Organizational alienation
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Human beings design constraints in a system. Then the system creates behavior, and people adjust the system. There are places in this loop, where human unconscious has potentially huge leverage in......

Human beings design constraints in a system. Then the system creates behavior, and people adjust the system. There are places in this loop, where human unconscious has potentially huge leverage in the long term development. When facing a challenge human mind does its best to cope with the the change by learning and acting. The more threatening the challenge is, the more the unconscious defense mechanisms protect the mind from anxiety. Defensing always has a flavor of self-deceit. It is often difficult to judge how much a certain choice is defensing and how much coping. Learning, by the way, is laborious and threatening, and thus often causes defensing. The talk will shortly present defense mechanisms. Then we will explore four common, significant and painful patterns in organizations, magnified by defensive behavior:

Three conflicting interests
Gaps between Customer and Producers
Competing projects
Overspecialization leading to coordination chaos

I have called the general phenomenon Organizational Alienation. Based on my 15 years in studying and developing large SW organizations, I have chosen three levers that you can pull in everyday decisions to change the direction:

From overspecialization to deep competencies having wide responsibilities
From avoiding conflict to passion to learn
From batching to flow

The most effective arena to create change is teams making decisions, both the front-line and management teams. Every member of the organization can influence.

More in: Business , Spiritual
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  • 1. Organizational Alienation An experience report of 15 years of developing organizations. Ari Tikka, LESS 2011, 31.10.2011 www.AriTikka.com Alienation? Alienation refers to theseparation of things thatnaturally belong together,or to put antagonismbetween things that areproperly in harmony. -- Karl Marx, influenced byLudwig Feuerbach www.AriTikka.com
  • 2. Who says? !  Structural dynamics!  Embedded software!  Organizational therapist!  Agile and Lean consultant!  Lifelong interest in the mind!  Intensive Zen meditationAll models are wrong, some are useful. (GPE Box) www.AriTikka.com The natural evolution of an organization www.AriTikka.com
  • 3. Specialized professional coordinators" www.AriTikka.com Coordination chaos Expensive to coordinate the resources! Slow to manage the portfolio! Waste! Exhaustion!V A L U E! C O S T! www.AriTikka.com
  • 4. The principles www.AriTikka.com The principles causing Organizational Alienation" "1.  Overspecialization 2.  Batching 3.  Conflict avoidance www.AriTikka.com
  • 5. Overspecialization" - Idling and bottlenecks www.AriTikka.com Big batches"- hide details, hide reality www.AriTikka.com
  • 6. Conflict = mismatch !  Mac Thesaurus: “a conflict between his business and domestic life: clash, incompatibility, incongruity, friction; mismatch, variance, difference, divergence, contradiction, inconsistency. ANTONYMS harmony.” !  Often unpleasant… !  The opposite of avoiding conflict? !  Seek conflict? !  Resolve conflicts? ! Beyond conflict? www.AriTikka.com The countermeasures of " Organizational Alienation 1.  Overspecialization 1.  Wide roles" 2.  Batching 2.  Flow 3.  Conflict avoidance 3.  Greed to learn www.AriTikka.com
  • 7. Relevance? " Why these patterns? !  Verb / doing!  Coverage? !  Space / structure - Overspecialization !  Time / dynamics – Batching !  Consciousness / decision / meta / control / choice / forces / interests / human needs – Conflict avoidance!  Can I influence? How? !  Granularity / holographic principle / pervasiveness / generality !  Enable micro- and macro level interventions www.AriTikka.com The human factor www.AriTikka.com
  • 8. Consciousness? !  Consciousness is an anticipation device !  Makes decisions on behalf of the whole. !  Passive -> Adaptive -> Anticipative !  Mechanical -> Plant -> Mammal!  Organizational metaphors !  Machine -> conscious by elite !  Organic -> distributed consciousness!  How is Alienation effecting the consciousness? www.AriTikka.com Why groups are central? !  Collective!  Immediate!  Full bandwidth communication !  People always join bigger organizations through subgroups. www.AriTikka.com
  • 9. Why to choose alienation " – why not connection? !  Culture, values and assumptions of the country and industry !  Efficiency <-> Robustness !  Long term <-> Short term!  Organizational culture and system!  Never underestimate stupidity !  Fear!  Shame / Guilt!  Anxiety www.AriTikka.com The unconscious " decision making!  Coping!  Defensing “The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.”!  Change resistance www.AriTikka.com
  • 10. Resistance is a perspective Leader’s point of viewIndividual’s point of view Fear, Change Shame, Anxiety Change www.AriTikka.com Individual Defenses" !  Pathological ! Split, Denial !  Immature !  Phantasy, Projection, Acting Out, Procrastination !  Neurotic !  Dissociation, Intellectualization !  Mature !  Humor, Altruism, Concentrating to the essential http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_mechanism www.AriTikka.com
  • 11. Group defenses !  Humans as tribal animals have functional group communication patterns !  Dependency !  Fight-Flight !  Pair forming!  Sometimes the group uses these patterns as defenses and the real task is forgotten www.AriTikka.com The Power of Culture Explicit Realizing" values Truth Basic assumptions www.AriTikka.com
  • 12. Organizational defenses !  Organizations are designed to produce" waste and error, in order to avoid " embarrassment and threat, " and to cover unacceptable acts. !  It is indiscussable. Indiscussablility is indiscussable. But individuals know. !  Results in skilled incompetence and " organizational depression Chris Argyris: Overcoming Organizational Defenses, " Facilitating Organizational Learning. 1990. www.AriTikka.com The contribution of defenses " to the principles of Alienation" 1.  Overspecialization 1.  Wide roles" 2.  Batching 2.  Flow 3.  Conflict avoidance 3.  Greed to learn www.AriTikka.com
  • 13. Examples www.AriTikka.com The Gap From firefighter" to change driver!Able and Wide roles! willing people Flow ! Greed to learn! R&D Product management Technology Customer www.AriTikka.com
  • 14. Overspecialization and batches go together Marketing &" Sites! Program! Consulting! Sales! Customer! End user!Explicit" Handovers"Documentable! Batches! Tacit! Relearning! www.AriTikka.com Is this possible?" Why not? How? Wide roles! Flow ! Consulting! Marketing &" Greed to learn! Sites! Sales! Program! Customer! End user! ! ! www.AriTikka.com
  • 15. Three Conflicting Interests Investor s interest" Capital market Customers " Management" Interest subculture Market Customer" interface" subculture Production/" development" subculture Workers interest" Production realities www.AriTikka.com Overcoming " Wide roles! Alienation Flow ! Overcoming Greed to learn! Defenses ! !Gemba Flow www.AriTikka.com
  • 16. Summary www.AriTikka.com From Alienation to Connection 1.  Overspecialization 1.  Wide roles and responsibilities !  Knowledge waste !  Deep competencies in dialogue !  Coordination chaos !  Sharing workload and learning2.  Batching 2.  Flow !  Weak feedback !  Immediate and consequential !  Hide details !  Work with and learn from reality3.  Conflict avoidance 3.  Greed to learn !  Ignorance and mistakes !  Wisdom !  Alienation !  Empowerment www.AriTikka.com