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.