Organizations can’t think

“It strikes me that the biggest problems we face, many of the biggest disasters that we’ve experienced, mostly haven’t come from individuals, they’ve come from organizations―some of them bigger than countries. Many of them capable of affecting hundreds of thousands, even millions. of lives. So how do organizations think?

Well, for the most part… they don’t. And that isn’t because they don’t want to. It’s really because they can’t. And they can’t because the people inside of them are too afraid of conflict.

In surveys of European and American executives, fully 85% of them acknowledged that they had issues or concerns at work that they were afraid to raise―afraid of the conflict that that would provoke, afraid to get embroiled in arguments that they did not know how to manage and felt that they were bound to lose. Eight-five percent is a really big number. It means that organizations mostly can’t think together.

And it means that people like many of us, who have run organizations and gone out of our way to find the very best people we can, mostly fail to get the best out of them.

― Margaret Heffernan


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