Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning about global warming. Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat cleverly used two numbers in two different sequences to illustrate how events have much greater global impact than they used to. “9/11” – Bombing of the World Trade Center and “11/9” – the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Both Al Gore and Thomas Friedman are reminding you and me of our growing interdependence and the fact that our lives are intertwined both with people next door and people on the other side of the world. We are awaking to global matrimonial vows: “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health we are grouped.” The “me” generation has long been replaced with “I need you” and “you need me” – we are a group.
In the past the terms “group” and “team” carried connotations which were commonly understood. Several factors have changed the certainty of what is meant by “groups.” We need a new vocabulary to understand groups. Such a language will reduce people’s fear of this global interdependency.
Michael’s newest training and upcoming book Managing Groups – The Fast Track explains the dynamics of groups whether the group‘s membership is from the same culture or different cultures. As a student you will learn to switch from being reactive and surprised by life to being proactive and able to direct groups.
To shock people into realizing the geometric growth of interdependence we have people take the following survey. This survey can be done mentally — yet the clarity of the results is greater if you use a piece of paper.
- Leave some space at the top of the page.
- Put your name on the top line and list the 10-15 people you spend most of your time with. Do it now before proceeding. Feel free to make half of the names from your working world and half from your private world.
- Once you have your list, at the top of the page, make 5-7 columns to the right of the names. Have each column represent a major variable of your make up. Examples include: level of education, religion, regions you have lived for at least 5 years, socio-economic level, affiliations (for example, political, professional, community), ethnicity, etc.
- Fill out your own line in terms of variables, and then fill out the lines of the 10-15 people. Reflect on the result.
Are your answers to the variables about the same as those of the 10-15 people or are they different?
- If your 10-15 people have about the same answers as you, you were probably ready for the last century, but you might not be ready for this century.
- If you had a wide variety of people you engage with at work and have friends in your personal life that have similar answers to you, then you probably understand the changing nature of the world.
- If you have a wide variety of people both in working world and in your private world, then you are most likely part of this changing world.
Admittedly, we are more likely to experience the shrinking globe at work, than at home. In the past, our memberships were in groups whose norms we recognized and identified with. And we stayed in those groups a long time. Now the groups we belong to look unfamiliar to us. It is just human nature to shy from and, at times, be frightened of the unknown, that is why understanding the dynamics of groups is so important today.