11.1 The Centrality of Organizations in Our Lives

We live in an organizational society today. All of us have memberships in multiple organizations, and the effectiveness of these organizations probably varies greatly. Ralph Kilmann, an astute academic and organizational consultant, captures these sentiments well:

Organizations are the greatest invention of all time. They enable people to transcend their own limitations of both body and mind in order to manage the problems of natures and civilizations. Without organized activity, all the other great inventions either would not have been created, or would have been brought to the marketplace. It is hardly an overstatement to suggest that economic prosperity and quality of life for the people of the world are largely determined by the functioning of organizations and institutions.Kilmann (1989), p. ix.

Since organizations are so central to our lives and since they are so important to the fate of humanity, it is imperative that they function well. However, the organizations of the 21st century are not agile enough to deal with the unpredictable and increasingly volatile nature of the environments that they occupy. We need organizations that are more capable of change. This book is dedicated to that premise.