Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Everything is interconnected

Everything in life is interconnected. People are connected via social networks, family ties, organizations, and their employers. The economy is a global net that reverbrates with the slightest of changes. We are connected to the same economy as consumers and through corporations as employees. We share the same ecology, and keep using and re-using the same ingredients through the carbon and nitrogen cycles. And after all, we are all star stuff.

But most importantly, everything effects everything sooner or later, and for every action there is a consequence. Kall it karma, or TANSTAAFL, or cause and effect. Regardless, this forms an interesting basis for morality. As human beings everything we do has consequences and we should keep those in mind. Because sooner or later there will be payback for all of our actions to either ourselves, or to someone else. And since everything is interconnected, the consequences of our actions impacting ourselves is just a matter of time. It is easy to miss this though, since feedback loops can be long.

What does it mean in everyday life? If you flip off your neighbour, your will pay. Probably by feeling a little bit bad deep inside, or later on when your neighbour decides not to help you out when you need it. Micromanage people in a condescending way and you will pay when you are not around and your employees are unable or unwilling to take care of things. Run a corporation by the numbers, use creative accounting, and balance the books with layoffs, and sooner or later it's stock price will plummet, key talent will be lost, and the corporation will be destroyed. Grabbing hefty bonuses and running away might sound like a winning strategy, but your kids will have to pay the bill by living in a world that is that much more merciless and unfit for life. I won't go into examples of corporations pillaging the ecology since that is just too depressing.

The flip side of things is that the multi-dimensional networked complex system we live in also reverbrates the good things back to us. Be nice to people and they are mostly nice back. Grow your employees and treat them as valuable part of your company rather than resources or costs to be minimized and they will pay you back with loyalty, new ideas and productivity. Paradoxically being unselfish will ultimately be the best strategy for selfishness.

I think interconnectedness is one the commong things that (the little that I know about) systems thinking, network theory, and complexity science teaches us. Oh yeah, and some old geezers like Laozi and Siddharta Gautama from way back, too.

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