Today, I am in Vienna Austria for the 10th anniversary of the Peter Drucker Global Forum (https://www.druckerforum.org). Business leaders, entrepreneurs and business school professors from around the world are gathering to focus on innovation in a dynamic, changing global world.
One of my interests here is to gain insight into the transition that I described in my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative to Ignite Change*, that I call the Two Global Forces, found in chapter six, Organizations in Transition.
Two global forces are at work … pushing and pulling against each other. The first is the pull to centralize global institutions, particularly those in finance and governance, into one integrated system of operation. This is the apex of the 20th-century hierarchical organization, where centralized control for planning and management efficiency is a prime organizing principle.
The other force pushes back through networks of relationships that distribute decision-making and management in a decentralized way. The scale and spread of global collaboration through networks of individuals is solving problems in the developing world, which a generation ago was not possible. This collaboration evolution creates an environment where we both lead and follow. Instead of a pyramid of hierarchical authority, imagine a web connecting people together from every direction for sharing solutions and new ideas and creating change.
The Push and The Pull
The pull to centralize is a logical one. Over the past hundred years, centralized control and operational efficiency have fostered a prosperous world that is unique in human history. However, though they are worthy goals, there is a cost involved. The growing complexity of an information-rich world and the speed of change that we are all facing makes centralized governance more difficult to manage. Increasingly, control by a small number of select persons is an illusion. To master the knowledge required to operate a business today, of any size, requires a different approach to the leadership of the organization. The point of my book is that we need to elevate the value of each employee’s contribution to the company through their leadership initiative.
We have the tools and the know-how to develop more decentralized structures in the workplace. These structures are networks of relationships for solving problems, communicating more broadly, and to innovate better ways to create impact.
The micro-picture of the push-pull of hierarchy and networks, of centralization and decentralization, takes place within organizations. The macro-picture takes place between organizations on a national and global scale. This is the level where political, social and economic ideologies compete for leverage within global institutions. Both the micro and the macro perspectives of the Two Global Forces point to a world that is in transition.
The Transition We Are All In
Where does this transition lead? Like a pendulum, it swings away from global control toward local initiative. I end my book with this thought.
My challenge to you is to do something today that you did not plan to do that makes a difference in somebody’s life. Start to become a Circle of Impact Leader today. Start small. Act locally. Be patient. Find the joy in doing things that create impact. Keep a record of what you are doing. Create a story. Your story. It is the story that you tell yourself about why the personal initiative you take matters. Once you start, and you begin to pick up momentum, then begin to dream big about what is possible if you organize and scale your impact.
The push-pull of the Two Global Forces is the transition that will occupy our lives for the next generation. As global control grows more complex and controversial, the needs of local communities will also become more complex and challenging. I think we are mistaken if we think the pattern of the past hundred years will continue for the next. We are all in transition, and this transition calls us to greater individual initiative to make a difference that matters in our local communities.