The dangers of “organizational utopianism”

A major component of organizing is balancing mutual dependencies between people and functions.

The fulfillment of mutual dependencies is the very essence of successful organizing, yet the dependencies which enable organizing always create anxieties. I am fully aware that people skim articles, but the stuff in italics is really important! 😉

There is no way whatsoever to eliminate the inherent anxieties of organizing; they can only be mitigated. Any attempt to “cure these anxieties” is organizational Utopianism.

Political utopianism, be it communism or nationalism, has bred disaster. Bread lines, racial hatred and massive use of force are the direct results of ideologies which purport to have all the answers. (I will avoid discussing the “salvation” promised by religious Utopians.)

In the realm of OD and change management, there is plenty of Utopianism, which expresses itself in stylish one size fits all models, universal truths and so called shared values. Utopian solutions come along with high priests who implement these total solutions.

Organizational utopianism is no less dangerous than political utopianism. Utopian organizational solutions breed cynicism, disengagement, sloganeering (which castrates communication) and exploitation. Total solutions for organizing end in disaster.

Organizing is very complex at the emotional level. There are no quick fixes, none whatsoever. An awareness of the inherent anxiety bred by organizing itself is probably the most important tool in the arsenal of organizational practitioner.