(This statement is part of a Participation Agreement that all of the Society's core affiliates sign.I hope that you will read it carefully.Your comments are welcome. Please post comments you feel will contribute to a quality public dialogue below. You may send any questions or private comments to me personally at
While GO Society’s associates and fellows agree to support the Society’s purpose, we come to our organizational work from different disciplines, different sectors, different functions, different roles and levels of organizations, and different interests in improving organizational effectiveness.
What we hold in common is appreciation, knowledge, and experience in a systems approach to designing and managing organizations that is based on foundational concepts about understanding and organizing complexity in work settings developed by Lord Wilfred Brown and Elliott Jaques. This approach, over the years variously called “The Glacier Project”, “Stratified Systems Theory”, and “Requisite Organization” includes well-defined, researched, and tested concepts of levels of work complexity, levels of human capability, accountability, and effective managerial leadership practices.
We recognize the discovery that organizational systems have a direct and substantial impact both on the personal achievement of people at work and on the capacity of organizations to create wealth for society, and that as a consequence of this the design and implementation of such systems carry strong moral and ethical implications.
While we all appreciate this systems approach and these concepts, we again differ as to which and how many of the concepts we emphasize in our individual practices and how we may integrate them with other theories and skills that we use in our organizational work.A few examples:
In summary, we all have and celebrate our own educational foundations, skilled knowledge, and experience in improving organizations, and in this document we all agree to our common science based principles and concepts described above in general terms.
We also agree to participate in a continuing dialogue on the continuous evolution of these ideas both in a private area of the web and in face-to-face meetings, helping GO Society associates and fellows to come to broad agreement on what specifically is included and is not included in this commonly held requisite approach, and what we should encourage all Society affiliates to endeavor to master.
Do CEOs with foresight choose requisite organization, or
does requisite organization support executives in appropriate corporate foresight?
Requisite organization principles describe how Presidents at stratum V, EVPs at VI, and CEOs at VII ought to be capable of working on longer term tasks of 5-10, 11-20, and 20 + years to properly implement the organization's strategy.
Yet at the World Future Society* conference in Boston, July 7-10th, where future is defined as beyond five years, while there were many smart, grey haired people there I got the impression that a small minority of the many workshops were targeted at organizational settings and that a small percent of attendees or presenters were corporate executives.
Several futurist elders claimed that their organizational clients were interested in nothing beyond three to five years -- normally the work of vice-presidents. A popular futurist speaker being recruited to shake up a major conference of European CEOs said he was told that his talk had to be about short term shocks.
A major WFS conference focus was on the rapid rate of technological change, methods to forecast that change and the approaching Singularity when computers are predicted to be more powerful than human brains. However several presenters on these topics said that their methods were of interest mostly to senior engineers and attempts at introduction often lacked the support of VPs.
It appeared that much environmental scanning work important to effective strategic planning is being out-sourced to major consulting firms. Internal staff who prepare such scans in several global corporations reported their role was three levels from the top, that their outputs were power point presentations, that they did not know how or if they were used. They received few questions or feedback on their work.
One panel of corporate futurist staffers reported that none of them had any direct knowledge about how many hours or days their company's top team spent discussing the future and indicated that their impression was that top teams dealt extensively with shorter term operational problems.
Why are the futurists in such despair about corporate interest?
Are structural features of the trading of public companies and other forces causing senior executive work to be compressed?
Are CEO sponsors of major requisite organization projects different in their long-term orientation?
Sir Roderick Carnegie, long-term CEO of CRA said that he was searching in the mid 1970s for a management approach that would help transform Australia's labour relations and competitive position in the world. Other CEO sponsors of long-running RO projects have expressed similar long term views.
Or does requisite organization structure enable executives to do their appropriate longer term work?
Your comments are welcome.
*"The World Future Society is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association of people interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future. The Society was founded in 1966 and is chartered as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization in Washington, D.C., U.S.A." (http://www.wfs.org/faq.htm)
Mike Jay asked this question in regard to last month’s blog (What if a manager does not want to follow RO guidelines? - Science and Engineering). In the spirit of last month’s blog, I would say that this is a question that is not asked frequently enough. It is very easy to accept an engineering template without asking for the scientific reasons behind it. Without understanding the science behind the rule, we cannot explain to our clients why they should pay attention to the rule and we run the danger of falling into dogmatism.
So let’s explore this question in the context of a Stratum-I-capable employee and see the difference it makes whether their manager is capable at Straight I or II. (I’ll address in a later blog what happens when the manager is capable at Stratum III.)
Because they have current potential capacity at Stratum I, the employee is capable only of declarative processing at the normal adult level. That is:
If the manager’s current potential is also at Stratum I, they too can only process adult-level information declaratively.
But if the manager’s current potential capacity is at Stratum II, they would also be capable of cumulative processing at the normal adult level. That is:
Their Stratum-II capacity also enhances how they can manage.
The advantage brought by their cumulative-processing ability extends to other managerial leadership practices. As just one example, a Stratum-II-capable manager can set better context than can a Stratum-I-capable manager. Cumulative-processing ability allows a manager to explain to their subordinates:
There are several advantages of having a manager one stratum above the subordinate rather than a manager at the same level as the subordinate:
It is understandable that executives wish to reduce the number of managerial levels in their areas. But if that reduction results in compression, in employees’ having managers who cannot process information at a higher level than the subordinate, the cost is the loss of managerial added value, and that threatens efficient and trustworthy execution of strategy.