I attended a training day run by one of my colleagues the other day. As an icebreaker she asked us to think about which sitcom we identified most with our working lives.
I came up with Sgt Bilko as he’s always been one of my heroes.
The more I think about it the more Bilko seems to serve as the ideal career model. Lots of the rhetoric about career makes bold claims about the declining role of organisations and organisational structures as determinants of career. We are apparently living in a boundaryless working world and building protean careers.
However, it seems to be that a lot of this is rather overblown. In fact our careers are highly constrained by the context in which we live and work and we play them out in relation to that context. This is where Bilko comes in. Bilko is the arch organisational politician. He is able to operate within a large organisation but maintain huge amounts of personal autonomy through his quick thinking, flexibility and support from his immediate team. He makes the organisation work for him rather than being limited and defined by it.
Of course he is also a malingering crook, but you can’t have everything.
Watch him in action!
I think that’s called the application of structure and agency theory?
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