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Society of Performing Organization

“By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Society in all developed countries has become a society of organizations in which most, if not all, social tasks are being done in and by an organization. Organizations do not exist for their own sake. They are means: each society’s organ for the discharge of one social task. The organization’s goal is a specific contribution to individual and society. The test of its performance, unlike that of a biological organism, therefore, always lies outside itself. This means that we must know what “performance” means for this or that institution.

Each institution will be the stronger the more clearly it defines its objectives. It will be more effective the more yardsticks and measurements there are against which its performance can be appraised. It will be more legitimate the more strictly it bases authority on justification by performance. “By their fruits ye shall know them” – this might well be the fundamental constitutional principle of the new pluralist society of institutions.

The purpose of Society

Society is only meaningful if its purpose and ideals make sense in terms of the individual’s purposes and ideals.

For the individual there is no society unless he has social status and function. There must be a definite functional relationship between individual life and group life. For the individual without function and status, society is irrational, incalculable, and shapeless. The “rootless” individual, the outcast – for absence of social function and status casts a man from the society of his fellows – sees no society. He sees only demoniac forces, half sensible, half meaningless, half in light and half in darkness, but never predictable. They decide about his life and his livelihood without the possibility of interference on his part, indeed without the possibility of his understanding them. He is like a blindfolded man in a strange room playing game of which he does not know the rules.

Managing Oneself: Revolution in Society

Managing oneself is based on these realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations, and the knowledge worker has mobility.

Managing oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs. It requires new and unprecedented things from the individual, and especially from the knowledge worker. For, in effect, it demands that each knowledge worker think and behave as a chief executive officer. It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told —either by the task or by the boss —to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves profoundly challenges social structure. For every existing society, even the most “individualist” one, takes two things for granted, if only subconsciously: Organizations outlive workers, and most people stay put. Managing oneself is based on the very opposite realities. In the United States MOBILITY is accepted. But even in the United States, workers outliving organizations—and with it the need to be prepared for a second and different half of one’s life—is a revolution for which practically no one is prepared. Nor is any existing institution, for example, the present retirement system.

Managing Oneself: Work Relationships

Organizations are built on trust, and trust is built on communication and mutual understanding.

Just as it is important for you to know your own strengths, work styles, and values, it is also important that you learn the strengths, work styles, and values of the people around you. Each person is an individual, and there are likely to be great differences between yourself and others. But such differences do not matter. What does matter is whether everyone performs. Consistent group performance can be achieved only if each person within the group is able to perform as an individual. And to help make this happen, you must build on other people’s strengths, other people’s work styles, and other people’s values.

Once you have identified your strengths, work style, and values, as well as what your contribution should be, you must then consider who else needs to know about it. Everyone who depends on you and on whom you depend needs to know this information about how you work. Since communication is a two-way process, you should feel comfortable asking your coworkers to think through and define their own strengths, work styles, and values.

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