Re: Fadism (long) LO124

Steve Ashton (
Wed, 15 Feb 1995 16:58:14

Reply to LO109

Regarding Joe Kilbride's comments on the fadism of the
"Learning Organization" vs. "Total Quality", I agree with his
misgivings over the state of a society that has to discard these so
called "fads" as being failures.

My biggest bone of contention with all of these so called "fads" is
that our society is still stuck on this issue of quick and final
fixes. MBO, TQM, and TLO, I can't imagine, were ever meant to be set
up as the "Be All and End All" of management thinking. While the
general public may feel that they were, we are missing the
point that each of these "ideas" have widened our thinking, helped us
to raise our standards, and made us smarter organizations.

I would like to think is that those of us in HRD and management
understand that there may not be a defineable "end result" where we
can sit back and say "We have achieved Total Quality", or "We are a
Learning Organization". Instead, by studying and implementing bits
and pieces of these methods, we each may come up with our own
unique "styles" as organizations, taking the good bits and pieces of
what we have learned from each of these "schools or techniques".
Whether or not this makes us better depends on whether or not we
took something and used it to make us more competitive or effective
in our own environments. Forget the process and focus on the end
result!! (A commonly understood, but oft repeated problem).

I draw a lot from my experience as a musician. The argument keeps
coming up that "Joe Blow" is the world's best guitarist. But there
is no such thing as "best" in an art. There can be those players who
study and master a particular technique (i.e. scales, modes, speed
picking, string hopping, fingerstyle), but their application finds no
audience. There are others who are seen as "revolutionaries"
who may have studied a lot of techniques, have great chops, but mix
it up and add some "chaos" to create their own style which has great

If we equate "appeal" here to "customer satisfaction", then what is
the lesson? Simply that we should stop expecting "fads" to make us
better organizations by themselves. Instead, analyze them, take the
good bits, integrate them into your organization in line with your goals
and move on! Nobody in the guitar world ever achieved fame and
longevity by being the master of a particular technique. Nor have
any organizations been remembered for being the "MBO Master", or the
"Monarchs of Quality Circles".

Anyhow, something to think about.


Steve Ashton (902) 421-1330 (work)
Roberston-Surrette Limited (902) 424-1103 (direct)
Halifax, Nova Scotia (902) 425-1108 (fax)
B3J 1V4
We learn best from experience, but we never directly experience
the consequences of many of our most important decisions"
- Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline"