On the following pages the various stages and focal points of the development of organizational processes are presented. The development of organizational structures was an important theme throughout the project. The challenge was to be able to think in other economic sectors and disciplines to find out what it means to run a hotel.
How does a group of people who do not know each other organize themselves?
The project started directly with an experiment. The project group was given the task to sleep one night outside at the University of Neighborhoods. There have been two rules: The building of the university was not to be entered and only a limited amount of money was allowed to be spent. How to do that? First the group set up an agenda to gain an overview of what needs to be organized and put it into tasks. Then they focused on the strengths of each group member. Questions came up like: "Who‘s familiar with the site?“ or some took on tasks due to special abilities. At the end, five groups emerged who were responsible for different tasks. Strengths and weaknesses are not always due only to personal characteristics or abilities. For example, many people had recently moved to Hamburg, and did not have many things, such as sleeping bags etc. The strength of people from Hamburg was that they could compensate for their weakness, because they could bring two sleeping bags.
First experience in practice as organization meets reality
Organization of Dinner No. 1
At the Wednesday dinners duties and responsibilities were distributed to smaller groups. Every week, there was a different group that was responsible for the organization of the evening. At the first Wednesdays Dinner, the other group took care of tasks related to the evening, like documentation, bar service, reception. Later in the project, one single group took over all the duties of the evening and other groups worked on the project. A special feature within the organizational structure were the agents that brought us together with many other actors that we would otherwise never have reached. To find staff, such as cooks, musicians or kitchen assistants, or cooperation partners from Wilhelmsburg was the most difficult task in the organization of the Wednesday Dinners. At a certain point we built a network of reliable supporters. It has been found that direct contact is extremely important. Thus, the best contacts are concluded.
How the situation came about: Actors of a constructed situation respective to dinner...
The Food Group had the idea to initiate a cooking session within the project group and those who are at the UdN anyway. Everyone should bring a few ingredients, from which an impromptu dish should be cooked. In practice it turned out different. At the same time, our artist curator Jan Holtmann spoke with another group. He had a bigger idea: to open the restaurant of the hotel directly. In this situation Jan was the director, the person who initiated the overall idea. And Arne Wortman, one of our agents, already had contacts for us, whom we could ask to cook for us. The group who spoke with Jan and Arne, now had a job – they had to organize the evening and distribute tasks to be prepared for the evening. At this point they took on the roles of the regisseur for the evening. They were responsible for the decisions they made, either hire a chef, find the right dish or equip the restaurant. The other groups that took over other tasks and have thus become direct contributors in the situation. Another actor were the guests, who did not participate in the organization process. But only with their engagement the situation was possible. 1
Non-organized situations in the OPEN KITCHEN
Fear and loathing in the Kitchen... I think at some points we saw ourselves as regulators, who have a decision-making power or whose job it was to make the right decisions to achieve the best possible result for the evening. The analysis on the previous page describes it as a regisseur, a more friendly terminology would be to describe the role as of a regulator.
One example: during the preparation and organisation of one dinner, we feard a conflict concerning the chef cook and the helpers in the kitchen. Because we asked a turkish lady to cook for us and at the same time a faithful companion of the project asked us...
B.: Should I come early and cook?
We then discussed for various reasons whether the combination can work or not...
T.: B. asks if he should come earlier to cook. What should we tell him? Can he come to help? Do you think he and the Turkish Lady are a good combination? Can it work?
One of the group members pointed out that...
M.: Turkish women generally do not like any other people in their kitchen. We already managed the menu, what will he cook? And please ask him not to drink alcohol around her. Do not put my life in Danger!
Then we tried to consider how it might work.
M.: Hmm actually I don‘t know... I‘m not sure if he is familiar with the turkish food and if he can handle it just to be an asissant. But he will come anyway so let‘s make the best out of it :) We can try to let them work together.
At the end not only B. took part in the cooking session, also Jörg A. appeared unexpectedly and helped with the cooking. There was then a pleasant unexpected situation. And we had a very tasty meal.
Working on scenarios to expose organizational structures
At various points we tried to determine the appropriate organizational structure by working out different scenarios. It has been shown that a proper organizational structure can not be found in this way only. The development and establishment of organizational structures requires a continuous feedback with the current situation. That means, only through continuous testing und readjusting organizational structures can establish within the ongoing process.
The work on scenarios has not only helped to get a feel for what it means to operate a hotel. On this page you can see a graphical derivation of a scenario that addresses the washing of laundry of the hotel. In addition, it has identified knowledge gaps, which certainly play a role in the organization of a hotel.
Conventionally, job profiles are defined in order to find workers to fill a particular position and perform a particular job. Would it not make more sense if workers themselves create their field of work, according to their interests and abilities? One group was working on scenarios for different job profiles, who do not emerge from a fictional organization structure and describe a specific job, there it is rather a search for appropriate skills and knowledge that an employee should bring. According to knowledge and skills different tasks can then be performed by one person. This means that it is created by the profile of the employee, what form the organizational structure of the hotel will take.
Working in a multi-structured organization structure
Already in the project, students were divided into and working in different thematic groups. So in relation to the job profile, we had already tested a model for a multidimensional jobs. In our case, the operating groups organized the wednesday evenings and worked on the development of the hotel components (Food, Reception, Sanitary). At the same time a second group formation focused on the topics of architecture, organisation and public relations. These groups have formed mainly on the basis of interests and special skills.
The focused Hotel structure and a critical comment
To legalize the doings of the project, which had already stretched far beyond the boundaries of a student Project, the organization group worked on a structure, which should meet the requirements of the particular situation of Hotel. Due to the particular situation, an individual solution was needed. Therefore, a complex organizational structure had been created, which was repeatedly extended, adapted and modified. The difficulty was to develop an organizational structure that, despite the limited financial resources or because of it, excludes a private individual liability. This task seemed almost not to be solvable. A solution was eventually to set up a caucus of representatives within the organizational structure who are able to assess risks due to their experience and to avert it. This structure existed until recently mostly on paper. In this case, it may be the same difficulty as in the overall development of an organizational structure in the project. Here first, a structure has been worked to perfection without testing it directly in the concrete situation. At the end the structure was so complex and huge that a translation in the current situation would have been difficult. Because it would only work if all positions would be filled.
- in relation to the text "Vorbereitende Probleme zur Konstruktion einer Situation“ by Raoul Vaneigem of the year 1990. In: Der große Schlaf und seine Kunden. Situationistische Texte zur Kunst, Hamburg, S. 41-45. ↩