Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Unintended Surprise

Who do you think is the real "designer" of a firm?

Supposedly you think it is the management team up in the top ranks. Right they have the overview from above but can they see what really drives action?

How often do we see the C-level folks down in the lines working side by side with the operators? How often is the engineer (or specialist) talking to the C-level or operators and in which attitude?

The operators within the three cultures of a firm (executives, engineers, operators) are the ones who tackle the uncertainty of daily work that could not be predicted by engineers 100% in advance (EdgarSchein, MIT Sloan School of Management, The Cultures of Management - The Key to Organizational Learning). They are probably the most underrated people within the organization.

To cope with the challenges of the 21st century EdgarSchein proposes the following (which I can underwrite through own experience within the three cultures at an automotive plant):

"Until executives, engineers, and operators discover that they use different languages, make different assumptions about what is important, and until they learn to treat the other cultures as 
valid and normal, we will continue to see failures in organizational learning efforts. We will see powerful innovations at the operator level that are ignored, subverted or actually punished, we will see technologies that are grossly under-utilized, we will see angry employees railing against the impersonal programs of re-engineering and down-sizing, we will see frustrated executives who know what they want to accomplish but feel impotent in pushing their ideas through complex human systems, and we will see frustrated academics wondering why certain ideas like employee involvementsocio-technical systems analyses, high commitment organizationsand concepts of social responsibility continue to be ignored, only to be reinvented under some other label a few decades later."(taken from the above article)

We certainly have the chance in our hands as executives, engineers, and operators to co-create our future together - dialogue will be the first step. For doing the dialogue it needs time we should put into place a "new" management philosophy. On that in my next post in
about week.

Cheers and looking forward on what positive experiences you have done yourself within your own organization with the "three levels of culture"

No comments: