• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Walk with, not over others
Focus on relationship innovation

“We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from the others’ activities.” —Tenzin Gyatso 14th dalai lama

Relationship innovation is at center stage now as we slowly build the new economy locally, nationally and internationally. Uncertainty and instability are driving innovative exploration to do things differently.

Recently, a seasoned, successful business-training executive put it this way to me in a conversation: “I am coaching my people to face their financial fears of not producing by concentrating on the needs of their clients.”

He believes that doing things differently is about innovation in the way we think about our professional relationships. How does that look inside an organization? To answer the question, let’s look back.

It’s been nearly 50 years since Tom Burns and G.M. Stalker provided groundbreaking insight into how organizations can best handle instability and change. Their highly influential work, "The Management of Innovation," sheds a bright light of organizational wisdom for the topsy-turvy beginnings of this second decade of the 21st century. Here are five timely nuggets of creative organizational relationship-building premised on surviving in dependence on one another:

Mission: Plan and manage for change, not stability.

Governance of operations and work behavior: Information and advice is shared rather than instructions and decisions given.

Locating problem-solving knowledge: It is everywhere in the organization; it is not defined by management hierarchy.

Structure of communication: Networking and collaborating energetically pursues shared commitment by the community of concern.

Tasking: Responsibility as a limited field of rights and obligation is replaced with continual redefinition of tasking through interaction with others in the community, the project group and the staff team.

Mission Integrity Action

I discover my professional interdependence to be demanding, engaging and fulfilling this week. My circle of concern finds laserlike focus as I listen and act to meet the needs of clients, customers and co-workers.

Appreciating you on the ethical edge!

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge