Will Sr. Managers Change? LO7031

Brock Vodden (brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca)
Sun, 28 Apr 1996 18:57:39 -0400

Replying to LO6868 --

General comment on Will Sr. Managers change?

I would like to suggest a different way of looking at senior managers'
attitudes toward change. (These points may have been raised earlier,
before I joined the discussion).

>From my experience, I can only conclude that the manager's who resist
change are in the majority. Those who embrace change are a very small
minority. If this is an accurate assessment, we need to look at the
underlying cause rather than simply looking at individual behaviours. In
Canada, at least, there are systemic factors in the way managers are
selected, promoted, and developed into their respective roles.

Where do managers learn to manage? Most do so on the job. This form of
education is effective and practical within the confines of company. The
person becomes indoctrinated with the organization's culture. Promotions
are granted on the basis of performance of traditional practices based on
the accepted values and methods. Many of these organizations are
impervious to external influences. New ideas about management and
organization theory seldom influence these organizations. Ideas that do
not fit the familiar paradigms are rejected out of hand.

These organizations will from time to time seek help from the outside
world. But they limit their search to consultants, courses, books, and
other sources which share the same view of the world as they possess.
Individuals will on occasion take courses and attend seminars. They may
become very excited about new ideas, but there is little chance of
implementing those ideas in an organization which is dedicated to the
status quo.

Most of the companies of this type that I have studied have one or more
serious blind spots. In one, the blind spot is human resource management,
in another it is planning, in another it is marketing, in some it is a
combination of several of several. The executive teams lack competencies
in certain critical aspects of management. Those areas continue to be
unmanaged (or mismanaged) and un-monitored. Often no one in the company is
aware of the fact that serious problems exist in these blind spot areas,
because no one is paying attention to them. (E.g. in one company whose
most serious blind spot had to do with managing and developing their
people, I found a major department with a staff turnover rate of 200% per
year. No one had noticed.) Managers who learn their craft in these
environments are imprinted with the organization's paradigm.

The strange thing about these situations is that the managers involved are
often bright, highly motivated individuals. It is simply a case of having
a seriously flawed education which has negatively conditioned their
perceptions. So they perpetuate the problem by indoctrinating their
subordinates with the same values, viewpoints and practices.

I believe that intervention of some type is required in the business
culture, to change the way we develop managers and the way we educate
them. I get nervous when I hear people suggesting that we need to involve
business more in the public education system. I would want to be very
selective about which businesses are thus engaged. In my part of the
world, most businesses have a deplorable record in educating their own
people, as well as in managing their own change processes.


Brock Vodden
Vodden Consulting

Brock Vodden
Vodden Consulting
"Where People and Systems Meet"



Brock Vodden <brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca>

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