Management Principle: System-Wide Thinking

One of the most rewarding activities for staff is when they come up with ideas that are then implemented in the firm, as an added process or service.

The reason it doesn’t happen as much as it should is because people are not thinking system-wide. To fully leverage our resources, we must encourage this competency and mindset. I hope you enjoy this week’s principle.

System-Wide Thinking. Organizational leaders face complex challenges to integrate people, process, systems and resources to deliver firm products and services. Teamwork, collaboration and system-wide thinking are needed, yet many leaders fail here because they are not effectively employing professional management skills. Strong managerial leaders develop system-wide thinking in others when they empower people to think and act. They do so by utilizing appropriate levels of freedom to ensure quality of output, all resulting from a big picture view. It involves inculcating a high-level vantage point so that direct reports “think it and see it,” before they have to be told. Delegation is used as a tool to create system-wide thinking using employees’ brains as “scratch space.” They push the thinking down and insist that their people to do the critical thinking and problem-solving. They will ask intense, penetrating questions rather than simply providing answers when polled by their staff. This process may take more time initially, but will pay huge dividends over time.

Coaching questions: What deliberate steps are you taking to develop system-wide thinking in your employees? How can you create a laboratory in their minds by asking questions, running scenarios, and insisting that they process complex issues?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

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