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What is the Dominant Force of Our Lives Today? Organizations! (Why, What, and How)

Source | LinkedIn | Dave Ulrich | Speaker, Author, Professor, Thought Partner on HR, Leadership, and Organization

What is the underlying factor in these components of our lives: the food we eat, the cars we drive, the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the water we drink, the roads on which we drive, the schools where we learn, the churches where we worship, the television we watch, the books we read, the computers we rely on, the furniture we sit on, and so forth?

Answer: Organizations—settings where individuals work together to accomplish a task.

Why Organizations Matter

Organizations shape nearly every aspect of our lives (work, health, learning, social, and spiritual). Organizations turn personal beliefs into value created for others, , individual aspirations into shared agendas through relationships, , disjointed actions into progress through growing opportunities, private thoughts into collective outcomes through a shared community, and discrete actions into sustained patterns.”

An organization turns personal values into value created for others. Disneyland’s value of being the “happiest place on earth” becomes real to me as our granddaughters chortle with delight upon meeting Cinderella; they then look at me and say with glee: “Grandpa, she’s real . . . and she’s beautiful. Thank you!” My happiness is multiplied by delighting our granddaughters. Disney’s organization values create value for me.

An organization creates enduring relationships. C.S. Lewis’s portrait of hell depicts individuals moving away from each other whenever they disagree. Soon, this centrifugal individuation force means that people live in their isolated houses with moats around them, not connecting with anyone. Organizations require centripetal forces bringing people together and working through differences, disagreeing without running away, and turning diversity into a strength.

An organization helps individuals grow by moving people into different assignments that stretch them. I grew up in a church organization where I was invited to publicly speak in worship services. I was always frightened but learned to expand my skills and today frequently give talks (although still nervous).

An organization creates a shared community where each person feels a sense of belonging. Having been a professor at the University of Michigan for over 30 years, I feel an instant bond with someone with a “Michigan” logo on their hat or shirt and can quietly say to them “Go Blue!” so that a stranger is now a friend.

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