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Jim Stroup

Steve,

This is a really important point you are making, here. Sometimes, when we try to reduce so complex an enterprise as you describe to a prioritized list, what we are really doing is attempting to find a way to not have to engage in the difficult and troublesome task of exercising our judgement. We want to justify a succession of tasks in a simplistic way, then focus on each in turn, blithely - even willfully - dismissive of the purpose they are expected to serve.

As you say, managers need to keep process and purpose united. The musical analogy is an excellent depiction of the requirement.

I can hardly single out an instance where I haven't seen this happen in change efforts. It must be said that there is a commendable side to the instinct: People recognize the challenge and difficulty of the project, the tendency it can have to produce organizational paralysis, and thus the need to just get going, so they devise a way to get out of the starting blocks and get people moving.

But without disciplined managerial supervision placing action in context, this threatens to, and usually does, become a prime example of frenetic motion being confused for forward progress.

Thanks for this superb presentation of a much misunderstood aspect of the problem.

Steve Roesler

Jim,

Indeed, the contextual part is a big deal and I think it's where the learning takes place for the future. Without understanding "why" and "how things fit" into a context, it's tough to know when to apply what you are doing to similar situations down the road.

Thanks again for adding to the thought process!

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