Reading about organizational structure and behaviors as part of business courses gave me the false gratification of understanding corporate structures. Working at corporations, over the years, I was able to somewhat relate to the readings but was unable to correlate information to make any progressive judgments. How do organizations function, there should be some kind of reason behind the madness otherwise the whole structure will collapse. In any organization we can see large swarm of employees who are mostly unsatisfied and that can be seen in their impatience for the weekend, cribbing on Mondays and feeling a sense of relief on Fridays. Also, we can see that employees complaining about an undeserving team member moving up the ladder while they toiled hard. But everyone continues to do their jobs albeit with a grudge, complaining day in and day out. Apart from paychecks, I always thought there should be something more to this madness. I’ve worked in different organizations across industries but the experience has been the same irrespective of the organization’s size.
In the process of trying to understand this behavior I accidently stumbled on a blog called ribbonfarm.com which had an excellent blog series about Gervais principle. Note, this article also references Peter’s (Peter J Lawrence) and Dilbert’s (Scott Adams) principles which I was totally unaware of. Thanks to Venkatesh Rao of Ribbonfarm.com for not only blogging about this in such an extensive way with reference to The Office (I was one of those viewers who simply followed the show without understanding behavior intricacies of the characters until I read his blog) but also introducing me to other schools of thought about organizations.
Rao’s use of Hugh McLeod’s organizational structure pyramid along with the The Office’s characters to explain the Gervais principle is what made it to stick for me. It definitely makes sense to be believe that an organization is made of Losers, Clueless and Sociopaths (McLeod’s pyramid), as without them an organization will seldom survive.
These articles have definitely brought some measurable sanity when I think of organizations and people in general. I strongly recommend to anyone interested in organizational structure/behavior to read them [included links that connect to reading materials]. When talking to a friend about this, the first question was what is the value in understanding these principles? For me it was personally enlightening, and I certainly think that knowing where one stands in an org structure helps to understand the state of affairs and why things are happening in a certain way within an organization, and may (please note “may”) help in seeking ways to move in a different direction.
Links to blogs:
- Venkatesh Rao’s Blog : http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-or-the-office-according-to-the-office
- Hugh McLeod’s Blog: http://gapingvoid.com/2004/06/27/company-hierarchy/