The Management Guru 'Never Resolve Conflict. Harness it.

By Carol Starr Schneider

Business Editor

Chairpersons and presidents of multinational corporations often turn to management expert Ichak Adizes and say, "The conflict in our company is horrendous. It's killing us. You've got to help us get rid of it." Adizes tells them all the same thing: Never resolve confict. Harness it. Channel it. But never resolve it. The only time you resolve conflict is when you're dead."

Israeli-raised Adizes, who is chair man of the Adizes Institute, Inc. in Westwood and a professor of management at UCLA, has spent the past 15 vears developing a methodology for training managers.

The internationally-recognized Adizes Method involves diagnosing and treating organizational problems, and according to Adizes, demonstrates that no one person can perform all the roles of management. The "perfect" manager only exists in managerial textbooks. He adds, stressing the importance of team management.

“I claim that the 'textbook manager, who is knowledgeable, task-oriented, goal-oriented, and atized, detailed, thorough, and at the same time a charismatic, creative, risk-taking leader, good at interpersonal relations, sensitive to human needs, a team builder, doesn't exist.

This is where the beginning of the mistake is. We're all looking for some genius, some incredible human being who will have no faults, and because fo our high level of expectations, were continuously frustrated at all the people around us. above us and below us.”

Human beings by definition, Adizes believes, are mismanagers, and the mistake lies in equating manager with management. He claims manager equals mismanagement. "Someone may charismatic. risk-taking and innovative while another is conservative and thinks things through, another is outstanding at interpersonal relations and carsions. and another just does works and sets an example how to work and set goals. We're talking about a complimentary team.”

The classic complimentary team would be the Mama/Papa store, he explains: Papa takes risks, opens new stores, develops new products and is driven to succeed, while Mama plavs bookkeeper. orders supplies and handles the customers. But since it's a complimentary team. there is conflict and the trick ishowharnessdat conflict . You harness the conflict when it's on mutual trust and respect. You may not always agree, but that doesn't mean vou can't learn from each other. "

A good manager, he says, is a team manager, one who commands respect and in turn respects others.

The question that remains is what kind of person makes a good manager. Adizes feels companies have a hard time finding the best managers because corporate training programs, for the most part, are based on the wrong assump tions--they're training individuals, instead of management teams. A good manager, he adds, may not necessarily be the person who knows accounting, marketing and engineering, or is a computer whiz kid.

"The person who commands and grants respects is a mature, well-balanced human being, knows who he or she is, knows his strengths and weaknesses and can accept, nourish and respect the differences in the other people contributing to the team. He doesn't feel threatened by people who are different, who may be even better than he or she is, but compliments the total effort of the team. Most training programs are training people to know, not to be. It's easier to hire someone who is and train him to know, than to hire someone who knows and train him to be. Some of the best managers I've seen have only had high school educations."

Adizes is reluctant to reveal the 11 phases of his method and how he actually defines and improves an organization, increases the productivity and changes the corporate climate. He will, however, tell you that good management requires diversity of styles, a blending of "Theory Z" and "Quality Circles with the bottom line being team management.

"The idea behind my method is what kind of combination of different styles between people will make good management. I can tell you whether or not the top managements of companies have the right combination. Even if you have the right personalities involved, the next question is how well they work together. Anytime you have a diversity of styles, you will get conflict.

Does the conflict result in a way that makes the team stronger, and: there mutual respect between the diversity of people involved? How much learning occurs between those people?"

It would be misleading to imply that Adizes single-handedly restructures an entire corporation, a process that can take up to three years.

There are 13 Adizes associates at the Westwood institute, and 35 others at 10 offices around the world. (Adizes Institutes are partner-ships, licensees or wholly owned subsidiaries.) "It takes an organiza tion to change an organization.

We're a team here with different specialties, all sharing the same methodology," he explains.

When initiating a new client, institute associates will give an over. view of the methodology to top managers during a weekend retreat, usually held in a rustic setting. A "synergetic diagnosis" of the company then takes place, to establish the problem areas, and "synergetic teams" are formed to tackle the problems and "coalesce authority, power and influence." Adizes work’s primarily with the structure of the organization, dealing with both huge multinationals and small privately held family businesses.

The fee for Adizes' services is around $4,000 a month for one to three years-"until the job is done.' The job often involves restructuring an organizations budgetary process corporate training program, recruit. ment techniques and incentive system. "Some of the larger consulting firms will charge $50,000 a month for their services. We charge that in a year to change the whole organization's structure," he asserts.

There are two times in the lifecycle of a company which the Adizes

Institute focuses on: when an organization is stagnating, and when it is suffering from what Adizes calls "founder's trap." In the first in-stance, a stagnating company may find itself unable to develop a viable marketing orientation, and conse• quently starts losing money, along with its share of the market. Adizes suggests that the company head's particular style of management may be the root cause, if he or she climbed his way to the top and, having accomplished his goals, doesn't want to disrupt the prevailing order.

They want to enjoy what they've built rather than endanger what ex-ists. The second factor could be that the organization is structured in such a way that it doesn't produce movement forward. If the structure is incorrect, it reflects itself in how you perceive the world and how you behave. The organization could be weak because the structure doesn't allow the company to be ag gressive, and doesn't encourage ag. gressive people to join the Company.

 "Founder's trap.” on the other hand, will occur when a company has grown too rapidly and overex• tended itself, and the founder ends up losing control over his own organization. The organization is resisting the founder and he feels he's falling into a trap. If he dies, the company will die and there is no one to succeed him. "hat's the time when he usually hires an ad. ministrator, but he hates ad ministrators because he feels a loss of contro He hires a succession of people, and then finally decides to get someone in there who can restore order, and that is when we come in. We specialize in taking companies from family business to professiona business: from the ear. ly stage to the prime stage of life, making the company independent from a very strong founder.