by Peter Block
Have You Hugged Your Goalie
Business News Briefs
Business, The Final
To boldly go where no organization has gone before, into the future determined not simply by the demands of customers, but by innovating and meeting needs not yet realized by consumers. Steven G. Brant, president of Trimtab Management Systems, Brooklyn, N.Y., is asking the question, “What future is your organization coming from?” Do you have the answer?
If not, then systems thinking (looking at the “big picture”—all the process and phases associated within an organization or product delivery) may be the key to future success and unlimited earnings. Systems thinking refers to the fact that “Each of us is capable of getting stuck in the ruts of our ordinary ways of doing business. By taking a break and thinking about long-range visions, we step out of those ruts,” Brant explains.
Beam Me Up
“The appeal of Star Trek speaks to certain dreams that can form the foundation of new products and services in the 21st century,” Brant explains. Star Trek unites with systems thinking, in part, by providing strong examples of innovative leadership. “All of Star Trek’s main characters—Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway—are very proactive leaders. They work very hard to get ahead of the problem curve, anytime they are faced with a challenge,” says Brant, “They are constantly looking to learn new things about the (frequently extraordinary) realities in which these challenges occur, so they can be proactive in the courses of action they take.”
The Whole World is in Our
In much the same way, Brant explains, “The ethos of systems thinking is an answer to the question 'What is the aim of your system?”, when system refers to that which exists beyond the system of our organizations.” While the stakes are not necessarily life or death, as onboard the Enterprise, future success may be the prize of such leadership. According to Brant, “Most of us believe that all we can do is observe the future as it happens. Too few of us realize that we have the ability to create the future—to view the future proactively rather than reactively.” Knowing that our actions create the future is the key to corporate strategic power.
Profit for the
Brant views systems thinking as his very own starship. “Systems thinking has enabled me to see a brave new world of services that we have the technology to provide to our customers,” Brant explains.
"It lead us to create new business opportunities, to expand the pie rather than just compete for fixed shares of the pie, to create new sources of growth and prosperity,” continues Brant. “In a future of our own choosing, many new opportunities await.” A phaser is not required equipment for exploration of these new worlds, either.
Star Trek also boasts a unique system of values that can be applied to the world of business. For Brant, “Star Trek portrays a vision of how the world might look if the principles of quality were being used by the entire culture of humanity.” Customer service would certainly benefit from such an outlook, passing on a shared bond of commitment to quality from provider to customer.
Bold Ideas About Whole
By understanding the customer, an organization can better plan for the future. Brant believes that the most important direction in which proactive management can take an organization is to begin formulating “bold ideas” about ways to satisfy the unexpressed desire of the customer. Star Trek is also useful in this manner because it can offer insights into possibilities that have yet to be invented. How could a beaming device fail to be profitable? Nobody asked for the electric light, the telephone or email, and yet we find these tools indispensable.
In the midst of uncertainty regarding the future, Star Trek also provides an enjoyable way to think about the future. A common federation of differing life forms uniting to protect freedom and justice is certainly not an unpleasant prospective possibility.
Take a Ride with Captain