From politics to industry splinter groups, we could easily wonder if polarized views and institutions are the norm today. It is certainly more visible.
The business sector reaps the benefits of valuing diversity at scale. Companies that begin with a narrow focus at start-up can develop into massive global businesses serving a diverse customer base under one governance structure.
It can even be unrelated diversification, where the business produces new products and services and enters new business sectors.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin group has to be one of the most prolific examples, going from music and airlines, to trains, telecommunications and finance, and with cruises and space tourism now in its sights. Regardless, there is still one unifying brand.
Nations too can have political systems fraught with polarized and fiercely competing views. Some countries like Indonesia are balancing an astonishing level of diversity. The nation has over 17,500 islands and 1,300 ethnic groups and a growing economy that is on track to become a major global player in the next decade.
Fittingly, Indonesia’s country motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’.
Those who live to amplify problems and criticize, will always find shortcomings for any institution striving for unity in diversity. Regardless, businesses, institutions and nations can and are balancing diverse interests and achieving outcomes at scale.
The same opportunity exists for industries. Last week, industry leaders released the Australian dairy plan, with a vision and roadmap developed by businesses for a positive future. It follows a decade of internal conflict and decline in the sector.
From Julius Cesar and Sun Tzu to the present day, the military uses divide and conquer strategies in warfare. For industries, you could question just who is at war here, when the strategy is deployed internally.
All too often, it is the old institutions and power structures that are the culprits.
The experience of corporate business and sovereign countries, is that success at scale requires leadership and governance arrangements that are fit for purpose to balance diversity and unity.
Division is a much easier path for industry institutions to choose, but only in the short term.