Issues/Trends in Mgmt Dev't LO6500

Rol Fessenden (
08 Apr 96 01:02:35 EDT

Replying to LO6482 --

Michael says:

"I bet my last dollar that one of the most important issues for
management development in the next 5 years (and more) will be design
of organisation *from the ground (principles) up*.

Management has not been asked to do more than make the machine work
better and, occasionally, to tinker with the machine. No one has
been asked (or allowed) to design a new approach."

=== end quote ===

I agree with your second paragraph. I agree that what you describe in the
first paragraph should be an issue, but I think you would lose the bet.
Of course, we would have to define terms clearly...and I hope you win the

If you are referring to "leading edge" companies (in values, environmental
concern, and so forth), then perhaps you are right that a few companies
would be doing that in the next five years. I think some are doing it
now. We are trying to. But if you are referring to large-scale
participation in organizational design from the ground up, I would tend to
doubt it.

One of the many issues we still have not wrestled to the ground is the one
If and I have been talking about. What are the self-evident truths that
everyone can agree on? They are not clear today.

For example, an environmentally concerned company wonders whether they
should use paper bags or plastic. Assume for the moment those are the
only choices. Paper is heavier to transport, and is transported in bulk
from huge, far away plants. Paper bags require a lot fuel to move.

Plastic, on the other hand, requires far less fuel per bag, but uses up a
non-renewable resource -- oil -- in its manufacture. Paper uses oil in
its manufacture too. Paper pollutes the environment more than the
manufacture of plastic (I think, don't quote me). It's not clear how to
proceed, and this is the norm far far more than the exception.

You know, If said that micro-organisms were the first polluters when they
manufactured the poison oxygen in large quantities, and they did it two
billion years ago. For me, the point is that a poison to one life form is
the life-blood of another. If not for those micro-organisms, we would not
be here to reflect on pollution. The world is full of trade-offs, and we
can't eve begin to understand them today.

Any time there is this much ambiguity, companies ignore it. Actually, we
all ignore it. Even on this list there is no clear consensus on many of
the simpler issues we discuss.

Gene said that we always act in a way that makes sense in the moment.
Therefore, by observing our actions, we can assess what makes sense to us
and what does not. What I observe is that there are very, very few
leaders out there pushing us forward on ethical issues, environmental
issues, humanitarian issues. Perhaps none of us -- certainly very few --
on this list have practiced the kind of leadership that would be required,
and in principle we can see the need at least as well as anyone, and
arguably much, much better. But as part of the system, we continue to be
part of the problem.

I don't know if this meandering response has shed any light. I hope for
great things, but I see no signs of life yet.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc.

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