Some time ago Ivan Webb reminded me of a quote from Doug Griffin’s book The Emergence of Leadership. To my mind this is the best book in the Stacy series. Its a good exposition of complexity theory without the obsession with Meade and the polemic against systems thinking. I came across it again while I was sorting out the library and reproduce it below:
The dominant view in the organizational world (is one in which) the future is split off and exclusively focused on in the form of vision, simple rules, values and plans, so distracting attention from the present and reducing the future to simple aspects that can be manipulated to determine the present
Now understanding the implications of this is one of the biggest problems faced by conventionally trained managers, and it may be a step too far for most consultants! I see three dangers in focusing on future ideal states, as opposed to managing more effectively in the present.
Aside from these there is the sheer time involved. I have spent far too many weeks as a General Manger, and a business manager before that, locked into strategic planning and budgeting processes which are all corporate games. I have seen political astute players re-language (their words not mine) their pet ideas to appear to confirm with the new strategic objectives. In IBM a lot of people used the find and replace function to change the twirly e-logo to on demand without evening thinking about the meaning of the new brand.
Of course visionary journeys through the silvan forests to the land of milk and honey that lies beyond is much more fun that dealing with the harsh reality of the present. Its also one in which your friendly native guide and their consultancy team will lead you by the nose.
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