The issue of identifying and meeting true organizational needs
A Releasing Your Unlimited Creativity discussion topic
Copyright 2008 by K. Ferlic, All Rights Reserved
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There is an assumption that managers know or are capable of seeing and/or discerning the true needs of an organization. However, a variety of observations from different perspectives indicate that is not always true. In the same way we have blind spots in how we approach life, we can expect managers have blind spots in how they see or don’t see the true organizational needs.
An organization is like any other living organism. If its true needs are not met, it will cease to function in some way. When true needs are not met, something dies. True needs of an organization are those that keep the organization alive an vibrant and capable of growth and expansion. When the organization’s true needs are not met, a part of the organization dies in some way.
An organizations’ true needs are like the true needs of any other creation. It is not about giving what we want to give. It is about giving what the organization truly needs. This has been observed to be a problem for many managers. That is, they give the organization what they what to give it or what they think it needs rather than looking at the true needs.
At first glance, some may say, "What is so hard about discerning an organization’s true needs." The answer is that, "Discerning organization’s true needs is not any harder than discerning one’s personal true needs." However, when one looks to see how good the average individual is in discerning their true needs the results are quite surprising. It has been observed that rather than learning how to discern and nurture the true needs of a creative endeavor, including creating the lire we live, we are more like eaglet in the discussion, "The human condition form the creativity perspective," where the eaglet raised with the chickens continually asks the mother hen when she will teach him how to fly never realize the hen does not know how to fly. That is, we look to our mind (the mother hen) to discern our true need but it does not know how. To know our true needs we need to look to see what gives us life and allows us to feel alive. We need to look to the heart and what we feel to know our true needs. Many managers assume they know what the organization needs because they were hired for what they know and have experienced (the past) or have been taught (intellectually knowing versus experiential knowing) rather than their ability to discern true organizational needs. Looking to the past for what is needed in the present or relying on intellectual knowing is a recipe for disaster.
Not being able to discern an organization’s true needs can occurs for a variety of reasons. The inability of managers to see the true needs of the organization became readily apparent in the application of the Laboratory Integrated Prioritization System (LIPS). The LIPS revealed the real issue in many organizations was that the managers do not and/or were not willing to do what is required by the job itself. They want to do what they want to do or the way they want to do it. They are not willing to look at the facts and deal with the facts. A few of the reasons for this are listed here.
The issue of mind: Part of the reason is simply about living within an illusion that we face in every day life. That is, mind is bias in what it sees as a result of the past experiences it has had. Some managers just do not have the experience to explore the true needs of an organization. There is a difference between intellectually knowing and experiential knowing. Only so much can be learned from books and in training.
There is the need for manager to "walk the space" to see come to know their organization first hand. That is, the manager needs to get out and see exactly what the individuals in the organization face in performing their duties. This is true even in the performance of what can be called mundane administrative task. Managers are frequently not aware of the difficulties their staff face. Many manager only feel they need to tell their subordinates what they needs to do. Few feel it is their responsibility to create an environment such that their subordinates can successfully complete the job assigned to them.
The issue of ego: A second reason, more common than one would suspect, are the ego needs of the individual. The issue of ego is about identifying ourselves with our position and what we do. When we are faced with changing our position in some way and/or what we do is not exactly correct for the situation we face, we find ourselves in a defensive posture defending our position and/or what we do. We should not be surprise when a manager defends their position even when there is evidence which says otherwise for this is the nature of the ego.
In general it is quite natural for the ego to defend itself and it can be expected. But it is here the managers end up trying to give an organization what they want to give it rather than what the organization truly needs. There is a preoccupation with the "I think" and "I want" rather that looking to give what is needed. To give to the true needs of any creation rather than what mind wants to give, we need to be out of what mind and the ego thinks. We need to look carefully to shift our shape to become a creative shape shifter to give what is needed. This is often difficult to do for it require work. It requires us to become very mindful, aware and observant to look to see the truth of what is occurring and not what we want to see or would like to see.
The issue of personal agendas: Related to the issue of ego is the issue of personal agendas. This is where a manager has a personal agenda and it may have nothing really to do with what the organization needs.
It needs to be understood, many individuals become managers and supervisors because: (1) they think they can do it better that the existing management; (2) they want to be in charge so they can tell others what to do and not have to work so hard, (3) they simply want to be in charge; (4) they want to further their career and use the managerial position for that reason; (5) they want more money and managerial and supervisory positions tend to pay more; (6) they are placed in the managerial position to be available to a higher manager; (7) the position is a reward for performance at a lower position and one is promoted beyond their real competency; (8) they are the senior person in the group; and (9) a variety of other reason other than wanting to create a efficient and effective organization for the stated mission or goal. Here it needs to be realized we create by holding a single point focus for the duration of the creative effort. Anything that distracts the managers mind other than being focused on the true needs of the organization will take energy and effort away from the organization.
It is clear that when an individuals has personal issue, their mind is not focused on the work to be accomplished. They become distracted by thinking about their personal problem. What is often not realized is that any preoccupation with mind takes one away from the task at hand. Any intention other than servicing the true needs of the organization is a distraction. To think about what others may think about one’s performance is a distraction from performing. To worry about one’s career is a distraction. To try and get others to do our work is a distraction from doing the work. How much these distraction interfere with the efficiency of the organization depend on where they are occurring and how important what is suppose to be done is important to the organization.
For example, in the late 1990s there was a chief operations office of one of the four major railroads in the United Stated that was so preoccupied with trying to make money funds were diverted from track maintenance. In a few years the railroad started to have accidents. Then, when fatalities started to occur, the government took notice and what was occurring started to be made public. In essence here was a manager who didn’t know how to run a railroad and did not know or want to look to minister to the true needs of the organization. They were to preoccupied with their personal agenda rather than focusing on the primary mission of running the railroad. But this is not unusually. It occurs in many organization at any level. It is just that most never see what is really occurring.
The response patterns of childhood: A fourth issue that keeps managers from seeing the true needs of an organization was rather surprising until it was seen for what it really represents relative to how our creative spirit functions. It was observed many managers still respond to life in childhood patterns designed to protect themselves and their creative spirit developed as a child.
Exactly how these early childhood patterns affect the organization depends on the manager and the issue. Some managers may be tremendously effective in every aspect of the job except one area, an area where they suffered pain as a child and never really developed an appropriate response pattern to life. It is not uncommon that some manager are still working to please their fathers or even mothers long after they have died. Some continually look for permission even when they are in charge and are the ones who are suppose to give the permission. Others shy away from confrontation with certain types and kinds of individuals that remind them of past encounters as a child. Here the list can go on and on.
It has been observed a simple antidote to overcoming the inability to see the true needs of an organization is to being to look to see if we know and can discern the true needs of our own creative spirit. We need to remember we cannot give what we do not have. As we learn to give to the true needs of our creative spirit we will being to see the biases of mind, how the ego needs to step aside, how mind wants to give what it wants rather than what is needed, and how we have place our creative spirit in a cage of our own making as a result of the experiences we have had.
The recommended approach to discern the true organizational needs is to look at the creative spirit of its employees. A chain is only a strong as it weakest link. Organizationally, all parts of the organization are needed to function. If any one part is not functioning properly the organization will suffer. People and their creative spirit lie at the heart of any organization or any part of the organization. It is the creative spirit within the part of the organization that will review how functional that part of the organization is.
Here we need to look to see if the organization robs the creative spirit of its individuals or does it do anything to nurture their creative spirit to perform more efficiently and effectively. If the creative spirit of the employee does not feel nurtured in some way, it is probably being used if not abused. No amount of money or perks can make up for the life that is taken from us. We may get paid well, but we nevertheless are paying a price in the damage that is caused to our creative spirit to work in such an environment. That, in turn, will impact the organization.
We need to remember, whether individually or collectively, relative to creating safety, quality, efficiency, or high morale and/or meeting a mission or function in one’s life or in the workplace we are manifesting a creation just like anything else we would create. Creation do not come naturally without some type and kind of sacrifice of creation. We have to choose to create what we desire and set the intention to create it. We then must hold focus on that creative effort as we would any other creation and give to its true needs and not what mind wants to give.