Simon Terry

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Humans Bring Relationships

You can’t escape Relationships

Look at any diagram representing an organisation and you will see webs of human relationships. Some times these relationships are obvious. Other times the relationships are hidden in our mechanistic mindset. When an organisation describes its customers or its touch points, relationships are usually evident. Organisation charts describe relationships of roles in terms of power but they also describe boundaries and stakeholders that need to be navigated. Process flow diagrams have hidden layers of human relationships and entangling human activity that supports the lean stripped back focus on a neat process.  Equally system diagrams have hidden layers of human relationships.

Put a single human in or around your organisation and you are going to have to deal with real human relationships.  No matter what technology promises. No matter what simplicity CEOs and boards may desire.  Their roles and relationships alone bring the complexity of human relationships into the organisation. I’ve seen many CEOs bemoan the fact that “the business, the products and all the numbers have changed, but market perceptions haven’t.”  They are discounting the value of human relationships in their work.

While organisations may not treat them well, it is worthwhile to remember that no organisation exists without stakeholders. An organisation that exists for its own sake has failed already.

You have to deal with Humans

Once we acknowledge that the humans aren’t going away, we must deal with what humans and their relationships bring with them.  Every human brings motivations, knowledge, capabilities, hopes, fears, biases, experience, expectations, behaviours, trust and reputation. Every human has a network that can support them and help develop their capabilities or hinder them and distract their performance. These elements must be factored into any work.

Real humans are not fungible. They don’t move neatly when you want them to move. Humans value the personal and social capital that surrounds work, often more than the work itself. That applies to employees, but it also applies to customers, shareholders, suppliers and other community stakeholders. Any organisation ignores these fundamentals at their peril.


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