【小論文】分析查爾斯‧韓弟(Charles Handy)的管理理論 (Handy guide to organization and education)

韓弟是一個蠻幽默的管理學大師,他的自傳寫到,多年前他有次在太太的攝影展遇到一位慕名而來的粉絲,這位粉絲問他韓弟在哪,他回答「我就是」,結果粉絲不太相信,反問「你確定嗎?Are you sure?」韓弟回答到「這是一個好問題,因為這麼多年來他發現自己有很多面相(Version),但不是每一個韓弟我都感到驕傲。」

以下主要討論他知名的幾個管理理論,另外,他在BBC有商業英語的講座也可以去看看、聽聽他對幾位管理學泰斗的評論介紹 :

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Handy guide to organization and education

Introduction

In the history of humanity, it is generally recognized that the civilization of mankind is developed by organizations. The pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China could not be built without a successful organization behind them. However, recent years have seen increased change happened in organizations. Therefore, there are many different kinds of experts who are professional in analyzing and directing the management of organizations. Charles Handy is one of the great management masters. As a matter of fact, he is not only a professor who specializes in organizational theory but also a bestselling author who knows how to use metaphors and real stories to interpret the theory. Some famous metaphors such as “elephant and flea” or “turning doughnuts inside out” are created by him. Also, he is a humorous wise man. For instance, once he was approached by a man who doubted that he was real Charles Handy, and Handy replied ” It was a good question because over time there had been many versions of Charles Handy, not all of which I was particularly proud.” (Handy, 2006, p. 1) Humorous people usually have another eye to look at the world. The purpose of this study was to discuss and present a critical review of the contribution of Handy to the field of education and organization. To do this, I will analyze and criticize several books Handy wrote over the past three decades.

Gods in the management

At the end of the seventies, Handy(1978) indicated in the book gods of management that the organizations could be mainly divided into four types: Zeus, Apollo, Athena, and Dionysus. Zeus means making decisions quickly and all the organization is led by one person. This leader is usually the owner or the entrepreneur. The whole organization would be like a club. Some companies such as investment banks are this kind of organizations which succeed by making decisions quickly on obvious propositions. Apollo refers to the organization dominated by rules and procedures. It can work efficiently by division of labor and the usage of measures like budget and target. However, when it encounters crises or transitions, the organization may be stuck by the rules it legislated. Government is an example of this sort of organization. The warrior goddess, Athena, is the representation of task-oriented organization. Some innovative businesses, consultancies, or advertising agencies which focus on the projects they received are the instances. Dionysus, the god of wine and pleasure, is the symbol of existent and freedom. An artists’ studio or a school where professionals can probably have more freedom to utilize their talent is set in this category. It would be more difficult to manage these Dionysian places, but they could bring some inspiring ideas and creations at the right time.

However, Handy(1978) emphasized that it does not mean each organization can only has one option. On the contrary, an organization, like every individual, could be the mixture of the four main cultures. In advance, he proposed that most mixed-up management is the consequence of following the wrong managerial gods, which could be called “gods in confusion”. To overcome this confusion, it requires the management being proper and the gods of management should be merged in the most appropriate mix. After that, the slack and the incompetence of an organization could be avoidable.

In my point of view, the use of these Greece gods as the metaphors to classify the types of organization is an efficient and impressive method. However, it also has its disadvantages. For instance, to be named “Zeus” sounds better than others since Zeus is the most powerful god within all the Greece gods. Therefore, it tends to misdirect people if it is not interpreted clearly. On the other hand, this kind of analysis could be inspiring when it is used to analyze an organization or a person. Take myself for example; after I finished the analysis questionnaire (Handy, 1978, p. 84), I realized that I prefer to be Zeus backed up by Athena. It means that I may not be suitable to work in an apollonian organization, which is governed by regulations and measures. And it is suggested that I could do work well as an entrepreneur (i.e., Zeus organization) or in a task-oriented organization (i.e., Athena organization).

It also reminded me a story about my last boss’s failure in applying for admission to a Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program in a famous university. Even though he had good relationship between him and the examiners in the target university and he even treated the dean of the target faculty dinner before the examination, he still failed finally because of his score in the entrance examination is not high enough. In this story, he acted like a Zeus; he always made decisions quickly and knew that relationship between him and his clients is important. His rule is “who you know is more important than what you know.” To a certain degree, it works well in the business world. However, in this case, the famous university was more like an apollonian organization which made the rules about applying a master degree there. Regulations play an important role in an Apollonian organization. Hence, the score of examination is the first important thing he needs to conquer rather than the relationship between him and the dean of that faculty.

On the other hand, Handy(1978) also predicted that there will be two other problems. The first one is called “The apollonian crises”, which means too many supporters of Athena and Dionysus while theoretically a growing organization requires more Apollonians. This could lead to organizations’ self- destruct. Handy then claimed that the possible resolution would be to compound the organizations of contract and consent. It implies that setting Apollo in the service role to Athenian and Dionysian professionals and be led by an accepted Zeus. The second dilemma is called “Demos (i.e., people) emerge”. He explained that because of the thriving of democracy, organizations will become more like communities rather than instruments. To encounter the change, the organization needs to be more flexible and the leader needs to be competent enough to manage it with vision and political skill. The leader must be not only mercenary but missionary. The appearance of numerous labor unions and the legislation of laws to protect the right of employees in Taiwan could be attributed to this phenomenon. As a matter of fact, I trust this is a good advancement since the more respect for human rights the better reputation a country has.

Concerning about education, Handy(1978) suggested in the book that education could be more flexible and should happen not only in schools but also outside schools. For example, he proposed that managers could also be part-time teachers while many teachers have never worked anywhere except in their schools. He believed that we have separated our education too much from the world it intended to serve while it should be wedded to the communities of work. To be specific, Handy porposed that pupils should be taught through problems not routines. Personally, I agree with this perspective; it is apparent that the gap between schools and the communities of work leads to high unemployment rate in contemporary society. Many graduates find that it is difficult to find a job after they graduate from schools and what they learn in schools sometimes is useless in the real world. To decrease the unemployment rate, the relevant authorities must adopt some actions to improve the connection between schools and the demand of real work place outside schools.

Understanding schools as organizations

Relevant viewpoints could be seen in another book Understanding Schools as Organizations. (Handy & Aitken, 1986) He predicted in the book that due to the new technology, education will be more accessible in different ways such as by radio or by computers. Nowadays, we could see that the computer and the internet are more and more popular and still have unlimited potential like what Handy said twenty years ago. Due to the convenient rapid internet speed, distance learning becomes much more accessible than before.

In that book, he also indicated that schools are organizations, and not only the head teacher but every teacher is a manager, who had the responsibility to manage a classroom. (Handy & Aitken, 1986) If most teachers only learn their organizational idea in schools, this would make schools unwilling to change since no one has any other ideas as to how the place could be. Hence, he suggested that schools should have more training courses to facilitate teachers’ role-switch to be managers. To be specific, he asserted that it is not enough for a teacher only have the role of an academic or specialist; a teacher should also be competent to be an agent or a consultant to cater to the changing age. In my country (Taiwan), classroom management has been one of subjects teachers could learn in their training courses. I believe this is an improvement of our education system.

Even though Handy has pointed out that “The only certainty about the future is its uncertainty, that there will be changes.” (Handy & Aitken, 1986, p. 102), he nonetheless claimed that new opportunities and new customers will appear. Because it is the trend that most people live longer and work less time than before, it means that new products which satisfy new demands maybe will be a good business. Personally, I agree with his point of view. It reminds me to think elders as potential clients. Some community schools have begun to provide English courses for elders in Taiwan. Besides, since people work less and have more money and leisure, thinking about affording some content-based courses which choose some entertainment activities as the content to teach English would be another possibility when I work in an educational organization in the future. Anyway, since democracy and individualism have become prevalent in this day and age, it is unavoidable to make courses more customized.

Another vital viewpoint Handy (1986) pointed out in the book is that to cope with the complexity of the change, schools will have to organize themselves much more a set of interlocking project groups. Teams with overlapping connection and with task groups will become more vital. As a result, I think that to cultivate the team spirit, to learn how to cooperate with others or how to lead the group members would be also an important lesson pupils need to learn in schools besides the formal subjects. Moreover, to keep the connection with classmates and professors who have the same interests and mission about education will contribute to a better performance in their work place when the students graduate from schools.

The age of unreason

The world has changed at an increasing speed and how an organization or an individual could survive in this kind of world is an important theme Handy really care. Thus, Handy wrote the bestselling book the age of unreason in 1989.

In that book (Handy, 1990), Handy proposed that due to the discontinuous change emerged in this age; there are three new types of organizations: shamrock organization, federal organization, and triple I organization.

Firstly, the shamrock organization means the organization is composed of three leaves: the core worker, outsourcing and the flexible labor force. Core workers are the professionals but are continuously downsized by the organizations to save the cost. Organizations tend to only keep the 20% key workers in their core center and contract out other 80% less important tasks to other organizations or individuals. (Handy, 1990) Since the labor force is cheaper in China or India than the developed countries such as America, this trend seems to be unavoidable. With the bestseller The World Is Flat, Friedman (2005) also declared similar opinion that the service sector (telemarketing, accounting, computer programming, engineering and scientific research, etc.) will be further outsourced to the English-spoken abroad while manufacturing, meanwhile, will continue to be off-shored to China. Besides, other workers outsides these two leaves structure the flexible labor force. People who are part-time workers or temporary workers are classified in this catalogue. One person may have two or more part-time jobs at the same time.

Secondly, a federal organization means the leader provides vision, and initiatives are generated from the component subsidiary organizations. Royal Dutch Shell is an exemplar Handy (1990) cited.

Last but not least, triple I organization is a type of corporate culture in which the focus is on three areas: Information, Intelligence, and Ideas. It minimizes the division between managers and workers, concentrating instead on people and the need to pursue learning to add more value to their products. This kind of organizations put focus on intellectual property; using intelligent machines and working with intelligent people who prefer to agree than to obey. (Handy, 1990)

In my point of view, this development of organizations Handy revealed is really a global phenomenon and happens around our lives. Take Taiwan for example, it is more competitive to acquire a job in giant companies than before since organizations actually prefer to downsize the people in the core continuously. More people work in small organizations or do a task oriented job which the salary depends on the tasks they finish. Furthermore, many people only have part time jobs or temporary jobs. The traditional lifetime employment policy is less and less, and most of the time it could only be seen in government organizations while the application to work there is extremely competitive.

This could both has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it would be more difficult to find a permanent career and rely on the pension to afford the cost at the old age. It is also difficult to be employed in large enterprises and work there would need to bear burden heavier than before. On the other hand, it may also provide more possibilities about works. Because of the change of organizations, the appearance of new technology and the phenomenon that most people continuously live longer, Handy(1990) created the term ”portfolio people”. He explained that new rich have no time while the leisured class will be those at the bottom. Half the people working twice as hard while the other half have not enough to do is a worrying prospect. Therefore, he recommended people could have several different jobs like a portfolio of jobs at the same time. In advance, he divided work into four aspects: wage work, fee work, home work, gift work, study work. His suggestion is that if one could combine different works into one’s life, it would be a more balanced and meaningful life. Take Handy for instance, he has several different identities, such as a professor, an author, a consultant, and a broadcast host. Once he went to a small cottage set amid the fields of East Anglia because he feel the peaceful environment there is suitable for his writing. The people there asked him “Down here for a bit of a holiday, are you?” Handy’s answer is “no, I’m working.” (Handy, 1990, p. 103) Although being an author is not the traditional type of work, Handy is a real example to practice his theory to live a “portfolio life”.

As a matter of fact, if a person can make hobbies become saleable skills and even build one’s own mini-business, one may live a “portfolio life” pretty well. Take myself for example; before I came to Australia, I have two kinds of jobs in my country. One is an English teacher, another is a magician. Usually I worked as an English teacher on week days and as a magician on the weekend. This is also a kind of “portfolio life”. The advantage is I could do what I love and have more spare time than the general workers. However, the drawback of this kind of life is the uncertainty about future. Since I did not work in a giant company and no organizations will take care of my elder life, I need to save money by myself and cultivate my profession constantly to encounter other competitors. Overall, in this day and age, no matter an individual or an organization, keeping on learning is an important task to face the discontinuous change.

Concerning about re-inventing education, Handy (1990) introduced the concept of shamrock federal school. In this kind of schools, only core courses and activities are conducted in schools. Everything else is contracted out to mini schools or done by flexible labor force. Some courses such as art, language, computing and design may be contracted out to other mini schools. In this way, it could build a competing atmosphere which could advance the teaching quality. However, this is easy to say but hard to do. Firstly, it requires the authority to clarify what should be classifying into core courses and what could be contracted out. Secondly, the government needs to legislate for the standard to regulate the quality of mini schools. Thirdly, the teachers who already teach art, language, computing or design may not be glad to agree with this change. Maybe this is why the concept of shamrock federal school is not popular in my country. Nevertheless, there is something similar already happened in my country. The textbooks used in primary and secondary schools were edited by the government before, but the government had released the right several years ago. At present, private publishers can produce textbooks and compete with other publishers while the government plays the role to legislate and regulate the operation of the system. This could benefit learners by offering them more choices and leave the market to decide which textbook is high-quality. To a certain degree, this is kind of federal schools which contract out some right to other organizations outside schools.

Conclusion

To conclude, although some theories Handy proposed have difficulties to implement, it nonetheless appears that many other thoughts Handy propounded are increasingly happened around us. As Shaw(2004) indicated that “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself”(p. 260), while this age is full of unreason and paradox, understanding the trend and being open-minded to learn how to find the right position is unavoidable for an individual and an organization. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” For an organization, like what has been discussed before, keep flat and being federal could be a good method to receive more new inspirations. For an individual, no matter which god one is, keeping the learning attitude would be in a safer place in the competitive age. Overall, like what Handy has said “it can’t only be profits for the owners, with no thought for anyone else.” (Handy, 2005, p. 1) I am convinced that the development of an organization is not only for the owner but also for the employees and the customers it serves. As a result, we should further promote the relevant discussions about transforming organizations and meanwhile the government should introduce measures to regulate the development of organizations more effectively.

Word counts

3145 words

References

Friedman, T. (2005). The world is flat : a brief history of the twenty-first century. London: Allen Lane.

Handy, C. B. (1978). Gods of management : how they work, and why they will fail. London: Souvenir.

Handy, C. B. (1990). The age of unreason. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Handy, C. B. (2005). The Handy Guide to the Gurus of Management.   Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/work/handy/handy.shtml

Handy, C. B. (2006). Myself and other more important matters. London: William Heinemann.

Handy, C. B., & Aitken, R. (1986). Understanding schools as organizations. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

Shaw, B., & Laurence, D. H. (2004). Man and Superman : a comedy and a philosophy. London: Penguin.



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