Org. culture LO13769

Carol Johnson (
Thu, 29 May 1997 09:51:31 -0700

Replying to LO13711 --

"Doc" wrote:

>In living organisms, various treatment modalities can be described to
>compensate for imbalances or dysfunctions within the body. Personality
>disorders are a whole new challenge.

>What would you consider as the primary source of the personality within
>an organization? Is it most reflective of the governance element (board,
>CEO, senior management group)? Does it get formed by the structure of
>the organization?

Doc -

My short answers to your questions are: Actions vs. words, yes and yes.
However, never one to stop short, I've provided the long version as well.
It kept getting longer and longer - much of this could be considered
thinking out loud. Please forgive the verbosity.

The workshop you attended sounds fascinating and I would love to hear more
about the discoveries etc. that occurred there.

Your observations about treatment modalities compensating for imbalances
or dysfunctions is particularly interesting. I feel modern medicine has
come light years in creating mechanical body parts to compensate for
ailing human parts. i.e. dialysis, respirators, pacemakers etc. In fact,
people can be "kept alive" using these machines and are not pronounced
"dead" until the brain no longer functions. The brain/mind is that one
organ that truly defines life from death - yet is still unable to be
mechanically duplicated.

In addition, medicine often cannot explain how the "will" to live or die
can override the best of technology. In other words - the impact the mind
has on the physical health of a person is overwhelming. Patients who are
able to cope, think positively and even laugh heal faster, live better and
sometimes cure themselves.

People get these characteristics (or personality traits) from their life
experiences, environment and influence of those that mean the most to them
(parents, teachers, siblings, mentors....).

So where is this going? The above can be said of organizations. No matter
what treatment modalities are introduced in an organization to cure it's
ills, or improve it's functions (Mission statements, training initiatives,
brown bag lunches with the execs., consultants etc.) the corporate mind or
personality has the power to override. The organizational personality is
created by past experiences of employees, work environment (Physical and
emotional,) and influence of Sr. Level staff. A work environment that not
only allows but encourages fun, learning, creativity and honesty has a
better chance of being healthy. The past experience of front-line staff
that any initiative is simply "Flavor of the Month" will doom even the
best efforts towards change or improvement.

Finally, the impact of the actions of Sr. level execs. cannot be
underestimated. This group must set an example regarding the importance
of a new initiative through not only words but ACTION. "Walk the Talk"
should not be a slogan but a mode of conduct among management.

I'm most certainly interested in your comments. As a corporate
training/development director, I often feel like an organizational
dialysis machine. However, if the company's brain or personality
decides not to cooperate, none of my technology will work. I focus on
keeping the mind of my company healthy - then I worry about the
processes/procedures or daily functions. Just some food for thought!

Carol Johnson <>
WEA Insurance
45 Nob Hill Road
Madison, WI 53713
Ph  (608) 276-4000 ext. 423
Fax (608) 276-9119

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