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Posts tagged ‘Organization Wisdom’

Unwoven threads

The wind-driven rain poured down the windows on yesterday’s rainy, November afternoon.

On a break, I looked out the window and saw the last rose of fall. With a snip of the shears …

it was inside, filling the room with its color and fragrance.

In the mist of work and life, I’m contemplating a variety of ideas that have crossed my path in the last few days. I’m still integrating them into my mental map. So for now, I’m going to point the way to them:

Writing about leadership roles in emerging systems, Peggy Holman has updated her proposed list. Read about system roles including Bridge, Artist, and Disturber. I’m considering what roles I play and have played as well as asking her question, “What roles would you add or change?”

Petsy Fink writes about her encounters at a senior citizens home in Germany. One of my questions in reflection, “How do our organizations not only honor our elders, but actively engage their wisdom in creating our future?”

Another interesting thread comes from the Interpersonal Neurobiology world. David Rock wrote about a new study that shows we human beings are on auto-pilot about half of the time. We live in the stories we tell in our brains – which is useful for “goal setting and strategizing”  – and live in the experience of the moment. Being focused on the here and now makes us more flexible in our responses.  The question is, “How do I increase my awareness of which mode I’m functioning in at any given time in order to be most effective?”

What is on your list of unfinished threads that you’re integrating into your map of the world?

The assumptions of scientific management

in 1908 Frederick Taylor carried a stopwatch in to a steel plant in Philadelphia and began the time and motion studies that would lead to his publication, “The Principles of Scientific Management.” His goal was to find the “one best method” of work – substituting “science for rule of thumb.”

We no longer are surprised by the efficiency and productivity that scientific management delivers. But I would suggest that we have forgotten the six basic assumptions that Taylor makes. Here is a summary as set out by Postman in Technopoly (p. 51):

  1. The primary goal of labor and thought is efficiency.
  2. Technical calculation in all respects is superior to human judgment.
  3. Human judgment cannot be trusted because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unnecessary complexity.
  4. Subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking.
  5. What cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value.
  6. The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.

I’ve been pondering the impact that these assumptions have on our organizations and how they influence our decisions and actions on a daily basis. Are we tempted to make everything in our lives more efficient? Are we tempted to apply efficiency standards to our relationships too? Are we at risk of trying to measure things that require wisdom and not process and procedure?

We forget these assumptions at our peril.

Postman, N. 1993. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York, NY, Vintage.

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