The Triune Hierarchy

I watched a series called “The Truth Project“. The speaker raised some interesting points, but what really stuck with me was the concept he introduced of what I’ll call “The Triune Hierarchy”.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun to see that there’s more truth to this truth then that speaker let on. Here’s what I figured out:

– in any setting with 3 or more entities, the most effective, efficient method to accomplish a goal is to have this triune hierarchy in place
-all of us, at different times and events in our lives, will have to rise to the occasion in each of the 3 roles
-despite having to be each of the 3 roles throughout life, your life is defined by one particular role that is natural for you
-trying to be either of your non-natural roles,  or performing more than one role, for a significant amount of time, will frustrate and deplete you; conversely, performing in your natural role brings you fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

What are the 3 roles in this hierarchy? It’s hard to choose the best analogy, as you’ll see it everywhere (Owners/Managers/Workers, Masters/Journeymen/Apprentices, Husband/Wife/Children, Federal/Provincial/Municipal… etc). Since I’m a businessman, I’ll use the first example:

Owners: Idea people, who see “the big picture”, who lead and dream and inspire and motivate. They see opportunities and can’t bare the thought of nothing being done about it.  Owners generally make lousy workers (see “Undercover Boss” for hilarious examples of this), as they spend too much time dwelling on how to make improvements to the job.  I often see small business owners also take on the role of manager, and they are always frustrated and burned out. There’s a difference between tracking the numbers, and seeing the changes that need to be made in order to improve the numbers. Owners specialize in the latter.  Seeing the organization making progress towards the dream is what brings fulfillment to the Owner.

Managers: Organizers. They see chaos and are driven to bring order to it. Seeing a smoothly operating organization is what brings fulfillment to the Manager.

Workers:  Specialists. They do a certain task extremely well.  They could be world famous neurosurgeons, or the janitor at your building that loves his job. Doing their task well and being recognized for it is what brings fulfillment to the Worker.

Yes, as evidenced by the longer description for the owner-type… I am an owner type. Yes, I did not do well in school, and yes, the first thing I did after school is start my own business, and yes, I can’t stop thinking of ways to improve this or that.

Now, for those that may be bothered by the term “hierarchy”, let me explain that that term is meant to imply merely quantity and authority, NOT value. Each role is needed, and equally valuable.  By quantity I mean that it’s not very efficient to have as many managers and owners as there are workers, so it’s safe to say most people are Workers, some are Managers, and even fewer are Owners. As for authority, there needs to be a sense of unity-in-purpose in any organization. The hierarchy enables that unity by having “the top” disseminating the focus on down.

Now, despite the ideal, I’m not naive enough to be surprised by the gross misuses of authority in this triune hierarchy, where authority is twisted to become synonymous with value. I think the most potent example of this is underpaid assembly employees. Personally, I think manager types could cope better with this work than workers, as they could at least see themselves as contributing to the smooth operation of the company.  But as for the Workers? What does a $2000/month paycheque and doing the same limited task over and over mean to them? That they ARE less valuable than management. That they ARE less appreciated and respected and talented etc etc.

I wanted to keep going, but that’s it for today. If you are a Manager or Worker type and have further insight, please share in the comments.

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