Friday, August 26, 2016
For six years I have been writing about management issues and the shortcomings of organizations as the imaginary president of a college. I think that I am preaching to the choir. After trying to understand power, I now see striving for excellence is just a dream. People want power more than excellence. They want short term results while sacrificing long term prosperity. They want a job more than they want to really make a difference in the world. In my college years I survived the frustrations of Americans concerning the Viet Nam War. We actually thought we could make a better world.
I have tried subtle hints, but no one seems to listen. Does anyone want an expert in figuring out how things work? Does anyone want to hire someone with experience in multiple academic fields? Does anyone care about how information works in our world?
This week’s Torah Reading -- Ekev
In the first aliyah God gives a pep talk to the Israelites who think that they can't defeat the Canaanites. He tells them they can defeat them and outlines some of the ways it will work. In verse 7:13 the Torah says: ואהבתך וברכך והרבך "and He [God] will love you, bless you and cause you to multiply..." Since I have been studying organizational stupidity the past few weeks, this is the kind of pep talk administrators should be giving their people. "Love" translates as I respect you as a person, a member of a profession, and valued member of our team. We have our disagreements, but because we have love, in the end we are both satisfied with the relationship. "Bless you" means as the manager, I give you the power to do your job. I will guide you and give you resources, but in the end this is only a blessing. It does not mean you are always right. "Multiply" means if the organization succeeds, we will grow. Our wealth, our resources, and our effect on ourselves and community will multiply.
The Torah continues with God's speech telling the Israelites that just as He delivered them from the Egyptians, He will alleviate the fear of the enemy and make them victorious. The Israelites are reminded to keep the commandments. Some of enumerated commandments include brit milah (ritual circumcision), educating the children, and eating and be satisfied (i.e. making the proper blessings before and after food). For organizations this translates to giving everyone an ID and corporate identity, making the organization a learning organization where the experts teach the neophytes, and to be thankful for the benefits and resources for the organization.
Shabbat shalom for Parashat Ekev.