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“We Space” Theory and The Management Paradox
Charles (Kalev) Ehin, Ph.D.
“We Space” Theory reveals and helps to release this paradoxical tension helping to create a “space” where people can work more effectively according to their natural predispositions and enhanced self-identities.
“We Space” Theory Goal
Maximize Organizational Agility
The ability to effectively detect, assess, and respond to changing conditions.
We Space Introduction
How is it possible for humankind to have started to adopt ever more complex “managerial control systems” after the Agricultural Revolution about 12,000 years ago after having practiced “reverse dominance” or egalitarianism that prevented anyone from assuming power over others more than 300,000 years?
What we can be certain of is that the basic dynamics of human nature could not have changed very drastically, no less reversed themselves, during the past .00004% of our existence. The Danish existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” This insight raises a profound paradox —I call it “the Management Paradox.”
Essentially, we have gradually developed a two-pronged approach to managing people. One is the practice of using managers to assure that every member of an organization reporting to them thoroughly understands what’s expected of them and that they properly follow established goals and directives. Concurrently, bosses expect every subordinate to be as fully engaged with their assignments and designated coworkers—perform integrated self-management.
Using both approaches simultaneously is far from ideal but it does produce “adequate” results far less than emphasizing the self-management methodology. “We Space Theory” focuses on the levels of supportive relationships—mutuality of cognition, experience and perception –within and between organizational unit members, leading to greater organizational agility–the ability to effectively detect, assess, and respond to changing conditions.
We Spaces are not new. They have been the “key features” of all social systems since before the dawn of our species. We are members of countless We Spaces throughout our lives. Yet, we pay little attention to them, especially in our formal/public institutions, since they tend to be “invisible,” conveniently tucked away in our subconscious minds. Essentially, We Spaces are the “relatively small intimate and voluntarily formed well-being zones” that provide comfort and sustenance to all of us as much as possible. They are also key to the preservation of our individual identities. Within We Space everyone has “skin in the game” and is considered to be equal in status. Gains and losses are also equally shared. It’s the recognition by all that collaboration, instead of attempts at domination, are in the best interest of “everyone involved.”