Human Resources, Management, and Leadership in Turbulent Times. Stephen Covey from a Sociocybernetic View: A Point of Intervention?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:35
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Bernd HORNUNG, Data Protection Office, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Society is man-made, but when we are born into it and start acting, it is a given. Social processes are going on in structures given at that moment. Often they go on behind our backs without being realized, moving society in unwanted directions. Attempts at controlling and steering such social forces turned out quite ineffective, and organizational actors, which are supposed to do so (like governments), are quite helpless. "Social forces" does not refer to some global conspiracy group, but to the mechanisms and processes built into society at a given moment.

This paprer explores to what extent and possibly by what mechanisms human intention can effectively influence where society is going, also at the global level.

For coping with this situation it is proposed. to say definitely farewell to the machine paradigm of determination of social processes and to adopt a cybernetic view, conceiving individuals, social systems, and societies as navigating in troubled waters which cannot be influenced while social systems themselves can be steered. Covey calls this the knowledge-worker mindset.

Also individual, collective, and organizational behaviors are needed towards what Covey calls the habits of effective people, which corresponds to sociocybernetic principles.

With regard to the latter the present paper proposes that the ideas of the late Stephen Covey, a renowned researcher, consultant, and coach in management and leadership might show a way to develop such new and different behaviors the current state of the world calls for.

Covey calls this new orientation the "industrial mind-set" vs. the "knowledge worker mind-set" of knowledge society. He presents a coherent scientifically grounded approach which is not declared "systemic" or "(socio-)cybernetic" explicitly. Implicitly, however, Covey takes a systems approach and the paper will argue that it is fully in line with sociocybernetics and the new orientations e.g. John Raven calls for.