The Living Organisation :

What is “Organisation”?

By way of example, imagine a large scale electronics manufacturer. The product range changes constantly. The ceo changes and the Vision, Mission and Strategy all change over time. The make-up of the senior team changes and in fact all personnel are constantly changing. There are constant up-dates to the manufactuing process, to the partner suppliers and organisations, to the administrative processes and procedures. The external environment of customers, bankers, credit, employment law etc are all constantly changing.

Nothing in this organisation is solid, fixed, un-changing. So what is it? In the midst of this swirling mass of constantly changing processes, where and what is the organisation? There seems nothing solid to point at and “pin down.”

All very philisophical Alan but what does this mean practically speaking?

Surfacing our own (often implicit) ideas and assumptions as leaders about organisation, people and change can be helpful because it is these ideas and assumptions that drive our choices and actions.

Viewing organisation as a collection of fixed “things,” may draw us to a technical, strategic and rational procedure for change. Follow Steps 1- 20 and change will occur.

In referring to “the organisation’s” Mission, Culture or Strategy we have the danger of positioning ourselves as passive observors of “the organisation’s” processes, rather than taking responsibility for being part of creating whatever is happening in the organisation right now, including the Mission, Culture and Strategy. “The team never listens to me,” or “I am ineffective at getting heard.”

Viewing organisations as “iterated patterns of activity between people,” may draw us to a more Human Dynamics orientation towards change, including seeing ourselves as leaders and consultants as being intimately involved in this dynamic.