Working Smarter vs. Working Harder LO30284

Date: 06/20/03

Replying to LO30202 --

I realized that I replied to Malcolm's question without including the LO
list: Dated June 5, 2003:

Well you are right that much of my "experience" relates to hierarchic
structures! I spent 25 year at IBM. During that time, I also spent six
years doing a leadership and empowered "upside-down" organization. I
gained all the joy that comes from unleashing human spirits that way. It
was fantastic!. But it dissipated as soon as I moved on.

Later I changed an organization of 650 people, starting in the operations
area (1/3 of the staff). We truly changed the whole organization and I
actually was promoted to CEO as a result of the positive progress.
Subsequently it was taken over by a larger French company, and the
hierarchy quickly re-emerged.

I have run small companies of under 40 people (technology startups) and
the people are all looking to the boss in spite of delegation and
empowerment. So the sum of my experience is that the desired end state is
somewhat unstable UNLESS the key man (not necessarily the CEO) is
supporting it through consistent actions.

How does that match your experience? I am open to counter examples that
have sustained themselves for a long period of time (my IBM experiment
lasted for six years until I left). I still get my people saying it was
the best time they ever had in IBM (now 11 years ago)!

>Keith, I've heard this assertion repeatedly over the years, but remain to
>be convinced. It seems to me that the declaration that the "person in
>charge" is the single key factor in sustaining "good" behavior, which
>must also be "rewarded" only works, if at all, in circumstances where the
>organization is by definition a structure hierarchy where power flows
>down from above. Yet the LO literature abounds in cases where change is
>initiated and sustained in other ways, in organizations which are not
>structured as you seem to assume is always the case.


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