Operating Across Boundaries

Leading Adaptive Change

Ronald Heifetz Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

HUMAN BEINGS have long known how to create productive intergroup relationships. Hunters and gatherers knew how to trade, marry across bands, and collaborate seasonally on hunting herds for food. After beginning to settle into agricultural communities ten to fourteen thousand years ago, people created large social systems with multiple, internal group boundaries, applying their early know-how to more-complex arrangements. We drew upon shared history, tradition, and language as we created more-intricate and defined norms of interchange and developed ramified authority structures in which those who were given authority identified ...

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