Human Enterprise: Healthy and Thriving Organization

Various “abstract” thoughts on the “nature” of Organizations and Human Enterprises… Welcome your thoughts!

Organizations, Well Being, (Competitive) Performance, Dysfunction, Efficiency, and Effectiveness

An organization, an enterprise of individuals as a collective, is a social ecosystem. An organization is healthy and thriving based on people’s well being and performance. Well being is determined by human dysfunction, the less dysfunction, the more well being. Performance is determined by efficiency and effectiveness, the more efficient (means, velocity) and the more effective (ends, impact, quality), the better the performance.

Fundamentally, a healthy and thriving enterprise minimizes its dysfunctions, including an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. And ultimately, a healthy and thriving enterprise aims to accelerate time-to-market, manage changing priorities, increase productivity, enhance quality, align stakeholders, foster transparency and improve visibility, reduce risk, and reduce cost.

(click figure to enlarge)

Chaos, Intentions, Actions, Results, and Conflict

In a natural state of chaos, the roots of efficiency, effectiveness, and dysfunction are actions and conflict. Intentions orient actions and results are the outcomes of actions. Conflict emerges from natural tensions among intentions, actions, and results.

Flow, Pull, Value, Results, and Context

Within a collective, individuals pull from other individuals and create flow (of actions and content). The ultimate results may (or may not) be of value based on context.

Conflict, Aggression, Identity, Purpose, and Meaning

Within a collective, individuals naturally experience conflict as an integral aspect of human nature (and human beings as social animals). Conflict becomes destructive if-and-when it escalates into aggression. Conflict ultimately shapes the collective’s identity, which is an amalgamation of that which it deems as its purpose and that which it deems gives it meaning.

Organizations aren’t very Human

Gary Hamel emphasizes:

As human beings, we are amazingly adaptable and creative, yet most of us work for companies that are not. In other words, we work for organizations that aren’t very human.

Fundamentally, conflict emerges from tensions between collective company needs and individual human needs, and as conflict escalates into aggression, it fosters dysfunctions that impact efficiency and effectiveness, which in turn impact identity, value, etc. and depletes people’s humanity, natural creativity and innovation.

Prisoners of our Paradigms

Gary Hamel emphasizes:

We are all prisoners of our paradigms. A paradigm is more than a way of thinking — it’s a worldview, a broadly and deeply held belief about what types of problems are worth solving, or are even solvable.

Fundamentally, the efficiency-&-effectiveness paradigm forms the skeletal backbone that integrates collective company needs and individual human needs, and only by reconsidering this paradigm can collectives and individuals amplify people’s humanity, natural creativity and innovation.

External Adaptation and Internal Integration

Edgar Schein emphasizes:

Culture is a pattern of shared tacit and interconnected assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.

Fundamentally, the essential forces on collective company needs and individual human needs are internal integration and external adaption.

Human Enterprises

Thriving on chaos in an age of discontinuity — where the past is plagued with incoherence & inconsistency, the present is plagued with chaos & ambiguity, and the future is plagued with unpredictability & uncertainty (turbulence, stress, disruption, friction, etc.) — requires human organizations that can confront reality!

(click figure to enlarge)

For organizations to be more human as human enterprises, we must reconceive our organizations through a paradigm / vernacular that appreciates the forces of external adaptation and internal integration as well as our individual and collective humanity.

  • Well being involves being human and performance involves thriving.
  • Dysfunction is fundamentally culture; just as individuality is the aggregate of an individual’s idiosyncrasies, culture is the aggregate of a collective’s idiosyncrasies.
  • Being creatively efficient trumps mere efficiency and being innovatively effective trumps mere effectiveness, thus integrating individual and collective needs.
  • Intentions, actions, results, flow, and pull blend in co-creation.
  • Aggression is a less artful approach to dealing with conflict — The Art of War.
  • External adaptation blends value (of experiences as an aggregate of products and services), results, and context.
  • Internal adaptation blends identity, purpose, and meaning.
  • What about strategy? Strategy is embodied throughout — strategy and execution surround thriving!
  • What about leadership? Leadership is embodied throughout — everyone leads from their role!

Indeed, we are “prisoners of our paradigms!”


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