“CULTURE SHOCK:” WHAT THE AMERICAN PSYCHOANALYTIC ASSOCIATION CAN LEARN FROM GENERAL MOTORS

I first want to thank the members of the New Center for Psychoanalysis
in Los Angeles who came out Thursday night for the “Meet and Greet.” I
was moved by the turnout, dinner and terrific discussion about the
issues facing APsaA. Special thanks to Paulene Popek, Jeffry
Seitelman, Mel Mandel, Jeffry Prager for putting the evening together.

Much of the discussion focused on how a president or president-elect
can seriously effect change or lead our organization.

In an early election posting this summer, I said I worried we were at
risk of becoming “the G.M.” of organized psychoanalysis. I am
sometimes relieved that my father, born and raised in Detroit, did not
live to see how a once vibrant industry of which he was always in awe,
crashed and burned. However, as today NY Times reports, G.M. has
emerged from bankruptcy with a new vision and culture. And the
lessons?

In the article titled: “Culture Shock: GM Struggles to Shed Its
Legendary Bureaucracy and Remake Its Attitude.” The reporter writes of
the “old” G.M.: “Decisions were made, if at all, at glacial pace,
bogged down by endless committees, reports, and reviews that
astonished members of President Obama’s auto task force.”

One former consultant wrote: “…the [old] culture emphasized past
glories and current market share, rather than focusing on the
future…..’Those values were driven from the top down, and anyone
inside who protested that attitude was buried.”

And finally, “In the old G.M. any changes to the product program would
be reviewed by as many as 70 executives often taking two months for a
decision to wind its way through regional forums, then to a global
committee, and finally go to the all powerful automotive products
board.”

Hmm. Replace the word “product” with “the graduate psychoanalyst.”

WE ARE NOT BANKRUPT. WE HAVE A TERRIFIC PRODUCT, BUT WE HAVE NOT KEPT
UP IN THE MARKET OF PSYCHOANALYTIC EDUCATION, PRACTICE AND RESEARCH.
WE HAVE LOST OUR SHARE OF THE MARKET TO OTHER INSTITUTES AND
ORGANIZATIONS. I AM RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT BECAUSE I KNOW WE
CAN CHANGE THIS.

Last evening at the NCP, I tried to emphasize that the president and
president-elect of APsaA must lead with vision, transform old
attitudes, but most importantly, have the willingness to acknowledge
what is not working, and take action. Not behind the scenes. Not in a
plenary or papers, but openly and in ways a leader, well, leads.

My opponent, who has voted against two of our most significant reform
bylaws, (ironically, versions of which are finally being discussed in
the BOPS tasks forces for major revisions) has suggested he does not
believe in bylaw change, but rather more task forces or special
discussion groups to create more process and reach greater consensus.

I’m afraid we are far past such a position or strategy. He suggests
that we need “more consensus,” yet when he was president 9 years ago,
he has acknowledged, in Chicago and last evening in L.A., that he was
unable to get that consensus and effect change.

This election is about a new leadership and new strategies.
Leadership is not about campaigning on the promise of change, only to
default back to old ways or more inaction. The President and
President-elect are responsible for moving the organization forward.
If structures are seriously interfering with the growth and well being
of the association, leadership must act. If a committee of the
corporation is not functioning in the best interests of the
association, then the Council is charged to make changes.

Institutes must continue to create innovative ways of educating and
recruiting. INSTITUTES ARE NOT REBELLING. INSTITUTES ARE TRYING TO
COMPETE IN THE CURRENT MARKET OF PSYCHOANALYTIC EDUCATION TO REGAIN
THE MARKET SHARE, AND AVOID BANKRUPTCY, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY.
HOW CAN WE NOT SUPPORT THEM IN TRYING TO DO THAT?

Haven’t we have done things the old way for too long? The majority of
members want serious change as was seen in three by-law votes only
slightly below a 2/3’s majority. Let’s try something new. If new
strategies and new ways of functioning do not succeed, the minority
will again become a majority and vote in that direction.

Last evening, the worry about about “splits” came up in the
conversation, sometimes another “elephant”. Let me be clear. I’m
from the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, established in 1932.
WE DON’T DO SPLITS. We continue to passionately debate, argue, and
then together, go to lunch. Really.

Let’s try something new. My style, as any of you who know me would
attest, is about passionate debate, and finally, a course of action,
and then, “Let’s go to lunch.”

The G.M. article ends with an G.M. executive saying, “There has been
fear in the organization, and people have been afraid for their jobs.
But now we need to be open and more and transparent and trust each
other, and be honest about our strengths and weaknesses.”

That’s the lesson of G.M. And, this election is about that kind of
honesty, change and moving forward. Thanks again to the NCP.

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