Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Family-Organzational Dynamics and Health

Organizations are large families. Some are well-oiled, healthy, mutually supporting. Many are dysfunctional.

We need to evaluate our families and the organizations we align ourselves with. Is that family or organization functioning in healthy or dysfunctional manner? Is it driven by love and cooperation or by fear and power struggles? Does it echo and support my personal values? Is it the proper vehicle for me to hop (or stay) on to take me to the goal I wish to accomplish? Where is it headed? Does it have direction or is it circling aimlessly? Can it be fixed? How? What can I do to help and when is it time to say: I’ve tried all I can and move on?

Every problem has three choices: accept it, change it, or leave it. In order to make the right choice of these three, it is helpful to analyze the problem to determine if it is repairable and how that might be accomplished.

Organizational Structure: Just Like a Family

Every organization has its “founders” who are their original family/parents who created/birthed it. By and by many founders step down…pass the torch, relinquish their role to others. Sometimes these changes occur peacefully, smoothly and voluntarily and sometimes not.

Eventually a new person, team or regime adopts and takes over the organizational entity. Many pay to buy these positions, and thus feel sense of “ownership” – as some adoptive parents feel about the children they acquire. Many also feel a bit insecure in their role…a sense of perhaps not being the “real” parent of this entity, or as a president might feel who’s election results are questionable.

Sometimes the newly in charge encourage the originators or predecessors to be held in respect or reverence, honoring past achievements as a proud tradition and heritage.

Other times, leaders or heads of families defile, denigrate or simply ignore as non-existent those who came before them and created that which they covet. They over compensate for their feelings of insecurity and rightful ownership by holding on tenaciously and possessively with a death grip.

They tend to surround themselves with their loyal sidekicks who assure the emperor that his invisible clothes are just fine, and they treat all “others” with great fear and distrust. Understandably, the more they sense their ownership has been acquired or is obtained through surreptitious or less than wholly ethical, rightful means, the more paranoid they are about it.

Businessmen and politicians have their inner circle they surround themselves with and for adopters it’s extended adoptive family members and friends.

While all members of the family entity – insiders and not - may share the same love of country, organization, or child – some are labeled as dissonants and some as patriots. (Note: It is the party with the current control/ownership that gets to do the labeling, though the “others” will retaliate with counter claims.) In adoption those in possession are labeled rescuer/saviors while first/original/natural mothers are labeled – overtly or not – as rejecter/abandoner.

Left unchecked we/they divisiveness destroys the very entity they all ironically love and care the most about.

Anyone not in the inner circle, not on the “right” side of the debate – that being the opinion of those in control - are met with frustration at not being let in; not being able to make
meaningful change. Offers to help are seen instead as threats. Those trying to share the role of management - or co-parenting (albeit of an adult child) - are often seen as enemies by an over protective, paranoid “mother hen” or company or national president. This decreases the health, efficiency and effectiveness of the family or organization as constant fighting defeats accomplishing the business at hand. Instead paranoia deepens; poison is spewed; arguments, accusations; conspiracy theories abound in an atmosphere of distrust that originates from the top down. Extreme cases lead to family violence, divorce, hostile takeovers, wars with those labeled as “other” or enemy, even if blood kin as in civil war.

In unhealthy entities, power struggles ensue for “possession” and “control“ and the “child” is thus torn in half by the struggles and withers and dies or lingers on, damaged, never really whole and healthy. In the worst case family scenarios, the child is subjected to brainwashing by one side against the other. Told awful things about half his family. All of this is to the detriment of the child or entity that all actually love and want to be a positive a part of.

Conversely, We know that they healthiest thing for adoptive families, and families of divorce is a free open exchange where everyone is encouraged to give ad much love, support and assistance to the child they share. In healthy, mature, secure families and organizations there is unity: bi-partisan cooperation; adoptive and birth families sharing the wedding of a child. The child (or entity) benefits and thrives optimally in an atmosphere of mutual caring.

We also know from personal experience that sometimes our best, most sincere, efforts to reach out lovingly and offer help and support to family, friends, loved ones, co-workers etc. are thwarted and rejected. Sometimes we can let go temporarily and sit back and wait and try again at a later time. And sometimes the door is slammed so tightly that all hope is taken from us. The personal is political and larger organizations are our larger family. Letting go is always hard.

And so we wait and we hope. We hope our children will welcome us into their lives before we die…perhaps when their adoptive parents die. We hope the current US administration changes before it destroys the country, and we hope the same for all entities organizations we care about.

Divided we fall...

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