Having heard a lot about vision and goals, how do we proceed? We have the "what", we need the "how". The objectives have been well stated, but the processes are yet to be spelt out. Three concepts that should be drawn upon are systems thinking, cash flows supported by engineering and financial management, and alignment of efforts through cooperation and coordination.
Consider the "system-mapping" diagram shown of driving a car along a road.
The crux of this aspect relates to the conversion to cash. The reason flows are critical in this context is because, aside from "resolution" by bankruptcy, even problems of stock (or oversupply) have to be resolved through flows, that is, cash flows, whether by disposal of assets provided market conditions can support reasonable cash yields, or operating profits from higher volumes and/or lower costs, resulting in the turnaround of non-performing assets (NPAs).
Such solutions need an understanding of the underlying engineering or other processes, and of financial management, that is, the tightly coupled lockstep of profit and loss and balance sheet that leads to cash flow. This understanding is critical for effective management of any self-sustaining activity as a going concern. Much of our society, including many in politics, the executive, the judiciary, the media and lay persons, appear either to not understand these principles, or to opt for shortcuts for near-term gains, as in the distribution of sops for elections.
Cooperation on Aligned Goals
The third aspect is cooperation and alignment of efforts to achieve common goals. Credible leadership is perhaps the most important for this form of team building. Effective leadership combined with due attention to processes can help elicit team thinking and performance that aligns group outputs to common goals to achieve results that are "better than rational". Evidence from studies such as of forest management in Maharashtra show how communities cooperate to manage forests as common-pool resources through community control.1 To paraphrase Elinor Ostrom, this requires building conditions in which reciprocity, reputation and trust overcome the strong temptations of short-run self-interest, by investing in monitoring and sanctioning each other to reduce the probability of free riding.2
However, there's a catch to this upside potential: "Experimental evidence suggests that humans have specialized circuits for understanding threats, as well as recognizing bluffs and double-crosses."3 This loops back to two choices: rhetoric versus actual systemic coordination and reforms, and inclusive versus divisive leadership. The latter calls for a hard choice between divisive electoral strategies for winning the post but resulting in a "zero-contribution" model, versus a potentially higher yield from non-partisan leadership that inspires and persuades the majority to pull together for greater gains.
Shyam (no space) Ponappa at gmail dot com
1. Rucha Ghate, Suresh Ghate and Elinor Ostrom: www.sandeeonline.org/uploads/documents/publication/941_PUB_WP_64_Rucha_Ostrom.pdf
3. Leda Cosmides and John Tooby: www.cep.ucsb.edu/papers/aer94.pdf