Today it was an insightful day in the structures of an organization. The delivery of the class was interesting…it was like going to a film club.

We watched scenes from “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest” where to avoid prison McMurphy pretends to be insane and serves time in an asylum ward controlled by Nurse Ratched who rules the asylum with an iron fist, controlling every aspect until the inmates form coalitions to counter her will. We looked at the nature of organizational politics. It is a jungle, where might is right, the big animals eat the small ones, Where 3 is 2 against 1! So coalition is the recipe for survival, especially in time of scarce resources. The leaders sharpen a competitive spirit, followers act in solidarity. It can be quite a depressing environment…especially if you do not how to survive in the lion’s den!

How many “Nurses Ratched” can you count in your organization?

Hint! A coping strategy: “EVLN”: If you have trouble to fit in this frame here are your choices:
E for Exit, get out!
V for Voice: speak up, ask for help, build coalitions.
L for loyalty, work with the system.
N for Neglect, psychologically check-out while remaining in position.

The choice is yours!

Ghandi’s life was the inspiration for the next film clip. The 1982 Oscar grand slam featured Ghandi when he decides to challenge the Royal monopoly on salt-making in India through civil disobedience. The movie was full of symbols – compelling signs with a significance. Salt as independence, the white clothing as solidarity, the sunset as the end of the British empire, the lighthouse as symbol of hope …..

Ghandi an inspiration for all, representing a compelling value system, embodying justice and shared beliefs. He brings inspiration and a sense of authenticity. Ghandi’s equivalent in an organization is the “fearless leader” one who inspires confidence, one that we would follow blindly, who provides the glue that holds the organization together. Quite compelling….who in your organization inspires you?

“Five Easy Pieces” features a brilliant Jack Nicholson, a lapsed pianist on his way to see his ailing father who stops with a group of friends at a roadside café to have a meal…. Things quickly go wrong when he demands a toast…. not on the menu. The waitress refuses to “break the rules” and Nicholson shows the best of his acting! Should the waitress have been more flexible, and Nicholson willing to meet half way?

This clip was meant to show us the importance of human development, should the waitress have been better trained? But also I wonder: Should Nicholson learn some manners? Do we think we can fix all with some training?

“Twelve O’Clock High” a 1949 film about a military operation during world War II showed the importance of firm leadership in an organizational structure.

Every organizations has in some measure all of these aspects, the question is do we know how to balance? How to adjust according to organizational need? Do we have too much of a jungle? Too little inspirational culture?

And if so….what are we going to do about it?