Excerpt from Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque.

If you were to poke around the shops of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, or a Russian neighborhood in your nearest city, you may find a gorgeously carved little metaphor waiting for you on a shelf: the matryoshka doll, what might be more commonly be called a nesting doll.

An entrepreneur is a person who takes responsibility for his or her economic well-being; a leader is a person who takes responsibility for the impact he or she makes on the world. However, that impact, whatever it may be, is in fact made up of myriad causes and conditions. The wise leader, then, is forever a student of causality that makes up her endeavor. It’s about knowing all those layers of the matryoshka doll: If you’re trying to create an app that will change peoples’ lives, what are the elements of that change? And which people? And how will you test that? And who could build such a thing? And what mental state would that person have to have to build at his best ability?

The questions will keep unspooling; the matryoshka seems like it’s infinite. (Maybe it is!) The role of the leader, as we’ll discuss at length throughout this book, is to provide alignment. Why? Because alignment allows people to make decisions and act faster, which propels the velocity of an organization, allowing it to get feedback and grow more quickly. But what is alignment, and where does it come from? It’s about context.

Why were ancient mariners able to sail without modern equipment? They, of course, were able to read the stars—without all our modern light pollution. What the stars gave them was context, a signal from which to plan and act. And a clear night, of course, would provide greater resolution for the stars, making the signal stronger and the decision more clear. The leader is also searching for richer and richer constellations, examining the intersections of the enterprise in question. As we will emphasize throughout this book, this is not merely a matter of analysis but also of understanding—if we are trying to get humans to do something together, we need to understand our and their humanity. Such is the nature of holistic business