The paradigm that emerged in the 17th century set humankind as the conqueror and manipulator of all things for tangible ends. Moreover knowing something meant that it is expressible and explainable in the language of mathematics (i.e. numbers, measurements), as everything that was anything must be quantifiable and quantified if it is to be understood. Accordingly everything in the universe became an object to be measured and modeled into exact laws of cause-and-effect. Continue reading
Spend some time in most business organizations—as I have done over the past 35-plus years—and you will likely observe the practice of cascading goals top-to-bottom. Why? Because executive teams believe: a) it is the way to align organizational goals and people’s activity, to implement strategy; b) it is a way to exercise control over what happens in the organization; c) it is the means to holding people accountable and the basis for evaluating people’s performance; and d) it is what other executive teams do. Continue reading
When I say the word leader, quite understandably most associate it with the ‘one-in-charge’, the top person. Furthermore, since leader is synonymous with the one-in-charge, then leadership must be the actions of the one-in-change. That is when the term leadership is the focus—be it in academic journals or the popular press—its use is most often referring to people in positions of authority such as top executives or c-level managers in organizations or officials of rank in government. We could just as well talk about top management since the terms connote the same thing. Even so, everyone would prefer to be a leader than a manager—it just sounds better. Continue reading
Trust connotes many things. In one sense it speaks to the history we’ve had with other people when we say things like my experience shows he/she can be trusted. In another it reflects aspirations about one’s self in statements like I trust that I’d do the right thing if faced with that situation. An in yet another we often hear people say I trust things will workout for the better.
Though trust is related to notions of reliability, confidence, belief, faith and hope or expectation underlying these is the role trust plays in human development. It speaks to our need to counter balance an ever-present characteristic of our world, uncertainty. Consequently trust is the means of bringing a sense of order to an uncertain environment. Accordingly, when we are in an environment absent of trust, one wherein mistrust abounds, increasingly dis-ease overcomes us. Why is this so? Continue reading
Each of us as a person is a constituent of society and its governance and economic systems, as well as of the larger system of humankind. That is to say, we are living systems collectively constituting a deeply interconnected hierarchy of semi-autonomous whole-parts in mutual relation. Thus our actions and interactions in these systems—as individuals, groups and organizations—are of utmost importance to the viability of these systems. Continue reading
“Thinking systemically also requires several shifts in perception, which lead in turn to different ways to teach and different ways to organize society” –Russell Ackoff
As living beings we each present with a physical body comprised of cells, tissue, organs and organ-systems structurally and functionally organized to support (our) life. The natural order of things is a hierarchy of constituent entities that are themselves living systems. So the issue is not whether everything is reducible to individual entities—the atomistic view—or everything is a whole—the holistic view—but rather that neither view is the absolute view. As Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in The Machine) noted “parts and wholes in a absolute sense do not exist in the domain of life.” What we have are semi-autonomous systems that are each a part of larger higher order systems. Koestler called these ‘whole-parts’ holons—wholes that are parts of other wholes—and the hierarchy they constitute a holarchy. Continue reading
Doing More For Less (of us)
Getting the most out of people is not a bad thing but in the extreme it translates into squeezing the life out of them. As Deming exclaimed, “beat horses and they will run faster—for a while.” Doing more with less implies squeezing more and more out of people until they drop. Continue reading
Richard Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve, in HRB Blog Network, spoke to the need for teams to have what he calls resonant leaders. Richard states such leaders “are able to build trusting, engaged and energizing relationships with others around them” and as a result the team is able to “adapt, innovate and sustain performance. “ But what makes one able to do this? Continue reading
There seems to be a growing acceptance of the notion that we each are free independent individuals and as a consequence we not only can, but also should, order life in society accordingly.
Being free independent individuals necessarily means people can freely do as they please or more specifically that they should do as they wish for their own pleasure—(my) life is all about me getting what’s mine without interference. Apart from being unencumbered in seeking what we want, this belief also implies there is no obligation that an individual has to other individuals, because such obligation would be tantamount to an imposition (by another) upon one’s freedom to act as he/she desires. Continue reading
Alessandro Di Fiore, CEO of ECSI, reports that a recent ECSI survey found “68% of business leaders firmly believe that great innovators are born and cannot be made.” Alessandro also notes in a HBR blog post “scientific evidence of the last 30 years has proven just the opposite.” So is this just a little factoid that almost 7 in 10 business leaders get wrong and that matters little—like who cares, it’s no big deal? So what would a leader who holds this misunderstanding do or not do? Continue reading