Imagining the Whole

Imagining the Whole

One of the factors in a collaboration’s ability to fulfill the potential of combining strengths of multiple diverse organizations and sectors, is the ability of members to see the collaboration space as a whole. In the case of Regional Hubs, this would be easiest to identify as a geographic area – the physical space covered by the members of the Regional Hub.

Systems thinking identifies components as both wholes and parts. For example in a human,  cells, tissues, organs and a person are each both wholes and parts. So in a multi-organization Regional Hub, organizations are wholes – and at the same time they are parts of a larger regional area.  Another way of describing this is to identify subsystems as wholes, but parts of a larger system. (This logic can identify everything as a subsystem of a larger subsystem, which keeps attention to the importance of the relationships between them, when considering factors that influence a particular issue or opportunity).  

In the same manner, we can identify the organizations in the Hub as wholes, and also parts of a sector. So the Hubs are also comprised of subsystems in multiple sectors – post-secondary ,healthcare, health, human services sector, education sector.

This is one reason why ensuring that decision-making processes and management tools are appropriate to multiple organizations as wholes – engaging collaboratively to make horizontal linkages with other whole organizations because that strengthens the larger whole, the Regional Hub – and that benefits the individual organizations as well.  Since most conventional management tools have been developed to serve hierarchical organizations, they must be considered carefully before being used for a collaborative type of arrangement. Horizontal management tools can be helpful.

If a Hub’s members can get to the deeper relationships and trust that helps each collaborating organization to believe there is the possibility that strategies can bring value  to both the organization and the whole Hub – then the collaboration can begin to achieve its potential.

Being able to imagine the region as a whole in its own right, more than the simple sum of the constituent parts, will be key to finding Both/And, mutual gain solutions.

Being able to imagine the Regional Hub as a whole, while respecting the member organizations as wholes as well as parts of the Hub helps the representatives on the Coordinating Committee.

They have BOTH a role in representing their organization, perhaps their sector, AND a leadership role acting for the whole region. This will place them in conflict unless the group agrees to work for BOTH / AND strategies so that there is benefit both for the Regional Hub and for the individual member organizations.