The most difficult industry to work in

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I admit each organization is unique. Each handles and manages industry and firm-specific stress and demand differently. I do not admit that organizations are anything more than a system of human interrelations.

Amesbury, Carriage Town, industry, Toby Elwin

Horse-drawn carriages: a large bet on a, truly, difficult industry.

The organization is a product of human interaction and social construction. Organizations do not follow ordained, industry-driven culture. There is no set of industry commandments or blueprint all organizations must follow.

Organizations are a product of social interactions not industry feature. People come together to inter-act and inter-relate.  People form the organization, the accumulation of organizations make up an industry segment.

Organizations are made and conceived as products of human interaction and social construction rather than an expression of an underlying industry, natural order.

It is not the industry that demands an organization norm. People create process, not the industry. People plug technology in, not the industry. And people in all industries are too lazy to make a pot of coffee, seemingly, just to piss you off; people, not the coffee maker or the industry.

Difficult? No. Exclusive? Yes.

People drive the organization’s effectiveness, mood, and culture. Any badge-of-courage discussion about how specialized the health care industry (the education industry, the nonprofit industry, the law enforcement industry, the music industry, or whatever industry you want to call out) is, should question an ability to reason against the sociological laws of interaction, leadership, culture, and communication.

On every engagement I find one certainty, at some time I will hear someone in the organization sing their divine right to the blues through one of the following lamentations:

  • …you really have to work here to understand,
  • …this is not like other industries,
  • …if you’ve never worked in this industry you will never know,
  • …people who work in this industry are incredibly special and unique,
  • …we have special Spidey-sense that no other industry or organization has, or
  • …outsiders will never get it, they will never understand how different we are

Those comments are the product of learned helplessness. Though I will never enable any of those points, I do listen to their lecture and I do acknowledge their cautionary tale and the burden they must carry. I also make sure to burn the notes I took while they lectured me.

Studies in organization behavior and change management focus on the human, sociological side of the organization. Organization change management professionals approach organizations, as a system of human interrelations; therefore, human behavior and social interaction is the focus of change. Not the industry. Not the sector.

Same Consultant

If you are afraid a management consultant will challenge your assumption, then you should hire them immediately.

If you refuse to hire or listen to a management consultant who has challenged your assumption, you should not waste your time or money on a management consultant.

Keep your money and buy automatic coffee makers for everyone, because you have fostered a culture of sycophants afraid to tell you the truth for fear of their job.

Long ago, you or your organization, marginalized or fired the squeaky wheel(s) who cared; that may have more to do with values than culture.


  1. says

    Hi I think this is why now so much emphasise is put on team building in large companies now to get people to work more together as a unit. To make people feel a part of the process and it’s success,

    Thanks lee good read

    • says

      Working together is, indeed, the biggest opportunity. Most organizations are in constant matrix projects where people work across divisions and teams where people need to cooperate and manage without authority.

      The easiest option is to involve people in planning, designing, and decision-making. Involvement is the foundation of Appreciative Inquiry. It is not just making people feel part of the process, it is when they are part of the process, success is envisioned and adopted more clearly.

      Where are the new opportunities for teams? After all, the point of the team is to share.
      Toby Elwin invite’s you to read The key to change is circular reasoningMy Profile

  2. says

    In every company or organisation, it’s success depends on the people behind it. The challenge is for the management in formulating rules and implementing them. Whatever those maybe, the management is expected to act accordingly in any situation that arises to maintain order in any organisation.

    • says

      Rules to govern, rules to guide, or rules to abide? Yes, as long as people have an ability to interpret we need guidance and mediation to organize.

      The challenge, and one Greg Krauska and I discuss over on Human capital assessments post is that change is constant and how to manage a team in a direction always buffeted by any of the following change:

      > technology,
      > industry,
      > competency,
      > liability,
      > product,
      > service

      Do you think the challenge is managers continue to spend more time in former roles as individual-contributor, technical experts in their field and less on the job of managing people?

      Isn’t the greatest functional skill a manager can have listening? Here is a list of the 12 valuable listening skills, I really liked.

      Do we promote for these skills? Or are we more comfortable with the thought of one ring to rule them all
      Toby Elwin invite’s you to read Human capital beta is investment risk betaMy Profile

      • says

        Definitely true!

        Organizations should now act smart to grow, no this doesn`t mean you hire less paying employee. But give all benefits to your employee this is very important.

        May be you can save some money now but in coming days you will not have your business running.

        Very useful post! thanks Toby!

  3. VEC says

    Thanks for a great post Toby. I agree that a management consultant should scare you as if it wasn’t for someone that challenges you there would never be change in the workplace.