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Chapter 5 Zen & Creative Management

Structure/Process

Page 29 ~ So far it has been said that a company is a system, i.e., a set of interacting forces, and that it is a field in dynamic equilibrium that finds its expression through an idea in a form with a demand.  This combination of a field and a set of interacting forces is the organization.

The word “organization” can be used in several ways.  It means the relationship between people and things when doing work.  It also means the right sequence of events.  A well-organized situation has a structure of rules, methods, and procedures that are known and mutually support each other.  The good organizer, on the other hand, is someone who gets a process moving on time with the minimum of delays and crises.  Thus, in organization there is both a structural and process dimension.  However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.

Most thinkers oppose structure to process.  For example, the question is often asked whether structure monitors process or process monitors structure.  Traditionally, modern science has emphasized process in contrast to the ancient Greeks, for example, who emphasized structure.  This structure-process opposition has dominated our thinking in the West and has fostered the religion-science dichotomy, with religion favoring structure and science favoring process.  In industry this same conflict exists and is brought out in the denigration of the bureaucrat and the exaltation of the aggressive, result-oriented executive.  

If we are to have an understanding of organization that will enable us to set up situations in which growth, as well as expansion and self-regulation, can occur, we must understand that we cannot oppose these two and therefore must come to terms with the polarity of structure and process.

March 31st, 2020 ~ Field is described as “behavior space.  Structure, as described here, includes procedures.  Is procedure related to process?  At the end of the 2nd paragraph, Low writes: “However, although these two dimensions are distinct, they are not separate.”  We are currently seeing this dichotomy play out in the race to “lower the curve” with the Corona Virus.  Although sad and frustrating, it is interesting to see how the federal government is dealing with the 50 states in the US.  Structure-Process.  Religion-Science.  There is a battle between science-believers and skeptics.  Proponents of the bureaucracy of the federal government and letting the states solve their own problems.  Sometimes they are even competing with each other.  The science of dealing with the virus battling with the structure of the government.   Can the two entities come together fast enough in order to deal with the polarity of structure (government) and process(science)?

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