Challenges of American and European Companies

(Alain Gauthier’s Interview in NSI)

Western companies seem to go trough a restructuration every two or three years. Are there common characteristics among say, American and French companies?

Most Western companies are still organized in a hierarchical, vertical way, although a number of them have gradually delegated some decision making closer to the customer and the employees. In the face of economic downturn, market changes and increasing international competition, both large American and European companies tend to react by recentralizing and restructuring, i.e. weeding out less profitable activities and reducing overhead costs. The number of lay-offs are more spectacular in the U.S. than in France because workers are less protected by American laws, but the trend is the same. The emphasis has been put on productivity and return on material assets, considering people mainly as costs. And it is doubtful that much learning has accrued in the process: the next restructuring effort looks pretty much like the previous one and will likely produce the same type of outcome: further need for restructuration! Continue reading

The Challenge Of Stewardship: Building Learning Organizationsin Healthcare

(Chapter of “Learning Organizations – Developing Cultures for Tomorrow’s Workplace”, Edited by Sarita Chawla and John Renech, Productivity Press, 1995)

My objective in this chapter is to illustrate the challenge of building learning organizations in a service industry which has to reinvent itself amidst drastic and multifaceted changes. This challenge calls for stewardship among healthcare leaders – the ability to see a broader picture and to take a long-term view. As Peter Block defines it, stewardship is also the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger community, by operating in service of those around us. Continue reading