Orchestrating the Organization

A Releasing Your Unlimited Creativity discussion topic

Copyright 2008 by K. Ferlic, † All Rights Reserved

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Orchestrating the Organization is a suggested approach to use for a group of individuals or an organization where there is a desire to: (1) harness the creative spirit such that both the unfoldment of the creative spirit is nourished in the workplace; (2) the group or organizational goals are effectively met and (3) and a harmony is created between the workers. Since it focus is on creating the space within a group to nurture the creative spirit of the individual it is a complementary approach to an existing organizational approach in that it seeks to create a orchestration between the individual within any selected organizational approach.

Additionally Orchestrating the Organization can be used to create a responsive organization to deal with changing circumstance and, if desired, it can move toward creating the ultimate in a responsive organization, the improvisational organization, where adaptability and flexibility are optimized. As described in the topic, "A quantum jump between different types of organizations" Orchestrating the Organization provides a way and opportunity to create such jumps when necessary.

Orchestrating the organization is built on two key understanding. One is the existence of the creative spirit and the second is that creative spirit can be harnessed in a way that allows for the growth and unfoldment of the creative sprit yet meet organizational objectives. In fact, the way an orchestra functions provides both a real application of these two principles and the basis of an analogy as to how to go about orchestrating an organization as a complement to existing organizational approaches. The following background discussions provide background concepts which give rise to the concept of orchestrating and organizational for organizational design, organizational management and organizational dynamics. Particular discussion topics why orchestration and applying on Orchestrating the Organization are listed after the Background Section.


From a creativity perspective we need to understand that it is within our assumptions and postulates the we find our real problems. Energy always flows in the path of least resistance and whatever we are experiencing or will experience is the path of least resistance unless we exert our will to control what it is we are experiencing.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution and throughout the Twentieth Century it can be said that almost all aspects of life could be characterized as having been dominated by science and technology. In many organizations workers have been seen as individual clogs in massive interlocking industrial production wheels. The belief has centered around the concept that you could train an individual worker to a defined level of performance and that performance could be sustained throughout the work day, day after day, week after week, year after year. This belief is central to the systematic approach to training and instructional design theory which has been so effective at educating our workforce. Yet, experience had demonstrated repeatedly thought out this era this assumption is not completely correct and it has been inadequate to effectively deal with change. Although the understanding contained in this view of the worker and training is a reasonable approximation to truth, it is none the less only an approximation and a partial truth. When one is in flow and/or within something that is undergoing rapid flow, there need to be a different approach. One needs to start thinking about the choreography of the dance

Change can be approached from one of two directions - reactively and pro-actively. Most individuals, and organizations being composed of individuals, respond reactively to change. Few seem to understand that change can have a pro-active response and fewer yet seem to have the foresight to figure out how to respond pro-actively. The reason for this is quite simple. To deal pro-actively with change, we must see the world differently than we normally do. Humans tend to like habit and we quickly become comfortable with what is. We work very had to make the status quo unchangeable, yet we seem to forget that change is one of the few guarantees in life. To effectively deal creatively with change, we need to look carefully at change and what is required by change. And if we look carefully, it is the unique creative spirit that is embedded with each individual worker that has been, and is, the most important component in sustaining any level of pro-active change. If an organization expects to deal effectively with change that is pro-actively, it is vital to know how to tap into this creative spirit.

Whether we realize it or not, effectiveness is, and always has been our measure of truth. If we are effective at getting what we want, we are perfectly happy with things the way they are. Just look at our life? Do we really attempt to change things that we believe are effective? The same exist at every level of our being and when we are in relationship with other individuals. Normally it takes some outside influence to disrupt, or threatens to disrupt, things as they are that forces us to change. However, many of our problems start because we are doing what we believe is effective. We believe we are being effective with our life and the way we live our life. Unless we are desperate because some change has already occurred, our lives tend to work. Since life seems to be working, we do not wish to change anything in what we do or we assume we will lose the effectiveness we have. And, since change always seems to be disruptive, why disrupt what is effective?

It needs to be noted however, that the difference between science and superstition is that in a science, we know what each and every step of a process achieves. As a result we are free to change what we do for we know what our outcome will be. In superstition, we think that something in the process works, but we really donít know what, so whatever it is we do, we donít want to change it. If we understand what we experience and know the "science" behind what we experience, we are free to change. Otherwise we hold onto our past and our past ways of doing and being.

There is a flow and a pattern to energy and all the manifested world is based on energy. Sometimes however, what is working has nothing to do with the process we are using for we have never looked at the energy behind what is happening. Although we are inundated with science and technology today, we rarely apply the rigor of science to examine the energy flow of what we do in our lives and organizational processes.

In this regard, much of what we do in life is superstition since we assume that what we are doing is the cause of our effectiveness. When never examine what we do to understand what other ways, what other options can be pursued and be just as effective. If we did, then we would realize that there was no real basis to assume that what we did was the real cause of our effectiveness. In many cases, the process of the activity in which we are engaged, or life itself, determines what needs to be done, and our actions and our choices are much less important that we realize. We think we are the cause when in reality, we are the response.

To orchestrate the organization one directs their efforts at understanding the process and then orchestrating the available component to that process. It is not unlike the way the orchestrator is given a piece of music to be played by a given type of orchestra within a given style of performance. With the given piece of music, type of orchestra and style of performance, there is great latitude, but much less that if one could choose the music, the orchestra and the style. We often we assume we have more choices available to us than we do, yet we never seem to see all the choices that are available in a given situation because of what we believe about how things have to be done.

Key components and aspects for orchestrating the organization

The Orchestra analogy: Why an orchestra analogy? The concept of orchestrating the organization comes from the words themselves. Orchestrate comes from the Greek work "orkheisthai" meaning to dance. In ancient Greece theaters, the orchestra was a semicircular space in front of the stage on which the chorus danced - hence the need for synchronizing the choreographed dance with the scored music. So orchestrating is about arranging or putting together or to organize so as to achieve a desired effect or outcome. Organization comes from the Greek word "organon" meaning instrument and the organization is something comprising elements, (what one could call "instruments"), with varied functions that contribute to the whole or it is a number of persons or groups having specified functions that contribute to the whole or to the collective function.

It is the premise of orchestrating the organization that the principles embedded within the process of orchestrating a composition for an orchestra provides the key understanding for managing organizations and organizational change and transition. It is also the premise that orchestration is needed more when there are changing parts and roles rather than when everything is moving in a relatively steady fashion. In the same way one harmonizes the individual parts of an orchestra, one needs to harmonize the leading, managing and re-engineering efforts of change and harmonizing is much more of an art than a science.

The key concept in orchestrating an organization as opposed to managing, leading or re-engineering the organization is that one needs to understand the dance that is to be performed, the choreography between the parts, and the harmony between the players and how they come together to achieve that underlying intention. The emphasis here is on the understanding that each player is a unique, individuated performer, whole unto them self, only playing a part, or role, within a larger performance.

As in a well-orchestrated orchestra, no one can play the other personís part, that is, two parts at once. In the orchestrated performance, each part is needed. Although there may be multiple individuals playing a similar part, like three trumpets playing the same notes, each of the three trumpets is needed so that the total combined trumpet sound balances with the rest of the orchestra. It is suggested some of the science and business be taken out of the organization and how we look at managing and replaced with some of the art that is characteristic of an orchestration. Currently the science approach dominates our thinking. We need to allow ourselves to see the organization as having the characteristics of an orchestra preparing to a given a performance where the organization meets a desired outcome in the form of some product or service that meets the shifting needs of an evolving, but seemingly fickle audience - that ever changing customer.

What is suggested here is to harness the creative spirit in a way that it nourished in the workplace and meets organizational objectives we need to look each individual as a musician with an instrument. The instrument is the creative spirit. The goal is then to orchestrate this musician who "plays" their creative spirit perform within an arrangement with other individuals who are simply musician playing their creative spirit.

An orchestra is a collection of independent musicians who come together perform a composition of music. Each musician must develop and maintain their skills and be able to harmonize with another to perform a given arrangement of music. Orchestrating the organization is good concept for harnessing the creative spirit in that in the same way a musician must take responsibility for developing and maintaining their music skill, it is the responsibility of the individual to find a way to nourish their creative spirit, meet its needs and maintain its ability to creatively perform and energize the individual. The musician is then given the opportunity to perform with their instrument in harmony with others according to prescribed rules and directions as to how to play their instrument. In many ways this is what a job assignment does in an organization. It directs the energy within the individual to perform in a directed way in harmony with others.

The creative spirit is the instrument mastered by the individual: Within the orchestrating the organization analogy, the creative spirit is seen as the instrument of the individual. Or, an equally valid view is that the human being is a four stringed music instrument consisting of four strings - a spiritual, mental, emotional and physical string each of which must be tuned and learn to be played by the current mind. In any case, as a musician must learn to perform with their selected instrument, so too the individual. Each individual must learn to perform with their creative spirit or the four strings of their being. Part of properly learning to play our creative spirit we must learn to nurture and care for the creative spirit as a musician would care for their instrument. In the same way a music may be given the space and opportunity to perform by other, the musician is the one who performs. Similarly although we may be given the space and opportunity for our creative spirit to unfold, we need to know how to create the space within for it to unfold in what is provided externally.

Since each employee is analogously seen as a musician who is asked to play a part in an orchestra to perform a particular orchestration, one of the primary concerns if the individual is capable of playing the part they are being given. There is the awareness that as a musician, each employee is seen as unique performer even for the simplest part. It recognizes the fact that although the individual has been trained for a particular job does not mean they can effectively do the job. Orchestrating the Organization look to ensure they can play the role assigned and it is not assumed that they can. It understands that an individual may technically play the part but they must a have level of competency that allows them to feel the part. It is being able to feel the part that lays the seeds for the responsive or improvisational organization.

Harmonizing with others - the orchestration: Once it has competent musicians, the success of any orchestra or musical ensemble, is the music that is played and how it is arranged for the instrumentation that is available. Parts to be played must be adjusted for the available musicians. Here there is a subtle difference between organizations and musical ensemble. Organizations tend to be laid out based on how someone thinks the organization should work and then the individuals hired to fill the positions. However, in orchestrating for an ensemble, the music is arrange for the available musicians. It is not uncommon to play the same melody using a different set of musicians and different instruments. However, few organization are structured around the available personnel. When one being to orchestrate the organizations by adjusting the functions based on what is available often one can find a more efficient organization. Here lies the basis of a responsive organization and the improvisational organization. In orchestrating the organization the options exists of allowing individuals to play more than one role as priorities shift and demands change, hence allowing the organization to be more responsive.

One issue here is to see if the organization capable of "playing the music" it is being asked to play. That is do the individual organizational members have the skills and talents to do what is suggest and does the organizational structure support that suggested and/or required actions. The example of Band Company discussed in the topics "Band Company - the first real experience in organizational theory," is an example of a situation where the arrangement of the music could be played but it was the wrong orchestration for the instrumentation available. In essence the Band members were being setup to fail. The question here is, "Is the organization capable of performing the desired task or is it outside their given area of performance?"

A complementary approach: To understand how orchestrating the organization can be a complementary approach to almost any existing management approach is to realize a piece of music can be arranged for performance by a variety of different orchestras or bands. In the same way a piece of music can be orchestrated for a particular collection of individual musicians, any mission or function (the music to be performed) can use any particular organizational approach (the collection or the way the individuals are collected) of individuals each with a unique creative spirit.

For example the same music can be arranged for a full symphonic orchestra, a band as in a high school concern band, a marching band, a band on horseback, or simply a small dance band. The music will sound different but it the same tune. So too many organizational functions and even organizational missions. There is more than one way to do many tasks. The question is what is the optimum arrangement to perform a task with the available individuals in the environment in which we find ourselves.

The key to applying the concept of orchestration the organization is applied to each organizational component or level. That is each manger is seen to orchestrate the employees under his supervision. The manager above the current manager (a second level manager) the orchestrates the group of first level managers. The third level manager orchestrates the second level and so forth through the organization. If any one manager is not capable of orchestrating the individual under their supervision that will be a precursor to future problems.

What is the primary differences on orchestrating the organization from traditional approaches: The primary difference between traditional approaches to organizations and orchestrating the organization is understanding that a nurtured creative spirit can allow for a much greater range of task and performance areas than which traditional organizational approaches tap into. That is, most traditional organizations assign individuals to fixes roles and responsibilities. Orchestrating the organization will assigned fixed role and responsibilities but allows for individuals to step out of those roles and perform other task as needed by the organization for a particular effort or in certain situations and to nurture the creative spirit of the individual. To have a responsive organization, it is important to keep the creative spirit active and to some degree challenged. Otherwise it will atrophy as any muscle does without use. Effective harnessing of the creative spirit is done at each level in the organization at the location and level the worker is performing the task as opposed to the orchestration being perform by someone or some office removed from the worker and the task being performed.

Using the concept of orchestrating the organization

The following discussion were originally written to be read in sequence much like a book to introduce individuals to the concept of orchestrating the organization and are placed here as that introduction. The discussion "Suggested steps in implementing the Orchestrating the Organization approach" at the end is provided as a staring point for those who may wish to use the Orchestrating the Organization approach.

Integrating the intention for our life with the job

Why orchestration?

Origins of the orchestrating the organization philosophy

Is not the Orchestrating the Organization approach just idealized thinking?

A model for safety and quality

Overlaying an understanding of energy consciousness into the organization

Three principles for safety, quality and satisfaction in life

How organizations fail to meet the needs of individuals and why this issue needs to be recognized

How and why individuals ask organizations to meet deep internal needs in a way the organization is unable

Employee misuse of an opportunity

The games managers play

The long term issue because of how mind works

Obtaining mindfulness, awareness and the calmness of being

Optimizing our creative life energy in a give task

Organizational clarity of intent

Knowing what you are looking for - technical competence

Necessity is the mother of invention but why the need in the first place?

The organization we experience is a desired experience

Learning to dance and harmonize with others

Orchestrating the pieces

Creating a responsive and/or an improvisational organization

The keeper of the flame - a guiding light

Who is orchestration the organization for?

Suggested steps in implementing the Orchestrating the Organization approach

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