Boje & Robert Dennehy's
Consult Managing in the Postmodern
World home page for more chapters as I get them done. There are also plenty
of cases, syllabus copies, and additional learning materials to go
with this book - D. Boje
What is Organizing?
Pre-modern, modern, and postmodern will be presented as historical epochs in organization theory, but please do not be fooled. As you can see in the Blue Team's presentation of Carl's JR's organizational discourse, the three perspectives are very much a part of every contemporary organization.
PRE-MODERN ORGANIZING return
Introduction. From the late 1700s to the early 1900s, pre-industrial workers were herded about in large 30 to 100 person work gangs or crews. People were organized into their trades and served seven to ten year apprenticeships to become journeymen in a given trade. Once you mastered a trade, such a printing, carpentry, stained glass, or silver smithing, you could become the entrepreneur, open your own shop, and train your own apprentices. Management in the big firms of the early 1900s such as railroads, water and power, mining, and automobile manufacturing maintained and preferred an antagonistic and adversarial attitude towards trade unions and workers. In short, there was competitive struggle in the small and the large business.
After the Civil War, the ideas of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species also took root in the American attitudes. "The total social good is enhanced by an unregulated process of struggle which will ensure the "survival of the fittest." #1
|Should Chrysler be Saved Next Time? The pre-modern philosophy was: if organizations and individuals fail the natural struggle, they should fail to survive. The weak are not supposed to survive. Those who are rich are destined to be so; those who are poor are undeserving. Intervening in the social Darwin process is considered by many to be socialism or communism. Because of the heritage of Social Darwinism attitudes, there are those to this modern day who believe the government should in no way intervene to save a Chrysler Motor Car company or help a group of US computer chip manufacturers compete more effectively with the Japanese partnerships of industry and government.
The following stories were collected from a utility company, we shall call "Edison." #4 As you read the stories, please deconstruct them using the guidelines in the Appendix on story deconstruction.
Pre-Modern Stories of Clumsums and Shovelers
Boj "A chance for a real "quality of work" line? [lots of laughs and cross talk] ...
Pre-Mod workers organized for entrepreneurship. Before managers took over, and before crews for Taylorized by so-called "scientific management principles" the pre-mod worker managed and organized their own work. The craftsperson knew how to diivide up a task, set up a lathe, figure out how many pieces to run of a given type to optimize the work output. The doing of the work and the managing of the work process were one. In the pre-mod guilds and in the pre-mod workshops, the worker was an entrepreneur, coming up with more efficient and easier, sometimes faster ways to get the work done, and with high quality too. Think about it, who does a better job, the guy running the machine in some factory, or the man/woman doing their craft in some entrepreneurial workshop? Do you want factory jewelry or hand-crafted pieces? It is a myth to think that Modern Times (Chaplain Movie) borught about entrepreneurship. The modernist machine of organizing killed the entrepreneur by splitting work from managmeent. Now in the postmodern organiztion, entrepreneurship is returned to the work, as the manager gets down-sized, out sourced, and let go. Keep the worker, fire the manager!
return to index
Don "Oh, I know of a crew they assigned to go out and dig a hole out in Pullman. Do you know where Pullman is? [No, says the group] Its down by Riverside. The ground is hard. Real hard. In between rock and granite, somewhere like that, and they sent these two guys down there to dig this hole. You know and they really pumped em up for it. And they got out there and they started digging. And they got down about that far (motions six inches). And they put the boom and the auger on and it wouldn't go anywhere so they probably got down about this far (displays about nine inches) an they probably figured well, we'll fill it full of water. It's Friday and we'll come back Monday and finish. They came back Monday and the water had gone down about half an inch. And they just kept razzing these guys and hassling them about [it]. "Get those holes dug. We gotta put.. We gotta do some work." And they'll use that hole digging as punishment or discipline or starting a new crew guy out. "You grab a shovel and dig me a hole for a pole."
Doug "That's a grunt. A groundman is called a grunt. Now surely you've heard the term grunt? (Sue nods acknowledgement). And those grunts are the ones that used to dig the holes. Of course now they have more sophisticated equipment. But the grunt used to literally "grunt" when he was digging the hole.
Sue "Another thing there's a caste system Like with our line crews, you start out with the groundman and then you have the apprentice lineman and linemen splicers. There's before work. They all have a table and you do not go over to the other table. There's a groundman table. there's a lineman splicer table and you don't go over unless you're invited. Otherwise, you are really hazed. At least, that was the custom of this one district. I don't know --- has anyone seen that for other districts. ...
Don "Well I spent a day with a transmission crew and they had a backhoe working. And the foreman was very explicit about that. When I have a new guy around, well I'll have him dig a hole. But today we've been really working hard and everything else, so I'll have the guy on the backhoe dig the hole. And, he'd just swish, swish, swish, and there's this hole. And it's all dug and everything else. But, he won't use him, if he's got something he wants to teach somebody, right in there and shovel that hole.
Doug "... we had a Christmas party and Christmas dance at the Ontario American Legion club. And now it was on Friday night and bear in mind that all of the crews have worked all that day climbing poles. And they came in the evening with their wives. Came at it and hit the bar and went at it with both hands and then as dinner was announced they ordered more drinks and took the drinks. ... and then the band came and they were dancing and so all the women took their shoes off and the men. And they were out there and they played this stomping music. And so then the band was through about 12 and they anted up [passed] around the hat to pay more to the band and so they danced till 2. Now mind you, they've clum poles all day they dance till at least 2 or 2:30 and now they decided now we're all going to go bowling [lots of group laughter]. And they all went bowling and they all had breakfast about 7 o'clock in the morning. And you tell me where the average dude can handle that? And that's the life. They still do it today.
Don "Those are very strong, very strong norms.
Boj "I think those stories are very important. At least I'm able to learn very quickly some of the norms and which ones not to violate.
. . .
Mike "I would like to share with you once sentence that I heard that made such an impact upon me that I remember it verbatim. A middle manager with 22 years experience with the company was commenting on the things that I think we are talking about. And he said and I quote: "The ABC's of getting ahead in this and he mentioned the department. The ABC's of getting ahead here are that you have to be Authoritarian, Belligerent, and Cruel." And that was a spontaneous kind of thing. Now he was not advocating that. he had 22 years with the company and he was making a sad observation.
PRE-MODERN STORY DISCOURSE
INTRODUCTION. Groups of people are mechanically and hierarchically constructed and coordinated to seek common and many specialized goals in a strict division of labor. Modernist organizations resemble one huge machine with specialized human and machine parts. U.S. education fabricates human cogs for this machine.
The Story of the Ingenious Modern Educational Machine
The U.S. Department of Labor has released a recent report that calls for a revolutionary reformation of the educational system because it is out of touch with the need of industry in the year 2000. While we are reassured because the report points out the differences between the modern and postmodern forms of organization, what is depressing to us is that the report does not address the role of education. Is the only role of education to produce students who will fit into a less modern, and a more postmodern industrial machine?
CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERNIST AND POSTMODERNIST WORKPLACE
SOURCE: Adapted from Scans Report, 1991. #6
America 2000. In order to engage in World Class Competition, American Education will need to train for the Postmodern workplace. The ethics of America 2000 are "commitment to excellence, product quality, and customer satisfaction." America 2000 workers will have to manage themselves because there will be fewer supervisors to plan and organize their work. The will need these competencies:
SOURCE: Adapted from SCANS report, 1991.
Education in Crisis. Schools are not able to graduate literate citizens, let alone educate them for the ideals of our changing work place. Instead of a world class workforce, business are dumb-ifying their work procedures, systems, and supervision approaches to deal with a work force that is not as well skilled as the Japanese and German workers. Postmodern workers need to come out of high school with creative thinking skills, technical skills in spreadsheet programs, statistical process control, and an ability to work in teams, with the entrepreneurial attitude to challenge systems to continuously improve.
A well-developed mind, a passion to learn, and the ability to put knowledge to work are the new keys to the future of our young people, the success of our businesses, and the economic well-being of the nation (SCANS, p. 1). return to index
MORE LAYERS OF HIERARCHY - still hierarchy but with electronics you need fewer layers
The Modern Discipline Machine
Disciplining the Modern Dinosaur. The goal of modernist organizing is to discipline people, keep them docile, and to keep them submissive, stupid, and correct. Modern organization is a network of disciplinary mechanisms that runs the length of the production and service delivery process. In this way the individual becomes part of organized behavior. But, if the individual is disciplined by the dinosaur, he can no longer be self-disciplined, self-managed, or self-directed the way he was in the pre-modernist epoch when self-reliance and individualism were king.
The Purdue Recruiting Machine Story
The Executive Ladder Story
Panoptic Discipline. As the modernist period of industrial science progressed, the organization became a machine of discipline. Organizing combines scripts and discourse with architectures, scientific rationality, programs of disciplinary correction with production processes. Michel Foucault (1977) calls this the "Panoptic" machine. #10 It is a different view of organizations. By contrast, the organization in American textbooks is described as a hierarchy of objectives; each unit has its objective and objectives of one level in the hierarchy are means for the objective ends of higher levels. While this is one way to look at organizing, the "panoptic" interpretation is that each level practices surveillance or what Foucault calls the "gaze." With the gaze hierarchy, managers, staff, and workers become more docile performers than they would be as individuals. It takes a great deal of docility to behave correctly in the machine. #11
Discipline practices. The administrative management principles of Henri Fayol considered discipline one of the key principles of management. Workers must be disciplined to willfully obey the rules of the organization by exercising leadership, clearly communicated work policies, and fairly applied penalties. Discipline in the modern organization was also the cornerstone of the military organization. Yet, since the 1970's military training at West Point and other military institutions has sought a more postmodern path to discipline. Rather than demanding unquestioned obedience and discipline, the new military leader helps the troops establish self-reliance and self-discipline: to make sense of their situation, utilize their resources, and coordinate among themselves using teamwork to meet a challenge. In this way, the military discipline becomes less a vertical dictatorship and more a horizontal network of intelligent interaction. It is curious that modernist management textbooks have almost nothing to say about discipline, yet that what is central to all organizational structures.
What are people disciplined for? The organization enforces violations of time (lateness, absence, interruption); activity violations (negligence in attention, lack of zeal; behavior violations (impoliteness, disobedience, disrespect, insubordination); speech violations (idle chatter, insolence, racial slurs, phone use); body violations (incorrect attitudes, irregular gestures, lack of cleanliness; physical and sexual abuse); sexuality violations (impurity, indecency, abuse, dating).
How are people disciplined and corrected in organizations? Light physical punishments (work reparations, repetitions of unacceptable procedures and processes); deprivations (removal from office, reduction in rank, failing an examination); petty humiliations (dressing down in front of others, relentless questions, standing before a panel, wearing badges of dishonor); coldness and indifference (stares, extinctions (ignoring something); non-responsiveness, stern replies, body language). return to index
1. Gaze Mechanisms. Organizations coerce discipline by observation. The eyes are everywhere in a continuous and encompassing network of surveillance that runs the length of the production technology. The gaze is a multiple, automatic, continuous, hierarchized, and anonymous power functioning in a network of relations from top to bottom, from bottom to tip, and laterally to hold the whole organization together, functioning like an ingenious piece of fine machinery (Foucault, 1977: 175-80). Spatially, offices, cubicles, and desks are arrayed along long corridors like a series of small cubicles with supervisory offices located at regular an strategic intervals. People leave their doors open to voluntarily subject themselves to the gaze. Because management can not see into all the cells of the organization simultaneously, the gaze is sub-divided and networked in hierarchical relations at key relay points and the monitoring is collated and tabulated at key levels.
The symbol of the gaze mechanism and its ideal case is the "panoptic" tower in the center of a circle of workshop cells and offices. The tower has one way mirrors so the boss can look in at what you do, but you can not tell if she is observing you at this instance or not. As a worker or supervisor your work cell is exposed to the gaze. The only entrances and windows are toward the tower, not towards the outside. The tower and the circle of stacked cells is the ideal image. More popular is the long corridor of work cells.
Through the gaze mechanism, the worker is conscious of the potential for visibility that surrounds her every movement. Since the worker never quite knows if the gaze is in effect, s/he internalizes the gaze. You do not need anyone standing behind the tower's one way windows, the workers behave as if they are being continuously gazed. The gaze is internalized. Foucault refers to this as Bertham's Principle: power should be visible and unverifiable. The worker has become the principle of his/her own subordination.
The panoptic machinery is no longer architectural. Bosses no longer sit atop tall stools on elevated platforms to micro-supervise by direct observation the people doing work at long tables arranged in neat rows and corridors. Although, there are some special collection sections of libraries that operate precisely such a gaze mechanism.
PUT WORKERS IN THEIR CELLS - The gaze has taken on more subtle forms: recording, examination, normalization, etc. With modern computers, the time and motion behaviors of each work can be gazed without a person at the gaze terminal. In telephone answering operations, such as at a customer service number, operators have their calls monitored for how long they are one the phone with each customer; and supervisors will even cut in to monitor the conversation of a call and rate that conversation on seven-point scales. There are delicate issues of privacy here. At some banks, the supervisor is required to beep the customer service operator to let them know that they are being gazed. Instead of putting workers in cells, they are put into star shaped cubicles with other operators. A supervisor walks the floor, roving between cubicles. A battery of clerks monitor the computer reports on hundreds of operators. The operator is controlled by the computerized gaze. Police departments are already confining people to their homes instead of in over-crowded jails by hooking them up to electronic monitors that dial the police station if an individual walks more than 100 feet away from his/her home. More and more people are carrying electronic beepers and others carry scanners to log and report their every movement. For those of us who are not electronically monitored, we just leave our doors open and type up and then submit endless forms and attend endless debriefing committee meetings.
2. Recording Mechanisms. Staffs of clerks, foremen, supervisors, assistants, and secretaries are watchers of time, recorders of movements, allocators of space, and observers of waste and inefficiency. Organizations maintain vast files and computer records on each individual.
3. Penal Mechanisms. A penal mechanism is an adaptation of the judge and jury. It can be as minor as a search committee reviewing applicants, interviewing candidates, and then deciding its recommendation. The organization is a network of minor penal mechanisms to effect disciplinary power in subtle, discrete, and omnipresent ways. The espoused objectives of these penal mechanisms are to control stealing, cheating, abuse, inefficiency, or to give an unbiased, equitable and fair decision --- but at another level these mechanisms control and docilize people. Workers and managers are caught in an array of punishment and penalty mechanisms.
4. Examinations. Managers judge. With modernization, the examination of everyone in every way by every foreman, supervisor, superintendent, director, and executive has been increasing at an increasing rate. People are classified, categorized, segmented, and deselected through employment examinations. Accountants wanting to be CPA's are given examinations. People are examined for promotion, reassignment, and skill development. Each worker is classified, fixed, transcribed, averaged, and normed into a cumulative record keeping system, called: the case file. Some case files are physical, others are converted to computer disks. In this way the exam combines an observing and examining hierarchy with normalizing (make man into string of numbers) judgements. Exams can discipline, punish, classify, select, and exclude. In the question and answer process of the examination, each worker is diagnosed, the examiners deliberate and a judgement is rendered. Just as exams marked the end of course-work, the business exams mark the end of periods of training, apprenticeship, and rank. Exams hierarchized good and bad workers, managers, administrators, and staff in relation to one another. Exams distribute people by aptitude, conduct, skill. In sum, the exam is a constantly applied ritual of power; dominance and subordination, authenticating the distribution of people into ranks, levels, and cells, and marking their movement from one part of the organization to another.
5. Scientific Normalization Mechanisms. Social science divides man into categories, partitions people, and dimensionalizes human conduct. People are indexed and known by their scores. People too far above or too far below the norms are sanctioned. Norm scores are used to decide and distribute rank and privilege. Clerks maintain computer scores and documents with norm scores. Performance reviews are done at intervals to derive norm scores. Workers with low norms are penalized. Social science constructs the valid and reliable dimensions of performance reviews.
Social science has constructed GMAT norms used to admit or deny admission to MBA programs. The person's life to date is summarized and transformed into numerical scores. The gaze in the GMAT-based admission process works this way. You do not need to look upon the person or to interview them at all. The person never sees the faces of the admission committee who reviews the scores. In most MBA programs, a computer performs a calculation of grade point and GMAT norms and automatically admits students. Marginal cases are reviewed in committee. MBA programs advertise their norms; what GMAT and grade norms does the average student possess. Normalization and examination are both measurement without end and the gaze without end.
6. Gratification-punishment mechanisms. The greater your rank in an organization, the more you are treated as an individual. Popular managers dispense more rewards than penalties. The manager enforces a micro-accountancy of privileges and impositions for each person. Those with greater positive balances get more rights and privileges in the organization.
Summary of Modernist Principles for Applying Discipline.
Principle One: Isolation. Isolate workers and managers from the external world and monitor their movements. Isolate workers and managers from one another and let them combine only in ritual and under hierarchical surveillance. Isolate people into homogeneous departmental groups and gaze the isolated work in a strict hierarchial framework. Discourage and punish non-isolated behavior patterns. Rank the person by their willing participation in the hierarchy of surveillance.
Principle Two: Regulation on the Treadmill. Do not let the worker or manager be idle. Let people do their work in strict time intervals and regulate away all possibilities for idle contact. Bend the person to rhythmic, repetitive time movements. Make man the slave of his machine. The longer and more repetitive the period of regulation endured, the more docile the worker becomes. The worker becomes hypnotized by the time machinery of the work discipline machine. Treadmill work does not contribute at all to "value-added" actions. Most treadmill time is not value-added, but it keeps people busy and docile. The movements of the cogs in the organizational machine are predictable.
Principle Three: Transform the Person over Time. Over time, the person becomes disciplined to the routines of the organization. Promotion tracks are made for those who subscribe to correct behaviors. Promotion tracks perform a transformative progression and socialization on those following the track. Promotion is a reward for corrective behavior and it is a disciplinary mechanisms for incorrect behavior. Pay raises and merit raises and bonus payments perform disciplinary functions. Management molds the human resource and reforms his character through disciplinary transformations. Rank is a trap. The higher the rank, the more freedom you have to be radical, but the more programmed you are not to be radical. The lower the rank of a manager, the more radical she can be, the more the hierarchy of surveillance will discipline attempts to deviate from organizationally-correct behavior.
Principle Four: Co-op the People through Cycles of Reform. Organizational renewal, transformation, development and reform programs reproduce exactly the same organization of panoptic discipline mechanisms. The labels differ, the players rotate, and the language changes, but the game is exactly the same as before. In each type of reform, many documents are generated, there are endless meetings, new slogans are put on the walls, but the system is the same system as before. If anything, during the process of reform, the hierarchy accomplishes more concentrated and pervasive surveillance of its people than during time intervals of non-reform. It is the same hierarchical surveillance mechanisms that dominated the system needing reform. Inertia is strong.
Results of the Modernist Panoptic Mechanisms. The organization practices a physiology and a psychology of discipline. The organization orders time and space rhythms on a grand scale. The instruments of discipline are the gaze, endless recording, and subtle penal mechanisms distributed in a network of discipline devices throughout the productive corridor of the organizational machine. Each penal mechanism is sanitized, gentile, rational, and civilized. the problem with the discipline machine is that it lacks the flexibility and innovative renewal potential required for competition in the global economy.
1. People are disciplined for norm and rule violations. Conformity is preferred; anomalies are not tolerated. Surveillance and penal mechanisms are networked to form a continuous and hierarchical gaze of correct behavior. The surveillances are polite and the coercions are gentle, the penalties are mild, but the total effect is severe conformity. Punish the slightest indiscipline, conduct the gaze regularly, and maintain a technology, some of it computerized for reporting, monitoring, ranking, and normalizing the individual.
2. The Discipline machine recruits, fabricates and consumes its own delinquents. The modernist service and production bureaucracies recruit people made docile by the school system. People who can not conform are deselected, demoted, and expelled. The 90-10 rule applies. 90% of the disciplinary structure is designed to control the 10% who resist and rebel against conformity. The greater the discipline, the more the system fabricates people who are rebellious, resistant, covert aggressive --- in short delinquents. This means there is a tug of war between those made docile and those made delinquent. Delinquents, therefore, are a continuous birth and death object of the discipline machine. The system is insistent on surveillance and penal penalty, even though many resist such devices.
3. The Discipline Machine makes the power to punish and penalize natural and legitimate. In feudal times, corporal punishment was the tool of choice in schools, homes, and even workshop apprenticeship. If an apprentice messed up and left his candle burning, the journeymen could either solace (fine) him or throw him across a wooden table give him "what for". Now the physical torture of the body has been transformed into the technical and quasi-scientific, and pseudo-scientific tortures of being rhythmically coupled to the machine and in more recent times to the computer. Organizations are continuing to lower the threshold of tolerance to penalty mechanisms. Management renders justice to the workers. Management is the judge, the prosecutor, and the jury. While most of management discipline is taken-for-granted and widely accepted, the power of the manager is still very sovereign and her disciplinary mechanisms are sanctioned by scientific rationality. The manager does not personally punish, the examination does in a more anonymous, detached, and distant way. Managers do not have to bully people in verbal and confrontative spectacles, their preferred use of power is to put a letter in your personnel file, a letter you are not privileged to see.
4. The Discipline Machine coopts social science to normalize people and make powerful judge out of managers. Judges assess, diagnose, classify normal and abnormal, recommend correction, utilize experts, and decide human affairs. The manager is a judge with access to a system of inspection, a system of examination, a system of distribution, a system of surveillance, and in the end these things normalize the individual. MBA programs produce administrators who administer the technologies of this discipline.
5. The body of the worker has been captured in the perpetual gaze, the knowledge accumulation system, and the panoptic cage. Organizations are obsessed and voracious consumers of methods to fix, decide, classify, record, examine and ultimately objectify behavior. Social science legitimated the examination for discipline and the use of scientific instrumentation to make man conform to organization. These is a prevalent and seemingly uncritical application of scientific analysis to effect man's domination. There is also pseudo science. Handwriting experts divine placement decisions based on handwriting samples subjects do not know they have provided. People are placed on the basis of personality inventory scores. GMAT's decide entrance into business school. The bureaucrats and technocrats and plain clerks accumulate an amazingly complete and encompassing dossier of information on all aspects of the body human. The human being has been caged, not by the Rube Goldberg machine of discipline devices, but by the hard drives of the computer, and stored politely as so many bubbles of binary memory.
6. The Discipline Machine meets any force to reform with great inertia. The organization can be defined as a relay network of discipline mechanisms and surveillance systems. Many of these systems are being computerized. In these ways the individual through measurement becomes a case, an object of power, an object of knowledge, an element of the hierarchical gaze, and a mere normalized judgement. The reduction of people to their norm scores is a disciplinary mechanism to classify and distribute people in the modern business machine.
Under what conditions will the Discipline Machine loosen its grip on the human body?
1. When the utility of disciplinary surveillance operations ceases to be an effective way to docilize the workforce. With the ubiquitous computer and its efficiency as an information processor, a single executive with an extensive computer reporting network can review the time and motions of hundreds of people. This is one reason that once tall, multi-level organizations are becoming flatter. Middle managers are being laid off or put on temporary contract. The span of control (# of people reporting to a given manager) has been widening. The Tom Peters camp recommends that the span of control be widened even further. In one supermarket chain the store manager complained about their meddling regional manager. Top management responded by assigning additional stored to the regional manager. The widened span of control reduced the meddling. With wide spans of control, the computer becomes the most efficient discipline instrument. People can input their goals, motions, time expenditures, and the computer can analyze this data and call the executive's attention to any discrepancy, any people who are significantly above or below a set of a priori norms.
In short, direct surveillance loosens its grip, when indirect surveillance mechanisms accomplish the same result at lower costs. The computer is replacing the panoptic tower as the ideal an perfect cage for human discipline. Like the panoptic tower, the human does not know what information is being gazed, who is seeing it, and when the computer monitor has been engaged. The gaze is asymmetric because the worker can not see the gazer.
2. The proliferation of experts lessens the need for direct and hierarchical surveillance. Expert disciplines in science, psychology, psychiatry, educational psychology, managerial psychology, engineering, organizational sociology, accounting, management information systems, and the like assume more of the supervisory and judging roles in the discipline machine. with more experts who administer the diagnosis, classification, and sentencing, the is less need for an extensive supervision hierarchy. If we train people to be expert inspectors, we do not need to employ inspectors as a separate discipline. If we teach workers to do the scheduling, recruiting, and performance review tasks of the foreman, then we do not need to hire foreman as an occupational category. As standardized tests proliferate and as these tests can be administered at a computer terminal which analyzes the results, there is less need for a testing person.
The Center of the Discipline Machine is a Machine not a Boss or a dominant Coalition of People. At the center of the organization, was once a cigar smoking, cursing boss who dogmatically balanced the organizational disciplinary apparatus. Now, the organization has no one center. There are many centers. It is poly-centered. If anything, at the heart of the disciplinary machine, there is no dominant boss, no arrogant sovereign, no psychology expert, and no computer whiz kid. Rather at the center is a network of computers that monitors norms of organizational behavior and call in a given expert, strategists, or negotiator when abnormal behavior is measured. In this next section, we examine the forms of organizing that the modernist business is based upon.
STATUS ELITES - Modern organizations give all the status to the elite managerial corps. While those close to the work, get hardly any training or money, the managerial elite head off to the golf resorts for their training meetings. As the elite managers get their full time salaries, bonus, and profit sharing, the workers are put into part-time employment. This way the elite can have fat-cat benefits packages while keeping their costs down. Scrooge.
Upon what other forms of organization is a business organization based? If we take an historical approach to organizations, we find that business organizations have borrowed organizing practices from non-business forms of organization. The business firm has practices derived from: the family (a family of brother, sister, and elder workers in a team); the army (commanded by a head and divided into divisions and squads, with people assigned to ranks); a workshop (with supervisors, foremen who regulate work schedules and movements); the judicial form (justice is dispatch each day to discipline minor and major offenses); a monastic order (where the path to enlightenment is through discipline, cellular life, and hard work); sciences (technologies for measurement and normalizing personality, behavior, and skill); and the prisons ( a system of penal disciplinary systems, time regimentation, cellular occupations, and dormitory housing). Business has also exported practices to these varied non-business forms.
Table 3.5: Comparison of Postmodern and Modern Principles
This Table does the act of reversal, reversing Fayol's grand principles into their opposite. The most important step in deconstruction is to "resistuate" to strike a new relationship in the oppositions in this table. This resituation work we leave up to you.
INTRODUCTION. Our metaphor of the postmodern organization is flat.
FLAT - Flatter organizations produce more at lower costs by flat with fewer layers, latticed networking among teams, more autonomy for the individual, while being part of KAIZEN teams. Peter Drucker has suggested the flotilla, a small group of ships that can reconfigure in response to changing battle conditions as a better metaphor of organization than the modern metaphor of the battleship. If an organization is a battleship, it tries to do everything itself, and is not flexible like the flotilla. What about the metaphor of Terminator II. McKinsey's Smith in Fortune (May 18, 1992: 98) says the flat and flexible organization will be a powerful competitor.
4. JIT. JIT allows a sharp job in inventory. At GE appliances, a $5.4 billion-a-year business, the drop was $200 million in average inventory by implementing JIT. It is all about raising productivity while cutting costs in inventory and in personnel. Redesign is done to get improved performance and cost measures of performativity.
All of these principles are supposed to replace command and control with empowerment, self-management, and self-control. The command and control hierarchy topples in favor of the perpetual-learning machine. It is self-management when the workers run the plant, as with the Gaines pet food plant in Topeka, Kansas which Fortune reports has been self-managed for 20 years and has higher productivity than comparable command and control pet food plants.
Exercise: Drawing the Circle Network. To get a picture of the postmodern organization, draw a series of small circles to represent autonomous work teams and connect these with a larger circle. #15 Kilinski and Wofford (1973) advocated non-pyramid form of organization, a network of teams where the basic element was the small work team of 12 to 20 persons. Each team was responsible for its own work functions and communication was to be face-to-face. The network organization was to have the bare minimum of layers and the leaders job's was to make the network function effectively. The more layers you have, the longer it takes for communication to go up then back down the layers, and the more distorted that communication process becomes. As people are conditioned to wait up their hierarchy for approval, they stop taking individual initiative for process improvement. With the circle network, teams can easily be re-configured to respond to changes in the environment. The idea is to minimize all the bureaucratic formality and emphasize the workings of the informal system. It is the job of each individual to plan, organize, innovate, influence, lead, and control. The divisions of labor into these functions are reconstituted back into the individual. The circle network is not without a rudder. The circle connecting the teams is the coordination mechanism. The steering of the organization is a shared responsibility. Cutting out organizational layers means getting rid of middle management, lots of bureaucratic staff positions, and foremen. Each team handles its own management. Instead of staff people doing the interviews, representatives from relevant teams are trained to do the interviewing themselves. If there are key decision to be made, belts to be tightened, opportunities to consider, then representatives form all the teams do the thinking. The ideas for change come from those closest to the work processes and those closest to the customers, instead of those farthest away. The circle network has an agenda: de-bureaucratize the firm. Cut the layers and recombine the functions, re-integrate the work place.
return to index
AUTONOMOUS - The new form is sadi to interduced more self-discipline and more team-based autonomy. Sometimes this is a trap to get workers to do mare self-management with the required tasks of scheduling, hiring, firing, etc. while getting no more money. Other times it can be what James Barker calls "concertive control." Getting peer pressure to replace supervisory control. Peer pressure can make you work harder faster and make the situation tougher than the pre-mode CREWS.
CompuAdd, a Postmodern Organization.#16 According to Browning et. al (1992), CompuAdd is a postmodern organization. It emphasizes leanness, speed, and power and it is nomadic. It is more flexible and powered than IBM or Texas Instruments. It has many diverse, heterogeneous elements that combine in different ways. Polyvocal code --varying situations and relationship in a fabric of supple segmentation. Work by temporary, cross-functional, diverse teams that are disassembled when the task is done. People are in flux networks where people are interchangeable, and defined only by their state at a given moment. "We teach everybody to go out and ask the customers "how are we doing? What are your requirements?"
Human relations helps people get into effective group harmony and confrontation quickly, but is not a means of human control. People no longer have the time to form permanent and impactful group relations. People who work in network organizations are not climbing the corporate ladder because it is not there anymore. There is a professional staircase, but one not tied to a single organization, it is tied to becoming better at your individualistic career. The conditioning of rewards and punishments does not work well on postmodern man. He is the free lance entrepreneur, the rebel out to reform, the inventor who seeks novelty and adventure. He is self-disciplined, not organizationally-disciplined. Well, not yet, but we can hope for the best.
What are the components of the circle network? The elements are teams, innovation, and self-discipline.
KAIZEN: Continuous improvement involving everyone. As Masaaki Imai in the book Kaizen defines it: it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life... - managers and workers alike" (p. xx). American's prefer result-oriented thinking to process-oriented thinking. Americans expect to leap frog the Japanese by engaging in big innovations, big changes in the organization, big changes in the production mechanisms. They hire, fire, dismantle, layoff, re-hire, re-fire, and reconfigure, but the bureaucratic machine is still the same. In Japan, the improvements are continuous, a series of small steps that everyone takes in order to keep the organization constantly changing and improving every day.
How it works. The job of management is to read all these suggestions, rate them, get the practical ones implemented, celebrate the ideas and their implementations with ceremonies, awards and money. That is a whole lot of very disciplined work that most American managers are not willing to invest in their organizations. In addition, people need to be given time away from task to think up their ideas, write up their ideas, and implement their ideas.
Postmodern man is self-disciplined. Even his allegiances to his profession and expertise, which while over-shadowing his organizational loyalties, are not too confining because the boundaries between specialized disciplines are coming down. Problems are multi-faceted and not contained by professional boundaries. The specialist knows a given field well for only a short while. Self-discipline means continuous education, continuous improvement of the quality of one's knowledge. Discipline is the ability to perform well in a temporary, ad hoc network.
How do you effect discipline without inducing docility? The result of over-discipline is rebellion, retaliation, and complacency. With modern discipline the education system fabricates people who respond favorably to routine, repetition, and regimentation. The problem is these secure, stable, unchanging dinosaurs are rapidly becoming extinct. Once the America 2000 project to transform the curriculum and educational experience of schools has been implemented, we will fabricate a very different type of adult for organizational consumption.
Self-discipline will replace machine discipline. The results of a positive discipline environment is people work in a system of performance that is customer-focused and quality-driven. The needs of our industrial global economy are for increasingly flexible organizations able to adapt quickly and efficiently to a wider variation of market niches. To work in a network organization, a network of customers, workers, and vendors --- requires each actor in the system to be more educated, trained, and accountable to make their individual behavior make total system behavior work better. The needs of each individual are necessarily subordinate to the total system.
Business Educates Because Schools are Failing. With the decline in the ability of the American education system to produce literate citizens, larger corporations are investing in on-site remedial schools to train workers to read and calculate. Motorola has one the most extensive program at its Motorola University. #23 The postmodern form of organization is heavily dependent upon an educated workforce to function. Educated people are necessary because they need to deal with computers and assume responsibility for their own supervision. There are fewer bosses and foremen around to tell people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Organizing the work will, as in the pre-modern era, become more the prerogative of the workers.
Postmodern organization through storytelling. People are buried in a mind numbing avalanche of information. People are more culturally diverse than ever before and therefore, except for television and pop culture, do not share a common and shared cultural experience. Our mass media culture makes information bits, rather than integrated knowledge found in stories. Stories are the conduit of experience. The news media, textbooks, newspapers, annual reports overloads us with information, but we are not learning the stories, at least not any noteworthy stories. In management textbooks, we get a lot of encyclopedic information, a veritable dictionary of terms and dimensions, but the textbooks do not tell the stories undergirding their jargon. In this way the information age isolates the individual in a sea of seemingly-scientific information, alienates the individual from the story roots, and rationalizes management as a social science instead of historically anchored performance art.
Through stories, people learn the epic side of management practice, the wisdom of experience is imparted in the stories. The stories told to children at bedtime by their mothers have shaped more ethics, than all the ethics textbooks combined. If storytelling is ignored, then the community-processing of experience decreases.
The storytelling organization. The postmodern organization is an information network: a set of exchanges among internal and external stakeholders. Stakeholders are customers, vendors, communities, schools and they are employees, managers, clerks, and janitors. Each has a stake in the activities of the organization. As an information processing network, stories serve the collective memory, the processing of past experiences into information about policy, decision, and precedent. A mass of detail buries meaningful experience. Increasing the effectiveness of storytelling increases meaningful communication and increases organizational memory effectiveness. The role of the manager is the role of all people in the organization, hear many sides to each story, processes the stories of past and future organizational experience, and make the best choices. Stories make experience meaningful; stories connect us to one another; stories make the characters come alive; stories provides an opportunity for a renewed sense of organizational community.
If we normalize, dimensionalize, and do the discourse of scientific management --- the result is a manipulative language with manipulated meanings that befuddle interpersonal relations. Without story, information is oversimplified in the name of science. Watch the news and you see the infantilization of the American culture; the manipulation of information bits to produce the broadest mass appeal, the highest of common denominators, the minimal transmission of experience from newscasters to the mass audience. Mass information destroys collective experience. Storytelling builds collective understanding, collective appreciation, collective imagination, and collective memory.
Storytellers apprehend experiences and communicate those experiences to story listeners. The story listener does not just receive the teller's story, the listener is a co-processor, a co-producer, a listener mingles their own experience with the experiences of the teller. As such, story listening is not a passive event. Story listeners leaven the experiences they have received. People see the characters dance in their imagination, capture the interacting characters in their mind's eye, and fill in the blanks the storyteller leaves in the story.
Skeptical Assessment of Postmodern Organizing.
3. Nordstrom's Approach to Job Enlargement. The affirmative rationale is that in order to serve the customers, the service representative should not pass the customer form one person to another. The skeptical observation is that the salesperson is now the delivery person, who must deliver packages on their lunch hour and be so highly motivated that they do not dare to ask for compensation.
4. Suggestions Systems. Getting knowledge of the worker's work processes and the worker's knowledge of the work being done and turning it into management control data. Parker and Slaughter (1988) point out how giving away knowledge is often done without implementation, recognition, or compensation. "But once the suggestion is made the knowledge becomes part of management's power to control every work on the line" (p. 19).
5. KAIZEN. Under Kaizen, there is continuous improvement involving everyone. This is supposed to empower the workers to get more and more control over their work process. Coupled with statistical process control training, the workers are able to become their own time and motion self-observers. The workers are doing what Michel Foucault calls "internalizing the gaze." The workers gaze their own time and motions, then suggest Kaizen ways of improving their fit into the production process. Workers may well be loosing flexibility, autonomy, and control by increasing their coupling to the machine, volunteering surveillance information, and even displacing the time and motion monitors by doing self-surveillance.
With all the positive press about lean production, flatter hierarchies, and getting America to pull itself up by the bootstraps of Kaizen and cycle time, we have not listened to the voices of workers and unions. Are workers losing discretion, being asked to do more work for the same pay, being asked to take on the functions of inspector and supervisor, doing the multi-tasking while a co-worker is laid off, etc. only to find out that management is getting all the empowerment and the corporate owners are saving all the bucks? If this is true, then is not the postmodern organization just another solution to scientific management?
Computer innovations have made the application of quantitative decision and problem solving and the scientific measurement of each person's performance more a reality now than in the early 1900's.
Scientific management has been too easily dismissed by management texts as essentially irrelevant once the management theorists envisioned an organization responding to an environment and once more organic, and less mechanistic theories of organization had been concocted. But, concocting an organic theory of organization, does not mean that organizations have become less mechanistic, less modernist. Most of us work in a system of mechanized surveillance.
The fundamental aspect of all organizations is discipline. Discipline the people to discipline the delivery of goods and service. The pre-modern discipline was quite physical. Modern discipline is machine oriented. Postmodern discipline is the computerization of man.
Organizations are combinations of the strands of pre-modern crew-based apprentice societies, modernist military machines, and postmodern flexible networks with temporary attachments. John Wayne still climbs poles and drinks with both hands. The Navy brass still prefer half days that are 12 hours long. Dustin Hoffman still prefers to leave work at five and head for the RV. While all three strands of organization are there to this day in every large corporation, the Dustin Hoffmans are beginning to take over.
ORGANIZING STUDY GUIDE
1. What are the differences between pre-modern, modern, and postmodern organizations?
2. What is a small step?
3. Give reasons why Japan is more innovative that the U.S.?
4. Define a circle network organization?
5. Why are postmodern organizations getting flatter and flatter?
6. What are the new skills for the Education System in America 2000 and how do they relate to postmodernism?
7. How does modernism squash innovation?
8. Why does Japan have so many more suggestions than American organizations?
9. How does the postmodern manager encourage failure?
10. How does bureaucracy get in the way of innovation?
11. Why is the leader's chief tool storytelling? (TOC p. 321-2)
12. What is the role of storytelling in postmodernism?
13. How do you organize teams?
14. What is a flat organization?
15. What is a PDCA Wheel?
16. What is the Nippon Steel story and so what?
17. What is social darwinism and so what?
18. What is a clumsum?
19. Talk about pre-modern discourse. What is it? So what?
20. What is the role of mass education in a modernist society?
21. Why are American schools in crisis? What are they doing about it?
22. What is Panoptic Discipline?
23. Give examples of Gaze Mechanisms?
24. What are the more subtle forms of gaze?
25. How is the gaze internalized?
26. What are the modernist principles of applying discipline?
27. What was pre-modern discipline based on?
28. Why would a discipline machine loosen its grip on the body-human?
29. What is the discourse of the family and the Navy at Edison? So what?
30. What are the key differences between Kaizen and Innovation?
31. Name some essential differences between Fayol's 14 principles and the postmodern project?
32. What is Bertham's Principle of Power?
33. What are the pre-modernist ABC's of Management?
return to index
MOVE BETWEEN Gameboard SITES
Post This Site
Post This Site