Every year, literary agent and Edge.org proprietor John Brockman hosts one of the most exclusive dinners here at TED. He also publishes a collection of provocative essays built around a pressing question or issue. In recent years, some of the questions have been What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, What Are You Optimistic About?, and How Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The most recent book is called This Idea Must Die and includes essays about scientific ideas that are blocking progress.
We at Collective Next are using the book as a good excuse to consider which ideas in our business need to be retired. Briefly, here are three that we think ought to be banished.
The term change management must die. Change is real. Managing change is real. But change management is not real. Change management, as it’s practiced, is something done to an organization after the fact. Change management proceeds as if change is episodic, but it’s not. Change is constant. When you’re managing change, you’re helping people adapt and evolve as they grow. You’re not just moving from one big place to another big place. Change is ultimately more disruptive than change management takes into account. That’s why most mergers and acquisitions don’t work: They’re too disruptive for an organization to extract value from them.
The idea that creativity can be controlled as opposed to catalyzed must die. The underlying assumption here is that innovation can be methodical or predictable, that it’s clean. It’s not. it’s messy. Your company can create environments in which creativity and innovation are more likely, but you can’t hope to control it.
The idea that collaboration and cooperation are the same thing must die. They’re quite different. In cooperation, the output is greater productivity, getting things done more efficient and effectively. You measure cooperation in productivity terms. But you measure collaboration in terms of how much creativity comes out of it. It’s a much more difficult challenge.
What ideas that are conventional wisdom in your business need to die?