Research Paper On Point 1: All Personnel Situations Differ
In this complex world, a single management theory cannot satisfy the multi-faceted demands even of a single situation, much more the infinite possibilities and needs of a human person even if that person is a soldier, who by training grew and develop in a highly autocratic system (Hawthorne, 2015). Providing a chaplaincy service for the Army complicates the already complex human situation. Soldiers, like any military personnel, trained and develop in a mechanistic system wherein each part of the system – each unit in a platoon; each platoon in a company; each company in a regiment – must work with precise coordination in order for any mission to succeed, or even the internal system itself in the barracks work.
Providing an effective chaplaincy service demands that this essential human diversity be recognized, allowed to stay healthy, and grow in strength that will help the individual develop into a more integrated military person, serving the cause of the country and enriching the self with unique humane values and experiences simultaneously. It is the chaplain’s inherent responsibility to ensure that each Army soldier develop into a well-integrated person eventually – psychologically, spiritually, culturally, and mentally. It is the chaplain’s challenge is to help each soldier in a manner that effectively suits with their personal uniqueness, their unique needs, and their unique preference on how such interaction should be (Cole, 2004).
Chaplaincy, which is humanistic in nature, possessed fundamental incompatibilities with the system-defined structure of the military world. While the Army thrives and by necessity had to keep highly autocratic hierarchy, the chaplaincy services cannot fulfill its mandate when driven with autocracy and rigidity, which is strongly dehumanizing to any person.
This paper will try to understand the dynamics in applying multi-theoretical framework in the chaplaincy service in the context of the autocratic system of the Army world.
PART 1: Management theories
Even if the Army thrives under an autocratic leadership style in a mechanistic system, each soldier’s personal situation differs considerably. One soldier’s internal world is never the same with another soldier, even if certain aspects of that world may appear compatible or relatively comparable. In such a case, the chaplaincy must learn to recognize such diverse situations in each of their clientele to ensure that resolutions are adapted to such diverse universe of needs, personal preferences, and sense of value (Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015).
Point 2: Use whatever works
As the Army chaplaincy faces varied issues to resolve with their clients, it must let go of the mechanistic precision of the military system and adapt a less predictable yet humanistic approach to be effective. It must choose whatever approach that works in specific issues (Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015).
Point 3: Maintain a general atmosphere of precise discipline
Since the context of chaplaincy service occurs within the precise discipline of the Army, the chaplaincy must respect such context and maintain a sense of continuity between the military lifestyle and the safer atmosphere of chaplaincy while putting the rigidity in the military system out of the way in helping Army personnel seeking help. It is possible to be disciplined and to care simultaneously (Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015).
Point 4: Expect the unexpected
It is inherent in the diversity of a human being and the human situation to encounter unpredictability or chaos. Thus, an effective chaplain knows how to navigate amidst chaos in its search for resolution in the specific situations of its clients (Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015). It needs to find confidence in the constantly shifting sands of individual complexity of needs. Where change is constant, chaplaincy service providers must be comfortable, in fact thrive, in change and unpredictability. The sense of strength expressed from the words and gestures of a secure chaplaincy provider encourages its clients to also learn to be strong despite the presence of trouble, threats, inconstancy, and instability in the world outside the chaplaincy.
Point 5: Appreciate the organismic cycle
Any Army client is an organism subject to the cycle of life. The person grows, develops, weakens, and dies, something that must be integrated into the person as an inevitable fact of reality, which is most relevant to the life an Army serviceman (Morgan, 1998). The chaplain should learn to harness the inherent blessings and graces of nature in the life of the Army personnel. The Army soldiers should be taught to develop an objective attitude towards the prospect of death, which their occupation put them in close contact on a daily basis, and often unpredictably. A soul capable of facing death without blinking the eyes can survive any other threats that are of relatively lesser gravity.
Point 6: Harness the machine in every soldier
Discipline is not altogether negative despite its tendency towards rigidity and de-humanism. The precision of discipline can be harnessed in helping the Army client to utilize that discipline when learn to implement corrective steps necessary in effecting a resolution to its current troubles or malady (Morgan, 1998; Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015).
Point 7: Engender habitual flexibility
The most valuable skill in self-management is adaptability and mental flexibility (Cole, 2004; Hawthorne, 2015). An adaptive soldier blends very well with the enemy, and, in this case, internal burdens that may impede better functioning.
Point 8: Harness the power of culture
Each individual is a product of the culture of his family and his community. Each person lives with that culture wherever he goes as a source of his strengths as well as weaknesses (Morgan, 1998). The certainty derived from culture provides a secure and stable foundation on which any client may depend upon to draw powers in combating threats internally and externally, in his mind and in his environment. If the chaplain knows this, the power of culture can be harnessed to help the Army client resolve whatever issues unresolved in his life, especially that of growing uncertainty in the choice of occupation as well as the pang of conscience in situations when an Army personnel had to take the life of an enemy in the defense of his and that of the citizens they pledged to protect with their own lives.
Point 9: True freedom comes from the mind
The mechanistic culture of the Army can push the soldiers to the brink of dehumanization, which may have long-term negative impact to his psychological health in the future (Morgan, 1998). However, chaplaincy programs can assist soldiers fighting an overwhelming struggle against the dehumanizing influence of the Army system. It can clarify philosophical and value issues, which often plague soldiers who face life-and-death situations in their occupation. A chaplain can help free the soldier from these psychic traps by helping them free their mind from erroneous beliefs, philosophies, and values.
Point 10: Always keep an open mind
A chaplaincy service serves better with an open mind than with a stereotypical approach towards its clientele and their issues. It is more beneficial to assume that a soldier inherently has the drive towards a healthy life; unless proven otherwise. Many times even with if he appears to be an X; he may be just a Y waiting to be with the help of a friend or a mentor.
Like the imperative of utilizing multiple management principles in handling its clientele and personnel, an Army chaplaincy unit cannot afford to limit its organizational characteristics within a single organizational theory or metaphor. It cannot be a machine, an organism, a brain, a culture, a political system, a psychic prison, and a flux in their full degree at the same time. Neither can it be either alone in any time. It should function as a composite of specific aspects of these organizational metaphors all the time. Such a proposition responds to the presumption of complexity of the human being and its situation.
However, amidst that demand for a complex organization to meet complex situations, the Army chaplaincy unit, like any other organization, tends to prefer a specific metaphor that largely defines its characteristics and dynamics. As such, it appeared to be most compatible with the metaphor of an organization in constant flux and transformation discussed in chapter eight (Morgan, 2006: 241-290).
The Army chaplaincy unit cannot be denied in its impetus to transform itself with every experience and change it go through (Morgan, 2006: 242). It unfolds. It changes continually. It follows unfolding logics that sustains itself in the continuous change. It thrives, and indeed it grows, amidst complexity and unpredictability. With each new encounter with an Army soldier bearing a burden to unload, or a wound to care for, or a fallen to be honored, the unit learns to be better companions in the struggle for solutions. In every faith, fellowship, and food shared together with Army soldiers, the chaplaincy corps changes and transforms.
However, at times, the unit had to be a machine. For instance, in preparing for the honoring ceremony of fallen soldiers from war, the chaplains and their assistants need the precision of a machine in following the protocol of honoring. The unit needs to prepare the needed documentations, without which the ceremony cannot be pushed through according to Army regulations. It had to precisely appoint the schedule of the ceremony consistent with the availability of the stakeholders: Army officers, officiating pastor, the families of the fallen, the use of the venue, and many more. These are aspects of organizational operations that require the precision of a machine to avoid critical errors that may seriously hamper goal attainment.
The logics of change in the Army chaplaincy corps as an organization in flux consist of four: self-reference; chaos and complexity; mutual causality; and dialectical change (Morgan, 2006: 241-280). As mentioned earlier, the unit “transforms itself” in a linear manner, wherein the outcome of the transformation can act as the new cause of further transformation. Each new challenge to the current skills and knowledge of the unit (e.g. spiritual dryness) results to new experiences (e.g. consulting with experts) and learning (e.g. new approaches in effectively resolving spiritual dryness), which becomes the fuel for another transformation. Thus, it is self-renewing (Carlsen & Gjersvik, 1997). However, process can also be understood stood as a circularity with the necessity to learn more (the transformative gap) as the phase of decline without going into death; thus, a self-perpetuating transformation (Morgan, 1998). The process has been referred to as autopoiesis. Morgan called this mechanism as the logic of self-reference. It has its roots in the systems theory of Ludwig von Bertlanffy (Cole, 2004).
The second logic – chaos and complexity (Morgan, 2006: 251) – had its roots in the chaos theory of Henri Poincare (Cole, 2004). The Army chaplaincy corps exists without any specific direction (other than responding to the mandate of the unit) or predictability (no chaplain can accurately predict what new changes they have to go through in the next hour or the next day or the next month). Chaos heightens complexity due to its unpredictability factor. Even a small change in an important factor may exponentially affect the transformation of the unit, either positively (if a breakthrough) or negatively (if an error). For instance, a minor remark that gets interpreted by the surviving family of the fallen soldiers can end up with a barrage of public criticism against the unit or the person speaking, which may result into the dismissal of that person, losing an important unit staff.
The logic of mutual causality, which according to Morgan (2006: 263-272) involved loops and not lines, had its roots in Wiener’s cybernetics and Bandura’s feedback loops (positive/negative) theories (Carlsen & Gjersvik, 1997). It pertains to the process, earlier described, wherein the outcome of one phase becomes the cause of another phase in a mutually supporting loop. While helping the medics treat the wounds of Army soldiers, the disinfectant supply ran out and could take an hour to replenish it from the base. So the chaplain assistant used an herb available in the surroundings to stop the bleeding, and it worked. This accidental discovery may lead to its experimental use, which could eventually lead to its acceptance as alternative anti-hemorrhagic agent for wounds.
The fourth logic – dialectical change (Morgan, 2006: 273-275) – involved the concepts of contradiction and crisis. It is based on the Marxian method in studying opposites and contradictions (Carlsen & Gjersvik, 1997). It means that opposites mutually struggle with each other (first principle), or that negation negates itself (second principle), or that of change that is revolutionary (third principle). It means that a disadvantageous policy tend to be disputed by the outcome of its implementation. If, for instance, the chaplaincy demands that it serves the Army needs in two specific days in a week only, the Army personnel and their families may eventually cease to seek help from the chaplaincy, putting a question on the unit’s relevance in the Army’s service, and may lead to the decommissioning of the corps. This logic is a negative principle, though, which makes it somewhat awkward to adopt in a service that should espouse positivism.
Management style depends highly upon how the organization is or perceived. A democratic management style will cause chaos in a system-defined organization, and the manager will eventually succumb to the dehumanizing forces of machine-like culture circulating within its walls. For management to achieve the goals of the organization, both should be mutually compatible. The ten management principles described in Part I of this paper lean primarily towards the contingency theory and Henri Poincare’s chaos theory, which allow so much flexibility and freedom to navigate around the unpredictable behavior and needs of the chaplaincy staff and their Army personnel. This is consistent with the demands of the chaplaincy mandate towards the entire Army organization.
Based on Morgan’s metaphor of an organization as in constant flux and transformation, the Army chaplaincy corps had the potential to be expansive in its experience and learning – and consequently, its competency – in serving the socio-spiritual needs the Army personnel and their families. It describe an organization that is highly dynamic and always in the edge of development and growing capability to serve their clients better and better.
Moreover, the metaphor is largely compatible with both the contingency and the chaos theories in their emphatic advantages in fluid situations or in environments wherein static services may fall short of clientele expectations. Both the metaphor and the management theories thrive and prove effective and adaptable in situations of uncertainty, unpredictability, and infinite possibilities. Should the Army chaplaincy corps reformulate itself along these metaphor and theories, there is no telling the level of performance it can achieve in serving their fellow soldiers. However, it is certain that the organization transform along the metaphor of flux and the theories of contingency and chaos to accomplish its mandate of service to the Army.
Carlsen, S. & Gjersvik, R. (1997, Nov). Organizational metaphors as lenses for analyzing
workflow technology, ACM SigGroup GROUP’97 Conference (Phoenix, AZ) 1:10.
Cole, G.A. (2004). Management Theory and Practice, Sixth Edition. London: Thomson
Hawthorne, M. (2015) Management theories & concepts at the workplace, Chron. (Accessed on
16 Feb 2015)
Morgan, G. (1998). Images of Organization, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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