Monday, January 26, 2009

Walls, Barriers and Obstructions

I am being stopped dead in my tracks in several efforts to obtain even a "view" of what is going on in organizational settings where I am a stranger. I do not wish to observe just any organization; I want to see a higher ed department or college in action. I have set my mind to this and will somehow succeed, yet I am finding myself discouraged at my first attempts to communicate with those who call the shots. I have been asked not to make any further requests by one department chair, who has made it clear that I am somehow going to interfere with the departmental operations that are ongoing. In all fairness, my second attempt to reserve a space to observe from has gone quite smoothly. Just across the campus another college within the same university is quite pleasant and extends a welcome to my presence.

I do not feel particularly singled out in being rejected except that I continue to hope that I will someday get a call to teach as a part-time lecturer. Hopefully, my efforts to gain a sneak preview of what goes on backstage in a certain college will not cause my name to be blacklisted. Just knowing you're not welcome certainly brings a lot of suspicions to the table. I may never be able to trust a department again!

I like the readings for this week. They all mean something to me and it all makes sense. Everything about communication, feeling comfortable, breaking through barriers and the difficulties encountered when different camps within an organization become warring factions. The hurry up and "get 'er done" logic that is so prevalent by many does not lend itself as a way of life or method of deeper understanding. Still, that is often the mantra which exists in many organizations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Organizational Cultures

I am drawn to the work by Edward Schein of the importance that understanding of the cultures within an organization plays in development of that organization. Being aware of the behaviors, artifacts, actions, beliefs and especially language of multiple cultures that may be present seems key to understanding how members might best function. Organizational development is not possible without consideration of what it is that makes the people within the organization. Their motives for what they do are crucial to working with them and knowing what to expect.

The discussion in the readings about Gareth Morgan's philosophy of there being no right or wrong is consistent with Chris Argyris' view of double-loop learning. Single-loop learning requires a pre-existing assumption to learn. No preconceived notions or set of assumptions exists for double-loop learning. The varying existence of realities changes withing differing cultures making any assumptions a stumbling block at understanding cultural needs.

I am also very interested in the overlapping discussion of metaphors being crucial to understanding cultures in organizational development and leading learning organizations. The use of metaphor and analogy is a central theme in the readings done in Dr. Hall's class and in the understanding of cultures. The metaphor as a tool for describing the indescribable is powerful. I think of how the metaphor simplifies the thought process and reels in complicated and abstract concepts into chewable pieces. The use of analogy, as I understand it, is more precise; best used for exacting explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge works best with metaphor.