In the previous post, I suggested that the most accurate way to describe what managers do in practice is that they "muddle through". Crucially, this is not some second-best response to the challenges that they face. It’s the only thing that they can do, given the social complexities of everyday organizational life.
However, this sits uneasily with the assumptions that still govern mainstream management thinking. From that perspective, performance is seen as the result of formal, rational analysis of ‘the facts’; step-by-step decision-making by people whose agendas are fully aligned; and the seamless translation of those decisions into programmable action ‘on the ground’. In Informal Coalitions, I sought to expose this as a fiction. I argued there that ‘outcomes’ arise instead from informal interactions, joint sense-making, and political accommodations, made by people who are trying to make a difference in the complex, uncertain and ambiguous conditions that they experience day to day.