Hard Work and Efficient Management = Success? LO28368

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 05/01/02

Replying to LO28260 --

LOvers of the good learning,

Excuse me for going back to the first message in the thread, i've been
involved in some other activities and this seemed to mee the simplest
anchorpoint. You seem to have been in a double bind: your organisation and
you (and every ther member) have created a situation of paralysis.

All actions are framed inside a system that gives meaning to the actions;
but what happens when the system signals: these actions have no meaning.
In this case, hard work and efficiency have resulted in success, upto the
point were there is no more gain. The meaning of the actions was "success"
and the system now says: "we've run out of success"; there is a constraint
that blocks further success. Because almost any manager will identify with
the success ("his success") and derives his "meaning" from the success, he
- and you - became stuck when more hard work and efficiency are no longer

The situations seems to offer two choices: more effort or do nothing. Both
"alternatives" lead to more stuckness. To resolve the situation, one
should redefine it. But this need to redefine it occures after a clear
definition of the stuckness has been formed. This would require that the
manager not only indentifies himself with the success but also with the
stuckness. In effect, he shouls have said: "Listen, i'm stuck". Most
people will redifine the situation AND the stuckness in terms they already
know: more hard work and efficiency. I assume that this happened to you
too: you cannot intervene and not intervene without addressing the problem
of stuckness and therefor you're stuck too.

This is (another) trip to Abelene. You may know this lovely motion picture
or video in which a number of cases is presented on how people and
organisation run into trouble because they make some assumptions and act
on these assumptions in such a way that they are reinforced and become
"true". With "true" i mean that all the people act as if they are true,
while at the same time the results suggest that this is not the case.

To resolve the situation, i'd suggest that you talk with the manager in
private about your stuckness - or that somebody who is trusted both by you
and the manager reflects on this situation, as a sign of the stuckness of
the organisation. Tell the story or show the movie "trip to Abelen". If
this manager wants to solve this situation, he should talk about this, for
instance using the movie "Trip to Abelene" with his management team (a
small group would be best) and then they can decide how to intervene on
the stuckness with their team.

Have to go now,


AM de Lange wrote:

> I attended yesterday evening a seminar arranged by an organisation which
> is declining. The purpose of the seminar was "What to do in this
> organisation to revert its declining". The manager of the organisation
> used a overhead projector to present his talk. He allowed his audience to
> question him during the talk. The seminar was in Afrikaans so that I have
> some difficulties in translating the topic. But I will come to that later.
> However, soon during the seminar I got a feeling of uneasiness. I decided
> not to open my mouth, but just to observe what is happening. This feeling
> of uneasiness gradually became intense. I can give two reasons. The first
> is what I know self of hard work as well as efficient management. I am
> thinking here of the non- standard part of that knowledge. The second is
> that whenever he was questioned by pointing out a problem to him, he kept
> on saying "by persevering with hard work and efficient management we will
> solve that problem". This happened not only once, but several times.
> The manager said several times that a positive state of mind for every
> member is vital. So I am glad that I did not open my mouth since my words
> would indeed have been interpreted as negative and judgemental. During my
> growing uneasiness I had to question myself several times "At de Lange, is
> it not you who are negative and judgemental? Is it not you, by your very
> decision not to speak out, who have become so much sceptic? Since you are
> involved with this organisation by another project in it, are you not
> afraid that that project would fail?"
> I am writing this contribution in the early hours of the morning after
> some sleep. I am still glad that I did not speak up because an argument
> between him and me would have developed with a possible disruption of the
> seminar. I wonder how many of the others attending the seminar also felt
> uneasy. But even that I dared not ask.
> I am fully aware of the significance of this "what do you say of what they
> say" in authentic learning, but I will write on it at another occasion.


With kind regards - met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Lelie

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