Organisations thrive on relationships. Relationships are the purpose behind organising in the first place. The very existence of organisations is a recognition of the economy and power of people working together in effective relationships; and the competitive edge of organisations is delivered through relationships: innovation, quality, efficiency, speed all depend on the quality of relationships.
And yet, when you look at the dashboard that drives most organisations you will find very little that measures those relationships.
In fact, you may be hard pressed to identify much difference between the management dashboard for an organisation and the dashboard of a one-person business. Our typical metrics tend to be measures of enterprise rather than organisation – see confusing organisation with enterprise.
The fact is that most business dashboards are very heavily weighted, in terms of both quantity and frequency, toward the material aspects of business; toward what (we hope) emerges out of the relationships rather than the relationships themselves. And when the metrics and targets we use on a day to day basis are primarily material, our focus becomes primarily material, and our outlook becomes primarily materialistic.
The problem is that this focus on ‘the material’ tends to draw us away from thinking about the relationships which are best able to deliver those material results. People are given material targets, pressured on material outcomes, and evaluated monthly on material results, but there is nothing equivalent to drive their investment in the culture and relationships of the organisation.
As a result, silos form, meetings are inefficient, politics arise, commitment suffers, and relationships are not invested in except where they are having a clear and immediate negative impact on the current material results.
In the past, during periods of relative stability (before VUCA), relationships had time to harmonise and people found ways around what wasn’t working, and so the organisation adapted to what was sufficient to deliver its needs. But today, change is so fast and innovation so necessary that inefficient or dysfuntional relationships represent a huge competitive disadvantage. Without relational metrics, our data only reflects our past, not our potential.
To compete effectively in a VUCA environment, we need our organisations to become more adept in terms of our learning, our values, our insights and our personal development. We need to up our game and embrace a deeper understanding of ourselves, our potential, our calling, and our place in the World. We need a spiritual dimension.