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Tom Gibbons

Good post Chris! I enjoyed it…

The interesting point I find with your post is that you are discussing the very nature and process of how organizations operate while the other post you mention discusses a very specific ‘thing’ or event’. I find many, many conversations about how things happen in organizations get derailed because of this.

In essence Allen Kelsey is talking about a very specific context, but the point being made seems as if it universal, or is independent of context, i.e. rogue leadership is problematic. To me what you are saying is that context is critical and must be considered in virtually all situations in order for any meaning of what is actually happening to be taken from the situation. Conclusions or decisions made from the meaning are dependent on the context. If there was a universal point being made in your argument it might be that context always needs to be considered.

Since there is so much pressure in organizations to make decisions that cover a wide swath of contexts we have almost internalized the process and speak in these universal truths far too often without even recognizing it. Too often, I think, we are oblivious to the context in which are meaning making happens and then we assume everyone must see things exactly the same way we do.

Just consider how most organizations think about values or vision. It is assumed their definitions are self evident to all.

Chris Rodgers

Thanks, Tom. for another insightful comment. Sorry about my delay in responding!

Yes, I am talking about what I see as the underlying dynamics of organizations. And, as you say, the way that these play out is always situationally specific - in the 'local', i.e. one-to-one and small-group, interactions that constitute everyday organizational life.

So, again as you say, context is critical. As I see it, this context includes not only people's differing perceptions of the 'business' context that is prevalent at the time (which is how context is usually spoken about in management circles). It also embraces the personal and relational contexts of those who are interacting to make sense of what's going on and decide how they are going to act - even if much of the impact of these on their perceptions interpretations and evauations of issues and events might take place subconsciously. And this dynamic applies equally, of course, at the 'upper echelons' of the organization as it does in the organization 'at large'.

This failure to address context is evident in much of the 'universal rules' and 'n-step' thinking about organizations; as well as in the ways that concepts such as 'best practice transfer' are usually understood and applied.

Cheers, Chris

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