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This chapter is from the book

The Age of the Organization Man (Stifling)

Let's stroll down memory lane for a moment. It was post-World War II when we saw the advent of the "The Organization Man."[1] There was even a book by that title. If there was ever a period of time that exemplified the opposite of what we are seeing today, this is it. The key to success in the '50s and even the '60s was to conform, to blend.

If two people in an organization agree on everything, one of them probably isn't needed

To be the epitome of the Organization Man not only meant adorning the traditional IBM white shirt and tie, but also required a white face, and a set of testicles. It wasn't considered even remotely discriminatory to hire and promote only white men for the "important" jobs, nor was it considered abnormal to require them to look and act alike, even if they didn't think alike. Organizations were run like an extension of the military, dominated by white men, and no one complained. Life was good, at least for them, or so they thought. And, in fact, it was probably an appropriate organizational model for the time. Much was accomplished in this period, regardless of how it may look in hindsight. Which is the point. It's all relative. It doesn't matter if you agree with reality, it is reality! You can go back as far as you want in history, and this principle applies (slavery, suffrage, prohibition, etc.).

Yes, in 20/20 hindsight, the Age of the Organization Man was a period of severe stifling (on the STAR progression), but back then, creativity was not as valued a commodity as loyalty and harmony. Creativity and innovation, if and when it existed, came from the top (executives), from outside (the military, NASA), or from well-defined, controllable departments (R&D centers). Everyone else checked his or her opinions at the door, toed the company line, and did what they were told, hopefully until retirement.

Team building was somewhat of an oxymoron because in an environment where everyone agrees whether they agree or not, teamwork is confused with harmony. Going along and getting along were the overriding characteristics of a team player. In fact, there was no such thing as team dynamics and team development during this era. It wasn't needed!

Managing was easy as well. Imagine how easy it would be to be a manager if everyone looked, acted, and thought like you. Imagine if "being easy to manage" was considered a core measure of competency. Imagine if you had no one asking for special rights or privileges. No wonder they loved the status quo. But then things began to change.

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