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Categorizing Organizations (and Individuals!)


This is in celebration of those who believe that we need organizations with more "heart" -- it is also in memory of those who believed that it would be good if they were based on better "heads", "new thinking" and "paradigm shifts".

The columns of the table (below) are derived primarily from the traditional chakra system -- but with the addition of "feet". However it derives its primary interest from the metaphoric meanings associated with each chakra in common discourse -- as typified by "heartless", "gutless", "spiritless", etc. The columns might also be clustered into Head (A, B,C), Thorax (D, E) and Abdomen (F, G, H).

The rows of the table each correspond to a particular type of organization (or individual!) -- by taking a noteworthy combination of one of the chakras. So, for example, Type 1 (B+D-) describes the "heartless head" organizations that have received so much criticism. Type 2 (B-D+), however, describes the "headless heart" organizations that have been caricatured as "luvvies".

  Spirit / Will
(Wisdom)
Head
(Thought)
Throat
(Creativity
Talk)
 Heart
(Feeling
Caring)
Solar plx
(Emotion)
Gut 
(Courage)
Sex 
(Attraction
Reprod.)
Feet
(Grounded)
  A B C D E F G H
Type #1    Heads     Heartless            
Type #2    Headless
Thoughtless
    Hearts            
Type #3      Headless
Thoughtless
                Feet
Type #4   Heads       Gutless    
Type #5       Heartless   Guts    
Type #6 Spiritless Head            
Type #7 Spirit          Gutless    
Type #8 Spirit              Feetless
Type #9            Headless Chattering           
Type #10    Heads Talking          
Type #11         Hearts     Sexless  
Type #12                
Type #13                 
Type #14                 
                  
 

Comments on types

Type #1: Heartless heads: These are the organizations, perceived as technocratic, that seem to operate on the assumption that the feelings of people are irrelevant to the imposition of theoretical and ideological frameworks. They tend to assume that by discovering the appropriate "model" resources can be appropriately mobilized to solve the problems of the world.

Type #2:  Headless hearts: These are the organizations that operate on the assumption that if love took precedence over all other consideration then the challenges of modern society could be appropriately met and peace would prevail. They tend to reject the need for any thoughtful consideration of constraints and possibilities. All such details are swept away in a tide of love and for this reason they have been caricatured as "luvvies".

Type #3: Headless feet: These are organizations firmly oriented towards their "feet on the ground" members. They emphasize experience above everthing and have little regard for "egg head" approaches. Examples are to be found amongst mass movements, trade unions and peoples organizations -- especially those that reject any institutional structure.

Type #4: Gutless heads: These are the organizations that are remarkably capable of articulating the issues in sophisticated frameworks but are totally gutless when it comes to doing anything. They are typically caricatured by terms such as "gutless egg heads" or the like.

Type #5: Heartless guts: These are the organizations that take remarkable risks in undertaking new initiatives but without any consideration of the feelings of those their actions affect. Many entrepreneurial businesses are preceived in this way -- as well as organizations operating on the legal margins or even illegally. Security forces and paramilitary organizations may be perceived in this light.

Type #6: Spiritless heads: These are the organizations perceived to be totally lacking in any spiritual framework, placing knowledge above wisdom or other values and principles.

Type #7: Gutless spirits: These are the organizations totally imbued with spiritual wisdom and orientation, but totally lacking in guts when it comes to dealing with reality. They operate best when not challenged by constraints requiring unpleasant decisions.

Type #8: Feetless spirits: These are the organizations that are graced with the highest insights but are quite unable to ground their insights in rnizations that are graced with the highest insights but are quite unable to ground their insights in reality or amongst ordinary people.

Type #9: Headless chatterers: These are the organizations that provide a vehicle for those caricatured as the "chattering classes". Typically they provide a vehicle for extensive discussion and "dialogue" but relatively unconstrained by thoughtful reflection. They are the rumour-mongerers who serve the valuable function of disseminating certain types of information.

Type #10: Talking heads: These are the organizations that provide a vehicle for the eminent and the knowledgeable to exchange insights. They may involve organization of major conferences and summits. Typically they are caricatured in the light of their track record as "all talk and no action".

Type #11: Sexless hearts: These are the organizations that are acknowledged for their paramount caring qualities, but are also recognized to be totally unattractive -- notably to young people. They might also be termed "sexless carers".

Type #12.... Beyond isolated caricatures

Clearly more complex types would be characterized by more than two columns.

But more interesting than the detection of isolated types is the recognition of how these different types work together. This can occur in several ways:

  • organizations of different types can work together through a coalition, complementing each other and compensating for their respective inadequacies.
  • a particular organization can, over time, take on roles corresponding to different types, thus compensating for the inadequacies of any given role
  • within a particular organization, departments can be characterized by different types (typically, for example, the "human relations" section will endeavour to demonstrate more "heart" than the production section; similarly the security section will demonstrate more "guts" than the research section)
The columns in the table may then be understood more like the "holes" on a musical wind instrument (eg a flute or a recorder) that may be open or closed -- when a characteristic is expressed or repressed. More complex "chords" would be generated by types based on combinations of more than two columns from the table.

But still more interesting is the possibility that an organization, or a coalition of organizations, may endeavour to "play" on the different characteristics -- effectively generating a "tune" or "melody" with complex "chords". In this sense the art of governance lies in composing such melodies and being able to execute them with the active participation of all concerned -- perhaps in larger works that would resemble "operas" or "symphonies" rather than simple "folk tunes".  From this perspective it might be argued that the alienating characteristic of many organizations -- especially for young people -- is that they are truly monotonous. Of course, others would argue that what we have at the moment already resembles "music hall shows" more than anything else.