The Ripple - Edition 3/2021 (Website)

In contrast, a network functions by itself. One of the hallmarks of life is its ability to maintain itself. Neither bacteria nor a cat need an “external operator” to successfully be alive. In light of this new metaphor, the role of leadership in a living network must shift from "running the machine" to ensuring the optimal health of the organization. And what could this metaphor of health mean for our present-day understanding of leadership? Rather than focusing only on the compo- nents (ie. machine parts), optimal health embraces a focus on the whole. The flow of nutrients throughout the entire body is more important from a health point of view than the functioning of its individ- ual components.

The detrimental nature of silos in companies provides a helpful insight about the importance of fostering organizational health. An organization’s ability to function properly is impaired when different parts of an organization do not communicate effectively with each other. Lack of trust is an indica- tion that individuals are holding back what they know and/or are willing to con-tribute. This detrimental mindset inevitably impairs an organization’s ability to perform optimally. This underscores the importance of why TRUST is the ultimate measure of health in an organization.

What are we referring to, when we talk about organizational health?

The goal of leadership in the machine metaphor is to continually grow capa- city and maximize output. More is always better. In living networks there is un- questionably a period of growth. How- ever maturation is the more important phenomenon of living networks.

It is the flow of information and energy across the various nodes of its network which characterizes the health of an organization.

What implication does the concept of maturation have for organizations?

How an organization adapts to its envi- ronment is crucial for its ability to main- tain its health. This adaptation (or “matu- ration”) is developed through learning.

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