The Heretic’s Guide shortlisted for Foreword’s 2013 Book of The Year Awards!

Foreword Reviews recently announced the finalists for their 2013 Book of The Year Awards. We’re absolutely thrilled to note that The Heretic’s Guide has been shortlisted in two categories: Business/Economics and Careers. Check out this review, published late last year, to see what they think of the book.

The Foreword Reviews Awards are intended to raise the profile of high quality works published by independent authors and small publishers. As their press release states:

Each year, Foreword shines a light on a small group of indie authors and publishers whose groundbreaking work stands out from the crowd. Foreword’s awards are more than just a shiny sticker on the front of a book; they help connect the best indie books to readers eager to discover new stories written by previously unknown authors.

In the next two months, a panel of over 100 librarians and booksellers will determine the winners of these prestigious awards.

We’re hugely honoured to be included in this select band of authors, and would like to thank all our readers and reviewers for their support without which this would not have happened.

Social complexity – a common issue in enterprise IT projects

In a recent interview, Kailash  made the following point about enterprise-scale IT projects:

Large system projects involve many stakeholders and are therefore socially complex. This complexity is reflected in the difficulties that managers encounter when attempting to build a shared understanding of a project between all stakeholders, and, based on that, a shared commitment to a course of action.

For such projects, collaborative approaches are the only way to go. “The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices” is largely about how one can create the right conditions for collaborative work in organisations…

We should add that the techniques discussed in the book are generic in that they apply to projects in any domain, not just IT. Quoting from a recent review on Amazon:

“…This book is relevant for anyone who works with diverse groups of people with different perspectives, objectives & priorities, and have to arrive at decisions for complex issues. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in….”

Indeed, most of the case studies in the book are from non-IT domains.

Clarion Review of The Heretic’s Guide

We are delighted that The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices has received a five star rating from ForeWord Reviews. Here’s what the reviewer, Barry Silverstein, had to say about the book:

Modern business organizations of any appreciable size often wrestle with ways to improve their processes, execute major projects more efficiently, and find solutions to complex problems. Such challenges inevitably involve a lot of people, petty politics, and, as as result, widespread frustration. In an effort to get everyone working together, senior executives in many organizations rely on “best practices” to solve their problems. 

The dirty little secret, according to business/technology consultants Paul Culmsee  and Kailash Awati, is that “there is no best practice” to solve every problem, because “it is impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all process.” Instead, the authors offer a systematic approach that combines three main techniques to create a “holding environment in which open dialogue … can occur.”

The description of this approach may sound a bit daunting, but Culmsee and Awati lead the reader through a carefully organized, well-researched, three-part discussion that deftly combines theory with practice…

Read the full review at:


Star edition of Heretics Guide Released


Our publisher, iUniverse, recently awarded the Heretics Guide to Best Practices Star Status. The STAR Program identifies, celebrates and supports authors who have achieved high levels of editorial and bookselling success. One of the benefits of this program is a new edition of the book being published, and among other things, the book is featured placement in a separate STAR Program section of the iUniverse Online Bookstore

Paul and Kailash are humbled by readers support for the book, and honoured that iUniverse judged the book to be worthy of consideration and proud that it was deemed to be of a sufficient quality to make the grade.


Readers who have purchased the old edition of the book need not fear – this is a minor edit and refresh and no major changes were made. But this doesn’t preclude you telling all of your friends to buy this edition! Smile

Paul demonstrates Dialogue Mapping at

Paul was recently interviewed by Nick Martin, the founder of the excellent site which is a new site dedicated to becoming the premier online resource for change management tools. It was a great honour for Paul to be able to participate and the interview was wide ranging and fun.

There are two podcasts, the first is Paul talking about the craft of Dialogue Mapping, as well as some insights on the Heretics Guide book. The second is a fun demonstration of the technique, on a particularly “wicked” problem Smile


WSB 005 : How To Use Dialogue Mapping To Drive Workshops

Paul and Kailash interviewed on TogiNet Radio

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Steve Jorgensen of TogiNet Radio about some of the themes in “The Heretic’s Guide”. The 15 minute conversation ranged over several topics we cover in the book including command and control management, the origins of the waterfall methodology, rational dialogue, holding environments and the Borg from Star Trek!

The interview was aired @ 15:00 hrs EST (US Time) on 26th August 2012 as part of the iUniverse Show on TogiNet Radio. For those of you who missed it,  the complete recording is available below.

Note: Those using older browsers may need to access the mp3 file by following this link.

The Heretic’s Guide wins bronze at the Axiom Business Book Awards for 2012!

We are thrilled to announce that The Heretic’s Guide has been awarded a bronze medal at the Axiom Business Book Awards for 2012, under the category Operations Management/Lean/Continuous Improvement.

We are truly honoured that the panel found our self-published work worthy of an award.

If you are interested in finding out more about the book, please check out the sample chapters and reviews.

There are also a number of customer reviews on Amazon.

As the book has no big publisher marketing behind it, we’d greatly appreciate your spreading the word!

About the Book

We humans are a bizarre lot because our ability to work together on complex endeavours – a skill that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom – can also operate in negative ways. For example, we can put a man on the moon, yet many couples who have committed to a partnership based on love, fidelity, trust, respect and mutual support, cannot so much as rearrange furniture without having a domestic dispute.

Why do some projects end up like domestic disputes, yet others that are infinitely more complicated succeed, and thus push the boundaries of what humanity is capable of? We assert that the number one reason organisational initiatives fail is because they attempt to implement solutions without first developing a shared (or common) understanding of the problem. This leads to chaos, confusion and unhappy stakeholders. Yet even when these symptoms are recognised, the solutions that are applied generally hinder rather than help. Whilst there is substantial published research that offers insights and answers as to why this happens only truly nerdy people ever bother to read it. Consequently there is a gap between professional practice and research.

We’ve studied the work of many academics who have recognised and written about this. The problem is that these works challenge many widely accepted managerial practices. As a result these ideas have been rejected, ignored or considered outright heretical, and thus languish (largely unread) in journals.

We love heretical ideas – particularly when they support conclusions we have reached through our professional experiences. However we like readability even more – interesting ideas are no good if they can only be understood by PhDs. We believe such insights are best conveyed through stories and analogies that people can relate to and so we have written this journey through the seedy underbelly of organisational problem solving, in an accessible, relaxed and conversational style. The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices pinpoints the reasons why best practices don’t work as advertised and what can be done about it. Learn why conventional wisdom is not always wise and discover how the promise of best practices can be delivered for you and your organisation.