Advertisements

Don’t Call Me a Guru, Dammit!

This article is a few years old, but there’s so much good stuff in here I’m thinking I should post it every other week for the rest of my life. Seriously, with all the talk lately about how you need to be careful of people who hold themselves out as Social Media Experts, Russ’s words are even more impactful.

This October Russ will have been gone for a year. I’m willing to bet I speak for a lot of people when I say he is sorely missed. He is surely not forgotten. Read the whole article; then get the book f-Laws.

Update (Thanksgiving, 2013) This post was originally published from www.telegraph.co.uk using Amplify, a curation service that no longer exists. Below is the excerpt as Amplify prepared it.

Anti-guru of joined-up management

Published: 12:01AM GMT 08 Feb 2007

Russ Ackoff

Professor Russell Ackoff

If you were asked to picture what a management guru should look and sound like, you might come up with a description of someone very like Russ Ackoff. Grey-haired, distinguished, softly spoken, Ackoff fits the bill. And also, since he turns 88 on Monday, he can claim the benefit of wisdom earned over the course of six decades studying and working with businesses and organisations.

Except, of course, that “guru” is not a label that Ackoff is keen to accept.

“A guru produces disciples, and a discipline, and a doctrine,” he says. “If you are a follower of a guru, you don’t go beyond his thoughts, you accept his thoughts. He gives you the questions and the answers – it’s an end to thought. An educator is exactly the opposite,” he says. “You take off where he sets you up for the next set of questions. One is open-ended, the other is closed. Most consultants are gurus. They are ‘experts’, not educators.”

So please don’t refer to Ackoff’s body of work as gurudom and please don’t describe his work with clients as management consulting.

“We don’t call it consulting,” he states firmly. “We make a distinction between consulting and being an educator. A consultant goes in with a solution. He tries to impose it on a situation. An educator tries to train the people responsible for the work to work it out for themselves. We don’t pretend to know the way to get the answer.”

In his distaste for gurudom, Ackoff is of a mind with his old friend and colleague, the late Peter Drucker. Drucker famously once observed that the only reason people called him a guru was that they did not know how to spell the word “charlatan”.

“Peter Drucker made a great distinction between doing things right and doing the right thing,” Ackoff says. “All of our social problems arise out of doing the wrong thing righter. The more efficient you are at doing the wrong thing, the wronger you become. It is much better to do the right thing wronger than the wrong thing righter! If you do the right thing wrong and correct it, you get better.”

Read more at www.telegraph.co.uk

Advertisements

About Rick Ladd

Born in 1947, I was an officially retired pensioner, but in January of 2015 I returned to work as a contractor at Aerojet Rocketdyne. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Knowledge Management, Decision Intelligence, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowd sourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. While "retired" I did a little bit of freelancing as an editor/proofreader, as well as some technical writing. There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0) View all posts by Rick Ladd

2 responses to “Don’t Call Me a Guru, Dammit!

Go ahead! Give me a tongue lashing.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: