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Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture

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  • Dr. Bill Corcoran
    Jefferson said that the only thing necessary for bad people to prevail is for good people to do nothing. But, of course, the nail that sticks up gets hammered
    Message 1 of 25 , Nov 1, 2004
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      Jefferson said that the only thing necessary for bad people to prevail is for good people to do nothing.
       
      But, of course, the nail that sticks up gets hammered back down.
       
      While your mind's fresh on culture visit
       
      And add your few lines.
       
      Thoreau observed that, "Most people lead lives of quiet desperation."
       
      Take care,
       
      Bill Corcoran
       
      W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
      Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
      21 Broadleaf Circle
      Windsor, CT 06095-1634
      Voice and voice mail: 860-285-8779
      Fax and voice mail to e-mail: 206-888-6772
      Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
       
      Check out our e-groups  at
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice/
      where you will find the back issues of "The Firebird Forum" through 2003 and at
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DBRVH_LTBL_II/
      where you will find a dialogue on the Davis-Besse near miss LOCA., including photos, polls, files, tables, and links.
       
      For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause, organizational learning, and safety send a message to firebird.one@...
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 5:00 AM
      Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture

      Great points, Paul.

      What have you seen develop in these organizations that allow pockets of
      "counter-culture" to the dysfunctional organizational behavior that is
      causing the problems?

      I've worked in similar situations and my wife, up until recently, worked in
      a school setting that I called "toxic" to her because her focus was on the
      needs of the children and the school district was on "keeping heir heads
      low" so people from outside the system wouldn't notice that several things
      were being done that were in conflict with the stated objective of placing
      children in the most appropriate setting for their learning.  My wife pushed
      to make sure her students got what they needed and wound up being on the
      receiving end of much subtle pressure to conform.  Ultimately, she decided
      to move on to a more positive place to work.

      In my case, I was able to find and work with people who wanted to get to the
      "root" of things and we worked to expose dysfunctional behaviors at all
      levels of the organization.  It took years, but change did come for the
      better.  In my wife's case, most teachers and administrators took the
      approach of accommodation and "just closing their door" so they could teach
      as best they could without getting attention.  I wonder if the difference is
      that in my business, you need to collaborate on many work items frequently
      and in a school system, teachers operate much less interdependently.

      Terry Herrmann

      From: "Paul Preuss" <ppreuss@...>
      Reply-To: Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice@yahoogroups.com
      To: <Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture
      Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 17:20:04 -0400

      One always has to make a judgment regarding how far to go down into the
      roots.  I suppose to remedy the reluctance
      within those now present, yes, I would seek causes for their reluctance. 
      Perhaps, if one were to be lucky, a simple "education" of those in power
      would suffice - but that would be too simple a case.  If this issue happened
      in the business world, market competition would take care of the issue as
      the organization would not survive.  Since it is a public school district,
      however, survival is ensured - hence no matter who is elected to the board
      of education, or who the board appoints as superintendent has any relevance
      to survival.  The district will survive no matter what.  This is why states,
      and the federal government, have developed school district report cards
      based upon student learning and have attempted to hold the feet of those
      responsible to the fire.  In a situation like this, one can "educate" the
      board and or superintendent with the pressure to meet state standards,
      and/or simply to avoid sanctions.  In extreme cases, the state can remove
      the board and the superintendent and replace them with state appointees. 
      This is rare - but it happens.

      I have been asked by colleagues how to approach the issue of identifying the
      organizational leader as the problem.  he best I have been able to come up
      with is to recommend the actions (behaviors) that are necessary without
      specifically identifying the underlying reasons why they have not happened
      in the past.  But then - the deepest root remains and it is most possible
      that even by increasing the positive behaviors, such as staff development
      and training, the seeds will fall on organizational stone.

      A long time ago I read a book by Seymour Sarason - I think it was "The
      Creation of Settings".  In any event, a sentence he wrote stuck in my mind
      and has been a guiding force since I first read it.  It went something like
      this:  "If you try to make an insane organization sane, you will become
      insane."   At least once in my life I looked around me and judged the
      organization to be insane, I left with no feeling of doubt that I should
      have stayed to help it regain its sanity.

      So, yes, no, maybe, depending upon the situation - I would attempt to seek
      the root of the attitude.

      Sorry to continue on - but - in at least one lifetime experience the root of
      the negative attitude was a single person with long tenure in an essential
      organizational position - my judgment - but I trust it.  Simple put - this
      person was acting on their own world view.  Of course there are other
      issues, such as why did the organization tolerate this for so long, how did
      this person get appointed, and so on.

      Paul Preuss


         ----- Original Message -----
         From: Salot, William
         To: 'Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice@yahoogroups.com'
         Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 4:20 PM
         Subject: RE: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture


         Paul,

         I guess you are saying "reluctance" (an attitude) can help cause
      "refusal" (a behavior).  Should the "rootician" dig for causes of the
      "reluctance"?

         Bill Salot
           -----Original Message-----
           From: Paul Preuss [mailto:ppreuss@...]
           Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 1:20 PM
           To: Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice@yahoogroups.com
           Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture


           Yes - I am enjoying this dialogue as well!

           If Dr. Bill calls and attitude a behavior - or, as I suspect, he is
      really more focused on dealing with the concrete actions (behavior) rather
      than the Jell-O like concept of "attitude", then the root cause process
      would focus on dealing with the behavior.

           In my previous example, this would require substituting the behavior of
      not sending people out for training with a behavior of sending people out
      for training.

           However, in my way of thinking, the underlying (real root) of the
      behavior, the negative attitude regarding looking outside of the
      organization, would continue to undermine the process upon the return of the
      trainees.

           I can not step aside from recommending that the attitude underlying the
      behavior has to be removed, or weakened.

           Paul Preuss



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    • Dr. Bill Corcoran
      Many people think that attitudes cause behavior, but I haven t seen any evidence. Have you? Could it be that behaviors cause attitudes? Could it be both ways?
      Message 2 of 25 , Nov 1, 2004
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        Many people think that attitudes cause behavior, but I haven't seen any evidence. Have you?
         
        Could it be that behaviors cause attitudes?
         
        Could it be both ways?
         
        Take care,
         
        Bill Corcoran
         
        W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
        Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
        21 Broadleaf Circle
        Windsor, CT 06095-1634
        Voice and voice mail: 860-285-8779
        Fax and voice mail to e-mail: 206-888-6772
        Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
         
        Check out our e-groups  at
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice/
        where you will find the back issues of "The Firebird Forum" through 2003 and at
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DBRVH_LTBL_II/
        where you will find a dialogue on the Davis-Besse near miss LOCA., including photos, polls, files, tables, and links.
         
        For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause, organizational learning, and safety send a message to firebird.one@...
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 3:20 PM
        Subject: RE: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture

        Paul,
         
        I guess you are saying "reluctance" (an attitude) can help cause "refusal" (a behavior).  Should the "rootician" dig for causes of the "reluctance"?
         
        Bill Salot 
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Paul Preuss [mailto:ppreuss@...]
        Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 1:20 PM
        To: Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture

        Yes - I am enjoying this dialogue as well!  
         
        If Dr. Bill calls and attitude a behavior - or, as I suspect, he is really more focused on dealing with the concrete actions (behavior) rather than the Jell-O like concept of "attitude", then the root cause process would focus on dealing with the behavior.
         
        In my previous example, this would require substituting the behavior of not sending people out for training with a behavior of sending people out for training.
         
        However, in my way of thinking, the underlying (real root) of the behavior, the negative attitude regarding looking outside of the organization, would continue to undermine the process upon the return of the trainees.
         
        I can not step aside from recommending that the attitude underlying the behavior has to be removed, or weakened.
         
        Paul Preuss


      • Dr. Bill Corcoran
        From a cultural point of view the context-behavior pairs are what is important. For example it makes a big difference whether a culture includes killing
        Message 3 of 25 , Nov 1, 2004
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          From a cultural point of view the context-behavior pairs are what is important.
           
          For example it makes a big difference whether a culture includes killing animals randomly on the street or killing them in slaughter houses.
           
          The behavior, killing animals, is the same, the contexts are different.
           
          If you want to describe a culture one of the things needed is the set of common context-behavior pairs.
           
          Take care,
           
          Bill Corcoran
           
          W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
          Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
          21 Broadleaf Circle
          Windsor, CT 06095-1634
          Voice and voice mail: 860-285-8779
          Fax and voice mail to e-mail: 206-888-6772
          Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
           
          Check out our e-groups  at
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice/
          where you will find the back issues of "The Firebird Forum" through 2003 and at
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DBRVH_LTBL_II/
          where you will find a dialogue on the Davis-Besse near miss LOCA., including photos, polls, files, tables, and links.
           
          For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause, organizational learning, and safety send a message to firebird.one@...
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 12:29 PM
          Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] Culture

          Bill, I wonder if I have the same understanding of "pair up" as you do - but let me continue with what I am thinking.
           
          Perhaps "pair-up" is not exact as it means (to me) couplets when in fact most everything in organizational (or social) culture is tied together is an all encompassing web of situations, activities, behaviors, actions, beliefs, attitudes, artifacts, etc. etc. etc.
          The whole set develops over time to deal with the context at hand.
           
          Years ago when I taught geography, I tried to have students realize that there is a certain thing as a "mountain" culture.  One could go from the Swiss Alps to Tibet and find similarities in culture brought about by the similarities in context. Likewise the various cultures of the plains, the tropics, or the seacoast.
           
          Right now I would not want to argue which came first or which nests within the other - culture or climate.  At the moment I would suggest that they are interactive and feed one upon the other.   Likewise in an organization, the culture develops to cope with the organization climate, however the climate is also a function of the organizational culture.
           
          Perhaps, as a social scientist, I am more comfortable dealing with greater abstractions than the concrete of observable behavior.  Yet, I do not think we can treat human/social systems in the exact same precise manner we may treat mechanical or biological systems. 
           
          Paul Preuss
           
           
           

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