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11. Care for the Whole (Whether It Deserves It or Not)

Block, Peter Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


care for the whole (whether it deserves it or not).         Growing up and achieving our citizenship papers is marked by a commencement. We have been invited to give the commencement address at our own graduation, the beginning of saying Yes to our own freedom, our own readiness to assume full accountability. Our freedom begins with knowing our intentions, knowing what matters to us, knowing which values will guide our actions. The question, then, is what are we willing to commit to?

There was time when the workplace answered the question of commitment for us. At least it did for me. When I began work at Exxon I stepped quite naturally into a social contract. I made a commitment to the company and, in exchange, they made a commitment to my future. The contract was affirmed right in the beginning. In the recruiting interview they asked me predictable questions about how I saw my future and then they talked about how they saw it. If I worked hard, met their objectives, was open to learning, and adapted to their style and culture, the path was clear. In six months I would get a $35 monthly raise (this was a long time ago), in eighteen months I could expect a better job title, in two to two-and-a-half years, a promotion to supervisor. Section head title came after three to five years, but with my potential, it would more likely be three. I was introduced to managers who had moved along this path, role models, the works.

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Nine: Financial Practices Creating Accountability with Self-Control

Block, Peter Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Creating Accountability with Self-Control

IN MOST DECENTRALIZED companies, the corporate executives give autonomy to their operating companies in all areas of operation but two: the control of people and the control of money. They understand that how you control money and how you control human resources practices are the keys to the kingdom. This chapter is about the money; the next one is about the people.

 

MONEY IS VITAL to how we govern because it is the universal measuring device. It does not measure everything we care about, but it is the common language we use to measure the health of the institution, as well as our promises to each other and how well we have delivered on those promises. We have created the finance function to help us become fully informed and communicate about performance. Financial functions also help people, through budgets, to document and keep track of their promises. These intentions are service oriented and a critical means for people at all levels to fulfill their stewardship responsibility.

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Sixteen: Stewardship for the Common Good

Block, Peter Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

 

WE ARE LIVING in a time when the interdependence of commerce with the earth, our health, and our care for the people on the margin is becoming unmistakably obvious. When we speak of a shrinking world, we are referring to these interconnections. The private and public sectors are the palm and back of the same hand. This means that the private sector, in order to maintain its license to operate, will be under growing pressure to more powerfully serve the public good. Taken seriously, this will constitute a shift in purpose and function.

 

THERE IS MORE at stake in choosing stewardship than the rethinking and redesign of organizational life. The core elements of stewardship, like the right use of power, putting choice close to the ground, enabling as much social equity as possible, and valuing local governance over central control, also apply to communities and the common good of the world at large.

Stewardship has a long, useful history in serving the public interest. Environmental and conservation groups have long seen their role as stewardship for the earth. There is a vast social-services infrastructure to address societal needs. Private foundations are big players in trying to solve problems in health, poverty, education, and peace. Our interest here is how to deepen this service.

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Five: Defining the Stewardship Contract

Block, Peter Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

 

STEWARDSHIP IS A way to use power to serve through the practice of partnership and empowerment. This is the alternative to the conventional notions of “strong leadership” for implementing changes. The intent is to redesign the governance of our organizations so that service is the centerpiece and ownership and responsibility are strongly felt among those closest to the action: doing the work and contacting customers.

 

IN THE DESIRE to get our intentions more concrete, two things may occupy our minds. One is the destination. What would stewardship look like in practice in our own unit, our own organization? The second preoccupation is with the journey, the way to get there. How can we engage people in redesign and reform so that they participate in the re-creation of their own workplace?

Both the journey and the destination are important. Don’t choose between them. People who are into power tend to overfocus on the destination. Goals, milestones, outcomes, bottom line. People into personal growth tend to overfocus on the journey. Work/life balance, participation, feelings, team building. Both are essential, but you have to start somewhere. Let’s start with the destination.

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Medium 9781605092775

CHAPTER 3 The Stuck Community

Block, Peter Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The existing community context is one that markets fear, assigns fault, and worships self-interest. This context supports the belief that the future will be improved with new laws, more oversight, and stronger leadership. Possibility thinking and associational life are marginalized, relegated to human interest and side stories in the media. The corporate model is the modern ideal, and the economy is the center story. The story in the stuck community defines the role of the media as framer of the debate. In community building, we need to realize that what the media reports is a reflection, not the cause of the conversation that citizens currently hold.

• • •

To create a new story, we first need to come to terms with the current one. This begins by naming it. The story of the stuck community can be heard both in the dominant public debate and also in what we talk to each other about each day. It is important to understand that there is a hidden agenda in every story. This agenda is a point to be made, a political belief about what is important, that stays constant regardless of the events of the day.

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