TOP Note: This is a complex page that cannot be skimmed.
Art Kleiner (AK) is the Editor-in-Chief of Strategy+Business.
More on Art Kleiner … a writer and lecturer with a background in management, organizational learning, and strategic planning. He has ghost-written many respected management texts and in recent times found his own voice writing about organizations. You can see his photo and read about him and the book referred to below here.
I came across his ideas initially in March-2008 through a presentation.
This presentation developed ideas in his book: Who Really Matters: A Core Group Theory of Power Privilege & Success (2003). AK seemed to be describing something significant about organizations: something not given sufficient attention by myself or others.
AK’s opening anecdote is about «truth». He makes it clear that he is preoccupied with what is "really going on", especially in the hearts and minds of people, and what manifests in deliberate actions. These actions often differ from what might be expected by official charts and policies and even from what those involved claim to be doing or thinking. This concern for truth and the urge to penetrate to «what is really going on» are hallmarks of an orientation to elements of consciousness as articulated within THEE.
Towards the end of the article, Kleiner writes: "we need a model that recognizes the primacy of the Core Groups while constraining them from abuses of power". If so, then that model should be found within THEE.
Interestingly, his model does not just contain The Core—actually, the label he uses for the Core Group is The Clan (required for the flow of allegiance). The Core sits alongside The Network (needed for the flow of knowledge), The Hierarchy (needed for the flow of authority) and The Market (needed for the flow of work).
See AK's Slide #8 in the Download
In terms of a match to reality, Slide #8 has a curious heading: Circulatory Systems. But do organizations have circulatory systems? Many living systems have energized flows of liquid through channels. Might this name be a metaphor aiming to evoke the spirit of what is going on without corresponding to its essence? It seemed to me to be naming actual flows in the psychosocial realm i.e. AK is seeking to refer directly to something real. If so, the name seems unfocused or over-generalized: a bit like someone saying he has seen a biped: OK—but was it a person, an ostrich, an ape or a kangaroo?
So here is the puzzle: Where does AK’s observation (model) fit within THEE? It took some thought to recognize where Core Group Theory might be located in the Taxonomy. In what follows, I will logically unpack my thinking processes using a Q & A format. To minimize likely terminological confusion I will use colour coding to distinguish AK's terms from THEE-terms.
For a brief definition of technical terms, use the glossary accessed via the Terms tab at the top of the left navigation column. More details in Taxonomic Structures.
Q: Are there really just 4 things in AK's set?
A: I must accept his assertion. Read why.
AK is someone concerned with truth at the time of writing, and this was an important book for him, so it seemed reasonable to accept his assertion that there are only four. However, if the rest of the analysis had not worked out, I would have wondered if one or more things which could be metaphorically viewed as a circulatory system had been missed by AK for some reason. Partial awareness by observers is common, and if that had been the case here, then I would have had to re-think.
Q: Are there frameworks of 4 things in the taxonomic architecture?
A: Yes, in two places: the Modal Hierarchy is a group of 4, and there is a set of 4 Tetradic structures in each of the many Structural Hierarchies.
Q: Could AK’s set be a?
A: No. It does not fit well. Styles in such a form show a marked similarity.
Q: Could AK’s set be part of a Structural Hierarchy?
A: Yes, very likely, because:
The centrality of the set of 4 fits well because AK seems to have described something powerful, and recognized by others who work with organizations. From my experience, I can't see how anyone who has consulted to organizations could dispute the thrust of AK's original discovery, even if they might want to pick at some details. «Heart» is a metaphor often used by me for the 4th Level, and it fits with AK's circulatory system name: but, of course, such language correspondence could be pure chance.
Q: Is any particular Structural Hierarchy in the Taxonomy a likely candidate?
A: Yes, because AK used certain terms to capture the essence, and taxonomic analysis can use such a careful choice of natural language names. I propose it belongs with the subsidiary typology.
Refer to AK's Slide #8: you will see that the Core is actually labeled the Clan. The whole is preoccupied with power and success (both in the book's title), and AK labels one of the entities as the Market.
This small list of names is highly suggestive of the Framework dealing with . The idea of seeking benefit fits well with the truth-generating question in the review of Who Really Matters about "who comes first?" in an organization.
The this summary. These labels refer to different ways that people handle themselves in order to gain personal benefit (success) as they see it.contains the following 7 types of or ideology: Check out
As well as fitting with the spirit of these systems, AK has a close fit with two of them: Clan relates to , Market relates to
A: We need to look at the actual Structural Hierarchy for that, because while the THEE-Types listed above are unitary, AK's entities are complex.
See details about Structural Hierarchies here. Briefly, they depend on grouping adjacent Levels so that all appear in each Grouping. The 1st Grouping of the Structural Hierarchy has Groups of just 1 thing (hence G1-Monads), and the order in this case can be predicted to be . Although assigning mentality names is wholly insufficient for proper inquiry, it will have to do provisionally.
Higher Levels of the Structural Hierarchy are formed by grouping these Monads into overlapping sets of 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's until there is 1 unified set of 7. So the Tetrads, between them, cover all Types.
At the time of this analysis, I had never worked on this particular Structural Hierarchy, although I knew it must exist and be socially significant.
Q: How do AK's systems fit with the?
Click for a diagram showing the Structural Hierarchy pattern with my tentative assignment of AK's 4 circulatory systems to the 4 Tetrads (as argued above). All Types from the list are shown to be covered within these.
Better viewing: narrow or close left navigation column; use browser zoom if needed.
A: The CORE GROUP naturally fits the 4th (top) Tetrad because it is the source of all power. It contains those people who define and integrate the psychosocial reality of the organization: key things like social forces, strategy, main products, best markets, pay and so on. The Core seems also to manifest and features like love, emotion, commitment, plus some diversity as a feature.
The MARKET suits the 1st Tetrad, which is grounded in (that's easy) and tops out at , which probably reflects the participation of everyone as required to do the organization's work, whatever it may be.
The 2nd Tetrad can be assigned the name HIERARCHY given that it is grounded in ; and it tops in , where personal submission is required.
Finally, let's look at the 3rd Tetrad. , , and are all high on self-awareness; knowledge and learning fit with , and is intrinsically unstructured. So this could well be AK's NETWORK.
Q: How certain is the above analysis?
A. I have a high degree of confidence that AK has correctly observed something within psychosocial reality. My initial analysis suggests that he has discovered the Tetrads in the Structural Hierarchy generated by the . However, I do not even know the name or function of this Structural Hierarchy. So much more investigation is required to confirm this conjecture. Other possibilities do exist e.g. location in the framework. But pursuing alternative hypotheses here would take us too far from the goal of this webpage.
Q: Do we stop with the above analysis?
A. No—the benefit comes from starting with this analysis. More…
The whole point of the exercise is to use AK's contribution as a spring-board to further useful knowledge. Although there are many things still unknown, AK's work is pivotal in giving me (or anyone cognizant of THEE) some assurance that we might be able to discover a great deal more about both the Tetrads and that whole Structural Hierarchy. If so, it would almost certainly be illuminating and useful. Even more important from a social perspective, such an effort would provide a securer scientific basis for AK's work. Because he lacks the time and social standing to look after these findings, they will be left as flotsam in a sea of disparate management writing where they are likely to vanish without trace—try Googling «Core Group».
Q: Are AK's names for the four entities satisfactory?
A: AK's names seem OK as a first attempt. If and when we obtain a deeper understanding, the names might need changing.
Little is known about this Structural Hierarchy, and the assigned G1-names are probably unsatisfactory. So the names may need improving. My initial thoughts are that Core Group could be a great name—very evocative and accurate and far better than Clan which is too close to for my comfort. I don't warm to Market as a name, because it creates a confusion with actual markets. Network sounds OK but perhaps too general. Hierarchy is a structural form within the Taxonomy and that could cause confusion.
Q: What sort of discoveries are possible?
A: Many. Almost every element in the Structural Hierarchy could be relevant to handling oneself, others or complex projects and social situations.
THEE enables an intelligent but isolated and too easily neglected observation to be incorporated into a valid sophisticated schema of social interaction.
The incorporation within THEE validates and clarifies the original observation, and it points to additional areas for useful inquiry.
The observation will serve to assist in the further development of the Taxonomy.
This webpage was completed and permission to post obtained from AK in early 2009. In early 2010, curiosity led me to spend some months inquiring to check further. Interested? These very preliminary findings will be posted soon in the Frameworks Room of the TOP Studio.
Originally posted: Jan 2010; Last updated 2-Feb-2014.