Mary Apodaca asks:
>I've just received a request from an organization that considers itself an
>LO requesting a defense or rejection of the following statement:
>"It is traditional wisdom in the business world that a coporation is only
>as good as the people it employs."
>How would you react to this statement--in writing, that is?
I do not think this is traditional or conventional wisdom. We have a
great tendency to objectify the world, including our organizations, and we
often come to believe they are different from the people who make them up.
We think that to look out for the organization, we have the right (perhaps
even obligation) to manipulate, occasionally demean, and sometimestake
advantage of people in various ways to achieve organizational objectives.
The approach of traditional management is not based on a clear
understanding of the systems view and is oriented toward drawing
conclusions from events and blaming or praising individuals when things go
wrong or right. This approach suggests that it is rational to take
advantage of people for the good of the organization. There is a tendency
to consider the people who make up the organization and the organization
to be two separate entities.
As far as I am concerned such an approach is based on a false premise.
Human beings come together to create organizations to fulfill the vast
variety of human needs, wants, and desires. To really prosper,
enlightened managers realize that the organization and the people who make
up the organization are the same thing. They understand that the whole
idea of an organization is facilitate the collaboration and cooperation
among people that makes it possible to create goods and services, such as
the devices by which we are communicating, that could never be created by
people working alone. In other words, they intuitively or explicitly
understand that the organization is a human-created system. Such managers
understand and seek to improve organizational processes by working with
people, not manipulating them. Why? Because this is the approach that
makes sense from the systems perspective.
So we might say another value of the systems view of organization is that
it reminds us that human organizations are really systems of people, and
that we must provide those people with all the tools, information,
training, and authority needed to facilitate the cooperation and
collaboration by which work gets done. That's the best way to prosper.
Not only that, but we can also appreciate that such an approach helps
people identify with the organization and know that their personal welfare
is tied to that of the organization.
But is this traditional wisdom? By traditional behavior I don't think so.
John Woods <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>