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Rethinking Complexity

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Posts tagged with the category Organizational Culture

Agreements are the currency of human systems. Many agreements are implicit social or cultural conventions. We’re not really conscious that we’ve agreed to anything when we stop at red lights, for example, or when we allow people to exit the elevator before we enter. Other agreements are hard won and inconsistently implemented. When I...
Cuba imports cigars from him. He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels. He is the only man to ever ace a Rorschach test. He once taught a German Sheppard how to bark in Russian. Do you recognize any of these lines? They're the product of a brilliant advertising campaign called "The Most Interesting Man in the World"...
I like to challenge. Not in a competitive sense, but in an inquisitive kind of way. No idea or ideology is safe near me. The status quo should tremble when I walk by. In fact, it would if it could. Naturally, when the subject of competition in an organizational setting arises, I feel moved to ask a few questions, like: What’s the purpose of...
Photo of Robert J. Marshak courtesy of American University
When people get together, a lot of things tend to go unsaid. These "things" typically include thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and assumptions about themselves, about other group members, or about the way the group engages. Organizational consultant Robert J. Marshak put that theory to the test several years ago during a workshop he...
Why do we all seem to be begging to belong today? Kids beg for iPhones. Connecting via text is still connecting. Just ask anyone. Striking a balance between being alone and being part of a group—a team, a club, or an organization—seems to be the seesaw of life. Rollo May once wrote, "Loneliness is such an omnipotent and painful...
Culture links people together. It does so, according to organizational theorist Edgar H. Schein, by allowing people to band together as a group and develop a unique set of beliefs and practices that are absorbed and accepted by all of its members. In time, the group’s beliefs and practices, which consist of shared assumptions, perceptions,...
At 5:41 p.m. on May 22nd, 2011, a powerful tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. Its 200-mph winds carved a path of destruction as it barrelled through the town in 45 seconds. That same, horrific day led to the beginning of an incredible story of compassion at Joplin's St. John’s Regional Medical Center—now called Mercy Hospital Joplin...
As a newcomer in the field of organizational consulting, I have the advantage of being either the naively arrogant child who declares the emperor has no clothes! or the person who comes from a foreign land and is forced to quickly confront the differences in the visible and communicated culture. When I decided to change careers in my early 40s, I...
Photo of Roger Penske courtesy of IndyMotorSpeedway.com
Roger Penske may have been the communitarian entrepreneur who spearheaded the transformation of Detroit for the last Super Bowl seen played on Michigan soil, but his real credit ought to be given to him for assisting a "shift" in the auto retailing world. You see, Penske has applied a systems lens to the interconnectivity of dealer...
The notion of perfection has been on my mind a lot lately. While working with a group that is feeling the pressure and uncertainty of the challenges it is confronting, I notice the discussions seem to swirl around a notion, unspoken but heard by all: “Whatever we do, it better be the right answer—we can’t afford to fail!”...
Don’t think you can’t be fired for doing the right thing.  This week, San Francisco Weekly reported on the case of Frank Lee, a San Francisco cop who may lose his job because he didn’t execute a search warrant fast enough.  The catch?  The search warrant turned out to be illegal and Lee, a homicide investigator,...