Thursday, April 17, 2003

Feng Shui versus the Corporate Pecking Order

Feng Shui versus the Corporate Pecking Order
[人因工程 ]

Nonergonomic! Feng Shui versus the Corporate Pecking Order

Click on the Dilbert cartoon. Take a look at the high-backed executive chair in the CEO's office. Now take a look at the low-backed swivel chair in Dilbert's office. More importantly, look at how Dilbert's cubicle is laid out. Poor Dilbert sits with his back to the entrance of his cubicle.

Students of Edward T. Hall aware of "The Hidden Dimension" know exactly what's going on here. The modern workplace is nothing less than the physical expression of the organization's hierarchical structure -- its power relationships made manifest.

The CEO sits in his huge office with his back to a solid wall. Dilbert on the other hand, is "low man on the totem pole," and as such expected to endure without complaint being startled each time a supervisor approaches him from behind, his most vulnerable direction.

During monarchical times kings and queens would invariably be seated upon a throne, usually elevated upon a podium, but always with their back to an opaque, impenetrable surface. As befitting their exalted, quasi-divine status, it was essential that monarchs never be approached from behind and taken by surprise.

The monarch's subjects, on the other hand, were expected to routinely abase themselves, assuming physically vulnerable positions as ritual expressions of fealty. That's right, just like in the animal kingdom on the Discovery Channel.

The French have an old saying, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." Roughly translated, it means "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Are modern technological societies really the enlightened expressions of "liberte, egalite, fraternite" we like to imagine? Perhaps not.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Nonergonomic! Feng Shui versus the Corporate Pecking Order
Illustration(s): Dilbert
Author: Scott Adams
Publication Date: March 29,2003
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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