Q ) From your work history, it looks like you can't stay in one industry or sector. How did that affect your book?
I have moved around a lot - through the private, non-profit and public sectors. I’ve seen lots of different organizations from the inside, and they all had similar, fundamental problems. In the last seventeen years, I’ve been directly working on transforming organizations. I had an opportunity to try out different approaches in different settings. This book is a result of all of that research and experience.
Q ) In your book, you propose nominees for the Hall of Fame for Management Fads Gone Wrong. What do you think of management consultants?
Management consulting has both generated and accelerated the use of poor approaches to managing and leading organizations. To be fair, management consultants were caught up - as we all were - in a way of thinking that has one hundred plus years of momentum behind it. But, they also didn’t take a critical look at what they were saying or doing to validate the approaches they were pushing. They were more focused on creating the next “hot” consulting trend - like matrix management or “teaming” - which ended up actually damaging so many organizations.
Q ) Your book ends with a set of steps an individual could take within their zombie organization to bring it back to life and become “smart.” And yet you describe how entrenched and embedded the zombie thinking and systems are. Do you really think that change is possible?
Yes, partly because the outside pressures on zombie organizations to change are enormous and partly because maintaining the current, rigid, zombie operating approach in any organization takes such enormous effort. Organizations are complex, adaptive systems and just a small change, carefully nurtured, can beget other changes. Change is possible because the alternative, in my opinion, is unthinkable: We continue to let 70% or more of employees be disengaged. We continue to waste precious organizational time and effort. No. I can't accept that alternative. We can have energized people working in organizations to create better and faster solutions to the world’s problems and to deliver better products and services to stakeholders.