Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my somewhat bald statements.
Learning or preconditioning: I guess the nature/nurture debate is still
out, although I tend towards nurture. Forgive my lack of specific sources
- I have an eclectic collection of sources on this, which I think include
such as BF Skinner, Piaget - some of the classic stuff. I am not a
psychologist so forgive me. My experiences of teaching in and being taught
in business schools and being in and around organisations is that the
prevailing wisdom is that problems yield to logic - ie there is a
"solution". Business schools and most organisations in practice don't
believe in "Wicked Problems " (ref another string on this conference).
They believe in puzzles which can be solved. We are taught, implicitly if
not explicitly, to leave our personal beliefs baggage at the door, and
apply our analytical powers to the understanding and solution of the
problem/puzzle which lies in front of us.
In some benchmark "excellence" organisations we are expected, implicitly
or explicitly, to lose our sense of self, if we want to get on. It doesn't
mean such organisations are immoral or amoral - but that there is an
expectation that the greater good will come from an alignment behind a
vision or values set that is the organisation's - not (necessarily) yours.
That's some personal experience - but see Porras & Collins "Built to Last"
on, eg, Nordstrom; or one of several authors on Japanese organisations
(Ouchi, eg). Or try Lee Kwan Yew on Singapore - there's a "vision/values"
driven country, for goodness sakes, if not to everyone's taste.
Organisations composed of individual belief systems will be a sum of the
parts, which may or may not be what's required to survive, get the job
done, service customers well, or deliver the aspirations of owners/power
holders. Organisations which have belief systems superordinate to
individual belief systems (being unkind, dictatorships and cults) are
usually what we describe as excellent, vision-driven or maybe "learning
>My parents recited 'to thine own self be true' so often to me that I just
>cannot do the chameleonic approach. Have also attended two personal
>mastery workshops which teach seeking "truth to self". I have been in
>three "real" organizations and have not found the above
Genetically (see Richard Dawkins, Selfish Gene) we survive by aligning
with best fit to our environment and to the direction our environment
appears to be taking. Organisationally, we survive in the same way (see
Miles & Snow, Hamel & Pralahad) - by aligning with best fit. Suspension of
individual beliefs is a survival and prosperity thing. Those who truly can
say "I am above all else true to myself, and cherish, above all else , the
importance of preserving the beliefs of others unsullied" I think are
lucky and blessed people. If that kind of oasis can be found in our
acquisitive society - stay in it and protect it!
>John, I would sincerely appreciate having the statistics you are
>referencing. What is your source?
Again, I have only an amateur interest in psychometrics etc. Try data from
Myres Briggs, or Margerison-McCann Team Management Index testing, or any
of the psychometrics which cover beliefs/analysis type vectors. Forgive my
>I am not denying that many people "give-in" to the values and
>beliefs of their organization. I pose that on this list we are not
>discussing the "as is organization". We are sharing our perspectives
>on the "should be" organization in order for maximum learning
>to occur. Deeply shared vision requires deeply shared values
Yes - okay. But since we are working in "as is" organisations, we I think
owe it to ourselves to work from where we are. In Ireland they have a joke
about the English tourist who asks an old farmer how he might get to
Dublin, and the farmer thinks for a bit and says, "well, sonny, if I were
going to Dublin I wouldn't have started from here".
We're trying to get to Dublin, for real, aren't we? And we have to start
from here! So I believe there is a great opportunity to think very
creatively about "should be" organisations, as long as we don't forget the
>demand tearing down of personal values and beliefs, suspending,
>subsuming, actually destroying them. There have been at least
>two articles written in the past couple of years comparing our
>present organizations of fancy footwork to those of a cult. These
>articles (one serious and the other poking fun) pertained to the
>lack of risk-taking, candid, challenging, diverse atmospheres in
>our corporations and posed analogies with cults. Since I do not
>keep articles, maybe someone on this list knows about what I
>speak and has a copy. I would be interested in a reference.
I don't have a reference (again, excepy for my current favourite book "Built
to Last" which might do), but I recall a very senior manager in a very big
(American) firm based here telling me, in response to a question about
producing "clones" - "If you can't control your organisation's culture, it
will control you". Hmmm....
>I believe we WILL find multiple, strongly held beliefs present in a
>learning organization. However, there will be some common
>threads of honesty, integrity, morality, value of the individual,
>passionate focus on the customer and environment, etc., which
>will allow for diverse values and beliefs aligning under the corporate
>core values system.
I hope so, Dave - I'll be interested in other thoughts. My best wishes
-- John Peters Director, Red Swan Ltd, England Editor, Learning Organisation Journal (info on this by EMail to: AKaminska@mcb.co.uk) john peters (firstname.lastname@example.org)