The Things You Do Every Day Build Capacity
Derek & Laura Cabrera
Derek Cabrera (Ph.D., Cornell) is an internationally known systems scientist and serves on the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems mapping and is Program Director for the Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). He is a senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab. Laura Cabrera (B.S., M.P.A, & PhD, Cornell) currently teaches Systems Thinking and Modeling and Systems Leadership at Cornell University at the Institute for Policy Affairs. She is also a senior researcher at the Cabrera Research Lab. Over the past decade, Cabrera has applied her expertise in research methods and translational research to increase public understanding, practical application, and dissemination of sophisticated systems science and systems thinking models.
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This post is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Flock Not Clock.
In a fictitious example, let’s say our organization’s vision is to “Eradicate Fleas Worldwide.” To do this, our mission is to Evangelize, Educate, and Empower people to eradicate fleas. As part of the education element of our mission, we begin our efforts by offering training to disseminate these fundamental ideas to relevant audiences. The question we now face is, “What are the systems we have in place (or need to develop) to accomplish this task?” These individual systems, as seen in Figure 4.3, can begin with individual employees. In this image we see how an employee’s daily tasks (like creating a brochure) can lead to increased capacity systems (by way of an existing training development resource) to do one part of the mission (educate people) to bring about the vision (to eradicate fleas worldwide).
Figure 4.3: A capacity map showing its contextualizing effect on employee daily tasks
This simple example shows how the things that employees do everyday should exist on a path through the organization’s VMCL (blue line). The red lines indicates the global-level path that is created when there is throughput at the local-level from capacity to mission to vision. It also shows that something as mundane as designing and printing a brochure can be a capacity-building act (as long as it is aligned with the mission!) By planning ahead to build these mission-critical systems you can ensure that the moment when a customer needs a brochure, your salesperson will have one to hand them. That’s an example (albeit a simple one) of organizational capacity playing out during a mission moment.