“A cloud masses, the sky darkens, leaves twist upward, and we know that it will rain. We also know that after the storm, the runoff will feed into groundwater miles away, and the sky will grow clear by tomorrow. All of these events are distant in time and space, if they’re all connected within the same pattern. Each has an influence on the rest, and influence that is usually hidden from view. You can only understand the system of rainstorm by contemplating the whole
not any part of the pattern.
Businesses and other human endeavors are also systems. They, too, are bound by invisible fabrics of interrelated actions, which often take years to fully play out their effects on each other. Since we are part of that lacework ourselves, it’s doubly hard to see the whole pattern of change. Instead we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system, and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get resolved.”
– Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline
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A New Beginning
I once sat in front of the CEO of a small but thriving tech company. Back then, I was new to this type of organization: a technology-based company. I had worked for the whole of my career, up until that point, in the dental and health care fields – technology seemed out of my realm of understanding – how wrong I was. This CEO, held a thick and dense book in his hand, The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, and asked if I had ever read the book – I looked blankly at the book and thought, “Oewh… this job is not for me.” I answered truthfully, “Nope.” He said, “You will.” Mr. Senge has since become somewhat of a legend/hero for me.
A First Step Down Long and Winding Road
That was a first step toward further understanding technology and business and, really, expanding my horizons beyond small biz strategy and cold calling. I joined this young technology company as the Manager of Recruitment and Retention and became quickly educated that bold and speedy business practices were now vital and I would need to understand early adoption in more ways than one. I also learned an incredibly valuable lesson that has become embedded in my psyche and still guides my daily endeavors. I learned to be agile and recognize that what always worked before may not work any longer. Flexibility and willingness to change and develop are imperative today – this is no time to dig heels in or fight the tide.
I learned executive recruitment at the feet of an old school master recruiter who felt sixty to one hundred cold calls a day was the way to get the word out about a new position and back then – he was right, it was the only way. Suffering for your “art” was part of the pain required to garner a slate of mildly acceptable candidates but extremely passive candidates. I struggled against the machine. I wanted and knew there had to be a better, more fluid way. Working from a stagnant filing cabinets that coincided with thousands of individual records in our ACT! offline database, I had an inkling of what Big Data might look like and how we might tap into key words for filtering and searching. That was just the beginning. The days of empty search records and smiling and dialing were nearing an end. They did end for me as I moved on to that tech company for start-ups that embraced innovation and ideas bigger than the white board wall in our makeshift think tank.
The Feast of Technology
Media, Content, Mobile, Location, and Social – all available today have changed the face of Human Resources and HR Tech. HR is no longer the quiet organizational function in the basement. HR and Recruiting/Staffing are now recognized as the essential business functions they are. And HR Technology continues to re-shape the face of how organizations interact with employees and applicants/candidates AND how they interact and react back. Gone are the conversations about passive versus active jobseekers, as well as the tired conversation about the staying power of social and mobile.
My Hunger and Thirst Only Grows
When we embrace change and development as a good thing, we can use it to our advantage and stay ahead of the game/class. Technologies in their infancy is the fastest time of growth – recognizing potential and capability has made millionaires and experts, it has also made foreclosures and flops. It has been a wild ride, but I plan on never letting go – except on the downhill as I scream with sheer exhilaration and delight.
I’d like to sit across that same CEO today, to not only thank him for introducing me to the idea of systems thinking and the “learning org” but also declare that change and growth are bigger and more important than even he thought. And also to say, “Yes, I’ve read the book. And I’m writing my own.” Challenge is the place where strengths are realized and ideas are born. And while the birthing process can be painful, there is also a freedom that comes with gained understandings which springboard to the next idea and so on. The Ripple Effect of Tech and its Adoption – the addictive highs subplanting the lows of fear (of change) and loss (outdated tech). The system is bigger than ever, Old CEO – I doubt you have kept up. But thanks for the light intro to what would become one of my greatest loves: perpetual learning.
“Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.
There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.”
– Peter Senge
by Rayanne Thorn