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Cooperation and collaboration at an organisational level

Many managers see their organisation as ‘money making machines’. I have no problem with the ‘money making’ part, but I get concerned about the ‘machine’ part. Because they see it as a machine, they treat it like a machine. They see nothing wrong with ‘reengineering’, ‘downsizing’, ‘tinkering’ or ‘fitting people into boxes’. If they think about people at all, it’s about trying to control, limit and organise effort. They see it as an ‘entity’; independent and largely separate from the environment or outside world. They focus on the various bits (processes, machines, systems) rather than the whole. It’s the stuff of silos and politics. They look like the diagram below.

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Characteristics of being Tower-like

  • Slow
  • Rigid
  • Excluding
  • Tall
  • Political
  • Unstable
  • Closed
  • Isolated
  • Mechanical.

Others see their organisation in a quite different way, more aligned to the view of a living system. Or what I call a Beanbag.

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Characteristics of Beanbags

  • Fit (to the environment)
  • Focused
  • Including
  • Fast
  • Flexible
  • Collaborative
  • Stable
  • Living
  • Open.

Beanbags are different from Towers:

%r r%

  • Like a beanbag these organisations have porous, flexible walls; rather than the thick, impervious, solid walls of Tower-like organisations
  • Like a beanbag they fit exactly to their environment no matter how much it changes; unlike the Tower which is slow to move
  • Like a beanbag the individuals inside are free to move far more easily to where they can add the most value to customers; unlike Towers where people are fixed in jobs and silos of power
  • Like a beanbag they a very stable and seldom fall over; unlike Towers which have had a poor record recently.

The mechanical leads managers to:
  • Control
  • Limit
  • Engineer
  • Drive
  • Fill Jobs.

The living model leads managers to:
  • Nurture
  • Grow
  • Tag & disturb
  • Challenge
  • Release human energy.

The Cooperative and Collaboration process gives managers the skills and attitudes required to manage successfully in an organisation structured more like a bean bag. Just imagine the additional value they could add if they were organised like a bean bag!

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