I have argued before that management scholarship doesn’t change very quickly. I have made the point that research articles that are decades old still offer a great deal of value. That was all well and good until I tried to find pre-reading in preparation for a strategic planning workshop that I would be facilitating. I came across a great article, one that was really relevant in shaping the thinking of my proposed audience, until I read it in more detail. And had to dismiss it as being too old. Understanding why that was true took some thinking.
Where did the year go? It seems just last week that I was outlining my plans for 2022, and here we are at the beginning of 2023. It has been a year of ups and downs. I have had a number of successes that I’m proud of. I’ve also had some hope-for outcomes fail to materialize, and some unexpected distractions along the way. Overall, however, it has been as good a year as was possible under the circumstances. And I’m very much looking forward to this next one.
Whether we are ready or not, strong mayor powers now exist in the province of Ontario. Whether they are used is an open question. What they mean, and their potential consequences, is much clearer.
I’ve written a lot about process. I’ve spent a lot of time sharing what good and bad process looks like, and advocating for better process over best process. What I’ve not focused on—which is an interesting oversight—is the mindset and personality of the people who actually build process for a living. This is important, because it goes a long way to explaining why we get the kinds of processes that we do. And what needs to change if we want to get processes that truly work.
Many of us are watching the unfolding drama that is the real-time disintegration of Twitter, as both platform and organization. It is a spectacular example of culture being destroyed after a change in leadership. While Twitter is cultural destruction on a very large scale, the same challenges play out in organizations all the time, particularly as leadership changes. Culture is hard to build and easy to destroy. How do you recover from a cultural stumble?
The work that I specialize in is figuring out viable solutions to complex, messy and challenging projects. It is intense and it is consuming. There are also numerous pitfalls to doing it well. You try to create clarity around something that is inherently unclear. You also need to avoid making it too simple, where simple answers become tempting and potentially create further challenges. Doing this work is as much art as it is science.