LO=sugar on bitter pill LO5939

Julie Beedon (julie@vistabee.win-uk.net)
Fri, 01 Mar 1996 18:56:05

Replying to LO5901 --

>At first, I was very tempted to agree with this. The more I read it,
>however, the less accurate I think it is.

I must have bee in real skim mode to miss this one ... following
Richard's advice about liberal deleting but Rol's comments stirred

>He says there is 'considerable evidence' but cites none.

I wonder if he means 'evidence' or narrative ... I would see the
two as very different and yet at one level would not wish to
dismiss out of hand an emerging narrative which is being told by
large communities...

>He refers to sugaring the pill. This is a metaphor, and like all metaphors
>can be helpful or dangerous. I guess no one is fond of pills, so there is
>a subtle but powerful negative agenda at work here.

We could take the metaphor in another direction and remember that
however much we dislike the taste of them - pills are designed for
healing - thus we pick up on an underlying possibility of a positive
agenda?? or maybe the metaphor expresses a level of confusion
about the whole thing that I see us all wrestling with?

>He does not identify -- as we have not -- the systemic reasons behind
>delayering and downsizing, but by linking this with ever higher executive
>salaries (I agree this is a travesty), he again delivers a pretty powerful
>negative message.

I think some of the conversations we have been having about the
systemic reasons have ben enlightening - in particualr the
historic nature of industries which decline ... products which no
longer have a market, changing purchasing patterns, new industries
overseas .... in a way we have made something which has been with
us since the industrial revolution as a natural evolutionary
process into 'a bad thing' and I think that may have something to
do with the nature of the consequences of these things... I am
thinking aloud here folks!! .... historically (and I think you get
a sense of this in Japan) industries were 'owned' by the people
who ran them and decline was disastrous for them in the long term
.. they didn't have a portfolio of investments to pick and choose
between and all their energies went into creatively moving the
organisation forward... now do executives and investors pick up
and move on.... The travesty you refer to seems to me to be the
major issue not the downsizing per se.... I like the New Deal
that Rover cars made with it's people in the late 80's early 90's
when they moved into TQ ... no compulsory redundancies and lets
put all our creative energies into an efficient effective improved
Roverised organisation..... and I like the notions you hear from
Deming about the Japanese regarding cutting jobs as a last resort
after cuts in exective packages etc.... after all those with the
most leverage on the system might be regarded as liable to pay the
highest price...

>The next sentence is a very insidious one. "Offers of empowerment,
>autonomous group working and participation in decision-making are serving
>as forms of inner control (the capture of hearts and minds) to replace the
>old forms of outer control (job descriptions, objectives, work roles)."
>If they are _real_ offers -- that is, workers end up with empowerment,
>group work environments, participation in decision-making -- those are
>pretty tangible. What is wrong with wanting someone to make a commitment
>in return? Furthermore, he has presented no evidence. I can imagine this
>happening, but where is the research? This nothing more than editorial

This was the sentence which really had me reaching for the reply
button.... it brought me back to the ideas from Block about the
difference between the bureaucratic mind-set and the
entreprenuerial one ... it seems to be making the basic assumption
of a patriarchal contract based on myopic self-interest using
manipulative tactics and resulting in dependency ... regardless of
the evidence I am not sure that this mind-set will stack up any
more... or at least it may be that organisations with this
mind-set might be using the inner control stuff in a manipulative/
dependent way. I would prefer to model them as reacjing for new
ways of being which are based on an entreprenerial contract which
defines success in terms of contribution, service and jobs which
have meaning so that enlightened self interest can come in to play
and authentic management methods of sharing information about the
whole system (and the external factors which are driving the need
to be more effiecient/down-size etc...) openly and taking risks to
involve people in decision making so that they set up a sense of
autonomy with share responsibility .... not a false offer - but a
real interdependent reality

>Do ideas get abused, as he suggests? You better believe it. Is that
>happening more with these concepts than, say TQ? Not noticeably. Is he
>abusing the use of language to push an unsubstantiated agenda? In my
>opinion, yes. I personally want to see the data, the evidence, the

Do I detect a defensive response here - as I look at it John
Borgoyne (who I believe wrote a book over here on The Learning
Company) has a reasonable stake in wanting to identify the
inauthentic abuses of something he has been working to support -
enlightened self-interest........... what might his
unsubstantiated agenda be ?? More data and evidence would, as you
say, be useful .. more stories would be just as interesting for

Julie Beedon
VISTA Consulting - for a better future


Julie Beedon <julie@vistabee.win-uk.net>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>