By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices: The Reality of Managing Complex Problems in Organisations
By Paul Culmsee & Kailash Awati (iUniverse Inc, $38.93, softcover, 394 pages)
The title says it all and the book explains it elaborately: examining how groups of people can work to portray a compound problem and to detect feasible solutions.
This is clear-cut with the book being divided into three sections: the first debates why “best practices” often crash when faced with complications; the second places scrutiny on how people can work together (with emphasis on dialogue mapping— about capturing the rationale of conversation—Compendium and issue-based information systems; and the third delivers case studies demonstrating lessons learned and the successes experienced through the authors’ work experiences.
When it comes to solving complex problems, we often perform elaborate rituals in the guise of best practices that promise a world of order, certainty and control.
Reality, however, paints a different picture which practitioners are often reluctant to discuss.
Both authors regard “organisations as networks of commitments”. This phrase, for them, spells out an ideal of what organisations ought to be: a group of people working towards common, mutually-agreed goals, via commitments that are made based on a shared understanding.
Culmsee and Awati, an unlikely pairing, are said to be kindred spirits who want organisations to discover “transparent methods and theories that are simple to learn and apply and that foster organizational intelligence as a natural expression of individual intelligence”.
The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practices presents profound insights with wit, exactness and lucidity.
While the message is serious with of real-world situations and experiences, their writing style is not. The conversational format is interspersed with narratives and suggestions to pop-culture.
The book recently won a bronze medal at the 2012 Axiom business book awards in the continuous improvement category.
Edition 316, 5 June 2012
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.