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Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers (Penguin Business) Kindle Edition
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Understanding Organisations address 21 issues - in no discernible logical order - which are of pertinent to anyone who is actively involved in organisations of any type or size. I shall not rehash all the ideas, which Handy raised. However, a few of them are worthy of consideration in this review.
THE JOHARI WINDOW. Handy discusses the work of two American teachers, who came up with a really neat way of describing how others perceive us. Even when we do not speak, we still give off messages about who we are. The Johari window envisions this process as one in which we all live in houses with four different walls. The walls cordon off the different rooms, which in turn, represent areas of our lives, into which different people (including us) can see.
MARATHONS OR HORSE RACES. In today's increasingly competitive business environment, internal competition within organisations creates winners and losers. Drawing on research done in the US and his personal experience, Handy suggests that internal competition can be very harmful to the morale of the organisation if the process creates too many losers. Therefore, he argues that collaboration should be the organising principle within the organisation and competition the organising principle outside the organisation.
POWER POLITICS. An all-time favourite of mine. Handy outlines the different types of power within organisations - resource power, expert power and position power - and how they can be used to further the goals of the organisation as a whole. However, he notes that in today's increasingly democratic work environments, the importance of position and resource power are being challenged in favour of expert power.
I am not sure that I completely agreed with Handy's claim that position power counts for less nowadays. I think that while this statement may be true in democratic, egalitarian Britain, it is less true in more hierarchical societies like Continental Europe, Asia and Africa.
Understanding Organisations is completely jargon-free and so is a very accessible tome. However, one gets the feeling that the author does a bit too much to dumb it down. For example, at the start of each of the 21 chapters, there is a humorous cartoon, which is supposed to capture the message in the chapter. I could not - for the life of me - imagine why the author saw the need to include such jejune humour in the book. Was it an attempt to include `pictures' for less cerebral readers? I thought that this attempt at humour fell flat on its face. But then, maybe it's just my dry sense of humour.
Charles Handy pulls in a lot of his life experience into the book. However, he does not mention the names of any of the organisations used in the case studies. Typical sentences are dripping with pronouns; no proper names of personalities or organisations. Some examples are, "I was asked to talk to the staff managers at one of the large banks..." or "Come to the hospital at 2.20 pm, they said..." Since Charles Handy has served as a consultant to many important organisations, I would have liked him to share his experience using the actual names of the companies: IBM, Procter and Gamble etc. I felt slightly cheated because a lot of the case studies/examples were too bland to have any punch.
Its shortcomings notwithstanding, I found Understanding Organisations to be a good read. It did not provide all the answers; instead it got me thinking about the individual and organisational learning process, how people perceive me, how workplace power politics work, what I can do to effect change within my organisation and indeed, the future shape of workplace organisations.
Also this book goes into details about how people see you at work and how you see other people’s ways of thinking.
Overall this book is ideal for people wanting to understand how to get the best out of themselves and there jobs and also its ideal for employers to understand how to manage there staff and what motivates them in there jobs.
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