Holistic, networked approach to stabilisation

“Holistic” is such a buzzword. What does “holistic” actually mean?

Holistic means already including the consequences of one’s own decisions in the decisions themselves. Identify such issues requiring decision making in your organization and carefully design your decision-making process. Because the world is interconnected. Do not make decisions with only superficial intentions, but think of the complete picture when making the decision.

As a single executive, you cannot grasp the whole picture of your organization in its business environment. Either you form your opinion and decide on the basis of highly aggregated information, or you get lost in the details. In both cases you only have knowledge about a section of reality. It is not trivial to acknowledge this. Self-perception and self-control and maybe the ZEN practice as a way to self-awareness and self-control may be helpful.

Example: The Paderborn computer pioneer Heinz Nixdorf led his company to world success with innovative office computers. In 1968, Nixdorf presented his computer for use in companies, banks and public administration at the industrial fair in Hanover. Nixdorf offered an affordable computer that was small enough to fit on a work desk. From today’s perspective, this innovation is credited with playing a significant role in Germany’s economic miracle. Nixdorf’s computers changed the world of work. In addition, Nixdorf was the originator of other innovations, for example the ATM. Nixdorf installed the first ATM in Cologne in 1978. Nixdorf Computer quickly grew to 32,000 employees.

In 1984, Heinz Nixdorf received an offer from Steve Jobs, who wanted to work with him in the U.S. to distribute small personal computers that everyone could afford in Europe. Nixdorf declined on the grounds that he had developed our market in Europe and could not imagine that such small computers would gain additional acceptance on a broad scale. Heinz Nixdorf didn’t believe in the PC: “We don’t build Goggomobiles.” This was a strategic mistake, which Nixdorf felt at the Cebit in Hanover in 1986, when he could no longer shine with his “old” computers against small personal computers from IBM. Nixdorf had missed this trend. He was trapped in “his” world. He died of a heart attack at an evening event at Cebit that same year. He left a vacuum at the top of his company. His company fell into crisis only a year later and was taken over by Siemens in 1990, initially operating under Siemens-Nixdorf. In 1999, the company continued to operate under the name “Wincor Nixdorf.”

Heinz Nixdorf was a patriarch. His success did not make him doubt himself. He became blind to change, and his managers could not stand up to him. Even in sports, Nixdorf always wanted to win. For example, he challenged his sailing crew to do everything they could to win regattas against the best of the best. He himself was a helmsman. His crew recommended that Heinz Nixdorf replace the helmsman first. That’s where the most mistakes were made, they said. Heinz Nixdorf replied that this was out of the question.

Take advantage of the opportunity to form opinions and make decisions as a team. This supplements your inevitably limited view, and decisions are made from a holistic perspective – and are better. The exchange in the decision-making process leads to effective self-regulation.

A holistic, systematic approach can be implemented with the balanced scorecard concept. Short- and long-term interests can be aligned with the Hoshin Kanri method.

The more self-regulation implementation processes experience, the greater the acceptance of the implemented results, because self-regulation is, after all, a continuous sequence of reflection and adjustment cycles. Obviously, knowledge is more likely to create value if it is shared with others than if it is protected from dissemination. This is an essential difference compared to the handling of physical goods. After all, knowledge sharing is not about controlled duplication of scarce goods for commercial distribution, but about actual value creation through exchange of ideas, through mutual complementation, and through network effects. Such open systems develop the ability to reflect and adapt in learning processes.

With SystemScan, you can use a web-based self-assessment to determine how holistically your organization is positioned.


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