Members of a Body

by Jan Yuill

Many of you know that I struggled to use common and easily understood words to describe the Organizations Alive! model. It wasn’t easy. Words are loaded with meaning.

Even when the book was published, I was not sure about the terminology. Membership Potential was one of those terms in particular that I wondered about.

Since then I have become certain it is the best term to describe the possibilities for the people of the organization. I used the word ‘membership’ because it is not only employees who belong to organizations, but also board members, volunteers, stockholders, etc.

Among other definitions, the word ‘member’ describes parts of a body, like an arm or leg. If we think of an organization as a body, then its members MUST be diverse if they are to perform the different functions necessary to keep it alive and healthy.

It is very difficult for the ear to complain about the hand: “You’re not listening!” What would the ear be without the hand to shelter it from noise, to cup it in order to hear more clearly, to hang the earring on it, or to give it a scratch or a wash?

The analogy may sound silly, but it provides a perfect description of the diversity in organizations, and how essential it is that each member knows they have a unique and important role to play in its success, without undermining the other person.

How can the Information Branch criticize the Human Resources Department for not understanding the importance of back up files? How can Manufacturing criticize Marketing for making too many promises? Each is doing important, specialized work.

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