Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

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In industry, “growth” commonly means but one things: to get bigger.  Success is equated with size, rationalized as economy of scale, and projected as a national faith through the G.N.P. index.  Hollywood, Broadway, General Motors, and more recently the conglomerates are the result.  A balloon, as it is blown up, gets bigger–but this is not growth.  It is simply expansion.  As many a breathless and startled reveler has discovered, bigger is not always better.  The capacity of the balloon does not grow, but the capacity is subjected to more and more demands.  Expansion could therefore be seen as using more and more of a given capacity.  Growth, on the other hand, means increasing the capacity of the system as well as the demands that are made upon it.  Partial reorganization of a company would bring about expansion or integration.  Expansion occurs when the reorganization causes those parts of the organization that are addressed to increase their demands upon the rest of the system (for example, a work simplification program).  Only total reorganization can bring about growth.  Only total reorganization can bring about growth.  Without growth the forces of differentiation and integration–process and structure–become unresolved conflict, causing fragmentation, empire building, and eventually the decline of the company.

We can therefore differentiate three forms of “orderly” change that can occur within a company:

  1.  The change of integration, which we shall call self-regulation.
  2. The change of expansion.
  3. The change of growth.

Philosophers have long been aware that our experience of the world is not simple but complex.  A few moments’ reflection will show most people that what we experience, how we experience it, why we experience it, and that we experience at all are different sides or dimension of experience.  What we experience gives rise to facts.  How we experience gives rise to functions.  Why we experience this rather than that gives rise to structure.  That we experience at all gives rise to a mystery, related in some way to Will.

February 21st, 2020 ~

Expansion vs. Growth: I have talked with small business owners, mainly in the food industry.  Recently, an owner of a beloved bakery told me she has been repeatedly invited to expand her business.  She has owned the business for several decades.  Early on, it was in the background of her mind to expand.  Now, she can’t imagine it.  Her footprint is all over the bakery and it just wouldn’t be feasible to replicate this at another location without losing quality.  Not to say others haven’t done it.  The same goes for pizza making.  An owner I know has said the quality of the dough goes down if you can’t thrown the pizzas by hand.  When you use machines, it is evident in the quality of the pies.  So, maybe many businesses expand when they franchise.  But are they really growing their business.  What do you think?

Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

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Classical organization theory suggests that there is “the company” and that there is “change,” and these two are in some way in opposition.  Monolithic organizations have been set up with the view that the company acquires significance through its stability.  Emphasis has been put on the hierarchical structuring, and a tendency toward “power structuring” has enabled the company to acquire inertia, or resistance to change.  this inertia has a positive side in so far as it assists the company to face the forces of degeneration and deterioration.  On the other hand, the emphasis on the hierarchic structuring of the company has inhibited the generation of ideas.  It would be nearer the truth to say that an organization should be the orderly expression of change.

An organization changes along three “spatial” dimensions: lateral, horizontal , and vertical.  Its functions become increasingly more differentiated and complex (the lateral dimension).  New systems, procedures, and understandings bring about new integrations or new orientation, and there is a tendency toward different and new wholes to be created within a company (the horizontal dimension).  The organization also changes in another dimension.  As the company grows, higher level ideas are introduced, enabling it to encompass an increasing field of phenomena (the vertical dimension).

Change can occur at many different points within the system.  The emphasis on the vertical dimension or the hierarchic structure tends to resist the influence of many of these changes.  This results in the “cataclysmic” approach to reorganization according to which a company is organized at a given time and then, through a continuing failure to adapt, it reaches a crisis, at which point a new reorganization becomes necessary and the cycle is repeated.  By regarding a company as a system open to its environment, having many dimensions, each of which is inducing change, the cataclysmic approach can be replaced by a more dynamic approach based on growth.

February 20th, 2020 ~

Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Chapter 1–Page 2

Page 2 ~ In addition to job description and organization charts in a company, there are other elements such as budgets, forms, appraisal systems, systems for introducing new products to the company, salary-administration systems, long-range forecasts, management-development systems, goal-setting systems, data-processing systems, and management-information systems.  All are developed independently with very little integration and frequently with an increasing despair on the part of those who are called upon to develop the systems, through the recognition of how little relevance or connection there is between what they are doing and what the rest of the company is doing. 

The framework within which reorganization is at present undertaken is one in which analysis, or reduction, alone is known and recognized.  This inadequate framework brings about a violation of harmony, of structure.  “Everyone knows” that to solve a problem one must start by breaking the problem down into smaller problems and, where necessary, these into yet smaller problems.  One then goes about solving each of these simple problems and then synthesizes or integrates the solutions in a steadily ascending hierarchy.  However, to break a problems down is to reduce the level of the problem, and by changing its level one changes the problem entirely.

To organize but part of the company is like trying to bake half a cake.  Often a manager will say, “Well, first let us set up this and that department, or this and that role within the department, or perhaps this and that systems.  let us get those working, and then later on we can turn our attention to the rest of the organization.”  This is something like a housewife saying, “Let us first of all put in the flour and water and perhaps some currants, and later on we will get around to the eggs and sugar and the rest of the ingredients, when we have cooked the first part of the cake.”

February 17th, 2020 ~

Chapter 1 Zen & Creative Management

Shareholder, Employee, Customer: The Basic Triad

A company is a multidimensional system capable of growth, expansion, and self-regulation.  It is, therefore, not a thing, but a set of interacting forces.  Any theory of organiztion must be capable of reflecting a company’s many facets, its dynamism, and its basic orderliness.  When a company organization is reviewed, or when reorganizing a company, it must be looked upon as a whole, as a total system. 

A system can be defined as a set of independent but mutally related elements.  The different jobs or functions in a company are the “independent elements”; each has its own reason for being; each isdone by a different manager, each of whom is expected to act to some extent as an autonomous and independent whole.  This, after all, is what we mean by responsibility.  But the mutual relatedness of the job with other jobs in the company is as important a feature of the organization as the content of the job itself.

This mutual relationship corresponds to the structure of the whole, and it must be emphasized because it is frequently ignored when organizations are reviewed.  When managers reorganize they often do not give very much attention to how parts of the system are related in time or structure.  Furthermore, this relatedness is something that is poorly understood.  For example, managers frequently write job descriptions in complete isolation from what the company as a whole is trying to do.  Although organization charts are drawn, they often ignore the content of job descriptions.  A gesture is sometimes made in the direction of relatedness and structure by putting dotted lines on the organization chart, but these frequently serve to confuse rather than to clarify the issue.