Some Final Thoughts

20151104_144313This is the 63rd post in OUCH! The Misfit Between Theory and Experience in Organizations. It’s also the last post in what will soon be an eBook. But certainly not the last post on this particular topic I’m quite sure!

In many ways writing these posts has been about getting my thinking straight and as coherent as possible in terms of my perspective on organizations and our experience within them. To that end things have gone well!

In addition, as I have written these posts I seem to have become more sensitive to the amount of OUCH! in organizations and the multitude of things that cause it.

As an example, some time ago I was sitting in a large room listening to a senior talent management executive talk to about 50 or 60 people about what they were doing on the talent management front, right from recruiting, onboarding, development, retention and succession. Pretty much the entire gamut of an experience in an organization. What they were doing was also pretty much leading edge in this area; managing the employee experience from arrival to retirement.

I knew this person and it was nice to hear them talk about their leading edge work. Yet as I sat there I began to wonder, really wonder, what would happen if they simply stopped doing all of it!

I came to the conclusion that not much of anything would happen.

Of course there would be some transition to this place where none of this happened but pretty quickly those people listening to this presentation would figure out their own ways of managing their experience from arrival to retirement in their organizations. They didn’t need to have their experience ‘managed’.

However, we seem to have come to a place in organizations where we think and feel it is necessary to ‘manage’ everything. We no longer even think whether or not this adds any value, yet alone causes OUCH! and real damage.

As I began writing OUCH! I had a perspective that a lot of the reasons for this was our unquestioned assumption that we can ‘manage’ to a state of certainty. More or less 62 posts have illustrated and reflected on this. I still agree with this perspective.

As I come to this final post however I wonder if we may look back 50 or 100 years from now and recognize that these things we do in organizations that cause so much OUCH! are simply another form of an attempt at social control.

Not much different from the rules of behavior in the Courts of royalty from hundreds of years ago. Not much different than the rules of religion. We look back now and see many of these rules as nothing more than an effort by those in power to manage and control those not in power. At the time these things were not seen as this, they were seen as ways to create and maintain stability; certainty, of a particular way of life.  And many of these ‘rules’ created huge amounts of OUCH!. Yet of course you were not allowed to talk about that; that was one of the rules!

Changing these rules, these patterns, these left loops was not easy then and it is not easy now. Do we need a revolution? Perhaps, perhaps not. Do we need resistance? Definitely!

As I sat down to write this last post I assumed I needed to end this writing with some powerful insight, some moving words that would capture the essence of this work.

But it seems this is not the case. I will simply close with a question.

What will you do to reduce the OUCH! in your organizational experience?

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3 Responses

  1. tOUCHé, Tom.

    Great insights into the unavoidably wiggly world of organization.

    Good luck with the e-book.

  2. Thanks for connecting in Chris! I’ll send you a copy of the e-Book when done. I have your book on my bookshelf – https://www.amazon.ca/Informal-Coalitions-Mastering-Dynamics-Organizational/dp/0230019919 – so you can keep mine somewhere in your cyberspace!

    • That’s great, Tom, on both counts!

      I look forward to reading it and reacquainting myself with the excellent points you’ve made I over the past several months.

      I trust this won’t be your last contribution on the subject. Much remains to be done to shift the conversation.

      Still, you’ve lit the tOUCH paper. Let’s hope that it sets off some fireworks!

      All the best, Chris

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