Imprecise organizations

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Imprecise organizations

It is undoubtedly not very academic to talk of an “imprecise” organization. By this we mean the way a team operates where the scopes of action are imprecise, where the decisions are slow coming and where the leader prefers to let some situations “deteriorate.” 

 Imprecise organizations can result from several factors: a manager’s indecision, his inability for many reasons to define the scopes of action and delimit the roles and responsibilities, or even the unspoken goal of divide and rule by maintaining a lack of precision so employees end up scheming to capture the maximum of resources and thereby increase their influence and power.

“Imprecise organizations are characterized by employees’ obsessional effort to create coalitions.”

This type of organization is characterized by employees’ obsessional effort to create coalitions to influence and gain power. It would be naive to think that this phenomenon only applies to the teams and organizations that we have qualified as “imprecise,” but the characteristic here is especially exaggerated. It is a question of constituting networks in order to influence the organization in the direction we want. Thus we will qualify the context as “political” in the sense that decisions don’t always seem to flow from a rational and objective logic based on observable facts, but rather on arrangements between accomplices.

Employees are less recognized for their professional skills than for their maneuvering skill (i.e., their ability to join the best networks and to hedge to obtain the most interesting assignments). For example the decisions assigning projects will be made less on factual criteria and more on the consequences of the relationships and negotiated alliances that they will have successfully formed with their peers and their management.

Consequently, considerable time is spent scheming rather than “working” (i.e., producing for the company’s benefit). “All the time that you spend working, you don’t spend managing your career.” This type of organization is the opposite of the vision of human resources management of Google’s current CEO, Sundar Pichai, who asserts that he is always preoccupied about doing his job well rather than managing his destiny.

In this type of organization, the part of subjectivity occupies an important place, erasing the reality of the facts and the reality of the skills.  Unfortunately, employees become cynical and no longer hesitate to play dirty tricks, to spread rumors or to slander, since everything becomes image rather than reality with the sense that decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis depending who is involved. They end up adopting predator attitudes so, without clearly saying so, they become inevitable on very important projects or subjects for the company.

Thus the associated risk is that of confusion and ambiguity, which systematically leads to the emergence of a very hypocritical and even deceitful culture. This is one of the worst corporate cultures there is. “Imprecise” organizations generate a series of behaviors that destroy confidence in the team and prevent a culture of caring from developing between the members of a group.