Monthly Archives: June 2017

Fall and Winter Catalog

Our 2017 Fall and Winter catalog is now available! This season’s books cover history, philosophy and literature and include topics such as the early, unpublished stories of playwright Lanford Wilson, a history of the founding of the CIA, and a biography of Omar Nelson Bradley. Too see the full array of what’s available, click the image below.

F17 catalog cover

 

The Desk

Our final excerpt from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice, “The Desk,” is about the experience of organizational space as symbol and metaphor.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


After Bob departed Frank had the office to himself. Frank’s experience of this space was how dominant Bob’s huge desk was in the space. The desk was very large and had two large extensions attached to it, making a U shape. The desk filled the room, leaving only a four foot aisle around the desk where eight armless metal chairs were lined up against the walls—four in the front and four to the right side. The desk on the left side was near a window, and it was a few feet from the back wall to allow walking around the desk to enter the U-shape. Frank’s experience of the desk in this space was one of sitting in a commanding position where everything else and everyone else were diminished, relegated to the thin strip of small chairs around the sides. Add to this a large high back chair and the feeling was one of power, dominance and mastery—a lord of the universe. When Frank replaced the desk with modern office furniture in the corner opposite the door to the room, the room turned out to be large and easily accommodated a small conference table for meetings in addition to having a welcoming sense of openness.

For more on the ideas behind the book, read a discussion with the authors.


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

On sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Sell

Today’s excerpt, from the story “The Sell,” focuses on the powerful influence destructive leaders can have on an organization. For more on the book, read this conversation with the authors: reading guide.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


The chairman introduced the speaker with much fanfare. All the physicians in the department, many of them new, had been required by the chairman to attend this talk. It was a “command performance.” Tom, a tenured basic scientist, was also there and sat and listened to the speaker deliver his talk. The speaker described the medical center and how he envisaged the department would interface with the center and how this relationship building and corporatization would make the department more profitable and competitive.

As he spoke, Tom realized that a continuous strand unifying his talk was how wonderful the present were, how superb the department was, and how by comparison inept and “bad” other departments like surgery were. The speaker made a number of comparisons where the department was portrayed as looking good compared to the other clinical departments that were said to be inept, selfish, unreliable, and possessing a number of other negative qualities.

As his talk proceeded, Tom found himself becoming increasingly ill at ease with this approach. In paying attention to his thoughts and feelings, he was beginning to wonder why he was so upset and angry. He eventually realized that he felt that he and those present were being blatantly seduced. The constant flattery seemed to be leading everyone present to becoming ensnared in a trap the speaker was setting. Tom had a gnawing sense that what the speaker was advocating would hurt the department. When he finished his talk, the audience politely applauded. The speaker invited everyone to ask questions. Tom could hardly restrain himself.


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Warehouse

“The Warehouse,” today’s excerpt from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice is about the truly dark side of the workplace, where protecting one’s ego becomes the primary consideration for decision making.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


The next day Bob met with the owner, a surgeon who had been recruited to the area because there were few healthcare providers. The surgeon not only owned the plant, but he also owned a car dealership that he said might soon go bankrupt due to a major embezzlement. As the meeting began the owner was looking through a stack of index cards. He explained that he was financially strapped and that he had to find hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new warehouse. The index cards were names of patients who might be talked into having different types of elective surgery–the answer to his cash flow problem.

Bob eventually mentioned to the surgeon/owner that the warehouse was full of spoiled inventory–about 40%, based on a quick count of linear shelf space that he had done in a few minutes after the tour. Bob suggested that if he sold the inventory to big discount store down the street for cost of materials, he would not have to build a warehouse, and he would in fact have a major cash infusion. The owner, being a surgeon, was dependent on the plant manager and a nearby university faculty member who served as a consultant to run the plant efficiently. He was surprised but also ecstatic about the possibilities and he immediately gave the order to his sales manager to sell the spoiled inventory. In a few days the sale was made and trucks delivered the inventory, clearing out the warehouse.

Bob returned home feeling as though he had made a timely contribution to problem solving, albeit passing the problem onto the discount store, not noted in all instances for selling high quality products. Within a week, however, he was informed that he was being terminated. When he inquired about this with the sales manager, he was told that the idea to sell the spoiled inventory had embarrassed both the plant manager and the university professor/consultant. They had lost face with the owner and were furious. His head had to roll.

For more, read a discussion with the authors: Dysfunctional Workplace reading guide


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Temps

Our second story excerpt from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice is “The Temps.” This story makes it clear that things are not always rational in the workplace.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


As the calls poured in the supervisors made their best effort to train and supervise the temps. However, this work was made much more difficult by the fact the temps only stayed a few weeks or months and were moved to other jobs by the temp agency. After all they were temps and not permanent employees. This continuous turnover undermined the ability to train them to meaningfully answer patient questions, because each new temp had to learn the job anew, “from scratch.”

After a few months of this the CEO understood he had to hire full-time employees. He had been avoiding doing this because of the expense. The temps and their marginal productivity were cheaper than recruiting and hiring qualified people. It was at this point that the poor customer support on the contracts began to attract negative attention of the two large employers. They began to threaten to pull their contracts. The fear of losing the contracts brought the hiring process to a halt before full-time employees were hired. The temps would have to do. This created a self-fulfilling prophecy and the contracts were ultimately lost.


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Empty Office


Today, we present the first in a five-day series of story excerpts from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice by Seth Allcorn and Howard Stein. Their book – which uses a psychodynamically informed perspective to help readers understand why colleagues and bosses can behave in destructive ways – is on sale all week!

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The following excerpt is from “The Empty Desk” in the chapter, “The Geography of Organizational Darkness.”


While consulting with a computer company, an organizational consultant, Robert, had an interview with one of the company’s financial managers, Joan. The subject was her experience of a recent downsizing. Joan was almost out of breath as she spoke. There was panic in her voice. Her story goes as follows.

Am I glad to see you today! Robert, the strangest thing happened Monday. I was off sick Friday. I came in to work on Monday morning and the office next to me was cleared out. There was a desk, a chair, a computer, a couple of file cabinets and bookcases, a wastebasket. And that’s it. Empty. I still can’t believe it, and it’s already Friday. It’s like there’s a big hole in this place. I knew the guy ten years. His name is Don. He was one of our number crunchers. A quiet guy who and just did his work. It seemed like he was always here, always working. He is a computer whiz anyone in the unit could go to for a computer glitch. We aren’t–maybe I should say weren’t, since he’s gone–weren’t exactly friends, but we worked together a lot on projects. He was kind of part of the furniture.

It’s so eerie. I’m numb over it. I keep going next door to look in his office expecting to see him. Maybe I’m imagining that he’s gone, and he’s not. But the place is so empty.


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.