Everyone talks about the increased interdependence inherent in the world of today and tomorrow. This interdependence is driven largely by technology, once television and now the Internet and social media. Everyone is connected to everything everywhere. The free flow of information and citizen communication makes everything more transparent—whether organizations want it so or not. It’s easier for our constituents—whether employees, clients, donors, board members, or other volunteers—to watch what we say, what we actually do, and how well the two match.
All this is about access and alignment. And interdependence drives organizations into the continuum of collaboration—from communication and knowledge alliances to networking and coalitions, from collaboration and joint ventures to merger. But even with interdependence, diversity remains valuable. The best organizations foster both.
Jean Lipman-Blumen notes that diversity refers to the different characteristics of individuals, groups, and organizations. Diversity reflects “the human need for identity, diversity highlights everyone’s uniqueness, underscoring differences and emphasizing independence and individualism. It is a force for social, economic, and cultural differentiation.”75
These two—interdependence and diversity—distinguish what Lipman-Blumen calls the “connective era.” She notes that “the importance of diversity and the inevitability of interdependence require a more fully developed leadership repertoire.” ...