All entries for Sunday 25 October 2009

October 25, 2009

The importance of cooperation

It is still really hard for me to realize the idea that cooperation is more beneficial than competition in organization. We always had to be told that competition is the crucial aspect and the more competitive you are the more chances you have to be successful. However, system approach reveals drawbacks to this way of thinking. Organizations are systems, which locate in broader systems such as industry, national economy and world economy. That is to say every organization is the subsystem or part of another system. All parts within a system need to be integrated in order to maintain normal condition of the system, therefore if one part of the system does not work properly overall system will be “ill”. Organizations competing within one industry can not be successful, because different part of one system do not allow system to develop and achieve goals, in the long run someone win, and someone lose, however the success of one part is not long-term. This is the case for competition within the organization. Competing departments are parts, which destroy the system and they never can achieve goals of organization. If someone lose you can not win, this is the important law of life, which can be seen everywhere – society, politics, economy, technology. So the cooperation within the organization, within industry etc. becomes crucial aspect for organizations. Moreover, the effect of synergy, which recognizes that system has new characteristics which are not just a summary of its individual part’s characteristics, encourages us to cooperate with departments (organization), organizations (industry) and people around (society, life).

Excellence models: comparison and relationship

There are number of models, which could help organizations in their journey to excellence - OL, TQ, MBNQA, Deming prize, Excellence model, ISO and other national awards. What is the relationship and difference of these models?

First of all they are based on the ideas of different countries and have different origin (TQ and Deming prize – Japan, MBNQA, LO – America, Excellence model, ISO – Europe).

Secondly, all of them are related to quality, however some of them are more focused on delivering quality of products (TQ, ISO), while others concerned with overall organizational performance (MBNQA, Deming prize, Excellence model). Almost all of them concentrated on importance of leadership, commitment and involvement of employees, as well as management based on processes and facts. Although they have many things in common, some models have broader scope. For example, ISO and TQ are more customer-oriented approaches, while other models admit the importance of all stakeholders of the organization (MBNQA, Deming prize, Excellence model). Moreover, Excellence model and MBNQA also have a social responsibility as a significant principle, which is not covered by other models.

As far as method of models is concerned, all of them are non-prescriptive, that is to say that models assume that ways of achieving excellence in business could be different, however many of them have the criteria or standard, compared to which they are assessed (ISO, MBNQA, Excellence model).

And what is the relationship of the models? It is important to say that each model admit continuous improvement as a significant aspect to achieve a sustainable excellence. That is to say in the long run all of the models are intended to build a learning organization. MBNQA, Deming prize, Excellence model and ISO are based on the ideas of TQ management. The relationship between models can be presented in the form of pyramid, where the peak is the learning organization, followed by TQ as the basis or philosophy and then the EFQM, MBNQA, Deming prize, ISO as different methods or approaches to achieve excellence and learning organization. It depends on the organizations what approach to choose, they are similar in the basis (TQ), have the same goal (LO), however different in the focus and scope.

Learning organization

Despite the fact that there is huge amount of research done on building and developing learning organization and numbers of advices, both theoretical and practical given what should be done in order to be a learning organization, managers usually do not use them because of their complexity (they do not know how to start and from what to start) or just because of misunderstanding of the importance of learning in organization. Managers often assume that instead of thinking about such ambiguous things as learning they need to do the real work and to achieve targets, budgets, plans, etc. Although this approach might be effective in the short-term, managers then start to understand that organization could work better and fully use its potential. Managers organize different training courses for their employees and spend a lot of money, hoping that it will result in improvements. But then they realize that benefits of this training less than costs and throw away the idea of learning, forcing employees work harder and harder.

Another example. Managers fully understand the significance of learning and try to follow the instructions of building learning organizations by creating environment, spending money and resources on training, providing employees with necessary equipment and facilities, encouraging their ideas. However, then they start to realize that it didn’t help and organization continues to work as it does before. They ask what is wrong, I did my best in order to improve the situation, I followed all the instructions I have read in the books?

In my opinion, building a learning organization is important, but not an easy task and it takes time for visible results. However, the most important thing that CEOs can not create the learning organization themselves, the learning organization is the process created by both managers and employees. Often in most of the organization we can see how managers and employees do different things: managers are responsible for strategy and directions of the organization and employees for real work, and it is the requirement for employees to do their work and do not interfere with work of managers. It seems that employees still remain just the factors of production in organization. Managers need to understand that in order to do the work better employees need to understand what for they work, they need guiding ideas and understanding what organization want to achieve and what is the directions and strategy of organization, what employees think about it and how they can contribute to it. Managers have to bring up interested employees which then will result in interest of learning and  innovations in organization. Different advices and instructions in books will not work without understanding the system and how important is to work in cooperation with employees.


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  • Hi, Albina, I agree with your points. Organization has right culture is very important for people. I… by on this entry
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