Building Communities of Global Collaboration

Volume 7.9
July 13, 2011


Building Communities of Global Collaboration

A sociology professor was once asked, “What would it take to create world peace?” His answer, at the time, seemed laughable. It was simply: “Alien invasion. That is the only thing that could bring the entire world together.”


Today, that makes more sense to me from a perspective of boundary differences, although the argument still falls apart at the end. He simply meant that if there was a force that created a boundary big enough to include the entire world, we would unify against it. Alien invasion implies that there is still war, only now it is not just between us humans. We would all fight on the same side against whatever force was coming in. We’ve seen this in cinema such as Independence Day, or maybe we’ve read The War of the Worlds. There is another presupposition in this statement—only through threat could humans be unified. I believe that it is an equally valid proposition that humans could be unified through aspiration and that there are ideals that would be universally compelling to humans, regardless of nationality.


Today, I see a little farther out. I can agree that a force that is large enough to create a boundary around the entire world could have the effect of creating global unification. I also believe these forces exist. An example is the environment. There is only one, and it bounds and nourishes us all equally. We are quickly learning that the earth is very small and very connected when it comes to receiving our actions. This global connection is teaching us that we are highly interdependent in terms of life on this planet, and we cannot truly succeed if the by-product of that success creates great harm to others. There can never be a genuine success that results in harm to some.


One aspect of leadership at a global level is an understanding of the larger system implications of our actions. Corporate leaders have as much impact across countries as our political systems, and in many cases, far more. How will you develop the large system sensitivity to understand the economic, social, and environmental implications of the work you do at a global level?


We must find our positive global intention that we can carry with us when we plan our global activities. We can talk to many people to understand what our impact is from multiple perspectives. We can create communities of awareness that have, at their core, a desire for positive change in the world at a global level.


Because of the size and scope of the potential impacts and subsequent changes of our actions, it is probably impossible for one person to imagine the overall consequences. This is further limited by the fact that individually, we make all of our predictions based on our unique worldview, filled with our own cultural experience. We can only hope to create groups of people who can co-create communities that will collectively come up with global implications of actions. At this point, we are working to establish groups of people who basically function as peers, common as citizens of the world, who want the same things and who hold the same vision. The challenge as a global leader is to hold the multiple interests at heart and see the possibilities of how groups of people, who are seemingly very different, can work together to accomplish an overall higher goal.