IMAGING & IMAGINING
Organizations are everywhere. We depend on them but we don’t understand them well. When they FAIL you cannot just FIX them like a broken bike.
1. They are complex
2. Many key elements are not visible, especially
3. People Factors including ORG-politics, cultural factors, mental models, and conflicting goals and interests.
In other words, human thinking and behavior patterns make up the structure and functioning of ORGs. Although they also depend on costly hardware, that is worthless without workers. Machines and other tools supplement human effort, more and more thru all of our history, shifting the human contribution.
More and more "intelligence" gets built into machinery. So the workers who are partnered with the smart machines (and those who maintain them) must also be smarter.
Self-managing ORGs are possible now - when leadership roles and management functions are shared more broadly, but they are not eliminated. (See Purser & Cabana, The Self-Managing Organization, Free Press, 1998.)
Our focus on images and metaphors has practical importance since orgs depend on their members having shared images and assumptions about "how we do things here". This is necessary for successful communication and collaboration.
Team facilitators often ask members to make explicit their mental images of how their team and organization work, as a foundation for solving problems that have defeated managers. These images (some shared, some disputed) can be captured through talking, as well as by drawing, role-playing, and model-making.
(See Gareth Morgan's book Imagin-i-zation.)