the basic goals of education, in complement to whatever specialization is relevant to the natural talents of each and everyone.
 We may even need to create the specialization of “generalist” able to integrate all the relevant domains of knowledge in a particular management context."

It doesn't mean , that we have to give up our specialisation or lineair thinking , but it should be in function of the whole and in function to create sustainable results.
Our scientific and technological civilization has flourished by encouraging increasing specialization. The universal man (think

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