Don’t let anyone get “too big for their boots” (and stand on our toes)!

Core theory shouldn’t mean that some people can become “too big for their boots”

The core and the essence of the organization

I learned about Art Kleiner’s core theory this week.  Organizations revolve around the ‘interests’ of a core group of people.  And so they should, because there is always a core who provide the organization with its very essence.

Recognize the core, protect the core, but don’t ‘spoil it’

Sadly though, organizations are often corrupt.  The organization isn’t protecting and nourishing the core that gives it is essence. It is simply allowing a handful of people to claim ‘protection’ money.

All organization theory is an exercise in limiting moral hazard

All organization theory is really an exercise in limiting ‘moral hazard’.  We don’t want people being so privileged that their personal privilege insulates them from the realities in the world.

So without diminishing the essence of the core, which is also the essence of the organization, we don’t allow our core to become “too big for their boots”.  It’s not good for them.  It’s not good for us.

Building an organization that nourishes the core and involves us too

Here are 5 “wicked” ideas and questions that we use to help people understand their organization in healthy terms.

1.  We make the company every day by what we do.

2.  Together we act out a story.

3.  There is more than one story we could tell.

4.  Why do I have to speak for you?  What can’t everyone speak for themselves?

5.  What does the story we have chosen say about our relationships with each other and are we willing to talk about why we have chosen this set of relationships?

Why have we chosen this set of relationships?

This is the wicked question and test whether the feet and boots fit, so to speak.

Are people able to explain why the relationships in the organization as they are? Are they able to say these things aloud and is what they say acceptable and motivating?

Why have we chosen this set of relationships?

You don’t even need an answer.  You just have to watch whether people are willing to ask the question and answer the question.

When this is an acceptable conversation, you are in healthy place.

When this conversation is taboo, it is time to look for better company (or take over and lead the organization yourself).

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If our words for happiness and sadness were different, we wouldn’t feel muddled

I want to follow up Gaye’s comment

“ I’ve not seen happiness or sadness as fixed points. My own experience told me long ago that both come and go. While I’m not that good at going with the flow, I remind myself of that old Quaker saying “this too shall pass”.

However, I find it hard to be so accepting of grief and hurt and sadness and pain, and I am surprised at the anger I feel in the cold-blooded way that many casually brush all those feelings aside with this quote from Gibran, as if one compensated for the other. Contrast yes, but compensate no.”

I don’t disagree with Gaye. I would like to extend the thinking.

Empathy

Discussions about happiness become complicated when we are entangle questions about the nature of happiness and sadness with our ability to understand the happiness and sadness of others.

We vary a lot in our ability to empathize with others. We are also more empathetic in some situations and less in others. I suspect that we find it easier to be empathetic when we have been in a similar situation to the one we are observing.

Quite often we look for empathy from people who are simply don’t understand. They are out of their depth.

Belonging

If someone does not have experience to understand our distress, it does not really matter. What matters is that guiding them may be an extra task when we are already strained.

What really matters is when they are in power in some way. Their lack of empathy denies our reality and we experience rejection on top of grief. In theory, the two together could be sufficient to spin us out of the natural butterfly loop of life and out of the natural recovery from grief as time passes.

Appreciation

Almost in contradiction, but not completely so, close relationships such as marriage are more likely to flourish when one partner helps the other partner elaborate good times. Yes, listening in bad times is important. But of more importance is drawing out positive stories in positive times. Recounting good stories deepens our understanding of how good things work and our capacity to come back into the butterfly loop of flourishing when we have spun out of the orbit is widened.

In plain language, when we are struggling with the awfulness of life, we need the good times as a map to find our way back into the natural cycle of happiness and sadness. Becoming trapped in either is illness.

Semantics of happiness

The real issue is the ‘theory’ that we brought to the discussion. When we define happiness and sadness as separate and different, then we ask how much of one should we have and how much of the other should we have.

If we had a word in English to define happiness and sadness and the seasons of our life as one thing, stretching in a straight line or in that looping butterfly shape, we would ask different questions.

If someone is sad, then we act accordingly knowing that there will also be a time when they are happy and we will act accordingly them too.

I like Khalil Gibran’s words because he illustrated this notion of oneness. We find it hard to grasp the idea because of the words that we begin with.

If we had started with a different kind of word, we would have a totally different understanding. What that word should be, I don’t know, but flourishing and thriving are good starts. Languishing is the opposite of flourishing.

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To be a good manager, teacher or psychologist, I must believe in you fully

I know that learning is social

I teach.  I know that people learn dramatically more when they feel part of a common venture.

We understand a little about social learning

Social learning has barely been researched but we know a little.

  • We know we can stop people learning very effectively by excluding them – even inadvertently ~by loss of eye contact and they way we tell stories.
  • We know the Pymaglion effect is a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy.   My students will be as good as I think they are.

But the process of learnin begins when I show deep respect for who my students are and what they bring to my life.

E E Cummings on recognition

American poet E. E. Cummings puts it well:

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

To be an effective teacher, to be an effective manager, to be an effective psychologist ~ I must believe in you, 100%, without reservation.