The purpose of teams, whatever the specifics, is to become more than the sum of its parts. As we have seen, when our teams work in silos, they are limited to only achieving the sum of their parts, at best. The problem is that such a team can’t survive for long because teams whose members work in silos, by definition, are unable to change at a speed greater than, or equal to, the speed of change in the environment.
The reason for this is team members who focus on silo thinking are, in what Bill Sharpe calls a managerial mindset in his three horizons mindset. Horizon One is focused on managing today and incremental improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, the managerial mindset. Horizon Two concerns the short to medium-term future and encompasses the sphere of new opportunities and innovation. Horizon Three concerns what is emerging over the future horizon and might become commonplace in the near to medium-term future, the area of strategic foresight.
To make this easier, picture yourself sitting on a mountain looking down the mountain (Horizon Two) and across the valley (Horizon Two), up to the top of the mountain opposite you (Horizon Three).
Sharpe’s most powerful insight, based on years of strategizing, is that teams need to work in the sequence 1-3-2, starting with reviewing today, what is working well and not working, then to think from the “future-back” using the horizon three strategic foresight tools and thinking, and only then try to innovate tomorrow. Otherwise, you are trying to innovate tomorrow out of the frame of yesterday’s mindset and assumptions.
To mix our metaphors, this would be the equivalent of generals trying to win tomorrow’s battles using what they learnt in battles gone by – which, as we have seen in previous Monday Memo’s, is tantamount to committing suicide these days.