RELATIONSHIP DYNAMICS: Theory and Analysis

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9780684824499: RELATIONSHIP DYNAMICS: Theory and Analysis
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Today's wisest firms are investing in relationships, Tom Peters observes. But until now, no one has shown exactly how relationships can be managed and why relationship management within groups, teams, and organizations is the key to success. Moving beyond the "quick fix" management agendas of the past 25 years, James Musgrave and Michael Anniss introduce a powerful new four-dimensional model which, for the first time, measures and evaluates the elements of relationships. Their model identifies the power balances and key drivers of those relationships which create cohesive and loosely coupled teams that are essential to operating in today's flexible organization. Musgrave and Anniss begin their discussion by broadening the relationship focus from the traditionally defined, mechanistic roles between customer, employee, and organization to encompass the elements of structure, emotion, organization, and control -- a shift that enables the reader to visualize both the dynamic nature of these interactions and their intangible aspects. This technique gives the executive, employee, and customer not only an expanded overall understanding, but also an ability to isolate interactions so that they can be addressed in a controlled, systematic fashion. The authors continue the process of strategic analysis by scoping, aligning, and profiling the relationship. These techniques allow the individual to define the interaction environment, bring together its perspectives, and isolate issues of contention or conflict. The result is an enhanced mutual understanding of how organizations can revitalize their internal structure, reformulate goals, increase their market share, and serve their customers better. By placing paramount importance upon the elements of human interdependence and interaction, Relationship Dynamics is the first book of its kind that speaks to the myriad of companies that must increasingly rely upon new market niches, individual ingenuity, and structural versatility.

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About the Author:

James Musgrave is the founding partner of CHC Consulting in Nairn, Scotland. He develops and presents corporate training seminars on Relationship Dynamics for management solutions.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

Relationship Dynamics springs from our deep conviction that relationships are the key to understanding the operation of the world in which we live. This belief springs from wide-ranging personal, commercial, and academic experience in many spheres including

* information technology
* psychology
* sociology
* manufacturing industry
* financial services
* health care
* strategic consulting
* education
* our own families and friends
* our own position in society

By relationships we do not mean simply an emotional perspective on the interaction between people. We mean a whole contributory matrix of factors that affect interactions between people. These can be grouped under the headings of

* control
* emotion
* operation
* structure

Relationships are the lubricant that enables the social and economic environment to operate effectively. We believe that many different views of the social and economic environment are required to understand and manage it effectively. We do, however, contend that the other views cannot provide an effective understanding of the social and economic environment without first understanding the dimension of relationships.

In the psychological, sociological, and management literature, relationships have traditionally been seen on three main levels:

* As interpersonal interactions, where the style and nature of interactions has been evaluated, but not as the fundamental nature of relationships as building blocks for our social and economic development. These have been the focus of mainstream psychological and sociological investigation.
* As emotional constructs that have been treated in a populist fashion to attempt to understand situations involving such elements as love, hate, or sex.
* As a function of teams and working groups. These have been the main focus of management theory and practice investigation.

There are many different approaches and theories about these different aspects of relationships, but no single theory unites all of this information and provides a common base upon which to evaluate and understand any relationship.

Organization and management theory contains many references to relationship issues, but no systematic explanation through which those issues can be identified and evaluated. Interestingly, recent books and articles have begun to refer to the need to understand and manage relationships:

Return on investment in relationships. We all invest in relationships. It's only human, off the job or on. But today's wisest firms, it seems, are those that are tops at consciously investing in relationships -- steadily, over time, with a purpose and a passion. But even the stellar, pioneering outfits (Apple, MCI, Skonie, M2) don't try to measure it and that's a mistake.
Tom Peters, Liberation Management (New York: Knopf, 1992)

What is required is the adoption of measurement and research techniques which are available to transform many intangible aspects of service into tangibles.
Richard Whiteley, The Customer-Driven Company (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1991)

When our objectives change to include quality based objectives, they will place in front of all others the strategy of building solid and stable growth for the corporation through longterm relationships. In order to provide a safe and trusting atmosphere for that relationship to flourish, there are some ground rules, some changes from conventional thinking. For example, I expect both parties to make each other quite openly aware of their financial, material and intellectual dynamics. There will be a shared understanding and a mutual respect for the desire to embark down a planned and profitable path.
John Fraser-Robinson, Total Quality Marketing (London: Kogen Page Limited, 1991)

These quotations reflect a belief that understanding and developing relationships is key to the effective operation of individuals and organizations. They are representative of many books on management trends published in the 1990s. This new emphasis on relationships, together with their dynamically task-driven formation and disbanding, has become a fundamental part of the ability of individuals and organizations to respond to the ever-changing demands of today's world. The ability to develop and manage relationships, within and between individuals and organizations, has become a key differentiator in today's competitive market place.

Although they identify relationships as a key dimension, the statements above do not provide any explanation of what relationships are, how they operate, or how they can best be managed.

In response, we have developed an approach called Relationship Dynamics that provides a powerful basis for understanding and managing relationships. The approach is a general one that applies to all relationships of whatever size and complexity.

Relationship Dynamics is relatively simple and intuitively accurate. Some people are suspicious of such simplicity. In practice, however, this simplicity and directness are what make the concept of Relationship Dynamics so powerful. It provides an understanding of a mechanism that we all deal with every day of our lives. The analytical steps of scoping, alignment, and profiling are ones that we all apply, to a greater or lesser degree, in managing our relationships every day. In Relationship Dynamics we have identified the key nature of relationships and presented it in a systematic format so that its clarity and power can be understood.

We are not attempting to tell people how to behave in a particular way. We are, rather, providing people, groups, and organizations with an understanding and an analytical approach for managing all elements of their social and economic environment in a more effective manner. Relationship Dynamics will help you to understand and manage all the relationships you are involved in, ranging from personal relationships to complex ones between organizations and even nations.

Figure 1.1 was created as an opening gambit for a seminar weekend that we held in Verbier, Switzerland, during the Autumn of 1994. All of those present, including personnel from Hewlett-Packard, KPMG, A.B.B, and a Swiss computer consultancy called Xmit, reacted to this visual statement with both enthusiasm and studied interest. For Isidor, a Swiss Mend of mine who runs several resort hotels and acts as a consultant to a multifarious mix of hotel and leisure development groups, the figure "Making the dimensional shift" graphically portrayed and encapsulated his mind set. Isidor was very taken with Relationship Theory's presentation format as it assisted him to meaningfully represent and focus on the soft but critical elements that define a quality product.

Quality, for all industries, is developed and expressed largely as a function of the relationship that is established and developed between provider and customer. Returning to the diagram, this simple graphic illustrates the first adjustment that Isidor intuitively understood concerning the learning that his staff needed to achieve. During the short discourse that developed, Isidor explained how complex an exercise it was for his staff to qualitatively develop their skills and then translate them into real-time customer service improvements. Isidor said that the hardest task was enabling and assisting his staff to "see." He has found, throughout his twenty-plus years experience in management, that if staff cannot visualize the message in their mind's eye, then they will have difficulty in understanding the style and manner of change that needs to be embraced.

Relationship Theory's opening graphic, "Making the Dimensional Shift," sets the tone and captures the thrust of the message. The preliminary chapters, whi

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