The day Peter joined that organization, he entered a flat, foggy, and empty field. At least, so it appeared to him. Somebody gave him a map to find his way around (that person called it "organigramme"). Peter binned it quickly. It was of no use as he soon lost his way. Peter was confused. But he was curious at the same time and began to explore the field, for days, weeks, months.
One day (the fog was particularly thick that day), he bumped into a stone heap. He stumbled and fell over. Nobody had warned him of this heap. After a few confused moments, he got up, walked around the heap, and, still a bit shaky, continued his exploration of the field. As he moved along, he bumped into a second, a third, and over time many other stone heaps. As time passed by, Peter realized that these heaps were scattered all over the field, without any apparent order.
By now the fog had lifted somewhat, and Peter was able to see a bit clearer. As he looked at the different stone heaps, he made some observations.
All the heaps were of different sizes. There existed small heaps and bigger ones. Some in fact were so tall that he could not even see the peak.
He also saw people sitting on each of the heaps; the ones on the big stone heaps appeared to be more important than the ones on the smaller ones. (To be sure, he rarely was able to see the ones on these very big stone heaps at all.) It seemed that the people sitting on the bigger heaps had also a better view of the field, which for some reason appeared to be important for them.
And - it might have been coincidence - each of the stone heaps displayed one specific colour. One was blue, another one was yellow, and so on. "Quite boring," Peter thought. But for now it appeared that people were content with what they had.
But at the same time, Peter noticed, these people up there on their heaps were quite tense, watching jealously what happened in their neighbourhood.
Peter did not think much about his observations. He had a more immediate problem to address.
Peter's problem was that nobody had given him a stone heap. But sitting on a stone heap was the game in town, the "raison d'être" on the field. Without a stone heap, he was nothing, only somebody who had to be worried bumping into other peoples' stone heaps.
He decided to build his own heap from scratch. He found an empty space to get going. He had brought a few stones with him from another field he had been part of which he placed in the center of the space. He then thought about how to make his stone heap grow. So, he began to search the field for attarctive and, even more importantly, accessible stones.
During his earlier excursions, he had noticed stones at the fringes of the field. Apparently, the other fellows on the field had not yet discovered them. Some other stones were covered with dust and only difficult to identify. Peter hauled all of them to his space, and with time he built an attractive stone heap.
Peter was not very dogmatic concerning the color the stones displayed. Since there remained only few stones on the field, he had to pick whatever color was available, red, green, blue, and so on.
But then something strange happened.
One evening, he returned from a long trip across the field that by now had become more familiar to him. What he found was his heap destroyed and its stones torn apart. Apparently, his heap had tipped the balance of power that existed on the field and the owners of the older stone heaps sought to protect that old balance.
Being an optimist, Peter began to rebuild his stone heap. But as it reached a critical size, he thought about his experience. He began to sit longer hours on his heap to protect it. Even more so, his entire behavior and attitude changed: from being entrepreneurial, risk raking, and innovative, he became risk averse and resistant to change. Now it dawned upon him: all these stone heaps he bumped into had been built over the years and their owners did everything to protect them.
But it all felt very static, in fact too static and not agile enough to survive in competition with these other fields out there.
Peter felt uncomfortable. How long would he be able to enjoy sitting on his heap? For the time being he felt safe. He had learned how to protect his heap. But what if the field itself was in danger? Once and a while, he saw some dark clouds out there, where the field ended and other fields lingered. And once and a while, he saw how some of these clouds reached out to one of the other stone heaps on his field. Apparently, their owners were not agile enough to move and reinvent their heaps. So they disappeared. What if these clouds would one time take over the entire field, including his own stone heap?
This day arrived sooner than Peter thought. Clouds had gathered for weeks and one day they covered the field in a thick layer of mist.
Peter watched the scenery. Everybody panicked. The fog covered almost every heap now. But nobody moved as if in shock. All these people continued sitting on their stone heaps. They had not learned to reinvent what they had. They had not learned how to communicate and create new stone heaps that were able to withstand the fog. They had not learned to manage a crisis together. The obsession with preserving their own stone heaps and defending them against the competitors from within the field had left them collectively weak and exposed to the forces from outside. Now it was too late. The fog quickly covered one by one.
Peter realized that these were the field's final days. He climbed down from his stone heap, dismantled it, and as quickly as he could collect those stones that he was still able to see in the fog. For whatever reason (and it does not really matter here) these were the green ones. He remembered that he had not been particularly choosy with regards to the stones’ colors, a fact that he appreciated in this time of crisis. Never would he have imagined, that the green stones would continue to shine when all the others would fade and eventually blend into the fog and disappear. He grabbed as many green stones as he could and left the field, before it was too late.
This experience changed Peter’s life. Never again would he move into an empty and flat, foggy open field.
The day Tom joined a new organization, he asked for a map at the entrance to the field that he was about to explore. He was used to receive one on his very first day, and confused that this time was different.
The person at the entry gate rather smiled and asked Tom to wait for a moment.
Peter was looking forward meeting Tom. He was excited to have attracted a person who he thought could turn out to be tremendously helpful for the field. Like most of the others he had invited to join him.
Many years ago, he had created a stone heap from scratch. And over time, he turned the stone heap into a field. But he was not quite sure how to make it more sustainable. He discovered some clouds at the fringes of the field. And from previous experience, he was very much aware of the possible consequences.
"I did not ask you to join us on this field to become part of one of the stone heaps on this field," Peter said. "I am interested in the stones that you bring with you, the ones you will discover on the field, and not least, the ones that you are going to create." Peter paused for a second. He tried to anticipate how his words might have resonated with Tom. After all, Tom had already experienced life on some other fields. What Peter said must have sounded quite awkward to Tom.
"Rest assured," Peter added after he was certain that his message had sunk in, "the stone heap you are going build will never be compromised. But I want you to respect the work of others and trade stones with them. I want you to build a stone heap that is bright and colorful."
"Creating a great stone heap is rewarding," he added, "but we need to do this together. In this day and age, no one will be able to build a heap that is robust enough to stand against the clouds. That is our philosophy here on this field."
Peter looked into the distance "I am worried," he said after a brief moment of silence "it is very foggy just outside our field. And I quite don't know how we are going to resist the clouds out there become thicker. But that is why we need to become more agile, more creative. I thought I invite people like yourself to the field who have an appreciation for diversity. I believe that we need the right mix in order to survive."
Tom moved out into the field. The sun was shining, the air was clean and crisp and he could see far into the distance. (To be sure, for some reason Tom did not understand, everything was covered in a touch of green.)
The field was buzzing with energy. He saw big and impressive stoneheaps. Rather than silos (an expression he had picked up on other fields), they were like pieces of artwork. Interesting, colorful, and innovatively built. What was more interesting, the top the heaps appeared to be deserted most of the time. Only once and a while somebody had climbed the heap, often accompanied by two, three colleagues, to gain a view of the field in its entirety. They quickly returned to the base and sought stones that were apparently missing.
Most of the time, people were exploring, debating, inventing, and trading stones.
Tom saw that Peter was constantly cruising across the field. He did not tell people where to put their stone heaps or how to assemble them. He was rather busy with getting information across and facilitating the trades that were done on the field. He made connections between people who he believed could create something important on the field. He facilitated conversations when he saw that people were hesitant to share their views and tried to translate the different languages that were spoken on the field into a discourse that everybody was able to contribute to.
Peter was proud of the trust that people placed in him. Too often had he experienced that stone heaps, once they had become interesting, were taken away from the people who built them. Over time, he found out, that stifled creativity on the field.
Instead, Peter facilitated the interaction between these creative builders. To be sure, it took a lot of time to build a strong, robust and most importantly colorful stone heap.
Peter was not naïve. He knew that the people on the field had their own ambitions and aspiration. Yes, they were loyal to the field, as it gave them the space to innovate. But at the same time, he knew, it was their goal to create something that was able to sustain itself, outside the field.
He therefore constantly helped to examine some of the most promising stone heaps and assessed if they were able to resist the fog out there, outside the field. To be sure, he was not driven by purely altruistic motives. He knew that the more stone heaps would be turned into vibrant and robust fields in the neighborhood, the better his own field was protected against the fog.
He was proud to see more and more stone heaps floating off, once they had reached maturity (though he was not unhappy to see others remain on the field).
Over the years, Peter’s vision and aspiration, the way the field was managed and in fact the way it managed itself, became ever more robust. Peter felt increasingly confident. The field he created was based on very fundamental values, respect for others and the respect for diversity as essential building blocks for survival and ensuring collective success.
Over the years, Peter had to engage less and less with facilitating the discourse and joint projects on the field. He found more time for himself. And he used that time to build a small stone heap somewhere at the fringes of the field. It was not very big, but perfectly built.
Eventually, Peter decided that his final day on the field had come. He was ready to float off with his little heap. And let go.