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my biggest issue with kotter's stuff is that it is all top-down. all the responsibility is on management doing the right things. my 25 years of experience says it doesn't work that way. i don't understand why people continue to go down the same road over and over, while expecting different results. our clients are looking for something based on how things really work.

Chris Rodgers

I fully agree, Jamie. What Kotter and others don't seem to understand (or at least acknowledge) is that, even where managers do all of the formal stuff 'better' and 'get it right', the outcomes that emerge will still be the result of people's everyday conversations and interactions.

Unless what managers do helps to shift the patterns and content of these dynamic conversational networks - both their formal and, in particular, informal dimensions - then they should not be surprised when outcomes don't match expectations.

Although Kotter uses stories of informal interactions to illustrate many of the points in "A Sense of Urgency", the centrality of conversational dynamics to successful change appears to pass him by.

Peter Cook

I'm sitting uneasily on the fence with this - Whilst I can understand why Kotter might want to produce another piece of 'easy listening' on a complex topic - after all he seems to keep selling the same message.

I can also understand and appreciate the unsatisfactory nature of 'dumbing down' a complex and chaotic process into 8 'best practice steps'.

So he would score 10/10 on expediency / commercial realism, but rather less on ethics / authenticity.

I doubt he needs the money - Last time I asked him to review a book, he said he barely had enough time to play golf.


Chris Rodgers

Thanks, Peter.

Sitting on the fence is a perfectly reasonable place to be!

My own'unreasonableness'arises from a belief that simplistic, 'n-step' processes and similar prescriptions offer managers the illusion of being 'in control' that doesn't reflect the 'real life' dynamics of organization that they experience every day.

It's important, of course, to be pragmatic in the application of principles that take seriously the complex social reality of organizational life. But, as you imply, pragmatism that does not make clear the practical implications of real-world complexity and uncertainty soon degenerates into expediency. And another question for me would be, "'Commercial realism' from whose perspective?"

Cheers, Chris

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