Weird things that go on in organizations are not that weird if you put aside your naïve assumptions

I love middle eastern history. Like OD, sometimes it can be counterintuitive. And full of surprises.

For years, I have taken courses on Middle Eastern History and Politics at Tel Aviv University’s Continuing Education Department with various professors.

Recently I sat in on a series of lectures explaining why after having had his entire air force decimated in 1967, Egypt’s President Nasser was even more adored by his people. The masses refused to let him resign despite the fact that the  air force was ruined, his army humiliated and the economy (which was never much to begin with), devastated. 

There are of course may other events that occur which are very difficult to explain, but middle east history makes scholars of logic into imbiciles.

In class, we  were provided nevertheless  with a very clear explanation as to why this happened after the 1967 defeat. All the explanations of course  defy western logic, but wearing a different set of lenses, it makes a lot of sense, if you look in the right places.

Now in organizations, lots of things happen that seem illogical. However if you look under the tables, under the sheets, and between the lines, it all makes sense. Here are 3 simple examples.

  • Tuti is a family run fashion store with 12 branches. One of the branches is very poorly run; it loses money and is overstaffed. Management does nothing.

Why? All incompetent family members are sent to this branch. It is the family garbage can. Many expenses and costs written off more readily at the failed branch.

  • A company makes a bid against 3 competitors. Their product is cheaper, better and more resilient. They don’t even get a chance to bid in the final four.

Why? Someone in the client base is “on the take” from a competitor.

  • The food and beverage manager has caused 2 chefs to quit. Reviews of the menu are critical and revenue is way down. There have been several fist fights between servers and bellboys. The food and beverage manager is immune to any criticism.

Why? An affair with the regional manager of the hotel chain.

These examples may seem ridiculous.

Is it ridiculous that Nasser was supported by his people after his military defeat because he had “brought pride and honour (sharf) upon his nation” by daring to fight (albeit lose)?

Common sense is not that common, and logic is logic only if the observer is logical. In organizations, there is a deep layer hidden from the naive human eye that escapes unless we look closely and with a huge dose of cynicism.

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