Help in creating a dialogue - the process. LO17588

Dani & John Truty (
Sat, 28 Mar 1998 10:57:43 -0600

Hello, I am requesting some help.

I have been following many of the threads in this list for sometime,
and have found them thought provoking, and at times, exhilarating and
troublesome (all a matter of perspective). My day job is that of Quality
Systems, and Technical Training & Development Manager for the Chicago
Plant of M&M MARS, this is a manufacturing site with approximately 600
associates. I am currently involved in an Associate Development task
group. Our mission is one of creating a developmental process for all the
plant associates (hourly as well as management). This task group must
deliver systems that are compatible with a developing team environment
(high involvement work teams). One of our action items is to create an
environment conducive to learning. After several meetings of our group it
has become very obvious that learning, as it relates to the workplace, has
many meanings in our culture. Some, so divergent as to seemingly defy
compromisable ground on which to build this environment. Yes there are
local initiatives, and some successful (at least by a few of our
definitions). The stress is beginning to show. As the need for tradition
efficiency (measured as $/tonne ; Kg/hr) to improve competes with notions
of participative management, involved work teams and the need for
"training" outside the classroom (self-study, mentorships, developed
informal training, i.e. that which requires little or "no" labor hours)
there exists a tension followed by business as usual attitude. This
organization is a traditional one, fairly flat (4 levels at the plant
level) but with recognizable hierarchy, uses a lose MBO process, and is
family owned. There are only of few non-skilled jobs left and in the past
fifteen or so years the labor force went from 2300 to 600 through
benevolent restructuring (voluntary separation pay plans, early
retirement, normal attrition). The workforce is fairly diverse (by sex,
race, education, age). Management is predominantly white male, senior
management at the plant is female and her staff is one third female. This
plant has a pay-for-skills process the evolved into a pay for performance
process in the last two years.

What do I need help with? The Associate Development task group has
decided that we need to put the agenda on the table so to speak. We want
to hold a forum with approximately a third of the salaried associates in
the building (about 25) with the idea of surfacing assumptions about
learning in the workplace. The task group feels that a better
understanding of the beliefs of influential associates would guide a
process to build a learning environment. That is not to say that an end
product would be that collectives ideas, but more of a terrain mapping
exercise for understanding. We, the Associate Development group, carry
the belief that inorder to have this location be successful (i.e. in the
business sense of the word) we must also create the social systems that
allow the associates, as human beings, to be successful. As one of the
Five Principles of MARS this mutuality must exist.

Truth in advertising - I am a doctoral student in Adult Education at
Northern Illinois University. My areas of interest are HRD, especially
Learning in the Workplace, Women's Studies (particularly feminist research
methodologies) and critical social theory. I am a trained biologist and
industrial statistician (to attest to my training in positivist thinking)
but have found a greater draw to critical theory and constructivist

Finally, what I need is to locate someone who can facilitate a
dialogue (Bohmian preferably) session for that group of twenty five
mentioned above. If any of you out there are interested, or know someone
who is skilled and interested please contact me off-line at -or-
(773) 745-2269 that's my office and I'm there usually from
7am to 5pm CST.

Thank you
John Truty


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