Genevieve Clark on telephone, circa 1910.

Australia Calling Elliott Jaques

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There’s an interesting article about Elliott Jaques’s work in Australia (“Come back Elliott Jaques, all is forgiven” By Helen Trinca, in Financial Review BOSS [Australia]). It includes a review of Julian Fairfield’s book, Levels of Excellence, a copy of which Glenn Mehltretter of PeopleFitgraciously provided to me when I met with him recently down in Raleigh. I’ve enjoyed the book, but it’s pretty much only available in Australia. [UPDATE: Now available online through the GO Society.] It describes a great deal more about implementing RO in an existing organization, plus provides a good balance by incorporating the informal measures such as team-building.

It was amusing to see how Australian executives go out of their way to avoid saying that Jaques discovered something. The article quotes Ann Sherry, “the group executive who has driven organisational change at Westpac during the past seven years”, as saying:

… But accountability does not necessarily mean a hierarchy. Accountability has nothing to do with hierarchy. It is about clarity of expectations of a role and it applies across every single job in every organisation.

Which of course doesn’t make much sense. Accountability means that some person (in the legal sense) can sanction you if you fail to meet the levels to which you are accountable. This can be either an individual (easiest) or a group (harder), but it has to be somebody. Groups can hold their individual members accountable for their commitments. However, since Art Kleiner showed us that we actually all work for a small group of people, this doesn’t hold as well.

I guess that you admit using Requisite Organization without getting into a lot of hot water with HR folks, it seems. I’m just interested in changing the world, not making everyone in HR happy. Thank God I’m not an HR person: I have absolutely nothing to lose.

Plus, I’m pretty sure that you can use RO theory to expand existing financial measures (as per Mark Van Clieaf’s excellent articles mentioned here someplace) to reduce investment risk and increase returns.

Image Credit: Genevieve Clark, daughter of US Speaker Champ Clark of the House, on telephone, ca. 1910. Bain News Service photo. Library of Congress collection via flickr.

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