Bookcase: A Healthy Jab

The Healthy Organisation
By: Brian Dive
Publisher: Kogan Page
Price: $88

Brian Dive is Kiwi who made it big on the international HR scene. He’s now looking to replant some of his roots back in Kiwi soil. He is working with Auckland-based HR consultant Janne Pender to strike some local root stock from his DMA International HR consultancy.

Dive, now an independent consultant, writer and presenter on HR issues, particularly organisation design and effectiveness, is 31-year graduate of the Unilever school of HR management. He enrolled with the company in Wellington and ended up traipsing the world and working in more than 50 countries for them. And while New Zealand is hardly home to organisations he’s now used to working for, he still loves Wellington and there’s feeling of “home” about it for him.

Now he’s written “The Healthy Organisation: revolutionary approach to people and management.” It is distillation of everything he’s learned about people and the organisations they work for. His central thesis is that despite the best endeavours of management gurus, sociologists and behavioural scientists “most organisations remain profoundly unhealthy”.

The lack of good health in our organisational world can be traced back to genetic deformity – an organisational gene called “lack of true accountability”. This little mutant lurks deep in the DNA of virtually every organisation, whether large or small, private or public, voluntary or co-operative.

The symptom manifestations of the unhealthy organisation are poor organisational design, faulty strategy, disconnected links to strategy, poor company culture and unhappy employees to name but few.

Dive’s process for exorcising this nasty from the organisational life systems is Decision Making Accountability (DMA) which, as you will have noted, is the name of his London-based consultancy. Equipped with DMA (the process and not necessarily the consultancy though naturally the two go hand in hand) Dive believes management can answer key questions like:
*How many people should there be in the organisation?
*How many layers of management are necessary?
*How can you effectively reward employees?
*What are the logical steps of professional development for employees?
*What career paths should individuals follow?

His view of organisational health is “holistic” and he argues that the logic he has developed in his DMA approach leads to greater competitiveness, sparks innovation and increases employees’ empowerment. It is, he says, everything management needs to do to successfully manage people, including how to design the organisation, develop individuals, mentor them, establish recruitment assessment processes and identify leadership potential.

Most HR systems, according to Dive, are linked, usually to prevailing market remuneration scales or job definitions. But traditional HR systems will not, for instance, tell management how many layers of hierarchy an organisation should have. Traditional HR systems tend to be quantitative and isolated and not integrated to the rest of things that need to be done and managed in an organisation.

Dive’s book is new out and still to arrive in local bookshops but for HR managers it’s an interesting spin on long-standing issues. Practitioners of the dark art of managing people will no doubt fall into existing schools of thought on key motivators and maladies that affect organisations but this step-by-step prescription for better organisational health deserves consideration. It’s unlikely to kill the patient and might well breathe new life into some. It is, after all, based on great deal of field trial.

Virtual Murdoch
By: Neil Chenoweth
Publisher: Seeker and Warburg
Price: Hardback $52.95; Paperback $32.95

I must confess to reading most of what is written about media magnate Rupert Murdoch so I picked up this latest addition to the growing collection of revelations, sceptical of learning anything new. But surprise, surprise there were some fascinating personal, political and corporate strategy additions to add to the living mountain that is Murdoch Incorporated.

This is book for managers who enjoy the business of mergers, acquisitions and power plays, though it does get bit tedious when it labours shareprice movements and the intricacies of Wall Street now and then.

This is management entertainment with just hint of lessons particularly from some of the insights into the excesses, both financial and political, at top levels of management in the US. management rollick to leaven your literary diet.

Reg Birchfield is editor of Management magazine.
Email: [email protected]

Visited 8 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window