Partnership and Human Evolution

     Partnership organization characteristics include process management, self-organization, and multidisciplinary teamwork.

    At first glance, there may seem to be little connection between partnership organizations and human evolution. This bobtale helps in understanding this connection and the contribution partnership organizations offer in the creation of a healthy, happy and just world.

    One of the programs on TV I found fascinating was the series, “Connections”, by James Burke that illustrated how events that occurred in history created turning points, which dramatically influenced civilization and created new possibilities, which were widely embraced.

    The predominant paradigm upon which corporate success has been based was founded at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It has been characterized as an authoritarian and domineering paradigm. A paradigm based upon an atomistic view of the world, which stresses competition at the corporate level and at the personal level. This paradigm has been very successful at the material level; the fittest survive very well while many are barely surviving. I believe that the inequality, deteriorating environment and societal stress are motivating the search for a new possibility. For this new possibility to be embraced it needs not only to foster prosperity but a higher quality of human life.

    In her book, The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisier documents that there are only two prevalent models upon which social structures have been based: one she refers to as the “domineering model”, and the other the “partnership model”. In the domineering model, a hierarchy of power was established and individuals jockeyed for prestige and position within the power structure. However, to do so, they had to demonstrate allegiance to organizational leaders with positional power. To a large degree, people had specific roles within the domineering organization and specialized at these roles, and as a result, the system worked well in an age when products and technology were less complex. Peter Drucker gave the name “command and control” to this type of organization. I ask the question, why was the domineering approach more successful than the partnership alternative that had worked in other times and other places? I answer this question by saying that the work environment in early twentieth century organizations favored this approach. Organizational managers were given the opportunity to understand the big picture and to plan and integrate daily work. The majority of workers lacked the education and knowledge to work effectively together without the direction of superiors. These were some of the factors that resulted in the dominance of the command-and-control paradigm in business and industry, and has influenced societal prioritiesin other areas, including education, religion, politics, and international relationships.

    It has become increasingly apparent that factors such as an increasingly competitive marketplace and rapid advances in technology and the complexity of products require 21st century organizations to adapt continually to changing circumstances. The ability to achieve this adaptation is not built into the specialty-based command-and-control organizational structures that served us well in the past. What is needed to be competitive in today’s marketplace is often referred to as organizational agility, which is the ability to adapt the way work is done to changing circumstances so as to increase the organization’s performance.

    The competencies required for organizational agility are those that are required for partnership. Individuals need to be able to see the big picture, so any changes are undertaken with an awareness of the impact on the whole. People need skills to work together effectively for the benefit of the organization as a whole and they need relevant current and accurate information to support decision making. Partnership organizations require the individual organizational habits advocated by Stephen Covey, the competencies advocated by Peter Senge, and the adaptation of the new philosophy advocated by W. Edwards Deming. Partnership organizations and their culture and way of being are radically different from the traditional command-and-control organizations of the twentieth century.

    Information technology has been used in the past to enable top-down command and control processes to constrain self-organization, a strategy that supports the domineering model but inhibits the partnership model. Information technology’s future lies in providing current and relevant information to help partnership teams efficiently and effectively achieve their purpose.

    Building partnership organizations requires a shift in thinking from competition to cooperation for the common good. I suggest this shift in thinking as it pervades our educationalsystem and our political system will influence the way we view our purpose as individuals and humankind and in doing so enable us to be proactive contributors to areas that positively influence human evolution and the becoming of a happier, healthier, and more just world.

    Thoughts implicit in this bobtale.

    1. Partnership organization characteristics include process management, and self-organizing and multidisciplinary teamwork.

    2. The authoritarian and domineering management paradigm is still prevalent in many organizations today was established at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and was successful in a less complicated world with a less educated workforce.

    3. Riane Eisler in her research identified only two models upon which social structures have been based, one she called the domineering model and the other the partnership model.

    4. Building a partnership organization facilitates human evolution and increases in human health, happiness and a more just world.

    5. Rapid advances in technology and an increasingly competitive marketplace have resulted in a large increase in complexity of today’s products. Being competitive in developing these products is facilitated by developing a partnership organization with increased organizational agility.

    6. Information technology that was used in the past to support a domineering culture needs to be adapted to provide current and relevant information to help partnership teams succeed.

    7. The movement to develop partnership organizations will result in the adaptation of our educational and political systems in a way that positively influences human evolution and the becoming of a happier, healthier and more just world.

Back to Bob Tales