Partnership systems versus domination Systems – Reading notes

temps estimé pour lire ce billet : 7 minutes



These are my reading notes from an article : “The Partnership Organization, by Montuori, Alfonso, and Riane Eisler. 2001.

These are verbatim extract, with little or no comments

What it is

“Eisler has identified two contrasting model of social systems: the domination model and the partnership model”

“Are they essentially hostile, win-lose, domination-submission? Or are they geared towards mutual benefit, co-evolution, and partnership?”

Why it matters

“Today, this “command-and-control” model is not only inappropriate; it is becoming increasingly dysfunctional”

“Bureaucratic rigidity is deadly for organizations that wish to navigate successfully in a rapidly changing environment where innovation and flexibility are key factors.”

“There will continue to be talk about a shift from rigid hierarchies to more flexible heterarchies.”

“But even the flattest organization will still be racked by dominator power games in which individuals vie to “be on top.””

“Unless a viable alternative to the framework of domination can be articulated and applied, there will be no shift towards an alternative mindset and alternative behaviors.

Characteristics

“Dominator systems are fear-based, characterized by rigid hierarchies of domination (where power is equated with giving orders that must be obeyed), an ethos of conquest (including the “conquest of nature”), a high degree of institutionalized or built-in violence, male domination, and contempt for “soft” or stereotypically feminine values”

“Partnership systems are trust-based, and characterized by equalitarianism and “flatter” organization, flexible hierarchies of actualization (where power is guided by values such as caring and caretaking), by a naturebased spirituality, a low degree of violence built into the system, and gender equality and equity.”

Impediment to actualisation

“Systems and complexity theory suggest shifting our thinking from focusing on isolated objects to their context, from separate parts to relationships”

“the old stand-bys of order, control, prediction, and clearly defined tasks are less reliable.”

“In the old machine model of industry, beyond simply operating in the assembly line-like reliable machine-like parts, the only demand made of workers was obedience”

“”empowered” workers, “knowledge workers” who add value by being change-agents.

Mistakes and Myths

Four myths are listed :

  • There is no hierarchy in the partner- ship organization.
  • Partnership is just working together, it means alliances, or collaboration.
  • In partnership everything is done by consensus.
  • In partnership there is no conflict, no differences.

“should not lead us to believe that hierarchy itself is outdated or only found in dominator systems, and that we should now completely abolish hierarchies of any kind.”

“We have to be careful not to engage in oppositional thinking, and immediately reject any concept or practice associated with the dominator system in favor of its exact opposite.”

“Eisler specifically differentiates between hierarchies of domination, which are driven by the desire to control and oppress, and hierarchies of actualization, which support a greater unfolding of potential.”

Management perpective

“it leads to a reconceptualization of the nature of power, responsibility, and authority.”

( in Partnership) “the manager’s role is to bring out the best in everyone, to help workers develop their potentials”

“This requires a willingness to mentor, to be supportive as well as task-oriented — and to learn as well as teach, creating a mutual learning loop.”

“A manager can explain what the desired outcome is, and support her or his team in achieving that outcome in whatever way works best for them. Teams and individuals can develop new and innovative, or simply efficient and convenient, ways of performing their tasks.” 1

(in domination)
“the manager’s role is to control subordinates and hand out rewards and punishments on the basis of whether workers perform their explicitly assigned tasks,”

“we expect people to be creative and intelligent, and we treat them as such.”

Power

understand the systems of domination in order not to (re)implement them

“reconceptualization of power from Power Over — the power to control and dominate others and our environment — to Power With and Power To; in other words, the capacity to work to achieve goals with others, but not at the expense of others”

“This is a shift from domination to co-creation, or from coercive power to generative power”

Organisational

“The partnership organization has hierarchies of actualization-based not on force, but on competence, temporal priority, values, and other criteria.”

Teams

A team relationships are as important as the tasks its members perform.

“If efforts at creating successful teams are not accompanied by a shift from a dominator to a partnership way of relating, most efforts will in fact be doomed”

“Working in teams requires great attention to the nature and quality of our relationships as well as a focused task-orientation”

Diversity

“Our social system has historically educated men to focus on tasks and socialized women to be much more sensitive to issues of relationship, and to value their importance.”

“both women and men learn to do both, thereby paying the necessary attention to such “intangible,” “non-quantifiable” concerns as feelings, trust, and other stereotypically “feminine” concerns (cf.Moss Kanter, 1993; Rosener, 1995).”

“From a dominator perspective, diversity is a threat to the order”

“But from a partnership perspective, diversity is an opportunity for greater creativity, for sharing new perspectives, creating new ideas and relationships, and presents possibilities for unusual and generative cross-pollinations”

“They can experience and express feelings, thoughts and behaviors they deem appropriate, regardless of how they are gender-specifically categorized.”

“Research shows that individuals who are not trapped in rigid stereotypical gender roles tend to be more flexible and psychologically healthy. They also tend to find it easier to work with others in teams rather than merely assuming positions in rigid rank orderings, to play management roles that are inspiring and facilitating rather than intimidating, and to be innovative and creative.”

Creativity

“In the current business environment it is not sufficient to simply adapt: we must innovate and create”

“In dominator systems, there is an ambiguous relationship with creativity: it is viewed a great gift, and at the same time potentially enormously disruptive, a threat to the established order.”

“We can let go of the idea that creativity only occurs in the rarified domains of the arts and sciences, and apply it where it is perhaps most needed: towards finding alternatives to domination, and the creation of partnership systems.”

“A systemic, partnership approach to creativity points us beyond an exclusive focus on the “big bang” of product innovation, and towards the ongoing process of “everyday creativity.””

environment

“In dominator business organizations, the social and natural environment have not been considered (Purser, Park, & Montuori 1995).”

“Nature, as well as human being were viewed almost exclusively as resources to be exploited”

Myth

“Doing everything by consensus can lead to more subtle but just a s pervasive forms of domination. Partnership requires give and take. Compromise can be creative.”

(see scale of directivity)

“In partnership there is no conflict, no differences.”

“In the former (Domination) conflicts are about eliminating one of the two parties.”

“In the latter (Partnership), conflict is viewed as a potential source for creativity”

transformation to get there

“Many people assume that creating partnership organizations requires huge transformations, changes in leadership and massive amounts of “consciousness-raising,” perhaps. This can initially be quite discouraging. No organization will orient completely to the partnership or dominator model. It is always a matter of degree”

“There is also a micro-dimension, and that this “everyday” world of interactions is not only a crucial place to create partnership, but it is in fact where we live!”

“In other words, the day-to-day interactions at work are exactly what we need to focus on most, because our work life is made up of just that-day-to-day interaction with co-workers, subordinates, clients, and so on.”

“Keeping the macro-picture in mind, including global context, and structural and systemic issues, and remaining aware of the basic difference between the Dominator and Partnership difference while working on micro-activities is a form of thinking globally and acting locally.”

Practices

“One way to do this is by having people list “random acts of kindness,” and “random acts of unkindness.””

“We encourage people to think about how these kinds of “micro-behaviors” make a huge difference in our day to day experience”

“When we ask people to remember their “Best and Worst Workplace Experiences,” the best usually has all the characteristics of a partnership experience, and the worst is more often than not an experience bearing all the hallmarks of a dominator system and behavior. This allows people to see that partnership is something that they have experienced, in some form or other, and makes it more real”

“Our point is that these behaviors are not random, in one important sense. They either prop up the dominator system, or help create partnership”

“Most people are very surprised to find the extent to which small behaviors make a big difference”

Attention

“The great psychologist Abraham Maslow (1998) used to say that when he would discuss peak experiences with his students, they all spontaneously started having more, simply because they focused their attention on them”

“In the same way, through the media focus on violence and certain forms of gossiping and patterns of attention, we tend to focus more on Dominator-like behavior than on recognizing (and reciprocating) Partnership-like behavio”

“Beginning to recognize and acknowledge Partnership in ourselves and in others, and finding creative alternatives for Dominator thinking and behaviors is a first step towards building a Partnership organization.”


  1. pretty close to agile – management 3,0 
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