The Celtic Sage has often referred to the Management Gurus and to one Charles Handy in particular. Whilst often referred to in the Sassenach media as Britain’s only world class business guru he is actually the son of an Irish clergyman who established himself with his book Understanding Organisations (1976).
Handy is probably best known (and displays his Irish roots) by coining the term “Shamrock Organisation. “ This is an organisational structure where a core of essential executives and workers are supported by outside contractors and part-time help. The term was invented by the Irish academic and management author/philosopher Charles Handy.
Shamrock organisations have an organisational structure with three distinct parts. The first part, or leaf, represents the core staff of the organisation. They are likely to be highly trained professionals who form the senior management. The second leaf consists of the contractual fringe and may include individuals who once worked for the organisation but now supply services to it. These individuals operate within broad guidelines set down by the organisation but have a high degree of flexibility and discretionary powers. The third leaf describes the flexible work force. These workers are sufficiently close enough to the organisation to feel a degree of commitment to it, ensuring they maintain a high standard of work.
So in the midst of the current Financial Meltdown and turmoil which has seen the Sage, along with most other UK taxpayers, becoming the less than proud owner of three banks and probably at least one luxury car maker the question can reasonably be asked “Why did the Gurus not see the Crash coming?”
Well consider this from Charles Handy. In a book called Beyond Certainty, Handy includes a paper he presented at the Michael Shanks Memorial Lecture in 1990, some eighteen years ago. The book itself having being published in 1996. The question being addressed was what is a business enterprise for. In it, among many other very interesting points, he states (pg 74):
“My long-term worry is that property prevails over community. As the world shrinks and companies aim for global reach, property will inexorably annex communities. Paradoxically, the Anglo-American system which, I have argued, works less well for everyone then the German or Japanese models, may prevail, driving the whole world into a fever of short-term speculation, forcing companies to become asset traders rather than wealth producers, and leaving Adam Smith’s invisible hand to do a lot of probably unavailing overtime.”
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