What is SEAM?
SEAM stands for the Socio-Economic Approach to Management. an alternative method to managing organizations and implementing organizational change. This method was developed in France in 1973, and since then it has been successfully implemented in more than 1800 organizations, in 72 industries, in 43 countries.
After 45 years of practice and research, the approach has proven to be extremely effective. The key to SEAM’s effectiveness is the calculating and reducing hidden costs that normal accounting overlooks. The savings in time and money are channeled into developing a human potential in the organization, which leads to increased employee engagement and organizational effectiveness.
What is different about SEAM?
Socio-economic focus. The efficient workplace must deal with the human side of the workplace, as well as the profit, or economic, side. That is what socio-economic is all about. The current mental model of management places much more attention on the economic side rather than on the people side, or as it is frequently called, dismissively, “the soft side.” Ironically, focusing only on the economic side leads to a reduction of organizational productivity and profits in the long-term.
Human potential. The socio-economic focus allows for developing human potential, another cornerstone idea of the socio-economic theory. SEAM is based on the premise that the source of value added in organizations lies in developing human potential. The most effective way to increase an organization’s profit is to invest in people and grow their potential. When people develop, they become more engaged, and more interested in contributing to the organization’s well-being. All people have potential and, if they are in the right place, they can add value to an organization.
The role of management. One of the goals of SEAM is to change how people manage. While it may be politically incorrect to say this about management, it is necessary to identify that the cause of many organizational problems is poor management. Poor management is not the fault of the individual managers; it is both a failure of an organizational system and the result of the dominant mental model of management. SEAM grows managers and leaders, so they are effective in their role of steering people toward organizational strategic goals.
Changing the system vs. changing individuals. Frequently, when there is a problem in an organization, the tendency is to blame individuals. However, an organization is a system and if something does not work, then the system becomes unhealthy. The unhealthy system is the problem; so blaming individuals will not fix the organizational system. Organizational problems and dysfunctions are what evaporate people’s energy. SEAM’s focus is on fixing the system without attaching the blame for problems to individuals.
Hidden costs analysis. Calculating hidden costs analysis provides leaders with additional information which they usually do not have when making decisions. According to socio-economic theory, modern accounting does not measure around 40% of what happens financially in an organization. In any given organization, there can be thousands of dysfunctions and hidden costs can range between $20,000 and $80,000 per employee per year. For an organization to be efficient and stay competitive in the market, leaders need accurate and full information for decision making. Calculating hidden costs fills the gap between traditional accounting and financial reality in which the organization operates.
Minds of Summer: A conversation with Alla Heorhiadi & John Conbere
Cape Cod Institute's Teresa Martin hosts a conversation with the SEAM Institute's Alla Heorhiadi and John Conbere to learn how can workers be both productive and satisfied in their jobs and find out more about the philosophies of organizations.