Symbiosis in LO LO11229
Mon, 2 Dec 1996 23:58:59 -0500

Replying to LO11219 --

Thomas Benjamin wrote:

> I notice that in nature, it was man who for economic reasons intervened to
> eliminate the paracitic creeper from its host to save the crop of say,
> mangoes. So too in organisations, if relationships are seen only as for
> economic ends, then certain relationships could be assigned as
> paracitic/mutual/comensal. I think in an organisation in persuit of
> learning, it has to learn not only to survive in the market place but also
> to make it a community. In healthy communities, I presume we see greater
> tolerence to the comensal and paracitic symbiosis. I infer from this
> reflection of what nature has to teach us about symbiosis is that we need
> to employ the whole person and not just the persons economic usefulness. >>

For some time I've made a distinction between instrumental relationships
and institutional relationships.

I've considered the relationships I have at work to be instrumental: I am
used by my employer to produce work that has value to our customers, and
in the pursuit of that objective I in turn use other people for the same

At the other end, I've considered my family relationships to be
institutional, in that they were an integral part of the family
institution. We do not choose our institutional relationships, nature
forces them upon us. I couldn't choose who my sisters would be; genetics
determined that for me. And I had to live with those sisters for a long

Through this lens I saw those I worked with as a means to an end. I was
careful not to abuse those relationships, but I also steered clear of
making them too intimate. But my attitude is changing. I now see both
relationships as very similar, especially since I can't always choose who
I'm going to work with the same as I couldn't choose my siblings.

This has changed, in a very fundamental way, how I interact with those I
work with. I have taken the time to develop many close friends at work, so
close in fact that it is these relationships that keep me where I'm at.
The Continuous Improvement Team, which I am a part of, is one of the most
intimate -- and fun -- groups of people I've ever worked with.

I love going to work just because of the relationships I have there. My
friends are my colleagues, and the relationships have become very
rewarding. I think, at some levels, the relationships I have are mutually
symbiotic. What a rewarding experience!


Benjamin B. Compton

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