• Joan Hinterauer

Don't mind the gap – Break the existing system boundaries.

You probably know the quote: >>We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.<< Albert Einstein has a point, I think. What do you think about this regarding our current (economic) world?

Is your brain already in the process of developing solution scenarios? For now, let's stay in the analysis. If we take Mr. Einstein seriously, then the following counter-thesis can be derived: >>We can solve our problems by adapting the way we thought when we created them. By doing so on purpose, better solutions will emerge that fit into our time<<. That's easy. That makes me hope, don't you think?

Why is this important?

In my world, we are facing a rather complicated future. The price for our wealth in the western world is quite high. Too high. Climate change, distributive injustice, monocultures where the eye can see, discrimination driven by the art of playing subtle hierarchical games. Not to mention the working zombies from the middle. So me and you? Enough income for any nonsense that damages the climate and exploits people in distant countries in precarious conditions. Just out of sight, out of mind, as an analogy for it: >>I have no influence on things. That is why I have no ultimate responsibility for it. (Man raises his hand and points his finger at the boss and/or the politician). They have to fix it!? <<. And if experts now come around the corner and claim >>humankind is just like that<<, then everything is prepared for the apocalypse during the life of our grandchildren.

Back to our initial thesis, that it’s all just about to change the way we think. What is the attitude behind the world we have in front of us? What is your perspective on it? I see a testosterone-hierarchically dominated (economic) world in which a few, mostly historically predetermined protagonists, are in charge. The mindset is: These heroes are at the top just because they are who they are and they always were. So, they need to know better than me/us since birth. In addition, I have little influence on their decisions. Ergo: I surrender to my fate and accept a catastrophic posterity for my grandchildren. Not to mention other participants in our ecosystem, such as animals and/or plants.

You knew what is going to happen now. We turn around this way of thinking, this pattern of action, 180° in the opposite direction. What does this change in the results? Feel free to take a few minutes to think about it.

My perspective begins by questioning the hierarchical protagonist. And please, don’t fall back at this point on the narrative that we can all be heroes if we just want to. I am not happy with this, because to me the term hero always suggests there is something extraordinary behind it, which automatically excludes ordinary people. This last term, I love – ordinary people. Wikipedia (the German one) states: Person who does not show any special deviating/conspicuous characteristics or behaviors. Again, I love that. People who have their lives under control without hyper-attention from others, power posturing, status symbols, competition and competitive thinking. They often think of others first. And they are already the sticky mass that is very likely to hold your organization together. Because they let the narcissists dance while doing the right things in the background. They get nothing in return or even worse, they earn a bad reputation in their performance review for being too proactive like it happened to a friend of mine. Her boss told her, that if she is that engaged in meetings and workshops his boss-mates in the organization feel indirectly criticized. So, he advised her to be more silent if she wants to keep her job and stay out of trouble. Can you imagine, this is happening every day all over the world.

Unfortunately, the ordinary people don’t understand which value they create for any organization. And so, it comes that they support and strengthen a system in which they are the modern slaves. All the glory is for the bosses, who shine in the light of the good work ordinary people have done. Even if some of the ordinary folks finally recognizes what is going wrong in their life, they simply lack the formal means of enforcement. As a thank you, after 30 years of belonging and serving the bosses, there is a bouquet of flowers and a food voucher. How ridiculous.

The advantage of the heroes is that each of these ordinary people alone can do little. The sum of the parts, however, let the magic happen. This is how we end up with my twisted way of thinking: We initiate the pattern change by creating systems in which the ordinary folks in a healthy balance of world – organization – we – me, influence the design and orientation of their environment. Through coordination in a group, we create reason and individual and collective impact.

In this way of thinking, it is essential at the beginning to overcome our habits of "a few rule over many". Yes, this also includes the backlogs prioritized by only a few humans or the top three OKRs determined by the leaership-team. Even in the agile world the old patterns still rule. This difference may seem marginal to you at first glance. Therefore, take a look at the cover photo of this article. What do you see? I see a very clear white and black world around the yellow system change point. At this point, everything is decided. This is the point of origin. Those who start in the wrong school of thought will later find it difficult to distinguish in which world they live. Because everyday life is grey in both worlds. And if you are surrounded by just grey you have no chance to figure out to which world the grey belongs you live in.

What world do you live in? And are you sure you're not in the wrong grey?

Once the way of thinking has changed, a lot of joy and fulfillment of meaning awaits us. In this world ordinary people face the equal opportunity to become economically successful. Together with a small team, I have been able to accompany organizations in their system change for several years. The ordinary people rewrite history together. This is so impressive and touching. Whilst they usually hardly notice it. Because they are in their everyday grey. Just on the other side now.

Why do you think we should make this system change in organizations?

My best assumption, on which I bet my professional lifetime, is: In the new gray, the behavior arises on a small scale, which I am convinced will make the decisive difference in the world of tomorrow. With the same breath, the organizations become fit for the future: This happens because they deal better with complexity through the permitted, even desired activation of the people’s brains and hearts. Suddenly a group of ordinary people masters extraordinary complex challenges easily. For the individual, this creates an environment in which he/she is effective and has impact. The stress fog is clearing. Coordinated, as if by magic, we work in a healthy balance for a better future.

What does this mean for you?

My recommendation: Find the system switching point and don’t mind the gap. Behind the yellow line you will find the clarity about what world you really really want to live in. This applies to the ordinary people, as well as to the heroes. This is the starting point for conscious decisions. Ordinary people can always choose to leave the existing one. Be it with the change of organization or stepping into self-employment. For the heroes, it is the exit scenario to a life with less stress and pressure. Already today there are so many indicators telling us that less and less people want to remain in a boss role or even don’t want to become a hero at all. But too few people realize that there is a serious alternative.

The following applies to all of you: Don't mind the gap. The system change is only one step away – from the point of clarity. Now it's up to you what gray you want to spend the rest of your life in.

ps: Please don't tell me to the BRITISH underground authorities. After all, I ask you to cross the yellow line ;-).

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