Building Relationships to Influence Strategic Thinking and Planning
Organizations today face rapid changes in the external environment. Technology has advanced “at warp speed”, changing everything about doing business. Technology and the advent of the Internet are largely responsible for this change. Leaders cannot engage in strictly linear processes, rely on written procedure, or depend solely on historical data. In this age of technology, global change, economic instability, and the emphasis on knowledge sharing, organizational leaders must think strategically, and rely on creativity and innovation. In order to create and maintain competitive advantage organizations must learn to think strategically. Organizations are made up of thinking people with a variety of skills and perspectives. Successful organizations are willing to exploit these resources. They need “everybody in the water”.
Principles for Change:
In the Upper Room Christ’s followers were filled with the Holy Spirit. The infilling (process) was done to impart ability to do what God commanded (God’s vision), and to allow followers to realize and communicate vision.[i] Visionary leaders generate opportunity to create environments, from which innovation and creativity springs and strategic thinking launches.
Communication must be used to prepare for and implement organizational change, and reduce resistance among employees. Resistance to change is a negative outcome of poor communication. In fact, change resistance decreases when lower level employees are consulted and heard throughout the change process.[ii] The Apostle Paul used his epistles to communicate, share vision and knowledge, and was inclusive in his effort to spread the gospel, advise, and extend God’s grace and love to followers of Christ.[iii]
Leadership is not done in a vacuum. “Leadership is an interactive function of a leader and several followers jointly engaged. [iv] Innovation and creativity are collective activities.[v] Empowered employees will engage to solve problems and take ownership of the process.[vi]
Christ empowered His disciples to heal the sick and cure diseases.[vii] Christ’s leadership model was inclusive and encouraged partcipation of His followers. He called His disciples to “get into the water.” The model was perpetuated by the apostles after Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact the apostles “created a big splash” as they futhered the Gospel of Christ throughout their ministries.
Strategic Foresight and Relationship
Strategic foresight is defined as “the ability to implement actions that reflect critical decision-making; to discern, perceive, and interpret weak signals, and deduce relevant courses of action”.[viii] Cultivating strategic foresight is best done from a relational perspective. “Including low-level employees whose ‘actions’ and ‘doings’ may influence organizational foresightfulness,…produces meaningful, future-oriented knowledge.” [ix]
Innovative ideas can be captured in “micro-conversations,” captured at the water cooler, in the lunch room, or by pulling up a chair in a colleague’s office. Each requires flexibility and a non-threatening tone that encourages engagement without fear of being considered contentious or in dissent of the organization’s social order. [x] Employees who work daily on the products and services have a unique viewpoint that adds another dimension to innovation and creativity that are different from management and above.
From beginning to end the Bible expresses the importance of relationship.[xi] Whether collaborating in the pursuit of knowledge, or encouraging an atmosphere of respect and consideration of inputs, investing in relationships leads to success.
Strategic thinking leads the organization to become a learning organization that transcends a traditional hierarchy and ultimately flattens the organizational stucture. When communication flows in all directions, collaboration and comunication increases, knowledge sharing expands and employees engage, producing a greater flow of creativity and innovation. This creates an organization that is flexible and adaptible to the external environment. Encouraging “everybody into the water”, is a strategy for organizations that want to operate at optimum levels and survive in this competitive environment that is the 21st Century.[xii]
So “jump in”, invite followers, splash around, and tap into knowledge sharing that is a vital organizational resource.
[i] (The Bible, NKJV)
[ii] (Fuchs, S., 2014)
[iii] (The Bible, NKJV)
[iv] (Gilbert, W. F., 1994)
[v] (Kelley, 2014)
[vi] (Green, D. D. & Roberts, G. A., 2001)
[vii] (The Bible, NKJV)
[viii] (Deetz, S., (2008)
[xi] (The Bible, NKJV)
[xii] (Daft, R., 2010)