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Changing Careers is Difficult

Nearly everyone wants to grow. Almost no one wants to change. A lot of people want the advantages of change. Few people seek for ways to cooperate with the procedure of change. It follows, therefore, that theories, rationalizations, and practices have been developed to support “anti-change” attitudes.

But change does go on, despite the fog of “facts” and projections that provide enough information to insure that when progress is made it passes through “quicksand-like” territory. A progressive Labor Department executive put it this way: “Of the many places that can muddy the waters on employment facts, the U.S. Department of Labor is the most productive and consistent.”

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This article identifies some of the sand traps and outmoded traditions, highlights some outstanding contributions for manpower progress, and gives theoretical background for “System to Identify Motivated Skills” or (S.I.M.S.). Among the most hopeful terms in the language of human progress arc organization development, job enrichment, and management by objectives, which is related to the first two. All of them aim to increase job satisfaction and performance by intelligent involvement of employees in the goals and decision making of their employers. Many companies are using these systems on the basis of modern behavioral science research.

The really good systems ask each person to contribute ideas and to consider his own goals vis-a-vis organization goals. The latest literature says employees should be given at least a day's notice of decision-making meetings that will require taking their own goals into consideration. The literature gives no indication of attempts by organizations to help the employee know his own strengths and potential, factors essential to intelligent personal goal setting.

At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, S.I.M.S. is adding that factor of self-knowledge. However, a major oil company that successfully uses biographical-data patterns to identify persons with management potential – somewhat similar to the S.I.M.S. approach - does not permit employees to see the outcome of the company's analysis of that data. The company regards its process a trade asset and keeps it secret from other organizations.

Organization Development

Organization development (OD) is concerned with the processes that help people be more open and honest with one another. It helps them relate more effectively, gain greater insight into their own feelings, look at disagreements and conflicts as aids to improved understanding and more effective cooperation, and work together to solve problems.

OD enables people to be more effective in their team relationships and task performance. It facilitates cooperation with change as a means of gaining its benefits, and it helps people to learn through mutual experiences.

OD designs frequently include methods to help groups clarify and set goals and plan for attainment of intermediate objectives. The process sometimes helps an employee change behavior in order to be more representative of his own self-image. But the literature reveals no strategy to help the person know his own strengths or self-motivations. It is all group- or organization-centered.

Institutions that use OD have management practices that are light years away from the traditional pyramid of power. Perhaps 5 million of the 95 million employees in the United States have felt the enriching impact of this new style of management. Virtually all those who have report more job satisfaction. The employers say labor turnover is lower and attendance is better. Both factors lead to reduced costs and higher productivity. Among the pioneer contributors to OD strategies are Abraham Maslow, Frederik Herzberg, Douglas McGregor, Leland Brad£ rd, Rensis Likert, Chris Argyris, B. F. Skinner, David McClelland, Carl Rogers, and Eric Berne. The early stages of their research coincided with the early stages of the development of S.I.M.S. in 1945. Each of them complements and reinforces the others.

Skinner's programmed learning concepts indicate his contribution. His experiments led him to suggest that desired (productive) behavior be reinforced, recognized, commended, or rewarded. In programmed learning the person studies a small bit, is asked a question to test the learning, and is rewarded for a correct answer. He then advances to a more complex bit of learning. This process is repeated until the total of the desired learning is attained.

With S.I.M.S., the person's own experiences become his programmed “textbook.” He recalls experiences in which he did well, and from which he earned recognition and reward. By bringing these up to date, he is able to see how he contributed to his own programming. He becomes alert both to his inner motivation to continue and to what he can do to make further progress.

A major contribution from Maslow is his hierarchy of needs, or values. Under his system, people work first to meet their physical and safety needs, then to meet their needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. Almost all persons in management and the professions are concerned primarily with seeking the latter two. “I want to be able to do my thing,” is a cry for self-actualization. Perhaps one in five can truly say he is being fulfilled through his work.

From time to time most of us taste fragments of fulfillment. Then we say, “Too good to be true,” and, “Can't last long.” In line with the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy, somehow these great periods pass and we drift again into the daily grind or rat race. S.I.M.S. provides incremental knowledge about self that makes it more likely that a person's period of fulfillment will occur more often and will last longer.

McClelland smashed many old psychological traditions. In essence, he found that “hero styles” influence the children of that society and they grow up seeking to emulate those styles. Thus the Horatio Alger period helped inspire the rapid industrial growth of the United States. In India, where priestly searchers for Nirvana long provided the hero style, industrialization and living standards have been slow to grow.

McClelland has taken his theories into developing nations. Staffs trained by him, both in India arid in Mexico, have helped change levels of desire for achievement. Classes conducted by these staffs begin by testing the level of achievement “need” among participants. This is done by having them write interpretations of pictures and counting the words that have “achievement” content. The students then are told their scores and given exercises and special lessons designed to increase the number of achievement-content words in their vocabularies. At the end of the course another test, with the same pictures, usually shows a rise in the number of achievement words used to interpret the pictures.

It may seem strange, but when this process is kept up, it often results in greater achievements by the class over the following years. Although it doesn't work for all the students, it does work for enough of them, so that McClelland's achievement motivation workshops are increasing in number. The vocabulary-changing approach is a helpful influence to changing achievement motivation. S.I.M.S. enables a person to recognize experiences that prove he has been and is an achiever.

It helps a man or a woman see and accept his or her own “heroics,” his or her own achievements, as well as describe them. It helps each person perceive how he can continue to build achievements or in his own way even change the direction for achieving them. With S.I.M.S., the assumption is that each person is an achiever with his own career style. When he knows his own style and pace he has freedom and inner motivation to develop or change it.

A fun-loving teenager of 14, whose parents feared he would amount to nothing. He (and his parents) learned that he was deeply motivated to achieve in areas associated with entertainment and that his school pranks, which got him expelled, were an outflow of his inner drives. Eight years later he started what is now a small chain of entertainment stores selling records, books, and related instruments and games. Currently, just over 30, he is planning his first London stage production, a musical.

His parents were shocked by the encouragement that S.I.M.S. gave him to do more of being himself, to be a showman. They tried to suppress this interest in much the same way as did the father of the unhappy controller.

McGregor was more concerned with the individual in his organization structure, particularly his relationships with his supervisors. His Theory X dramatizes the dictator type, the domineering executive who usually is unwilling to listen to criticism or even to other people's ideas. He tells his subordinates what to do. He cannot conceive of delegating any authority. In fact, he discourages communication between employees and supervisors.

His Theory Y poses the “democratic manager,” the man who encourages employees to participate in helping him accomplish, and even helping him plan, what should be accomplished.

McGregor suggests that this approach brings out the best that is in both the supervisor and his subordinates and thereby improves the productivity of both and gives both greater job satisfaction. Today hundreds of organization development consultants are helping organizations establish participative management procedures as an aid to greater effectiveness.

The Theory Y manager is a concerned communicator who deliberately builds a climate that encourages cooperation and participation, especially so long as participative management is not confused with permissiveness. Usually it is not.

There are, however, situations in which an autocratic manager's style becomes essential. Even in the most enlightened examples of participative management there comes a time when the man with final responsibility may have to slam the desk and say, “This is the way it must be done.”

It may be apocryphal, but a story about McGregor, after he became a college president, goes like this. “Do you have Theory Y management at the university?” he was asked. “It isn't pure,” he is said to have replied. “When you're in this kind of job you quickly learn there are times when conditions call for what appear to be arbitrary decisions.”

When a manager is concerned with McGregor's participative management style, he should not be required to assume that everyone is in a job that is self-actualizing, the one that is right for him and permits him to make the greatest contribution. Yet there is a tendency to accept the mere fact that people are in certain jobs as indicating they are in the right jobs. Too often this is a wrong assumption.

Dogmatism in theory of any kind tends to •produce dogmatic practices. In dealing with human beings it may be wise to have the practice used determined by current conditions.

The Greeks charged man to “Know thyself.” Then, as now, they believed it was virtually unattainable, something that could be hoped for but not achieved. When accepted dogmatically, as happens too frequently, this precept results in man's not trying to know himself.

Through S.I.M.S. we know that self-knowledge can be brought much closer to reality by use of this time-tested process.

If you want to acquire the most out of an employee, you must search for the best that is inside him. When a manager does not know the best in himself, he cannot be expected to look for it in others.

He needs to know the pattern of the best in himself, which S.I.M.S. can help him determine. Then he gains the kind of comfortable self-esteem, not conceit, that encourages him to facilitate application of the expertise possessed by each of his subordinates. Effective participative management is achieved by recognizing and encouraging the use of the best in each person.

True, the Theory Y manager tends to be more effective, but that may often be because he is a concerned communicator and his attitude encourages cooperation. Many Theory X managers also do well. Good management attitudes do encourage people to try harder; but, until their “best” is identified, their “best” cannot be intelligently used.

The climate for doing your best is a try-harder climate, but it is different from one in which the best that is in each person is known to both the supervisor and to the subordinate. In the Nuclear Regulatory Commission all supervisors and employees use S.I.M.S. to help identify the best in themselves. They then work together to find ways to apply their best skills - through job enrichment, job modification, team efforts, and other ways. This includes being patient when things don't work out as quickly as desired.

Herzberg's research has led to job-enrichment approaches. His work parallels that of Maslow, but where Maslow starts with the individual employee, job enrichment starts with the employer.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs says that people work first to meet their physical and safety needs. When these are assured - and only then – they feel free to seek satisfaction of some of their social needs. When these are reasonably assured; they look for work to give them self-esteem and self-actualization. People are inner-motivated when they feel self-actualized; then they continue to develop their potential.

Herzberg theorized that elements of a job that motivate the employee and tend to satisfy him are different dimensions of motivation from those that dissatisfy and “de-motivate” him. He found that challenges, more responsibility, and more authority are “satisfiers.” Money, environment, and tight supervision are among the “dissatisfiers.” The latter, in a negative dimension, stimulate alienation, absenteeism, and lowered productivity.

He distinguishes job enrichment from job enlargement. He said, in essence, that if you add to a meaningless job a second meaningless operation, you enlarge the job and you double its meaninglessness. A simple example of job enrichment would be empowering a typist to correct her own letters and sign them rather than, as in the past, having a supervisor correct and sign the letters. She will need additional training, but the supervisor will have more time to do higher-level work.

Enrichment changes would be more effective if they were reinforced by the individual's own knowledge of the skills he or she is self-motivated to apply, the things he or she is naturally good at. Also valuable is knowledge of the skills people are not motivated to apply - even if they are well trained in the techniques of their use.

Employers have been misled on the concept that more education necessarily makes a person more effective on the job.

Two of the many examples given relate to teachers (the rising educational credentials of teachers have not halted the deterioration of urban education) and air traffic controllers (education is not a factor in daily performance of this demanding, decision-making job).

Government, business, and industry spend billions each year to support the education and training of personnel. What a benefit it would be if managers were aware of a person's motivated skills and could informatively select and approve requested training and educational costs. The person would not be misled on the value of a particular course, and thus could seek wisely the courses that would lead him to opportunities for self-actualization.

Berne's transactional analysis (T/A) approaches are very closely implementive of S.I.M.S., or vice versa. He points out that infants, with their dependency on parents and other grown-ups for guidance and help, are persistently conditioned to believe that others are right (are OK), and that they (the infants) are not right (are not OK). This attitude tends to be encouraged through early school years, when parents, teachers, and others are required to show or teach children what is “right” in many areas of activity, thinking, speaking, and writing. These conditioned attitudes frequently cause adults to relate in childlike ways. Berne's T/A system is designed to help the individual recognize that as an adult dealing with other adults he can fee l, “I'm OK and you're OK.”

S.I.M.S. clarifies the strengths a person has developed, applied, and reinforced. It affirms his “OK-ness” without overlooking his weaknesses, mistakes, and failures. It is effective in identifying the reality of a person's feeling that he or she is OK with regard to many activities.

Bradford is among the pioneers of laboratory training, a process designed to help people learn from experience about their behavior and feelings and also to give them a chance to experiment in changing their behavior. His work with the National Training Laboratories, of which he was a founder, expedited the arrival of organization development strategies. One of his great contributions, the T-lab, or sensitivity training concept, creates a community in which people are free to express their feelings and practice being open and honest with each other.

For the sophisticate, this is an oversimplified description of a laboratory experience, but it permits disclosure of an important element that can make these experiences more valuable to many people. The element is self-knowledge of skills or strengths and the impact such knowledge provides when goals, plans, and behavior changes are to be considered.

Complementing Experiences

Men and women who have participated in both T-lab and S.I.M.S. career workshops have often described their experiences this way: “The lab makes me aware of my feelings in a way that enables me to be more alive, to be more aware of what is going on; without taking away from that, the S.I.M.S. workshops gave me a different dimension of self-understanding, so that my feet are on the floor and I know where I am going.”

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Basic to S.I.M.S. is the theory of individual excellence. Development of this theory and principles have led to substantial expansion of the areas in which S.I.M.S. has already proved useful.

The assumption supporting the theory is: “Each person has some form of excellence in him that seeks expression.

“Flowing from this is the probability that the person's excellence is more certain to be expressed through experiences he feels are achievements or successes rather than through other varieties of experience.

“Assuming that his excellence has many component part (skills, or strengths), the experiences likely to hold the greatest concentration of these components are his greatest achievements.

“It follows that examination of many experiences he feels have been his greatest achievements can be expected to reveal a pattern of skills common to many of those achievements. These inner-motivated skills are likely to be central in future achievements, even though the experiences themselves may be very different because the skills can be combined in different ways.

“These motivated skills clamor for expression. When they have insufficient outlet they tend to 'act frustrated' and cause stress of many kinds.”

People problems and job conflicts and frustrations generally arise when men and women are in positions that require little use of their motivated skills and force them to use too many unmotivated skills. Frustrations also come when people are ignorant of one another's strengths or competencies.

Several strategies designed around S.I.M.S. for different purposes will be revealed later. First we need to deal with some attitudes, traditions, and practices that tend to block human relations progress and cooperation with change.

A web of these obstacles softly entraps imaginative proposals for really improved manpower utilization. At the blocking center is the U.S. Department of Labor, known as DOL by friends and enemies. I am a friend who wants to see a healthy DOL.

The power of this department reaches into every part of the country, into every university and organization. Only the Department of Agriculture finances more university papers, theses, and research reports; DOL takes back the lead when joint grants with the Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services are counted.

More than nine grants are given to universities for every one given by DOL to private nonprofit and profit-making organizations concerned with practical solutions for problems affecting DOL's area of responsibility.

If you feel that job application forms should be modernized, DOL is financing maintenance of status quo. If you feel that personnel management courses and practices should be improved, DOL is financing keeping them unchanged. If you feel that vocational guidance counselors should be trained more realistically, DOL is financing essentially the present condition. If you would like to see better placement programs in state employment services, DOL is supporting resistance to change.

Fact is, DOL is financing equipment to support the fight against change while it is giving the appearance of change. For example, there now are electronic visualizers that provide data on available jobs to screens across the nation. But too many of the listed jobs turn out to have been filled before they ever got on the screens. They often are kept on the lists simply to convey the impression that employment services are on the ball.

DOL works by the numbers in its state employment services. When a state agency fills ten dishwasher jobs in the same restaurant - the same job, ten times, with ten different men, each of whom lasts less than a week - that counts ten points as against one point for a single placement of a person who holds the job for more than nine months. Where it counts is in the statistics presented to Congress to support continued appropriations. Bluntly put, the employment service's statistical hypnosis system operates to reinforce inefficiency and poor placement efforts.

(As a small counterbalance, DOL's rehabilitation services deserve highest commendation and support for their work with handicapped persons. Most of the counselors are understanding, imaginative, and constructive in helping people cope with what they themselves see as limitations and disabilities.)

At least two U.S. presidents in the past decade have tried to change DOL's activities through merging them with those of other agencies, but the political influence of thousands of state jobs has so far managed to block those efforts. Undoubtedly, radical changes need to be made within DOL.

Here is the circle of tradition that DOL spawns. Its state employment services want job listings. The few they get come mainly from personnel and employment departments. Understandably DOL encourages job applicants to approach jobs through the departments that supply the listings. Yet all DOL services, through thousands of offices, account for less than 10 percent of the nation's job placements. Personnel departments account for barely 20 percent of all hirings, including that 10 percent. The facts were documented about eight years ago through a Ford Foundation grant to the National Industrial Conference Board.

Job application forms deserve special attention. At least 30 million of them are filled in each year. Their existence in that volume, and their general sameness, causes most people to believe that what they ask represents what should be asked.

When you look at them with a sense of history, and with an understanding of today's need, their incompleteness and content become incomprehensible. Application forms in general use today are not far removed from the old hiring-gate process of some 70 years ago. In those days it was a buddy's introduction that got the foreman to invite an applicant through the gate. Today the form continues to give proportionately more space to “credentials” data-relatives, place of birth, schools and locations - the “stuff” that enables an employer to make an “objective” security check.

When it comes to work history, the space provided and the questions asked reveal purposes inconsistent with the name of the form. You are not asked what you do well and enjoy. Again you are asked for security checkup data: name and address of employer, supervisor's name, job description, salary. Does the form ask what kinds of things you did best while in that job, or which parts of it you enjoyed most?

One of the form's problems is illustrated by what happened recently when a regional group of government personnel officers met to develop an “updated” job application form. A newcomer, representing the younger personnel officers, suggested enlargement of the space allotted for the description of job duties and responsibilities. The senior participant said, “No use doing that. You'll just be giving more space for them to try and do a snow job. They all lie anyway, so why give them more space in which to do it?” Unfortunately, the senior man won.

Job application forms were designed as an aid to security checks during World War I, not as aids to identification of skills that enable a person to do his job well. Neither purpose is well served when a single form is used to accomplish both objectives. To do so is tantamount to having the form say to the foreman, “I vouch not only for the loyalty of this man but also for the quality of his work.”

The traditional job application form contributes little to the task of selecting the right man for the right job. It has contributed to downgrading the fine men and women who make up the personnel profession. It has influenced job applicants to accept wrong assignments repeatedly, to accept job frustrations as being their fate, to see their jobs as providing little more than a way to earn money, to seek ways that will “beat” the job application system.

With proportionately few exceptions, personnel professionals have the lowest status in their organizations. Yet they are concerned and capable, with little authority.

Realistic employment data can be obtained by asking applicants to describe briefly what they felt were their greatest formal or informal contributions on their different jobs. This data is more significant than the description of a man's duties and responsibilities. A person's feelings about the different parts of his job - which parts bring him satisfaction and which parts he believes he does best - provide information that bears on his productivity and potential.

In 1972, the Civil Service Form 171 attempted to introduce this point by asking for “accomplishments on the job,” overlooking completely the strong possibility that most people would read that as: “What does your employer say you did well?”

The impact of DOL on job application forms deserves mention. Its attitude was demonstrated at a panel meeting for its management interns of the U.S. Employment Services (USES).

Forms were passed around to register manual workers and those with little education. The lines on the form were arranged for typewriter use, barely one-eighth of an inch apart. Registrants were likely to write with large letters and would have to cramp their style - almost to the point of unreadability – in order to use the form. This would tend to show their “fitness” for the dead-end jobs commonly offered beginners and the unskilled.

One of the myths of career planning is that a college or high school education is a passport to success. Don't interpret this as an attack on education. Education never hurt anyone, but evidence is mounting that it has hurt the careers of some people. What is certain is that the impact of education on employability and advancement is not nearly as great as previously supposed.

The continuing rise in educational requirements for jobs represents a bias that contributes to malfunctioning of the industry and government labor markets. The critical determinants of performance are not increased educational achievement but other personality characteristics and environmental conditions.

The impact of job application forms and educational specifications was highlighted based on the backgrounds of great engineering inventors who did not have college degrees. The six men included Thomas Edison (see image below) and Henry Ford.

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With essential name changes, this data was organized, giving the applicants' ages as 24, and put on standard job application forms and in resumes at a national engineering convention employment exchange section. Each of the more than 200 personnel recruiters received the data. Only one of the geniuses was offered an interview, and the invitation said that, although his educational background was weak, his experience warranted an interview but that only engineers with a degree were being hired at the time.

In a conference on youth employment problems. Thomas Edison was pointed out, who did not complete elementary school, and suggested that employers look more vigorously for skills and less for educational attainments. A personnel executive from an insurance company gave a sharp retort: “We can't afford the time to look for another Edison.”

This is in line with current policy in many major companies that about 80 percent of their managers graduated in the upper half of their college classes. Because of this track record, they have stopped interviewing college students who were not in the top half of their classes.

In the 1930s President Walter Gifford of AT&T unintentionally downgraded 90 percent of college graduates. It was showed to him that the company's most successful and productive professional and management men were in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes. He announced this to the world and started a rush for the top 10 percent four decades ago. What he didn't find out until much later was that the statistics were collected from the research operation of Bell Scientific Laboratories, and were not representative of the company as a whole.

Some high school graduates outperform college graduates in a variety of occupations. In relation to the question of high school versus college graduate, the original specifications for one type of scientist were so loose that more than 500 names were spewed out by the machine. The morning's newspaper carried a front-page picture of an Air Force colonel and a high school senior. The colonel was telling the student that the rocket the boy had designed on his own had proved operative. He advised the boy to go to college, get his degree, and then apply to the Air Force for a job. “We can use men like you,” the colonel was saying.

The colonel said they really could use such talent. They unanimously agreed they could. Since he already has proved he has the skills, imagination, and initiative you want, why not hire him now? You could use him part time and pay his way through college part time. But the officials are still very adamant about the need for that sheepskin.

The reach of job application forms is very long. It touches most other areas of work. The security check approach is concerned with flaws, with identifying weaknesses.

It “naturally” follows that annual personnel reviews, officially concerned with helping employees improve their careers, should generally become associated with a meeting between an employee and his supervisor so that the supervisor can point out the employee's weaknesses.

It is enough to say that the S.I.M.S. process helps the employee identify his strengths and develop a report to help him discuss how he wants to improve their application on the job or strengthen them. The supervisor discusses the report with him and verifies the data; they become jointly concerned with making the best use of those strengths throughout the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The evils spawned by the traditional job application form extend to the job resume. The traditional resume begins with personal and family data, education, Social Security number, and so on, followed by a chronological listing of work experiences. Personnel departments and the DOL approve this approach. Obviously it is a traditional job application form slightly rearranged. It reports exposures to experience but not learnings from those experiences.

Just as obviously, supervisors and foremen can use only what a person has learned from his experiences. The supervisor must think in terms of the future, starting with the present. Job application forms and resumes begin with the present and move into the past, nearly always overlooking whether a job was well done, or which parts of it were most enjoyable to the applicant. Such forms and resumes force guesswork into the hiring process and contribute to job frustrations, absenteeism, and turnover.

Psychological tests do have value when properly selected and administered, and when interpreted by professionals expert in their field. There is a middle-class bias in words and phrases used in the construction of most psychological tests. Because of the controversy over tests, the U.S. Civil Service Commission has stopped using them for personnel selection.

The attempt to be objective or statistical about people is being abandoned. No person is objective. No person is objective about his work. The movement has begun toward using subjective techniques like S.I.M.S. to identify trends and patterns of behavior that release as well as identify a person's potential. But several institutions are in the forefront, and that S.I.M.S. is improving the efficiency and validity of its personnel operations.

Most personnel departments focus on data about education and experience rather than on competence and potential. This traditional approach is deeply rooted in our society.

What's Right With Me?

We can ask, without fear of disapproval, “What's wrong with me?” We would attract unfavorable reactions by asking, “What's right with me?” It is considered improper to suggest that a person study and learn from his successes.

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“Find out what you did wrong and never do that again,” is believed to be a reasonable statement. If someone were to suggest that a person find out what he did right so he could be sure to do it again, and better the next time, that would be seen as encouraging conceit.

Then there is the “balanced” approach to self-examination. This one calls for two lists – your strengths and your weaknesses or weak points. These are supposed to be balanced against each other to gain “objectivity” about oneself and decide what to do next.

Does industry look for this balance in its operations? Hardly. The growth company is concerned with payoff products, not with balanced lists of strengths and weaknesses with the “hope” that unprofitable items will somehow be turned into profitable ones. Growth companies throw unprofitable items out of the line to concentrate on profitable ones. (Witness the Ford Motor Company handling of the Edsel and the Mustang.)

Industry does almost the same kind of thing teachers do. They help students acquire the profitable “products” of great thinkers, experimenters, and workers. We are encouraged to learn from and build on their successes. Which student of electricity, for instance, would be expected to study the 5,000 mistakes Edison made before developing the electric light bulb? Which student of English would be expected to study the bad writers of Shakespeare's time to learn from their mistakes? We are taught insights of the great philosophers, their concepts that help improve the quality of life – and these emphasize being true to the best that is in you and advocate the release of the best that is in mankind.

The structures built to support and maintain old interpretations of good philosophies have become ossified and traditionalized. These structures are limiting progress and change, often because the meanings of the words have changed with time. G. K. Chesterton once said, “Tradition is democracy of the dead.” The old structures often cost too much to maintain.

“Find out what you did wrong and never do it again.” “Learn from your mistakes.” Teachers and parents everywhere continue to use those statements. Yet they also say: “You get better at whatever you study.” That makes it obvious that study of your mistakes should help you become better at making them.

Historically, two concepts have been confused into the “learn from your mistakes” idea. The first is that you resist learning until after you admit you don't know, the second is that you do learn from experience if you study it.

Usually, it is a mistake or some failure that makes you admit you didn't know. But, since a mistake often is a painful experience, there is a tendency to avoid studying the pain and to move quickly into new activities.

It is here that Joe Batten's concept of managing by objectives and the S.I.M.S. approach to goal setting offer much to implement each other. Incidentally, both find support in the Bible's suggestion that the past and present be considered in the light of desired goals. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark… “is what the Bible says in the King James version.

Unless you know where you're going, it doesn't matter which road you take. Until you have decided on a goal, or the results you want, you cannot plan to attain it. Further, you are not free to change your mind about your goal until you have first made a decision.

If you are to manage your career or your department for results, you need to know not only the results you want but also the strengths, relationships, and attitudes that have brought you to the present situation and then support movement toward your objectives.

The usual approach to goal setting, however, is to estimate the organization's aims and estimate how dependably the available personnel can contribute to reaching them.

The organization development facilitators help subordinates contribute to goal decision making, but usually the organization goals are the central theme. While the individual may be asked what his goals are, he usually is given neither time to clarify them nor instructions on how to evaluate himself so that he might intelligently know his own goals. This is where S.I.M.S. is making a major contribution.

Perhaps this has seemed like an angry article. It is more sorrowful than angry. Sorrowful because all the personnel and organizational development techniques have been so long in gaining a foothold with institutions, and sorrowful because so many factors seem to have been required to produce the willingness to examine and try needed new human development procedures. These factors include chaos in educational institutions, undependability in product performance, social riots, and major changes in life-styles (hippies, for example).

The time has arrived when people can find opportunities for self-actualizing work. The procedures are available to enable men and women to use conflicts and disagreements as tools for sharpening their understanding and ability to cooperate for mutual as well as independent growth. At the same time there is with us a huge weight of traditional beliefs that block the opportunities ahead of each person. Those beliefs cannot be destroyed, but there needs to be a refocusing of minds on those that are real for today's world and tomorrow's. This will not be easy.

First, a few individuals in a group or work shop will experience renewal. Then these few will grow into many groups, individually, and within organizations. These groups already are in action. OD and S.I.M.S. procedures are at the core of many strategies, and more are being designed to meet the needs of new groups.

Already included in the S.I.M.S. designs is one to aid in adult and youth career planning and guidance. Another seeks to increase awareness and use of individual competencies in a team. Still another is associated with midcareer renewal and the prevention of obsolescence. A fourth is concerned with the prevention of high school dropouts; a fifth relates to the recharging of persons who lose their jobs because of reorganizations, changes in technology, mergers, contract cutbacks, discrimination, lack of self-confidence, youth, or age. Another is concerned with the selection of training courses that are most likely to be growth-producing both to the worker and to his employer. Others that have been effective over the past 25 years include activity guidance for retiring persons.

These workshops give people incremental knowledge about themselves, extra knowledge that helps them make wiser choices and become more stable in the freedoms that are increasingly theirs.

Society | Self-Help | Work


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