Why think relationally?

STARTING WITH RELATIONSHIPS IS A SIMPLE AND USEFUL IDEA

Set up the right kinds of relationships – between people and stakeholder groups – and organizations will work better.

It even applies to big forms of organization like economies and international treaties. People interested in this kind of approach are already taking it into education, business and the EU.

Organizational thinking in the West has often failed to connect relationships to larger and more abstract goals like equality, justice or productivity. But relationships drive almost everything in organizations. And organizations have a powerful effect on the way people, and groups of people, relate to one another.

Here are some of the ideas being explored in relational thinking:

  • It’s possible to measure quality in relationships.
  • The dependence of all social processes on relationships means that businesses, services and organizations can profit from naming good relationships as a goal.
  • It’s possible for organizations, and even economic or social/political systems, to create relationships that are too narrow, too one-sided, or too divisive.
  • The Western emphasis on rights is a mixed blessing if it creates competitive relationships between rights holders and leads to unrealistic allocations of scarce resources.
  • Systemic relationships can be improved by asking simple questions like “Is this fair to both sides?” and “Does this create greater understanding and alignment between parties?”
  • Relational thinking can generate new tools for customer relations, investor relations, risk assessment, team development, and corporate governance.

Relational thinking is an exciting way to approach business, economics, politics and social organization, because the idea of starting from relationships is new.

Across the globe, people are exploring different ways to put this approach into action, and we’re reporting some of them on this site.

Please join in. Make use of our resources. Let us put you in touch with others who have the same interests as you. And come to one of our conferences!

If you’re an organization, you can join the Relational Thinking Network – a global movement that’s building better organizations and stronger societies – either as a Partner or as a core Member.   

 

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