All things are connected.

Zoom out far enough and a large city becomes a tiny speck of light.

Zoom in close enough and listen in on a conversation between two people in a cafe sharing their hopes and dreams about the future.

It is easy to see these two worlds as different, but in reality they are one in the same.

From far enough away, your business looks exactly like every other one of its kind. And one way to think about its different parts is like the way a car is made up of an engine, chassis and wheels. Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-connected world of information, this way of thinking can lead to serious trouble.

The idea of separating a business into its functional categories was a good one back at the beginning of the last century when building cars on a factory line.

In the Industrial Age each of the individual units on a production line were connected by a top down hierarchy that controlled every moving part of the factory.

If you have ever started a business from scratch, you know this method is absolutely necessary in the beginning. But as a business grows, it becomes more about what connects its individual parts.

Today information moves too fast for the control and command methods of the past… at least if you want your business to reach it full potential. Now it’s all about self organization, where a constant feedback loop creates an opportunity to integrate an ecosystem of connectivity and continuous improvement.

I think it was Aristotle that first said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” True connection happens when people share a set of beliefs within a common purpose. This leads to better results, because the beliefs and purpose as a whole exist within the individual parts of your business instead of it individual parts simply making up the whole business.

What story do your people tell about their place within your organization? Are they empowered with decision-making responsibilities and encouraged to bring fresh ideas to resolve organizational challenges? Or are they isolated within an operational island of disconnection, unable to see how the organization exists within the work they do?

Today business can get by with a certain amount of disconnection, but in the near future this will not be the case. Waiting for a weekly report or a monthly analysis to measure performance will no longer be sufficient. There is a bright future ahead for companies that strive to make connections across every part of an organization.

The question is: Do you want your business to be about the whole within its parts or about the sum of its parts?