People and Organizations

Comedian George Carlin said, “I love individuals. I hate groups of people.”

Hate is a strong word, George, but I get the sentiment.

The things individuals value most about each other – Compassion. Empathy, Accountability, Love, Vulnerability, Acceptance – ironically, tend to get lost in organized groups. Even if they’re written into the mission statement or posted on the wall in the break room, it’s hard to maintain these values once a group grows and commits.

Why?

The collective goal becomes more important than the individual ones. We begin to get rewarded for moving the organization forward – whatever we agree that means. As an organization expands, our responsibilities get greater, so we have to prioritize and we begin to internalize the notion that we don’t get as many points for making our colleagues feel loved as we do for making the group experience progress.

This is when the ‘difficult conversations’ begin to happen, how alliances form, and where politics bloom.

Love and all its derivatives take a back seat, even though the organization was originally planted in its soil.

It’s an inevitable paradox of nature, like the wind and the waves breaking down rocks to make a beach. Although no new matter is created and no one is to blame, something is lost and something is gained.

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