Social Dysfunctions - TOP LEAF of 4-Leaf CLOVER

Four-Leaf Clover - The four leaf clover is a universally accepted symbol of good luck. Eve carried one in the Garden of Eden and St. Patrick thought them lucky. In 1620, Sir John Melton wrote: "If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing. Leaves stand for love, inspiration, bliss, and passion. SEAM is good luck for small business

SEAM (Top of the 4 Leaf)SEAM 4 Leaf CloverCLICK FOR 4 Leaf

Social Performance areas are combined with SEPTET Elements at New Mexico State's Small Business Consulting Program. 

1. WCT Working Condition Themes,
2. WCT Work Organization Frames,
3. 3C's D - Communication, Coordination, Cooperation Dialogs,
4. TR - Time Rhythms,
5. TC - Training Cast of Characters,
6. SP - Strategic Plots,

7. SOCIO-ECONOMIC Spectacles.

SEAM 4 Leaf Clover - The interaction of the structurism (left leaf) and the behaviorism (right leaf) of the 4-leaf Clover - within the company  creates six families of potentially unhealthy social performance areas within the seventh arena of socio-economic spectacles. SEAM is therefore more interdisciplinary than sociotechnical systems (STS) approaches. STS relates sociology of work to technology of job design, while SEAM incorporates these into accounting (hidden costs) and economic (hidden revenues) aspect of performance. 

These six varieties of SOCIAL PERFORMANCE constitute at the same time economic explanatory variables of operation and levers of action on unhealthy areas clients often list in the early change diagnosis of their company. Figure 1 presents a Root Cause and Effect chart of key dysfunctions (top leaf) and associated Hidden Costs/Revenues (bottom leaf). These are elements that are hidden in the normal balance sheet reports available to decision makers. Each column, such as Working Condition Themes, is a set of variables we code from ethnographic interviews and observations of small private and public enterprises in New Mexico. We have some 200 variables that we have developed to assess the root causes and effects. 

The areas of Social Performance Dysfunctions have Sociological and Economic consequences. The economic consequences of each of the following elements has micro=economic (within firm) and macro-economic (within society) effects. 

1. WCT Working Condition  Themes of the how jobs are designed vary by context (e.g. Differences by country and factory). "Any change in working conditions can be analyzed either as an innovation which the market of goods and services can extend, or as a condition which workers 'impose' on the job market" (Savall, 1974: 148). Job design (working condition) themes are defined as a dialectic of oppression and resistance in striking a relationship between working conditions and the market. "Job conditions are economic good which is supplied by employers and demanded by workers" (Savall, 1974: 150). People work for monetary and 'psychic income.' Psychic income" refers to what motivates people other than money, such as respect, recognition, challenge, love of the work itself, opportunity for autonomy, location in a particular community, name of the prestigious institution for a resume, technologies that make work less drudgery, flexible hours, etc. therefore, the full income is the combination of wages and  psychic income of the working conditions. In short, having oppressive working conditions, means that people expect to negotiate higher compensation. The working conditions that New Mexico firms supplies, is more than a static economic substitution between wage levels and expenditures to improve the design of jobs. Rather, the investments firm owners make in working conditions affects the profitability of the micro-enterprise and its macro-economic harmful or beneficial social, community, and environmental effects. 

Here are some starter questions:

What are the job conditions valued by the worker?
What is the supply and demand of labor?
What are people paid?
What do people earn in terms of "psychic income'?
What premium is paid to compensate people for poor working conditions?
What are the difficulties of recruiting talented people?
What conditions do they work in? (Sweat Shop or Corporate Palace)
Do people have the resources to get the job done?
Are new forms of job design productive and contributive to innovation?
Are semi-autonomous work groups part of the job design?
Is there sexual/physical harassment on the site?
What are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators?
2. WOF Work Organization Frames (e. g. Bureaucratic, Complexity, Quest, Postmodern FRAMES) Frames are ideologies (idea systems) in play. There is constant change, trying to redesign forms that will lead to higher flexibility, growth, innovation, and profitability in particular markets. Production forms, have since the 1970s become consumption forms. Forms are changing to take the market into higher consideration in the recent Socio-Economic Spectacles. 
Our New Mexico State research suggests that organizations are hybrids, not a single form of WOF, but a mixture. Always some Bureaucracy, some Complexity, on a Quest to change so some new fad or fashion into the Post-modern (flexible, de-centered, more democratic, adaptive, and ecological forms. Firms find the hybrid mix that sells in their markets or face the economic 'death penalty' (Savall, 1974: 149). 
Work Organization Frames can also be more micro, concerned with patterns of inter-departmental or inter-team behavior, that will enhance market performance.
There are study guides for each WOF:
Bureaucratic Narrative Frame
Quest Narrative Frame
Chaos Narrative Frame
Postmodern Narrative Frame
Ante Narrative Narrative Frame
Questions to ask about organizational forms (polyvalence of translating market factors into organizational form):
Do the new organizational forms provided higher flexibility in adapting products (and services) to the needs of the market?
Do the new organizational forms provide more opportunity to innovate in the economic environment?
Do the new organizational forms encourage greater flexibility of planning and launching products?
Do the new organizational forms offer greater internal mobility of personnel? 
What are the consequences of the new forms in terms of financial costs of the change?
What are the consequences of the new forms in terms of division of power? 

3. 3 C's D Communication, Coordination & Cooperation Dialogs (e. g. Webs of DIALOG Influence).

We exist in webs of influence.  

Hidden costs accumulate from miscommunication, poor coordination, and road blocks to cooperation.  How many people in your department just refuse to talk to one another? (What hidden costs does that add?).  

Look at the stories, the TAMARA (web of stories and how we come to know the stories, the webs of wandering people in any organization co-creating the storylines - See Disney TAMARA example

4. TR Time Rhythms  ( More accurate would be "time rhythm control" of cycle time, JIT, & time use as in studies of how people spend their time, etc.) (See intro to Rhythms  or go to  Ph.D. Level explanation. [See Harley Example of SOC and JIT]. (Resources 1); Our life script has rhythms. We eat and sleep to rhythm. The pace of our work life is in its rhythms. Our organization has its seasons, cycles, and tempos. 

When Time is spent on unimportant or wasteful areas, then hidden costs accrue.
Use a diary to track how you are spending your time each day.  Ask yourself Who, What, When, Where, Why questions. 
Research by Henry Mintzberg found managers spend their time in hundreds of short duration, highly interrupted events. If you can improve how you spend your time, then you are able to lower hidden costs.
5. TC Training Cast of  Characters (What are people not trained in, where is training be spent? Who is not being trained?). [Training Resources 1 books, 2 Cisco, 3 Articles, 4 Practical] 
Research indicates that when you train 100 people:

After 24 hours, 25 have forgotten it.
After 48 hours, 50 have forgotten it.
After 4 days, 85 have forgotten it.
After 16 days, 98 have forgotten it.

Would you be one of the 2 who remember the idea in a Training Seminar
In addition most training money gets spent on the TOP Executives and Mangers, not on the PEOPLE DOING the WORK and in contact with CUSTOMERS, VENDORS, & COMMUNITY? (Therefore hidden costs accumulate).
Quality and Service errors accumulated in hidden costs since the training is not done toward improving the performance of the firm.
6. SP Strategic Plots - the PLOT (storyline) of the Firm's strategy - (What is firm's situation in its environment? What kinds of strategic change quests has the firm been caught up in?). 
The hidden costs accumulate as the firm looses awareness of what market it is in, how that market has changed, how the ecology has shifted, and the role the firm is playing in its changing industry. 
What technologies are in use and how appropriate are they to the current and future market?
Is the firm doing the right things at the right time in the right place with the right people?
SWOT is a simple start at sorting out strategic implementation. 
ROOT CAUSE Analysis is More Sophisticated approach getting at the inter-connectedness of it all. Point is to get at the STORY PROBLEM that underlies the web of root causes. Then work out a new story for the firm.
SWOT and ROOT CAUSE are OK for small firms, but more complex Strategic Implementation requires Large System Change (Transorganizational Development Gameboard) to get at more complex implementation issues.  
7. SES - SOCIO-ECONOMIC Spectacles. There are four main spectacles, concentrated (inside the firm), diffuse (performance to the outside world), integrated (integration of first two), and mega-spectacles (when the organization falls into scandal). We live in the Society of the Spectacle (Debord, 1967). We live in the Theatre of Capitalism (Boje, 2002c). 
Boje, D. M. (2002c) Theatres of Capitalism. Book being published by Hampton Press (San Francisco). Available until publication, on line, at (password is required).

In the diagnostic phase, these six areas of social performance are explored using qualitative interviews and observations by the New Mexico State University - SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTING STUDENTS (contact for FREE semester-long Consultation project). The Socio-economic analyses are done to ascertain the hidden costs (see bottom leaf of Clover Model) of sustaining current patterns of Social Performance. 

The diagnosis includes construction of a Root Cause analysis:

Variables for the ROOT CAUSE and EFFECT CHART construction can be found at CODE BOOK.

We then focus in on the main STORY of the Root Cause/Effect analysis, i.e. where to initiate change that will have the maximum transformative impact

In the above example the root cause (the one with the most cause/effect arrows) is Bad Interdepartmental Communication (3C.3.10 is the variable number from the CODEBOOK), In the SEAM Method, we track some 500 variables to benchmark our implementation projects. ISEOR in France has done over 1,000 projects and tracks some 2,000 variables. We in New Mexico have done about 40 projects.

In France, the ISEOR consultants enter the diagnostic narratives generated in the field work are entered into a data base, and then ordered by the six main themes (and sometimes 5 layers of sub-theme categories). Narrative examples are presented from various stakeholder positions in the firm. Frequencies and basic statistics are used to tabulate themes and sub-themes. We are building such a databank in New Mexico to help small businesses survive in the changing global economy. See CODE BOOK.

There is a printable Diagnostic for SEAM (press here). Short version of questions to take with you on interviews (press here).  

Also use the 5-NARRATIVE FRAMES for WORK ORGANIZATION DIAGNOSTIC instrument on line.

After presenting the results of the Social Dysfunctions and Hidden Costs & Revenues in the Mirror Effect, SEAM consultants in dialog with the major professor and the client, propose a Intervention Experiment.  The experiment is designed to take the central Root Cause and work on that to produce lower costs and greater revenue potential for the client. 


Savall, Henri (1974). Enrichir le travail humain : L’evaluation economique, Preface de Jacques Delors. Paris : Bordas. Spanish translation : Por un trabajo mas humano ; Madrid, Techniban, 1977. English edition: Work and people : An economic evaluation of job-enrichment, foreword by Ansoff, H.I. ; NY : Oxford University Press, 1981. First published as a Ph.D. dissertation, Université of Paris, Dauphine, 1973.

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