Either/Or Thinking

The Newtonian-Cartesian dualism that informed the development of our socio-economic system also guides us to think in dichotomous or dualistic terms—win/lose, us/them, liberal/conservative, profit/loss, good/bad, favorable/unfavorable—and also to believe that if something is not quantifiable it isn’t important. Such thinking promotes judgment of experience not learning from experience. Because of this either/or habit of thought we don’t quite understand the depth of our experiences. Continue reading

Of Fades and Failures

Why is it that many great ideas for improving how we manage our organizations become fades and ultimately fade away?

Fades and failures were frequently seen during the 1980’s and early 1990’s when many top-level executives sought to colonize—but not adapt to—the principles of quality management. They wanted the benefits of quality but not its antecedents. Those in authority expected results, without first making the appropriate transformation in their assumptions, beliefs and values.  In effect, thinking and doing were contradictory and predictably, the result was failure.  For the organization’s employees quality became another (management) flavor of the month.  Why is this so common a phenomenon? Continue reading

Objects or Subjects

Newton’s laws of motion afford the quantification of the motion of matter (i.e. objects) and correspondingly by way of calculation the determination of the movement of the objects.   It is because of these laws we can determine the effect of two objects interacting (colliding), such as when a golf club hits a golf ball or what happens when we try to move a large object without applying an adequate external force.

Given that the conception of our system of economics was informed by Newtonian mechanics, it is not surprising to see J.B. Watson’s and B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism—the use of the stimulus-response—informing the methods of management. Just as Newton was able to precisely determine the movement of objects, management theorist and practitioners sought a similar result for the behavior of people. Continue reading