Re: Handling Power & Politics LO1993

Dr. Ivan Blanco (BLANCO@BU4090.BARRY.EDU)
Fri, 7 Jul 1995 18:40:13 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO1905 --

> Date: Sat, 1 Jul 1995 15:12:25 -0400
> From:

> Autocratic power will die out hopefully but other forms of power will take
> its place.
I think that the most progressive (world-class?) organizations
would tend to rely a lot more in some form of consensual-democratic type
of relationship. If there is consensus on an issue, then everything is
fine. WHen there is some kind of disagreement then the democratic process
would take over. But once an issue has been voted on, after the necessary
discussions, then there is all-member support (consensus) for the outcome
of the democratic process. You wouldn't find any one saying "I don't know
anything about it, I didn't vote it for it" or any similar reactions.

> I believe that power is the ability to make decisions and carry them out.
> Politics is the art of dealing with diagreement about how things are going
> to be between us. If there is agreement there is no problem. Politics
> raises its head when there is disagreement.
Again, when there is collective action then the need for political
games is diminished!

> I have been taught that there are four models for decision making in an
> organizational setting: autocratic, consultative, consensual, and
> delegative. I think the pure Learning Organization model rests on a
> consensual model for decison making and sometimes perhaps consultative,
> but the bringing about of consensus requires great power particularly when
> there is great disagreement and conflict and politics is the art of
> getting people to work their differences out.
> In short, power and politics, are very much a part of the learning
> organization but they get used in quite different ways than in the
> traditional hierarchial organization.
> What do you think?

I don't know about that neat classification of decision making. I
have been out there in the real world of work and, I can say, that in most
situations we can not really differentiate the autocratic decisions from
the consultative ones. There many decisions made that would fall any
where and every where in the classification. When I was with the Fire
Departmente there where a few situations where you, as an officer in
charge or any one who saw the situation first, would give "autocratic"
order for the others around you to do something (like let's get out of the
building), but in most situation, even though one might be making
decisions under extreme pressure, the individual would still ask those
around "What do you see from there?", "can we move in that direction?",
for instance, and then say "OK, let's go in that direction." This
exchanges might take just a minute or less, but they include some for of
consultative process, because no one individual can see everything that
must be seen before we move. I didn't see any differences in the business
world, during my time there. In fact, there is less pressure (time,
potential losses, etc. ) than in the fire department to make "the right"
decision. I would say that there is more opportunity to more inclusive
than exclusive in the business wolrd.

Not all decisions have to be made in a conference room, looking
and listening to well prepared presentations, etc. In his video "Speed Is
Life," Tom Peters shows the managers at CNN making important decisions in
a hallway, authorizing cash expenditures of several hundred thousand
dollars on the spot, etc. This reminded me the decisions in fire


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