Monday, September 08, 2014

Are managers worrying enough?

@flowchainsensei (Bob Marshall) thinks "it’s pretty obvious that managers don’t lie awake nights worrying about the effectiveness of their wider organisations" and "it’s pretty obvious that managers don’t lie awake nights worrying about how to motivate, engage their staff".

For both tweets he invokes the #POSIWID hashtag.

I don't think it's obvious that managers are not worried . Even if most managers achieve little or nothing to improve the effectiveness of their organizations, or the motivation of their staff, that doesn't mean they aren't worried about these things. Stafford Beer's POSIWID principle tells us that the effectiveness of an organization is not always a straightforward consequence of the intentions or anxieties of its managers.

On his blog, Bob himself explains Why Corporates Can't Change. He also argues that "in most organisations, pretending about doing things meets more needs than actually doing those things". In other words, It's All An Act.

But this is surely one of the primary sources of organizational anxiety - the contradiction between pretence and reality. Is Bob really complaining that managers aren't worrying enough? Surely worry (or lack of worry) is a symptom rather than a cause?

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