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Issue #28 - Rediscovery: Don't separate thinking and doing

Out of the heirloom treasures (and tax-receipts) from my great-grandparents, my lovely sister present

Transforming Talent Insights

January 18 · Issue #28 · View online
Feeding the Passion for Transformation: Be it Talent, Culture, Work or HR

Out of the heirloom treasures (and tax-receipts) from my great-grandparents, my lovely sister presented me with an Anthropology book for children, Treedwellers by Katharine E Dopp (1904) - because it was pretty and at one point in time I had studied Anthro. Bored one day, I decided to flip through the gift: it was more a reflection on society’s progress than I was prepared for. I was suprised by Dopp’s questioning the possible, potential detrimental effect of scientific management in education by separating various subjects from their practical application. Dopp stressed the importance of putting knowledge into relevant context (e.g. practical activity) and encouraging exploratory thinking. In the preface, she writes:
Society to-day makes a greater demand than ever before upon each and all of its members for special skill and knowledge, as well as for breadth of view….The isolation of manual training, … from the physical, natural, and social sciences is justifiable only on the ground that the means of establishing more organic relations are not yet available. To continue such isolated activities after a way is found of harnessing them to the educational work is as foolish as to allow steam to expend itself in moving a locomotive up and down the tracks without regard to the destiny of the detached train.”
Meaning if a topic is decoupled and not put into context, then it is much harder to see the broader picture and potential impact of one’s actions. In the world of work, this is to the detriment of whatever it is one is trying to produce, sell, or create.
Unfortunately, Dopp did not have as much influence outside of pedagogy and Anthropology as one might have hoped (I know, right?!).
As, over the last 115 years, many organizations have been built upon the Tayloristic and autocratic model of high specialization for the production of goods or services. Efficient production was maximized and Taylorism did power growth - so much so that it became the norm. The org design prototype follows the key five principles of
  1. shifting all responsibility for the organization of work from the worker to the manager,
  2. using scientific methods to determine the most efficient way of doing work,
  3. selecting the best person for the position as the job is defined,
  4. train the worker to work efficiently (ahem: not necessarily the most effectively) and
  5. monitor worker performance to ensure that workers follow the appropriate work procedures
These principles are where the slaying notion of leaving your brains at the door came from. The premise was that a worker is paid for their consistent doing not for their thinking - and that there were others being paid to do this type of work. Based on the above-aforementioned principles, organizations and success measures were set-up in a way that encouraged a “my win” over a “your”, “our” or “customer win”. Examples are Corp vs. operations; sales vs. manufacturing; quality vs. purchasing; engineering vs. finance; view of HR as the labor police, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
These pitfalls are why many organizations nowadays are looking to different models for organizational and role design to foster things that in the world of speed, rapid change and multitude of customer choices are necessary to thrive in a knowledge-based economy.
The people function, leaders, and people doing work are heading up the challenge to rethink organizational and role design which foster agility, empowerment, autonomy, collaboration to deliver an amazing user / customer / employee/ stakeholder / social experience that is considered worth paying for.
Therefore, in this edition of Transforming Talent, we look alternative types of organizational design, look at design principles and ask questions around what are we willing to give-up/do differently to transform the world of work. In Dopp’s talk, so that the “steam” we expend, leads us to the destination we wish the “detached train” to go.

Poor work instructions in a knowledge-based economy
Poor work instructions in a knowledge-based economy
In other words: What got you here, won't get you there
Listen to the Talking About Organizations Podcast Episode - 41: Images of Organization - Gareth Morgan (Part 1) | iHeartRadio
Taylorism and The History of Processes: 6 Key Thinkers You Should Know | Process Street
Martin Danoesastro: What are you willing to give up to change the way we work? | TED Talk
New Work Looks and Feels Like
The Unbundling of Jobs and What it Means for the Future of Work Laetitia Vitaud
The New Work Manifesto | Eat Sleep Work Repeat Sue Todd and Bruce Daisley
Alternative Organisational Design Approaches
10 Principles of Organization Design
Organize for Complexity - Keynote by Niels Pflaeging at Agile Telekom Convention 2015
Flatarchie, Holacracy and Virtual: 3 Emerging Business Structures That Might Work For You | TLNT
Just because it is true...
Study: the Mathematics of Street Children Geoffery Saxe | Child Development
Question: What does Good Work in the New World of Work look Like to You?
This question and how to guide the process towards a culture of co-creation has been buzzing around in my brain for awhile. I am now working together with Anne-Cecile Graber on a concept design to help support companies, HR, expertise groups on this subject. If this is something that tickles your interest bone, hit me up and we can dive into more.
If the subject of organizational and role design is on your to-do list for 2019 and you would like some support, great - just give me a call or drop me an email.
All my best regards,
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Elizabeth Lembke, Transforming Talent Consulting: and