What’s Wrong With The Church, Part 12: Corporate Culture
There are two great, unsolved mysteries in the Independent Field at present. The first concerns the circumstances of LRH’s death and the events preceding it. The second concerns how David Miscavige managed to subvert and essentially destroy the Church, starting from a period of time before LRH died. We may never know the full details of both these mysteries. But I wanted to explore the aftermath of the latter mystery here and now.
There is a phenomenon in business known as a “corporate culture”. This can take on any number of forms, but it essentially comes down to how a company conducts itself internally. Does it drive its employees to the point where it experiences excessive turnover, or nurture them so that they stay with the company for years? Are their quarters posh and well-maintained, or are they considered secondary to the task of getting products out the door? Do they pay well or poorly? Do they actually care about the quality of the products they produce, or are such matters considered superfluous? Do the executives express disdain and lack of consideration for employees, or are employees and their contributions considered important? Do management and workers seem to exist as armed camps, opposed to each other, or do they cooperate to produce better products more efficiently? Is the company rife with covert intrigue, or do employees avoid a lot of political entanglements internally? All these things and more go into what makes up “corporate culture”.
You can see the contrast in corporate cultures by comparing companies. For example, IBM, often referred to by the slang term “Big Blue”, versus Apple, Inc. IBM is known for its button-down formal corporate culture. Apple is known more for its free-wheeling, risk-taking internal vibe. The comparison is easy to make in this case, because the corporate cultures are so different. In the case of Shell Oil and British Petroleum, perhaps the comparison doesn’t show much difference.
Corporate culture is something that is “baked in” to a company by its founders and later on by those who lead it after the founders no longer participate in the daily activities of the company. It may or may not remain the same as it was, once the founders vacate, depending on who leads. You can see this by studying the history of movie studios and (music) record companies. The changes in the corporate cultures of these companies over time has been stark and unmistakable.
Corporate culture is also something which influences groups which may not technically be companies, like Girl Scouts of America, the YMCA,the NAACP, or your local symphony orchestra. These, too, have corporate cultures which start at their founding and shape them down through time.
Now, like any other group or company, the Church of Scientology also has a corporate culture. Each individual group, mission, org or management unit has its own corporate culture. But the Church overall has a distinct corporate culture.
If possible, find someone who originally served under LRH in an org or on a ship where he was. Listen to the stories people tell, and you’ll get an idea about the corporate culture he fostered. Now listen to someone who served there, say, five years after LRH was no longer connected to that entity. Notice the difference. This is worthwhile as an exercise in observing how much corporate cultures can change over time, sometimes a very short time
One of the observations you will probably make of the Independent Field is its relentless, almost phobic aversion to policy (with a capital P) and the creation of Org-like entities in the Field. Why? Because of the corporate culture they were exposed to in the Church before they got out. This culture goes back to many years before LRH died, and many years before David Miscavige ever had anything to do with the Church. People in the Independent Field, insufficiently policy trained, make an A=A=A identification of this culture with green-on-white policy. However, the truth is the exact opposite. Any negative corporate culture of the Church is due in whole or in part directly to departures from LRH policy.
The Church is (or should be) an extremely different kind of organization than any you’ve been involved with before or since. In almost every other group or organization in existence, while there may be some sort of policy in place, loyalty to those in charge and following orders is senior to any policy which may exist. In a battle between policy and orders/loyalty, orders/loyalty win. That’s the way it normally works, and poeple understand this instinctively. But in a Church of Scientology, policy and orders are supposed to be aligned, with policy the senior entity. Loyalty to seniors, while desirable, is secondary to the rest of the admin scale in a Scientology organization. LRH makes clear that you can never be shot for following or insisting on green-on-white policy and orders which forward it.
Unfortunately, when (usually young) people join staff, they often adhere to the non-Scientology understanding that orders and loyalty are senior to policy, even though LRH says otherwise. And in this way, the corporate culture of Scientology organizations can be, is and has been subverted. This is the first condition which contributes to a toxic corporate culture in the Church. The Church is supposed to operate in a fashion which is 180 degrees opposite from any other organization.
The second factor which contributes to a toxic Scientology corporate culture is the fact that those on staff and in management are insufficiently trained in policy, and too willing to abandon it in the face of pressure otherwise. LRH made very clear (and proved it on many occasions) that ruthless application of standard policy would make a happy, prosperous organization. But new recruits don’t know the policy well enough, and aren’t ruthless enough in following and insisting on it. They are minimally trained on policy when they take over positions in an org, and often get minimal additional training in it as time goes on. Instead, day-to-day operations in an org are driven by frantic orders, often in contravention of clear LRH policy. It has been this way since green-on-white policy began to be issued. Over time, you can see where policy fades in importance compared with just getting something out the door. Ever hear of “stat pushes”? They arise directly from the above.
If you’ve been in Scientology long enough (say, thirty or more years) you’ve seen the above in operation. And the resulting corporate culture has often made orgs and management units hard to work in and deal with. It has also made orgs less prosperous than they should be. Mission staff often remark on this, with regard to orgs and management units. (Mission staff are less rigorously managed, and the corporate culture of mission founders has a more immediate impact on them.)
The third factor which has influenced the toxic corporate culture of the Church is the wholesale subversion and abandonment of policy and tech in favor of crush regging and non-delivery. This was introduced by David Miscavige and others of his ilk. Orders go out to reg all the money possible from public for whatever the latest pet project is. Staff are given stiff, if not impossible targets for this, and no attention is given to getting people in to do services. Stiff justice actions are threatened if targets are not met. Disagreement is not allowed. Even public are subjected to harsh consequences if they balk or fail to give “enough”. If any actual service delivery occurs, it is an overt product which makes the public sick and disinclined to come anywhere near an org.
And thus, you have a toxic corporate culture in the Church of Scientology, as we see it today. This also gives a clue about what it might take to reverse the course of the Church. How long would it take and what kind of effort would be involved to change the corporate culture 180 degrees to what it should be?