Jim Saveland writes:
>Fred and Jan state that organizations don't do anything (especially
>thinking); people do.
>This seems to reflect a mental model of organizations as inanimate and
I think that all depends on what you mean by the term "organizations." If
you use it to refer to groups of people and constellations of behavior,
that is hardly "inanimate" (although it can get darned "machine-like"). If
you use it to refer to some legal entity or other purely abstract concept,
it is indeed very inanimate.
>Organizations are systems of people and like any system, the
>whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Here, you've defined what you mean by "organizations" (i.e., "systems of
people") but it leaves me wondering what you mean by "system."
To say "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is consistent with
a thought gleaned from the gestalt psychologists many years ago but, when
applied to organizations, it raises at least two fundamental questions:
What are the "parts" whose sum is less than the whole? And, what is it
that constitutes the difference between the whole and the sum of the
parts? I happen to think the difference between the whole and the sum of
the parts consists of relationships between and among the parts. What are
>Exploring the mental model that organizations are living organisms
>seems to be more fruitful.
More fruitful than what? If you mean that viewing organizations as living
organisms is more fruitful than not viewing them as living organisms, I
disagree. Down that path lies a belief in the organizational "mind" and
the notion that organizations "think," neither of which I accept as true.
By way of example, consider the text below, snipped from LO3493, in which
Jack Hirschfeld writes in part:
>A training/development department of a large organization which is about
>to embark on a journey of transformation wants to rename itself.
What is being communicated here? That all members of the department agree
that the name of their department must be changed? That the head of the
department believes this is necessary? That a few members have sold the
head of the department on the idea? That the head of the unit has been
directed to "get with the program"? I have no idea which of these or any
of other possibilities is the case. But I am sure of one thing: the
department doesn't want to do anything.
-- Fred Nickols email@example.com