In case you are not familiar with Six Sigma, a few of its key premises are:
- Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results (i.e., reduce process variation) of vital importance to business success
- Manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled.
- Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.
I particularly like the second bullet - it communicates clearly that total automation would be the ideal production scenario, in lieu of that, human beings must be made to conform to machines as much as is possible.
As a counterpoint to the managerial approaches seen in the private sector, theories on the management of public bureaucracies have acknowledged the power of the "street-level" bureaucrat. Street level bureaucrat, coined by Michael Lipsky, refers to the power of persons who actually implement policy and procedures to thwart the effectiveness of the policy. (I think of the person behind the counter at the DMV, or the one on the phone who transfers you continually while you are trying to find an answer for a utility charge.)
The point being that these individuals are able to "resist" the red-tape and loss of control in their day-to-day jobs by simply not moving, or not moving very fast. Private sector employees may have more to fear if they resist this loss of autonomy, so their resistance may be more subtle. Nevertheless, it is there. It seems to me that the problems of resistance in each environment have to do with need for persons to feel, well like humans, valued, I guess.
So, what does this have to do with literacy? As we swing from one end of the pendulum to the other in the struggle over power relationships within work environments (public and private) and theories about how and why they occur, can't we just sit down and listen to one another, and maybe even ourselves? I really puzzled over the closing paragraphs of chapter two (pg 100) in Belfiore. Even for a workplace educator, fear overrides efficacy.