Organizational Behaviour is one of the most used and researched topic in the theory and practice of management. Organizational Behaviour (or, “OB” as it is popularly referred to) is the study of human behaviour in organizational settings including the interface of human beings among themselves, the interface of human beings with their and other external organizations, and the behaviour of organizations themselves. From the time of Barnard, C I (1938), experiments and theories of OB have spawned management literature. OB as has traditionally been understood includes all of the terms now treated as separate topics or subjects such as motivation, leadership, decision making, productivity, culture, competency building, team building and job satisfaction. OB has seen several management stalwarts such as Elton Mayo, Douglas McGregor, Frederick Herzberg, Rensis Likert, and Peter Drucker, to recall just a few names.
While segmented theories of organization such as business policy, strategic management, competitive strategy, core competence, lean and several others have served to focus on specific aspects of management and leadership, they are more focussed on business organizations, and also do not offer a holistic solution for organizational vitality. It is important that OB is brought back to its prime position as a total solution for enhancing organizational vibrancy of any entity, not just business organizations. This must also be accompanied by a generic prescription that is enduring for all kinds of business contexts (from growth to turnaround, for example), administrative settings (urban or rural), and hierarchies (apex level or bottom of the pyramid). A healthy and positive OB will enable individuals and organizations achieve relentless growth with unquestionable equity. This blog post proposes a unique organizational behaviour model with the acronym of ECOLOGI.
Enterprise, Collaboration, Organizing, Learning, Objectivity, Galvanizing and Implementation are the seven components of the ECOLOGI model. If employees, including managers and leaders, are able to appreciate and absorb the full import of the ECOLOGI model and follow it in their day to day working, they would be institutionalizing a vibrant organizational behaviour. These components are discussed below.
Enterprise is the ability to think of new projects or new ways of doing things and make them successful. It is the ability to demonstrate initiative to succeed. For a vibrant organizational behaviour, the culture of an entity should promote enterprising behaviour on the part of every employee. Certain companies such as DuPont and 3M have made enterprise an integral part of employee DNA. While all employees may not display the same level of enterprise at the time of recruitment, a culture of empowerment and enablement would help employees discover and develop the spark of enterprise in them. To foster enterprise, Japanese companies have made daily team meetings an integral part of their work routine and Kaizen (continuous improvement) an essential part of their thought culture. While the Japanese employees are known to be highly disciplined and logically conformist, they are not lacking in any way in demonstrating new ways of doing things.
Collaboration is the essence of human living. Even at just an individual level, collaboration between the body and mind is essential for healthy and positive living. Within the body itself, there must be collaboration between different limbs while within the brain, there must be collaboration between left brain and right brain! It is self-evident, therefore, that collaboration between different individuals is essential for an organization to progress successfully. The culture of challenge, competitiveness and even conflict advocated by certain theorists and practitioners is patently inferior to the positive energy and bonding that would be generated by a collaborative work culture. As with enterprise, collaboration must be fostered from the time an employee is on-boarded into an organization.
Organizing, in the context of ECOLOGI model, does not refer to the creation of the physical structure of an entity (and most certainly, it does not refer even remotely refer to an organization chart). Organizing is the ability to plan for, and arrange for, something to happen. From organizing one’s thoughts to organizing the resources required and the activities to be performed is a critical capability of an individual. Organizing has to be the core competence of every employee, not merely that of a manager or a leader. The ability to organize matures and mellows for an individual with experience. The moment a task is thought of, the individual with due thought and experience can visualize the whole spectrum of activities to be performed. While skillsets such as program management are now promoted as a discrete discipline, every employee has the right and responsibility to be organized.
Learning is a lifelong activity. The fundamental requirement for learning is neither intelligence nor teaching; it is receptivity! Learning helps one develop knowledge and skills that are required to meet current business or administrative requirements. Organizational ecosystems must be particularly designed to promote learning as a continuous activity. While encouraging employees to learn, learning disabilities (beyond lack of receptivity) that could be acting as barriers to learning need to be identified. Every learning and development programme must have a learning effectiveness check at the end of the programme. It should be conducted by an independent, confidential on-the-spot survey at the time of conclusion of the programme and followed up with another similar survey three to six months after return to the regular work.
Objectivity is the ability to judge and decide on any issue or a person based on facts and without getting influenced by personal or others’ influences and biases. Basing on facts does not mean that emotional aspects are ignored. If consensual decision making is a part of a country culture, objectivity requires that such manifestation is integrated into the evaluation and decision processes. Objectivity is not simply lack of subjectivity; it requires a quest for factual data and information. These accrue through not special studies but simply through perceptive observation. For objectivity to be a hallmark of organizational behaviour, organizations must promote discerning and discriminating capabilities in individuals. This can be developed with simulation exercises and role play for employees under the guidance of experienced managers and leaders.
Galvanizing is the ability of a person (usually a leader or manager) to excite others to take concerted and inspired action to achieve a goal. The most profound example of galvanization is that of Mahatma Gandhi galvanizing all of India into a relentless nonviolent movement for independence. While such examples are legendary rarities, it is required for every individual, not limited to managers and leaders, to galvanize co-employees into collaborative actions. It is also possible for employees of lower rank to galvanize employees of higher rank through demonstrable example-setting. Leadership has a strong component of galvanizing but the ability to galvanize and willingness to be galvanized for objective causes is an important aspect of positive organizational behaviour.
Implementation is the end result of all of the six attributes talked about so far. To be execution-focused and delivery-focused is the critical attribute of winning organizations. Aggressive implementation has been one of the principal reasons for Korean manufacturers to steal a march over the intrinsically more innovative Japanese manufacturers. In good organizational behaviour, implementation is the responsibility not merely of frontline employees but that of all team members, including managers and leaders. Implementation at times requires innovative mind-sets. The global success of Indian information technology companies has been attributed to the development of a global delivery model. India’s new credo of “Make in India” clearly requires excellent implementation capability, backed by all the other six ECOLOGI facets.
To be fully beneficial, the ECOLOGI model has to be absorbed and followed in its totality throughout the organization. Each component of the ECOLOGI model is mutually reinforcing with the others. In one important sense, ECOLOGI model of organizational behaviour ensures a positive ecological balance in the organizational ecosystem! Enterprise, for example, is not necessarily a genetically acquired attribute; it is developed through collaboration that gives mutual reinforcement and also from learning which opens up one’s mind and hands to new knowledge and skills. Enterprising people are essential to galvanizing others, and also to be galvanized. Implementation is the logical endpoint of galvanizing. Enterprise also helps people overcome any obstacles that are encountered in organizing. Organizing and collaborating are essential factors for successful implementation.
Among the seven dimensions of ECOLOGI, objectivity is a key value-based objective. To be tactically influenced by one’s own biases or others’ opinions is a common human failing. It requires certain core values for a person to be completely objective in all aspects of functioning. Objectivity, however, is a behavioural value worth inculcating. The ability to galvanize others into action depends to a large extent on how objective the individual or leader is known to be. Objectivity is also a key driver of successful external stakeholder relationships. Objective leaders tend to evoke respect of even competing firms. Given that ECOLOGI is a holistic experience, individuals must devise their means of scaling themselves on each of the dimensions to achieve high levels uniformly. Any entity which follows the ECOLOGI model would have a positive and virtuous organizational behaviour that ensures competitiveness in commercial business or administrative service. More importantly, as an aggregate impact it would ensure sustainable growth with equity for India as a vibrant nation.
Posted by Dr CB Rao on March 29, 2015