Re: How Much Time in Meetings? LO3700

John Woods (
Mon, 13 Nov 1995 10:44:29 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO3698 --

Bill and all,

You have stimulated my thinking some more on this. If networking is
political in nature, i.e., in pursuit of personal goals, then I still
think it is nonvalue-added. However, if it is aimed at developing the
relationships across the organization needed to get work done, then I
think it may be good, even very good. In fact, it is consistent with the
idea of self-organizing systems.

I have been thinking that one thing that makes organizations ineffective
and inefficient, especially in the era of electronic communication, is a
conflict between formal organizational structures and those that
spontaneously develop to solve problems, make improvements, and work on
projects. The formal structure seeks to control relationships and
information with the goal of maintaining the structure, which might have
been a good thing to do in the past, but technology may obviate that today
in many situations. I think people will naturally organize themselves to
achieve an objective when they all share that objective, have access to
the information they need, and can easily communicate with each other.
Formal structures can get in the way of this, creating uncertainty, waste,
and frustration.

If people who encourage self-organization are rewarded and promoted, then
that's a good turn of events. Whether that's the case, I'm not sure.

>John --
>Your interpretation of Luthan's finding resembles his. However, I wonder
>if both you and Fred Luthans are jumping to a conclusion -- that liaison
>activity between departments is nonproductive activity in pursuit of
>personal goals.
>I find myself unable to form an opinion on the basis of what Luthans has
>said as to whether networking is productive or unproductive. I do however
>note that many organizations reward such activity and so I wonder whether
>the people who hand out the promotions may know what constitutes useful
>contributions in their organizations.
>Do you recall Alex Bavelas group problem solving experiments of the early
>1950s? Groups with hierarchical communication structures were more
>productive when tasks involved unambiguous data, but groups with all-ways
>communication structures were more productive when tasks involved
>ambiguous data that required interpretation. Networking might be
>essential where formal organizational structures are inadequate.
>Bill Starbuck <>

John Woods