Value in the Spaces Between

By September 16, 2020Our Blog, Uncategorized

One of the most interesting – and frustrating – things about advocating for a greater focus on relationships in the workplace is that it’s all too easy to take them for granted. To make this easier to think about, consider the relationships each of your managers have with each of their reports. Everyone agrees they’re important but, perhaps because they’re so dynamic, so messy and so ‘emotional’, we avoid thinking about them until they become unavoidable.


This kind of denial has always fascinated me. Some say it has neurological roots. To enable us to make sense of the world around us, our neo-cortex breaks things down into bite-sized chunks which we can compare and analyse. The problem is that we then forget the things are only separate in our minds, and so we think that’s how the world really is.


It’s also a cultural issue. In a (western) world dominated by a focus on the individual, we’re conditioned to miss the complex web of interdependency and connection between them.


But what if any organisation – from a small tech start-up to a global NGO – is nothing but a highly complex network of relationships? And what if almost all of its value is created or squandered in a few of the most vital – and fragile – relationships; in the spaces between the people on (and many not on) the org chart rather than in the boxes themselves?


This way of relational thinking comes more easily to people in other cultures. For example, the Japanese traditionally value the space between two structural parts as highly as the parts themselves; a concept – Ma – which influences everything from gardening to music.


That’s where our focus is too … on the space in-between the two people in a dyad. Again, focusing on one of most vital parts of your organisation, our model of relationship enables us to measure the quality of the space between a manager and each of their reports. Then, when we compare these to the quality of the spaces between other pairs, we can build a rich picture of the wider relational network. This means we can provide our clients with a map of the links that are driving or limiting value in their business and empower them with the data and language they need to hold otherwise difficult conversations.


Consider how much you have to gain or lose on the basis of the key relationships in your organisation? Now imagine having the data that enables you to manage those spaces more effectively.


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