A Context for Self Management LO9838

Mon, 9 Sep 1996 06:16:30 -0400

Replying to LO9812 [procedure to principle]

Daniel Scott writes:

I am currently doing research on principle-centred organization and am
wondering if anyone has any thoughts on how to facilitate movement within
an organization away from a bureaucratic, procedure-oriented, rule-based
model to one where decisions are made and day-to-day functioning is
carried out based on principles. My impression is that such a movement is
central to fostering any substantial organizational learning. The issue I
am struggling with is what practical, concrete steps can one take to help
foster such a movement, particularly in departments in which historically
almost everything is done according to rigidly defined procedure. How do
you help people think in terms of principle and be independently able to
make decisions and take initiative on an understanding of principle,
particularly those who, perhaps for their whole career, are used to
performing according to procedure. What structures can be put in place to
reinforce such behavior? What is the balance between principle and
procedure, obviously you can't wholly dispense with it.
---end of quote---

One way of getting away from an unhealthy or inappropriate reliance on
procedure is to provide a clear context for managing. The term, "context
for managing" is used here to include several elements: mission, vision,
values, strategy, and strategic direction, intent, goals, and objectives.
These are needed so that people who must manage themselves can make
appropriate decisions and take appropriate actions in situations where
supervision is impossible and adherence to procedure is unproductive. At
the risk of belaboring the point, let me emphasize that I am suggesting it
is management's responsibility to provide a clear context so that the
people who have to manage themselves can do so. Providing this context is
an essential step in creating an environment where knowledge workers can
be achieving and where knowledge work can be productive.


Fred Nickols



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