Re: Competences LO2810

Rachel Silber (
Thu, 14 Sep 1995 09:11:59 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO2778 --

Bernard sends these two pieces of mail:


I had yesterday a lunch with the boss of a french data processing company
(about 2000 persons). He is reorganizing his company along competence
centers. In the process, he discovered that 10% of the workforce had
competence that was of no use to the company. He dismissed most of them.

My question is :
- would this be a fact in most companies?
- do companies have feedback that tell them that the people who work for
them have obsolete competences?
- could we design a system to get this feedback?

Bernard Girard

and (Time Frames)

>...Their confidence in their employer is going down, so is most
>probably (but this we do not know yet) their commitment. When they choose
>a job inside the company they start asking : will it help me find a new
>job when on the labor market... Dit you notice in the states, in
>Australia, or wherever you are, this kind of evolution?

These are, of course, two sides of the same coin. In the new labor
market we are evolving toward, the commitment between the employee and
the employer is more transactional (you do this for me and then I do
that for you, and if either side gets a better deal elsewhere, we're
free to maximize our own self-interest) and less relational ( we both
commit, and then there is a pretty wide margin within which we both
feel obligated to be forgiving and ignore self-interest in order to
maintain the commitment we've made).

I believe that this change is counter to the spirit of a "learning
organization". If you "remove fear" as Deming would have it, if you give
people a secure ground, they can maximize their contribution to the whole
system of which they are a part. If each person is -- must be --
primarily concerned with maximizing their potential future earning power,
then certain tasks become absurdly self-sacrificing. For example the
folks who maintained the old obsolete computer system for the many months
it took to get their co-workers up and trained on the new system, and who
were then the first to be eliminated when another downsizing or
reorganization took place. (This example is a particular pattern that
I've seen or heard of several times.)

In response to the "Time Frames" message, Tom Peters was mentioned. He
has the concept of organization-by-Rolodex, team formation by people
widely dispersed getting together to do a particular project and then
splitting up. The ultimately transactional organization, everyone is an
independent contractor. But not everyone wants to, or can, live and work
on the breaking edge of the wave. (I may be mistaken, but I think Peters
also wrote something along the lines of "if you aren't coming in prepared
to take risks that might get you fired you aren't being bold enough". I
can't find the passage I'm thinking of though, and it may have been
someone else.) I think that's one model of a learning organization, but
one quite different from the Fifth Discipline path.

Rachel Silber