Excel Formula For Average Number Of Times A Word Appears The Myth of the Management Team

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The Myth of the Management Team

Every business has problems. So the average lifespan of a large industrial company is 40 years. Some learning disabilities are where companies are unwilling to learn from their mistakes. They insist on the same thing every time. Even when there is a problem, no one looks for the cause of the problem. A problem is an inconvenience that should be swept under the rug and forgotten rather than used as a learning opportunity. It is the management team that handles these dilemmas and inefficiencies. Below is an excerpt from Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline – The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization”. Does this sound like your company? If it starts to worry!

The myth of the management team

At the forefront of combating these dilemmas and inefficiencies is the “management team,” a collection of knowledgeable, experienced managers representing the organization’s various functions and areas of expertise. Together, they are supposed to sort out complex cross-functional issues critical to the organization. What confidence do we have, in fact, that typical management teams can overcome these learning disabilities?

Too often, teams in business spend their time fighting for turf, ignoring anything that looks personally bad, and pretending that everyone is behind the team’s collective strategy – maintaining the appearance of a cohesive team. To maintain an image, they seek to eliminate dissent; People with serious reservations avoid telling the public, and joint decisions are watered-down agreements reflecting what everyone can live with, or otherwise reflecting the views of one person in the group. If there is disagreement, it is usually expressed in a way that assigns blame, polarizes opinion, and fails to reveal underlying differences in assumptions and experience so that the team as a whole can learn.

“Most management teams crumble under pressure,” writes Harvard’s Chris Argiris—a longtime student of management teams. “Teams can work well with routine problems. But when they face complex problems that may be embarrassing or threatening, ‘teamness’ seems to go to pot.”

Argyris argues that most managers inherently threaten group research. School never trains us to admit we don’t know the answers, and most corporations reinforce that lesson by rewarding people who are best at advocating their views on complex issues without questioning them. (When was the last time someone in your organization was rewarded for raising tough questions about current company policies instead of solving an immediate problem?) Even when we feel uncertain or ignorant, we learn to protect ourselves from the pain of appearing uncertain or ignorant. That process prevents any new understanding that might threaten us. The result is what Argyris calls “efficient incompetence”—teams full of people who are incredibly efficient at keeping themselves from learning.

So how does your company stack up? If your company is what Saenz describes as a ‘learning organization’ there is no need to protect your turf, no need to accept any contracts, no need for management to know everything. A learning organization uses the knowledge that employees have and each member of the management team is there to support the other. They know that everyone wins when the team does well, and they also know that failure is another word for a learning opportunity.

Don’t you want to work in an organization where your opinion counts and you can make a difference in the company’s success? Where you don’t have to pretend to be busy, or pretend to know everything. So how do you create a learning organization? It begins by creating learning individuals in learning teams that then cascade across the learning organization.

Through an effective facilitation process, team members learn to work cooperatively, learn from their mistakes, and constantly challenge their assumptions about reality. Above all they work as a team to solve problems and improve results.

A learning organization is possible!

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