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Crashing With the Nose Up: Building a Cooperative Work Environment

Summary: Management employs a number of tools in hopes of motivating people to continually higher levels of performance. Instead, they are creating an adversarial internal working environment in which everyone is motivated to look out for himself while no one is looking out for the company. The resulting drag makes it difficult to focus the energy of the organization on the essentials of business, rather like an airplane "crashing with the nose up." Management would be more successful if the organization was looked upon as a system that encourages teamwork between people and departments. The objective is for the organization to be successful, not the component parts. According to Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a system includes not only the people with in the organization, but the customers and suppliers of the system, and the larger systems within which the organization operates. And he calls the optimization of one part of the system at the expense of another "sub-optimization." Reducing drag is the first step in creating a more productive working environment. Examine the system for barriers that prevent people from working together. Performance appraisals, ranking, forced distributions, pay for individual performance, and poorly defined promotional policies are the enemy of teamwork. If an organization is to soar, it must begin by identifying and removing these constraints. Sidebar articles explain the forces involved in "crashing with the nose up" and give an example of sub-optimization that occurred at Bausch & Lomb.

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  • Topics: Teams, Change Management, Human Resources
  • Keywords: Team building,Organizational design,Knowledge management (KM),Incentive systems,Empowerment,Employee satisfaction,Employee involvement (EI),Cultural change,Human relations
  • Author: Crow, James Robert
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation