Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management
Volume 4: 2010
A practical theory to help you change society one organisation at a time
Peter C. Rennie
Leadership Australia, Mont Albert, Victoria
ABSTRACT: pp. 75-85
A case study is used to compare and contrast two organisational paradigms, the traditional/hierarchical or ‘pyramidal’ paradigm and the participative/democratic or ‘parabolic’ paradigm. The term parabolic is introduced to highlight the too often overlooked role of structure in shaping behaviour. Organisational structures unconsciously shape our behaviour in nearly all of our interactions because they reinforce clusters of values. The pyramidal paradigm subtly encourages behaviours based on status and control. The parabolic paradigm encourages behaviours based on relationship, learning and purpose. The parabolic paradigm integrates two approaches – collaborative and structural. When leaders or change agents integrate a collaborative mindset (I don’t, you could, together better) with the structural mindset (pyramids dominate, parabolas partner, structure matters) they develop a theory of practice that enables them to act more purposefully, intelligently and more courageously. When they repeat these behaviours within their organisations they create ripples and help to shift their colleagues’ mindsets to be more collaborative within their organisation and ultimately the world.
Key words: organisation, structure, parabolic, pyramidal, leadership, paradigm, mindset