1. INTRODUCTION: DIFFERENCES IN ORGANIZATION
Difference is one of the natural characteristics of organization. As noted by Daniel Wren in his book “The History of Management Thought” (2005), the characteristic, especially in its relation to modern management, was first traced due to a major change occurred during the shift from agriculture to industrial era. The change was on the cultural contact among workers happened as the result of heavy inflows of foreign workers. The overwhelming flows which were triggered by the rise of large-scale enterprises in the Britain had increased the distinct need for a better organizational management. The characteristic, therefore, had become a critical focus as management attempted to run industrial organization effectively. Furthermore, difference might happen among individuals in an organization. Such fact had forced management to rethinking their approach as organizations had become, like what Richardson (2008:14) had stated, complex and complicated. He stated that complexity in an organization occurred due to random logical explanations to distinguish one’s behavior to other people. Besides, those behavioral differences had made random interactions among people to become a complex one, which might also influence one’s logic due to his/her interactions to others. Differences existed in all levels of an organization could occur due to the difference in preferences, influenced by a huge number of either direct or indirect causes and factors. Those differences, which were the cause of any complex as well as complicated condition, could be associated with a famous phrase in Western world: “Man does not live by bread alone.” The phrase, which was originated from a biblical story about Jesus who was tempted by the devil in a desert, could bring us an excellent understanding on what would happen in an organization due to differences among people, which would then stimulate further questions to management regarding the organizational management related to its philosophy and practices.
2. “MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE”
At a time that was not known for sure, the devil managed to lead Jesus to a dessert. It was a miserable place, nothing existed except the scorching sun, countless grains of sand and stones, the devil, and Jesus himself. There was no food and drink, no place to shelter. Matthew wrote that Jesus had a forty days and nights fasting (Matthew 4:1-4), so His humanity was so hungry. The devil, who had planned to become a tempter for Him, came to and tested Him. The tempter asked Jesus to prove Himself as the Son of God by telling stones strewn around to become bread. In this context, the bread would be His first food after the long fasting. However, Jesus declined to do it by stating that “man does not live by bread alone.” Originally, the phrase was followed by the second one “but on every rhema that comes from the mouth of God.” Rhema is the Greek for “word” in this regard. Jesus was saying these two phrases to make an emphasis that even His humanity felt so hungry, He knew that if He did it, the devil would become the one who had successfully ordered, if not dictated, the Son of God, meaning that the tempter would be at the “same” level as the God Himself. On the other hand, literally the second phrase was written as a complimentary of the first one. It became the answer for implicit questions “why not” and “what else” in the first phrase. In this context, the answer of “why not” and “what else” was the word “rhema“, meaning that rather than “bread alone”, man had to live by another thing: the Rhema of God. I shall argue that the whole story related to those two phrases was more likely a metaphor, yet due to its nature as a biblical story, it had gotten a special position in the Western world. Still, separately the first phrase alone might be taken as an independent one. It had become a famous phrase since people in the Western world attempted to understand the essence of its meaning, also as a metaphor, when it’s coupled with other “second” phrases in other contexts. Such attempt was then taken as a popular discourse in Western society. In any given context, the implicit questions remain alike: “why not” and “what else”. Also, the general form of answer was similar: that a man has another thing(s) than “bread” so one can do something/many things.
3. DOME AND TATE: A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF DIFFERENCES
Those explanations give us a clear view related to our approach in understanding people along with their attributes, including the behavior these people in every phenomenon occurs in real life. The main idea is, when an individual attempts to understand “what” and “why” other people behave, one has to understand the other things attributed to the others individually, which have influenced their individual behavior and decisions. Baggini’s modern story of the phenomenon surrounding the usage of Millennium Dome, a futuristic building in London, as a symbol of civil attraction might be taken as a good example of those differences. Negative stories told by the press regarding the excessive financial budget (more than £600 billions) spent to build the Dome were strongly influenced by the individual background of those journalists. They tended to endorse Modern Tater, another famous building, as having more values for the society. Baggini (2003:220-221) noted that the press were becoming so sensitive on that matter because their different preferences on what they thought it was better. From the press’ point of view, Tate Modern was a better “thing” than the Dome since the background of journalists was generally educated-middle-class people. Tate Modern, which was built precisely as an entertainment for such kind of class, would, of course, have higher value for journalists than the Dome that was built for universal classes. The different preferences between the subject (the press) and the object (the Dome) had produced an inappropriateness of valuations. In Baggini’s story, the different preferences that made the journalists criticized the Dome was the answer of the implicit question “why not”, and the background of journalists as educated-middle-class people became the answer of “what else”. In short, people, with all of their individual attributes, have to be appropriately understood with adapted approaches. Precise understanding on what’s really happen in a phenomenon, therefore, would only be achieved by looking at individual attributes and also interactions between people with different attributes.
4. ROOTS OF DIFFERENCES IN ORGANIZATION
In Baggini’s story, we have seen a perfect example on the result of differences in interactions between people and non-people entities; however, it would be more complex and complicated if we have to deal with people-to-people interactions, something that management has to deal with in every organization. In an organization, there are many differences, constructed by either any deeply-personal attribute or deliberation in distinguishing one’s job descriptions to others. Handy, in his book “Understanding Organizations”, mentioned that the differences exist in atmospheres, ways of doing things, levels of energy, individual freedom, and kinds of personality (1993:180). Handy’s idea is tightly related to Fay’s proposal on the issues related to difference and group membership (1996:53-54). Fay stated that any group, even any considerably homogeneous one, consists of those who significantly differ when observed from a different perspective. If their proposals are combined and organization is posited as the group, the notion on the critical position of organizational management is strongly exposed. Indeed, such huge differences that exist at individual level even in a smaller or homogeneous organization have to be carefully taken in managing people as the ones who empower the organization. Furthermore, both Handy and Fay indicated that what does every organization member has ever experienced in one’s whole life individually will affect one’s attributes, in Handy’s term (1993:55), mentally, physically, and socially. Besides, they emphasized that those experiences are naturally accumulated throughout one’s life, meaning that what does management has to do is something that take care of conditions occur in organization, which are possible to influence individual attributes. Based on Handy’s and Fay’s explanations, management will never be successful to force any organizational culture that determines individual attributes; however, the only possible way is by conditioning differences to produce the best working performance in all levels of organizational activities.
5. MANAGING ORGANIZATION: PHILOSOPHICAL OPTIONS
Looking at the essence of the phrase “man does not live by bread alone”, Handy’s five kinds of differences as well as his proposal on implications of such differences to organization design, and Davis’s writing (1958; Carrol and Peat, 2010) on the philosophy of management, there are several options that can be taken by management in doing organizational management activities. The first conditioning is on the working atmosphere, meaning that organizational management has to construct an atmosphere that naturally support people and their interactions to express their best. The atmosphere can be constructed by interactions between organization members, including the relationship between members and their managers. Even if it is complicated due to different preferences between members regarding of the definition of “good” atmosphere, such conditioning is strongly influenced by the management philosophy related to leadership, responsibility, authority, and labor relations (Davis, 1958:5-7). These philosophy, especially the first one is also useful to the basis of how do management decide the ways of doing things in an organization. Handy’s explanation on the importance of integration to manage differences (1993:205) had proposed several useful techniques to do this kind of conditioning. Furthermore, the conditioning on the levels of energy in an organization can be approached by using management philosophy that recognizes the importance of rewards, incentives, and penalties (Davis, 1958:4-5). These things have to be carefully posited as every worker doing their works differently, and management has to be aware on its ways of defining profits (Davis, 1958:5) produced by organization which, of course, produced by all people throughout the organization. Afterward, individual freedom has to be constructed to ensure that the responsibility of every member is to contribute to the success of the primary intentions of the organization, including the individual’s rights to a reasonable contentment of personal goals alongside with one’s responsibilities stipulated in one’s employment contract. It has to be strengthened by the philosophy of individual initiative and freedom of action (Davis, 1958:7), meaning that management need to apply some concepts such as working-related ones: decentralization, delegation; and individual-related concepts: individual accountability, individual initiative. Moreover, different kinds of personality also have to be carefully managed. Personality is rooted toughly in culture that had been accumulated to form one’s attributes. Personality differences between organization members, including owners and managers, are better to be directed to what kind of jobs appropriate for each person with one’s personalities, meaning that anyone can maximize their personality not as obstacles, but as supporting factors to perform at their best.
6. CONCLUDING REMARKS: THE FUTURE OF ORGANIZATION
Finally, organizational management has to be aware on its position as the director of the future of organization. What does management do in managing organization, will decide future conditions. In all time, management needs to incorporate the idea that every individual has his/her own preferences on everything they do in organization, the organizational fact indicated by the famous metaphor “man does not live by bread alone.” As emphasized in previous discussions, organizational management has to pay strong attention to the fact that differences, either at individual or organizational levels, are the power of organization. Management, therefore, has to manage the differences; however, management must not generalized differences. The only thing that they can do is the conditioning of any difference to have its way in supporting individual’s peak performance. At practical level, organizational management has to do what Senge stated in his book “Transforming the Practice of Management” (1993): Management has to be the one who implement the new ways of thinking in managing organization. Handy’s four fashions of future organizations (1993:355-364) may become the clues on what management has to do next. In short, management, with its organizational ways of thinking, will always face differences in all of its activities in doing organizational management, so they have to carefully change its approach in managing such differences, and then transform every single facet of organization to take full advantage of the differences: any “bread” attributed to each organization member.
- Baggini, J. (2003). Making sense: Filsafat di balik berita. Jakarta, ID: Noura Books.
- Carroll, A., & Peat, B. (2010). Back to basics: recapturing a philosophy of business and management practice. International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 4(3), 225-243.
- Davis, R.C. (1958). A philosophy of management. The Journal of Insurance, 25(3), 1-7.
- Fay, B. (1996). Contemporary philosophy of social science. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
- Handy, C. (1993). Understanding organizations. Hamondsworth, UK: Penguin.
- Richardson, K. (2008). Managing complex organizations: Complexity thinking and the science and art of management. Emergence, 10(2), 13-26.
- Senge, P.M. (1993). Transforming the practice of management. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 4(1), 5-32.
- Wren, D.A. (2005). The history of management thought. New York, US: John Wiley & Sons.