Union / Management collaboration: What Creates Healthy, Fit Organizations Today?

What makes for a healthy, “anti-fragile” (adaptable, responsive) organization today?   These slides from my recent presentation to the Michigan Management Labor Association’s (MMLA) presentation on Wellness –A Healthy Engagement: Organizational and Personal Fitness provide insights on tools to help. 

Wellness –A Healthy Engagement: Organizational and Personal Fitness from Deb Nystrom

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

- Alan Kay

Wellness –A Healthy Engagement: Organizational and Personal Fitness from Deb Nystrom
Case studies have been edited for confidentiality.
UAW former chairman, Michigan, demonstrating the Nike fuel band.

UAW former chairman, Michigan, demonstrating the Nike fuel band.

Listen, Learn (and Unlearn), understand the Community and Respond:  I used the LCR (tool) and formula originally  for helping professional coaches learn about how to use social media effectively.  This same concept was behind the slide presentation above in considering what might be next in adapting to change for health and wellness in organizations.

Deb & Tim Quinn, board member of the MMLA, 2013

Deb & Tim Quinn, board member of the MMLA, 2013

As I had done a good bit of work in unionized environments over the years, I contacted several colleagues to update my knowledge for the  “Healthy Organizations” presentation to the MMLA.  A number of things are on the radar for how labor/staff and management handle their conversations, including the question:   

What do we hold onto and what will we let go,

so we can create something new?

Trapeze, Let Go, Photo: by Mr. T in DC

Trapeze, Let Go, Photo: by Mr. T in DC

Labor unions have achieved many of their hard won goals over the years.  Their purpose and role is shifting in this millennium, as highlighted by factors that Peter Drucker, the famed management thought leader, spoke of in in The Frontiers of Management:

One was that union members, by investing heavily in the stock market through their pension funds, were not merely employees but also owners, creating conflicts of interest. Another was that unions had managed to accomplish much of what they’d set out to do when the labor movement took off in the 1930s.

“The true strength of the labor movement in developed countries has been moral: its claim to be the political conscience of a modern secular society,” Drucker noted. But this was harder to be when organized labor became a powerful interest group and its members were relatively well paid.

FIST The old days through power change in unions, mgmt. 1978 Photo by Alan Light, Flickr

FIST The old days through power change in unions, mgmt. 1978 Photo by Alan Light, Flickr

Finally, Drucker argued, unions didn’t have many economic gains left to win. “Once 85 percent of national income goes to employees, the labor union has lost its original rationale: that of increasing the share of the national income that goes to the ‘wage fund.’” Drucker wrote in his 1980 book Managing in Turbulent Times. “All one labor union can do is increase the share of its members at the expense of other employees.”

Therefore, Drucker believed that unions needed to recast themselves as the entities that united the goals of the worker and the enterprise. Unions should be reestablished as “the embodiment of the ultimate identity of interest between employer and employee,” he wrote.

How we handle power may be one of the biggest indicators of how “antifragile” or adaptable and renewable we may be.   We also relate easily to story and myth in our circles.  

If problems develop, those stories and histories may build up to a level of dissatisfaction.  It also might be that “everything happens in perfect timing” including the possible unexpected randomness of disengagement and creating anew what needs to come next.

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Panel Q & A at the MMLA, April 2013

Deb with the panel during the Q and A time at the MMLA, April 2013

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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2 Responses to “Union / Management collaboration: What Creates Healthy, Fit Organizations Today?”

  1. […] adapting to change resonate today, based on what I experienced when I met a new group at the recent Michigan Management Labor Association conference in Lansing, Michigan. […]

  2. Anonymous says:

    […] a few people to push back against another unwelcome intrusion into their lives. Image: Courtesy of: http://reveln.com/union-management-c…zations-today/ Read more at […]

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