Key Point: Recently, there has been much political rhetoric suggesting that going backwards will somehow help us go forward; well I’m sorry to upset your rice bowl, but we can’t. Yes, nationalistic platforms like Brexit or “Make America Great Again” may rally an emotional response and outcome. However, it is impossible to go back to the romantic notions that baby boomers and others remember of the 50’s/60’s or other decades. Why? We are becoming even more global whether we like it or not, AND borders cannot effectively stymie the flow of information even though some dictatorships try. According to recent NYT article, “the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs here are now tied to international trade. Moreover, many of the world’s major challenges — climate change, instability in financial markets, food and water insecurity, infectious diseases, migration, war and terrorism — are complex, interdependent and borderless. And with 40 million foreign-born residents, the United States is itself a global society with deep emotional ties to many nations and cultures.”
Organizations around the world are microcosms of this increasingly connected global world. Turn on CNN and watch for just a few minutes. There is so much work we still need to do regarding more respectfully understanding each other. It makes me wonder how we can do a better job in organizations to appreciate the full global diversification that define the full fabric and rich tapestry of our work cultures today. If we do not better understand the world around us, and it’s many perspectives, how can we lead ourselves and companies accordingly? Quickly test yourself on the following:
1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?
a) South Africa
2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?
b) Mandarin Chinese
3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?
d) Saudi Arabia
4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?
a) 1 percent
b) 5 percent
c) 12 percent
d) 30 percent
e) 40 percent
5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked?
e) North Korea
g) South Korea
6. True or False: Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States.
*Answers, with percentage of respondents who gave the correct answer.
1. d (29 percent)
2. b (49 percent)
3. a (10 percent)
4. a (12 percent)
5. a (47 percent), c (28 percent), g (34 percent), h (14 percent)
6. True (34 percent)
The above quiz, which appeared in the same NYT article noted above, is obviously presented through an American lens. However, the message applies to all of us. And as noted in the wrap up of the editorial: “The world has changed in such profound ways that developing an understanding of complexity is paramount. Whatever the policy, the idea that things are simple, or black and white, and we can’t put a blanket on them and feel that it’s going to have the desired impact — that idea can become very dangerous.”
- How much do you know about the various cultures and viewpoints in your organization? Get engaged and regularly put yourself in the shoes of someone or group who is different than you. This ranges from small gestures like eating the food of other nationalities, to participating in more advanced initiatives to build understanding. One thing for sure, the narrower or more homogeneous the lens we look through, the less likely will we be able to innovate and solve complex problems. We do need common values around treating each other with love and respect AND the richness of embracing diverse ideas and viewpoints that evolve from our global community.
- Ask yourself “why?” if you scored poorly on the above quiz. (Even if you’re not American, I believe you and I should score 100 percent). Frankly I believe every elementary school child should know the answers to these kinds of questions. How can you and I participate in a conversation solving complex issues if we don’t know what’s going on globally and know how to determine the real facts versus “fake news.” To be an effective leader today, we need to be proactively holonic: Global and local at the same time! Acting on this paradox leads to better organizations and I believe, ultimately a more respectfully connected and advanced world.
Simply complex in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: This sure is a complex issue! I’ve never been accused of having all the answers, and I certainly won’t pretend to. We ideally all have a pretty good grasp on what’s right, and what’s wrong, and it’s up to us to uphold the great values we’ve hopefully been taught. As Millennials, sometimes we take all our information from headlines or 140 characters, then follow a crowd to selfishly go to the “like farm,” where we get 100+ approval notices on social media. That’s no way to live either. Research, be smart, and stay educated… As a trained journalist, I know there is a ton of “fake news” out there, and we have to have the diligence and patience to filter and be better than that.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis