Eight years ago, back when I was Google-ranked #1 or #2 for such things, I asked if the Requisite Organization of Elliott Jaques would really work wonders over a weekend, as Dr. Jaques implied in his book, Requisite Organization (2nd Ed.). Paul Tremlett had an interesting take from conversations with the late Dr. Jaques.
My best recollection of EJ on this one was he (at least initially) made the weekend change comment around the basic accountabilities and authorities of managerial leaders, i.e. if the CEO simply insisted that these minimal things be put in place, much would happen quickly. I think the “weekend” thing was metaphorical. I connect it with Kurt Lewin’s field theory of behavior, to which I think EJ was aligned. Lewin basically (as did EJ) talk about behavior and that it’s driven by personality, the structures/situations in which personalities are place, and the various mechanisms used to connect the “personality” to the situation/context (such as performance feedback and appraisal processes).
I think EJ simply argued that it’s not management’s job (or consultants for that matter) to be messing around with “personality” (and the pseudo-psychoanalyzing that does go on in companies)but rather looking very hard at the situations and structures we put people in and the systems we have to make connections. If we do a better job of the latter, then some of the conditions we/people experience will disappear (or at least be lessened).
I also don’t think EJ was under any delusion that achieving a perfectly requisite organization was necessarily in the cards (maybe for some but probably not most companies). He often said to me that firms don’t need to change overnight either, but they should have a clearer vision of what would constitute more “requisiteness” and put a plan in place to achieve it. Which is where I think there is valid support for the notion of consulting help to execute that plan, including “holding the client to account” for what they’ve decided to implement (albeit at some risk at times).
The other comments are interesting, too. If you are interested in Elliott Jaques’s “requisite organization” or “stratified systems theory”, it’s an interesting read, showing normal people and RO experts in conversation, especially given the activity around “Why Requisite Organization Will Not Survive“.
Does RO Really Work Over the Weekend?, 2004-May-27
image credit: Nightfall over Chateaux D’Oex. © E. Forrest Christian. All rights reserved.