February 13, 2021
Random Thoughts on “Organization.”
We live in tumultuous times. But it does not have to be tumultuous. And it does not have to be political. Nor does it have to favor teams, or economic or political theory. But it DOES have to understand history. There is Tumult that happens. And there is Tumult that is self-imposed, or manufactured by us. In both cases, we have an obligation to find ways past our Tumult or relegate ourselves to the dustbin of historical footnotes.
In 1949, James Parkes published a book entitled Whose Land?, which dealt with the history of the Middle East and the religious and political impact of the area. He made a point that my reading it in 2020, felt was pertinent to how we view the world today.
He pointed out that with the evolving rule or Jewish, Christian and Islamic entities, the military power and impact, why did the factional nations of Europe rise to such dominance over the centuries while the Middle East remained relatively static in their ability to dominate?
The ability to organize. Organize thought, organize governance, organize science, organize technology, organize socialization, organize religion, organize castes, and organize countries.
I hadn’t looked at history in those terms, but I have always been fascinated by systems. And systems of organization is part of my fascination. In looking at team sports, I look at how teams are constructed, how they are managed, how they are developed and what their probability of either winning, or staying in the range of winning.
Capitalism and democracy are inherently NOT organized, but they exist in the United States, and now, the rest of the world, because of their value as incubators for new ideas, new directions, new values and change. BUT they are also existing in a current world in which the value of organization flourishes. Organization is part of the educational structure of the modern world – and the ability to construct and organize new ideas, new innovations, increases the speed in which they get to market, or get into the social fabric of our society.
“Poor organizational design and structure results in a bewildering morass of contradictions: confusion within roles, a lack of coordination among functions, failure to share ideas, and slow decision making bring managers unnecessary complexity, stress and conflict,” wrote Gill Corkindale in the Harvard Business Review. “Often those at the top of an organization are oblivious to these problems or, worse, pass them off as challenges to overcome or opportunities to develop.”
Ironically, our public-facing organizations, struggle to create functional organizational structure, because they are modeling their structure on another organization that is dysfunctional. Organizations that are dependent on consumers, struggle to communicate with their consumers, and at the same time, provide a function that works internally and provides focus going forward for management and employees. A typical response is to overwhelm any issues with sheer volume and resources.
In management studies of Organization, most organizational structure is broken down into different models – hierarchies, and paths of communication and structure – the problem is that every business, every individual, and every problem, can use SOME elements of a model, but the implementation of an organization, without management and consideration, is wasteful – like a cigarette lighter in a new car, of someone who doesn’t smoke.
Lack of people, who are trained to look at Organizational Structures, and understand the management of evolution, the timing of Change, and adaptation of environmental adjustments, is every organizations greatest obstacle. It is difficult to “find” those people, if an organization doesn’t know what it is looking for, and struggles to articulate what they either need, or want. It is even harder to train people to look at an organization’s structure, if they don’t know what to look for conceptually, but attempt to copy what has been done elsewhere.
The greatest, and most mobile and flexible assets for any organization are the human resources. But the asset considered by most modern companies, to be the most disposable, are the human resources.
Media and communications has become organized. Although English is considered a central and dominant language, it is a language that accepts and embraces new vocabulary coined or borrowed, almost daily. But changing language, is similar to the development of unique systems within every organization. It is fluid. It evolves.
I look at the athletic careers of Michael Jordan and Dan Marino to see superb, but temporary abilities, that fail with individual efforts in both their cases, and with Marino, never coming to fruition – because of the lack or organizational coherence to form the team around him. And in Jordan’s case, eight years of recognized individual excellence, is highlighted through the organizational coherence that was allowed him to achieve a team excellence that gained him so much more recognition than Marino ever achieved. When we communicate our goals, we often use the words “team,” and “contribution,” yet we reward individually, and use titles and promotions to influence the behavior of individuals.
Militarily, the Mongolian armies were unmatched, but it is Rome and Greece and China, that we recognize the enduring impact and power of organization.
In today’s politics, a party of “freedom” or “no government (i.e. organization), cannot manage a country of 350 million people. That isn’t going to work on any level – and history tells us this. As much as anyone may protest or agonize over “socialist” or “Progressive,” policy proposals – they should be evaluated on the basis of “organization,” because the organization quality will work over the “label,” that defines a policy.
A DIS-mantling, of social, governmental, religious, economic, political structures has not existed in the history of humanity – and in fact, humans would not be a dominant species, without organization. Something much bigger and more physically powerful than humanity, would be ruling the world.
When we build organizations, we want to craft them, just as we craft a building, or a sculpture, or a complex dress, or meal. We craft an organization based on seamless, streamlined, intuitive movement. We look at an organization based on scalability – the ability to scale down, if complexity doesn’t exist, or scale up, if complexity and scale increases.
We create organizations based on financial and human resources – space and time. We look for balance, so that one aspect doesn’t expand or contract faster than other connected aspects. We look at timelines, both immediate and future. We examine and inventory assets: both spatial, financial, existing, historical and potential. We don’t look at “competition,” but allied goals and synchronicity. We look at ourselves holistically, but we look at historical and potential movement, and patterns.