Re: Power and Politics LO1924

Dr. Ivan Blanco (BLANCO@BU4090.BARRY.EDU)
Mon, 3 Jul 1995 18:05:40 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO1857 --

> Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 10:25 CST
> From: (David E. Birren, MB/5, 608.267.2442)
> Ketan says:
> >"Power" and "politics" are not inherently bad -- they are the manifestations of
> >group activity. It is when people opt out of it that they not only disempower
> >themselves but ultimately damage the organisation by not permitting EVERY
> >person from growing and contributing into the organisation.
> I'd just like to point out that hierarchies can be viewed simply as
> channels of authority and information. Authority is needed to provide
> alignment and coordination, and information is needed as a resource to
> achieve alignment and to get work done. People are not clairvoyant and
> they have different views of what and how things should be done.
> Authority and information are simply indispensable tools for performing
> complex activities.
David, this contention assumes that managers and others in
position of authority are clairvoyant! It also assumes that those at the
top have similar views (to...?) of what things should be! This was not
the case at IBM, or at GM, American Motors Corporation is not longer
around, People Express also died, etc... Many organizations, business and
otherwise, that have not survived were under the direction and guidance of
people of power and authority. Managers and other in position of
authority are people too, and, like the rest of the employees, they too
have different views and interests (personal gains type of interests) that
would blind them. SO, even if they are clairvoyant, they also have so
many things keeping them from seeing beyond the obvious!

> The challenge is to get beyond power as the underlying paradigm or model
> and see it as a background condition. If we can focus on horizontal
> relationships (e.g. teams) and USE the vertical hierarchy as a means of
> supporting the horizontal organization, then perhaps we can make some
> progress toward collaborative organizations.
I believe that the most competitive enterprises today are formed
by individuals, at all levels, who understand that delighting the customer
is the most crucial event in the organization. They also understand that
if those who delight the customer are not delighted themselves and
supported in their actions and tasks, then there would not be a whole lot
of room for the organziation to compete. Understanding the inverted
pyramid proposed by different authors is crucial in today's business

> I'm reminded of a teacher I had in high school who characterized himself
> as "first among equals". He had plenty of "authority" but he chose not to
> use it, except when absolutely necessary (which was surprisingly rare,
> given that his co-equals were 17-year old boys). His job was to convey,
> interpret and build "information". He didn't teach (manage) us; he helped
> us learn (facilitated our roles). A good model for managers.

Inspired by my frustrations with the lecturing approach and by an
absent minded and crazy professor at Central Connecticut State Univ.,
David Fearon, we started to explore and try new ways. Since then, I have
not given a lecture anymore, or used exams, etc. in any of my classes.
THe learning partners (some other people call them students), are not
taught, they learn and sometimes I have something to do with that!


  R. IVAN BLANCO, Ph.D.                        Voice 305 899-3515
  Assoc. Prof. & Director                      Fax   305 892-6412
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