Re: Intro -- Tim J. Sullivan LO127

Michael McMaster (
Tue, 14 Feb 1995 18:38:58 GMT

Reply to LO99

"Commitment" and "vision" are the meta-narratives (to introduce a
postmodern term) that seem to be unquestioned (as is the nature of a
meta-narrative) in Western management thinking. I am questioning them
both. "Commitment" or its lack seems to explain everything. "If only top
management was committed, then it would all work out." And if it doesn't
work out, then "Top management must have lacked commitment."

What is this phenomenon, commitment? I haven't met a senior manager who
lacked commitment. (I'm willing to accept that there are some.) But I've
met many who have lacked understanding and while they know what they want
are unable to produce the result for themselves or in others.

What is this commitment? Where do you find it? The only place that I
find it is in my own assessments of others. But by what standard do I
label it commitment or lack of commitment? By my own judgement of where
the actions - or their lack - comes from. If what we are after is
development and learning, then we need to begin to consider what is
missing is learning and development. Not commitment or some other
internal phantom and public assessment.

I suggest that this thing called "commitment" whatever it is, comes from
the conversations, the dialogue, the system or environment rather than
particularly from the individuals. After a dialogue which is sufficiently
well formed to develop an understanding that is irresistable, I am
committed. I suggest that we should take full responsibility in the
matter of creating such a dialogue and take the failure as our own if it
doesn't occur.

I'm reminded of Milton Erickson, probably the world's greatest medical
practitioner and researcher of hypnosis, who said, "Its not true that
there are those that can't be hypnotised. It is true that there are those
that I am not skilled enough to hypnotise." This approach ensured that
there was not many in the second category.

Michael McMaster
From: (Michael McMaster)