Awash in information, we scan the headlines continuously, adjusting our ongoing visions of externalities upon which we depend: politics, economics, and shifts in the markets. We trust the fine attunement of our filtering capabilities to deliver a unified picture of the front pages we consume from multiple sources- sometimes print, sometimes tv, increasingly internet.

Our eyes stray occasionally upon the merely “interesting” human interest article: a footnote to the broad picture. We may smile, chuckle, or nod, as we skim it quickly. Sometimes, if compelling enough, we find ourselves citing it in casual conversation at dinner, or at a party. Like the movies we’ve seen recently, the “interesting” information transforms to  a footnote elaborating our broader interests.

Sometimes, the merely “interesting” signals a broader shift in perspective: a shifting in figure and ground, as in the art of M.C. Escher. Such shifts are pivotal in the work of process consultation when something previously unseen or unconsidered emerges with sudden clarity as a signal of directional change or a suggestion of unrecognized opportunity that illuminates a previously murky future.

For me, a recent article in the Financial Times about arranged marriage in India underlined a shift from thinking about family business to considering the business of family. Briefly, an Indian matrimonial website reported at 30% shift away from previously desirable grooms who worked as IT professionals and investment bankers. The market has shifted toward civil servants who promise steady income during this period of economic turbulence.

However, underlying the data is a muscular dynamic picture: this season’s crop of newly eligible brides, generating dowries which flow back to families both to support current functioning and to underwrite continuity. Imposed upon this developmental imperative, as sure as June weddings, is the strong environmental influence of economics upon this year’s harvest of eligible family members.

Whatever the strategic plans of yesterday— toward outsourcing grooms perhaps, conversant in the language of global economy— the immediate financial imperatives of today radically restructure the family’s economic planning. Of course, this limited picture reflects short-term planning. It does not factor in governmental down-sizing, for example; nor a resurgence of productive globalization. Perhaps, though, next years’ brides stand ready to accommodate such shifts. They remind us that business decisions are not only in the formal domain of “family business”, but that the economic unit of the family means business, itself.

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