Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning to think book review

During my 18 years of education (19 if you count Kindergarten), I only had two teachers that encouraged thinking.  One was my high school science teacher.  At the end of class he would frequently say, "Read the chapter, then sit back and think about what it means and how it applies to the broader world around us."

The other teacher was a professor of psychology.  In his theories of personality class, he encouraged discussion and would incorporate whatever we were talking about when he walked in as the introduction to his lecture.  He gave partial credit for any answer that made sense on a test.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Organizational Metaphors

Many of us use metaphors to describe various situations.  We may find ourselves up to our necks in alligators or at the end of our rope or looking for a needle in a haystack.

Gareth Morgan took this idea and developed organizational metaphors to describe various types of organizations and forces within a company.

Each metaphor represents characteristics:

Brain = self-organization and learning
Organism = adaptable
Culture = social reality
Political system = bureaucratic structure
Psychic prison = limitations and little risk
Flux = continually evolving, permanent whitewater/rapids, never in total control
Instrument of domination = rigid structure, implied ceilings, rigid succession
Machine = routine, repeatable processes

Based on this summary of organizational metaphors, what kind of company do you work for?  What are the implications for working for a certain type of company?

Leaders have the opportunity to identify work cultures and encourage change.  However, this can take many years, depending on the size of the company.  For employees, if the company is stifling creativity or inhibiting promotion of quality individuals, it may be a case of finding a different company.

There are not always easy answers, but identifying characteristics of a problem - defining the problem - is the first step of making positive changes.