Are Hierarchies All Bad? LO31078 multiple subsystems

From: chris macrae (
Date: 05/03/04

Replying to LO31072 --

For me measurement overtrumps the potential interactions of all
sub-systems especially where as in many states in America, there are
laws on what measurement rules and hierarchy is itself a subhierarchy
of those laws

Here's an extract from Legal Scholar's Joe Bakan's book and film which elaborates

I also have a couple of slides that would be one way in my view to
start a measurement and systemic resolution - ask me at if you want those. The trick is to go back to the
word intangibles - it actually meant so hi-touch as a relationship
system that this core of value can not be measured in parts. This core
of value is the goodwill dynamic of an organisation which interestingly
compounds well over 75% of all value produced in advanced networked
economies and is future measurable to how deeply an organisation has a
big unique human context. So in fact today's global accounting and
performance numbers are when ruling alone the best possible maths to
destroy pensioners and a nation's sustainable growth, and we (system LO
people) are a wee bit late in open sourcing maths of a more literate

Notes on Roddick from Legal Scholar Joel Bakan's book/film

page 50

The people who run corporations are, for the most part, good people.
They are mothers and fathers, lovers and friends, and upstanding
citizens in their communities. Many of them want to make the world a
better place and believe their jobs provide them with opportunity to do
so. Despite their personal qualities, according to Delaware law their
duty as corporate executives is clear; they must always put the
corporation's (short-term) interests first, and not act out of concern
for anyone or anything else. As journalist Danny Schecter says: there's
a logic to big business corporations, which means certain values get
emphasised while others get de-emphasised. What gets emphasised is
always what's going to bring up the bottom line.

The consequence of this dynamic, as moral philosopher Alisdair
MacIntyre has observed is that for corporate executives: "moral
concerns are at best marginal, engaging {them} qua citizen pr qua
consumer rather than qua executive. As former Goodyear CEO Sam Gibara
said: "If you really wanted to do what matches your personal beliefs
and priorities, you'd acct differently but as a CEO you cannot do

Anita Roddick however believes its exactly this kind of moral
bifurcation between the worlds of business and life that has corrupted
businesspeople and the corporations they run. As founder and head of
the Body Shop, she was proud of the fact that she had avoided it hence
her book Business as Unusual. More recently however: "The last 3 years
have been the most painful time in my life: it has been a loss of
intimacy, it has been a loss of being is an absolute lesson
in humility"

Her story in brief: As she developed Body Shop, it became a platform
for Roddick's progressive worldview: program after program was put in
place supporting cause after cause- human rights, environment, social
justice, women's rights". In 1982 Body Shop was floated on the London
Stock Exchange. Roddick needed the money to grow. By the mid 1990s the
Body Shop came under pressure from investors. Patrick Gournay was
brought in to head the company's new business plan to promote
performance and efficiency. Roddick now looks back at the stock market
float as a "pact with the devil"- the imperative is to grow- by a small
group of people's definition, financial investors who are gamblers,
like in a casino". Things came to a head when in the wake of Seattle's
protest against the World Trade Organisation, Roddick who remained
co-chair of the company wanted Body Shop to take a stance against the
WTO. Here was a chance to do what she had always done use her business
as a platform for her values. I wanted every shop to challenge the WTO,
and now they won't do that." Soon after this Body Shop was put up for
sale. Anita's role has been diminished to a 2-year, 70day per year
contract. As the new exec chairman commented most likely top assure
investors that Roddick's corporate sensibility was no longer much of a
factor at Body Shop: "we believe in social responsibility but we are
very hard nosed about profit. We know that success is measured by the
bottom line"

Chris Macrae
London Systems Change Collaboration City Events

>Chris, great questions. Great axioms. Here is my experience.

>All of us know in my company that there is a hierarchy, and that there
>is "the process" by which work gets done. We also understand that the
>process can be viewed as several interdependent subprocesses. We also
>understand that there are numerous exceptions to "the process."
>80-20 is the name of the game. 80% flow through the normal process,
>20% actually take 80% of the time and energy, and don't flow through
>the normal process.


"chris macrae" <>

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