Action plans and management porn

David Gurteen picks up on Peter Block’s ideas: If we wish to change the world we must first change our mind. I like how David puts it:

maybe our ideas about what constitutes action are all wrong

and here’s a bit of Block on this point:

…we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

This puts me in mind of David Bohm’s notion that we have lost proprioception of thought. When we engage in change as a mental process we don’t realise how disconnected we become from the world we are trying to change.

Neil Perkin picked up this interesting model of change a few weeks ago.  It’s cute and expresses some of what seems to go wrong with these change programmes. But I also think it typifies the kind of thinking Block challenges. We get a notion of change that requires the alignment of all sorts of things to happen. It implies that someone must be in charge to crack the whip and force everything into place. It caricatures any version of events short of perfection as unsuccessful. It purports to seek unity but really assumes fragmentation. The ideas of emergence and serendipity are excluded.

It’s a highly-charged fantasy that relates to the real world but in a fundamentally flawed way. It’s really management pornography where everyone can have a massive action plan.

I am more and more interested in getting away from this kind of grand narrative and seeing what can shift in the here and now, the conversation I am in at the moment.

1 thought on “Action plans and management porn

  1. Tim Kitchin

    I am very fond of Thich Nhat Hahn’s notion of ‘interbeing’ – that relentless sense of connectedness, which means we can change nothing unless we ourselves change…but if we do make even small changes within our consciousness, they can have massive effect. The paradox is that only by letting go of our attachment to these outcomes, can we make the necessary change…hard…but VERY rewarding.

    Reply

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