Ho partecipato, insieme a due Colleghi di CSE Crescendo (Maria Chiara di Luzio e Riccardo Profumo), al seminario della EUS (European Union for Systemics) dal titolo: “Knowledge for the Future of the Knowledge Society" che si è tenuto a Charleroi (Belgio) il 20 settembre scorso. Abbiamo presentato tre contributi le cui slides di presentazione sono disponibili e scaricabili su questo blog nella sezione Libri, Link, Eventi.
Ho provato a scrivere un commento finale. In inglese, come sono in inglese le presentazioni, per permettere un più vasto utilizzo del nostro blog.
“When we think of people at work we imagine people manufacturing some products or delivering some services. We try to manage them, for example, prescribing procedures or proposing a list of values .... Wrong!
People are writers of specific “local” human stories. Different stories in different “loci” of the organization. Inputs (procedures, values etc.) of managers can be just “interferences”. It is impossible, both theoretically and practically, to foresee their impact.
Let’s consider procedures.
At first glance procedures might be considered a “play script” that people are asked to represent. Wrong! Procedures cannot be considered an exhaustive play script because it’s impossible to prescribe all behaviors. That means that people have a lot of spaces of freedom (that often managers are not aware of) they have to fill-in with self-defined behaviors. The inevitable conclusion is that a group of procedures can just be an interference for the “story creation” processes. Procedures will be applied or not, will be “completed” with certain self-defined behaviors or with others, depending on the cognitive systems of story “writers”, on their relations system, on the anthropology of each group in the organization.
Let’s consider values.
Something similar happens with values. Reasons are that values are not things, but emergencies from the informal organization and there is a non-casual connection between values and behaviors.
Suppose a CEO wants to manage an organization through values. First problem is that a CEO does not have a defined list of values, already recorded in some places of its (or her) mind. He (or she) thinks of values just when he (or she) decides to wright down a list of them. Secondly, the process of emergence of values in the mind finishes when the ideal list in the mind becomes a concrete list in a piece of paper, in a group of slides, in a speech …
Well … it is evident that the process of emergence of values depends on psychological condition and relational context of the CEO. And on types of media and languages he (or she) used. From a different psychological condition, relational context and using different media and languages, a different list of values will emerge.
Beyond of that it is important to consider the hermeneutical process. When people receive the defined list of values, each of them interprets in different ways that list, depending on his (or her) psychological conditions and relational context, his (or her) reactions to particular media and languages used by the CEO.
Last, but not least, the process of real stories creation evolves. If CEO just gives people “orders” (procedures are orders, values are used as orders) this process becomes self-referential: it regenerates always the same story. The self-referentiality generates what it is called “resistance to change”
Conclusion: the process of “constructing real stories of real life at work” it is completely in the hands of people. Real stories are the real strategy of an enterprise. Real stories generate cash.
If a CEO wants to govern the process of cash generation (are there any CEOs who are not willing to govern the process of cash generation?), he or she has to govern the process of “constructing real stories of real life at work”.
In which way?